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This month, I interviewed Nick Koop—director of flex technology at TTM Technologies, a veteran “flex guy” and instructor, and a leader of several IPC flex standards committees. Nick provides an update for the committees he’s involved with and discusses some of the challenges that he sees as more designers enter the world of flex.
Andy Shaughnessy: Nick, tell us a little about your background and your work with flex and rigid-flex circuits at TTM.
Nick Koop: I’ve worked in the flex and rigid-flex world since 1985 where my roles have ranged from process engineer to design engineer to general manager of a factory. And I’ve been with TTM since 2013. It has been a great experience working with such a wide range of customers and programs, solving problems that lead to success for our customers.
Shaughnessy: You’re the vice-chair of the Flexible Circuits Committee and co-chair of the 6013 Subcommittee. Give us some updates on the flex committees.
Koop: All of the flex specifications are being reviewed on an ongoing basis. We are close to releasing new versions of IPC-2223 and IPC-6013. They will include more information on microvias, finished copper thickness, and other member-requested updates. I would expect that to happen by early 2020. The supporting material specifications and test methods are also under review. In addition, there is work happening on the T-50 Terms and Definitions Guideline, which is in the middle of a substantial update. So, there is a lot happening on all fronts.
Shaughnessy: We talk to a lot of rigid board designers who are being forced into flex design. Usually, they start with flex standards, and then hopefully, they will call a flex board shop. What advice would you give any rigid folks moving into the flex world?
Koop: We are also seeing dramatic growth in flex use driven by several factors; space, weight, reliability, and cost being some of the most common. Flex provides a lot of advantages over a rigid board and discrete wiring. My initial advice would be to gain an understanding of the similarities and differences. The key differences are unique materials and a variation in material movement, which can impact alignment.
To read this entire interview, which appeared in Flex007 in the September 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.