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RTW IPC APEX EXPO: APEX EXPO Wrap-up Roundtable

Publisher Barry Matties and Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy join Bob Neves of Microtek Labs for a review of IPC APEX EXPO 2017 and a look at the state of the PCB industry.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Tara Dunn talks with Clark Webster from All Flex

Clark Webster discusses the increased need for high temperature, high speed materials, new developments in their assembly capabilities and the importance of working with your manufacturer for flex design.

Time-Lapse Video: The IPC APEX EXPO 2017 Show in Under Seven Minutes!

During IPC APEX EXPO 2017, we at I-Connect007 had our time-lapse camera running from setup to closing. The camera was positioned high in our studio, where we conducted our RealTimewith…IPC APEX EXPO video interviews, aimed down the main aisle.

Real Time with...IPC: Don Veri on Meyer Burger's Latest Inkjet Developments

Don Veri, sales and business development for Meyer Burger, discusses the company's newest inkjet technology, as well as their focus on printed electronics.

Patty's Perspective: New Technology Heading our Way— Faster than Ever!

As an excellent introduction to this issue, IPC’s John Mitchell gives us a wonderful overview of what emerging technology is and what we need to do to keep up. One thing he emphasizes is a trained and competitive workforce. Indeed, in our recent hiring survey we learned that an overwhelming percentage of you are concerned about a shortage of skilled and qualified people. John’s column is a great call to action.

Real Time with...IPC: IPC Market Research Update

Sharon Starr updated everyone on the Market Research services, industry forecasting and research projects her group publishes. She also mentioned a "call to action" for a meeting tomorrow with IPC members, seeking input on needed metrics for their new Pulse of the Industry program she will be rolling out this year, which will be a "Industry Health Scorecard".

Real Time with...IPC 2017 Videos Now Available for Viewing

Over 70 video interviews from the IPC APEX EXPO 2017 show in San Diego, CA are now available for viewing. See the opening ceremony, hear from suppliers and others on their new products, learn more about the HDP Users Group. Don't miss the videos by IPC President John Mitchell and his staff.

EIPC 2017 Winter Conference Review of Day 2

Almost everyone made it back to the conference room for the start of the second day of the EIPC Winter Conference in Salzburg, even those who had enjoyed the late networking session into the early hours!

Weiner’s World—January 2017

This month’s column is a bit shorter than usual as we prepare for next month’s IPC APEX EXPO and its Executive Forum for PCB fabricators and their supply chain. This month also marks the 65th anniversary of Epec LLC in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The company, founded in 1952, is the oldest printed circuit fabricator in North America. Half of its $50 million in sales is reported to be with printed circuits.

Help Wanted! Our 2017 Industry Hiring Survey

This month we conducted an industry survey on plans for hiring during the year. Included here is a summary of the results. We started by simply asking, “Do you plan to hire additional people this year?” More than half of the respondents answered yes while about a third said no—which we take as an optimistic sign that our industry plans to expand in 2017.


Now is the Time for Comprehensive Tax Reform

Tax policy is among the most basic tools of any government to accomplish its objectives. From the private sector perspective, taxes are one of largest expenses of any business. But despite being such an important topic for government and business, there is widespread agreement that the U.S. federal tax code is a mess.

Patty’s Perspective: Everything Old is New Again

This month’s issue is all about plating and surface finishes; long ago, that was pretty much my start in the world of printed circuits—wet processing. So this is kind of my home turf—and not, since I haven’t worked in wet processing for some…well, for many years. I’ve always expected that I could hop right back onto the plating room floor and pick right up where I left off all those years ago. Or could I? Have things changed much? Time to read on and see.

CES 2017: Disruptive Technologies

Those of you that have read my previous columns covering CES 2017 know that at recent CES shows I have seen many drones, autonomous cars, IoT devices, robots, and many other items ranging from robots who stand in for your doctor to smart trash cans who tell you via Alexa, Google, or soon, Cortana on your own computer, that since you have thrown away two empty milk cartons in the last few days it may be time to order more milk; just say yes and consider it ordered.

CES 2017: Press Day, Launch.It and Showstoppers

Before the show opens, CES provides two days and evenings not open to the general attendees, to enable companies, large and small, an opportunity to present their new offerings to the press. These opportunities range from small meetings with individual members of the trade press to huge events such as those presented by Samsung, Asus, Sony, Intel, Panasonic and others, with literally several hundred in attendance.

Emmy Ross Discusses the New I-Connect007 E-Book Series

One thing that is long overdue in our industry is a series of guidebooks focused on helping companies with all their needs, from qualifications like AS9100 and Mil-P-31032 to various technologies, heavy copper, rigid-flex and microvias. I-Connect007 is now providing our industry with an entire series of these guidebooks, starting with the first book, "The Printed Circuits Buyers Guide to… AS9100 Certification." Authored by Imagineering Inc., this book educates readers about the AS9100 quality standard, and explains how to earn this certification.

CES Unveiled: Press Day and the NVIDIA Keynote

CES Unveiled exhibitors range from well-known companies such as: Lenovo, showing their latest high-end (and very impressive) notebooks, tablets and all in one computers; Ampad, with their new series of very capable fast and long range routers; and Thrustmaster, showcasing their virtual reality-ready gaming peripherals. Additionally, there are many previously almost unknown companies exhibiting many IoT items.

On Location at HKPCA: IPC’s Mitchell and Carmichael on Asia, the Global Industry Outlook, and Trump

While in Shenzhen, China recently, with the PCB industry’s biggest trade show as a backdrop, Publisher Barry Matties sat down once again to interview IPC President John Mitchell and IPC Asia President Phil Carmichael. This time they discussed trends they’re seeing in the Asia-Pacific region and what a Trump presidency means to the industry.

CES 2017: Preview and a Projection for the Future

Well here we are again; one more year has gone. Think back to one year ago and look at all that has happened, including recent political happenings, technical advances in 3-D printing and manufacturing, and the huge improvement in display technology, what with OLED and HDR putting everyday 4K displays into the background and driving the proverbial nail in 3D TVs.

Catching up with…Dr. Anthony Caputo

I met Dr. Anthony Caputo last year while helping one of my clients secure some strong engineering talent. Anthony had been reading my columns and reached out to me since he was looking for a new opportunity in a high-tech printed circuit board facility. Once I read his CV and saw his credentials, I jumped at that chance to help this talented young man.

Weiner’s World

Rather than joining the annual forecast fray by attempting to provide guidance or guesses as to the outlook for the PCB and electronic assembly businesses in 2017, I thought I would provide a different year-end assessment. Here are a few thoughts for the New Year and beyond from a long-term colleague and friend of the past half century, Harvey Miller, electronics market researcher, consultant and founder of Fabfile Online.


TTM President Thomas Edman on the Global PCB Market, Technology, and More

The TTM and Viasystems merger put the PCB industry on notice last year when it created one of the biggest powerhouses in the world. At this year’s HKPCA and IPC show, Barry Matties met with TTM Technologies President and Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Edman to get his views on the market, technology, the culture of TTM and even the Trump effect.

Real Time with...HKPCA & IPC Show 2016 Slideshow - Day 1

The International Printed Circuit & APEX South China Fair 2016, presented by HKPCA and IPC, kicked off this week in Shenzhen, China. The theme of this year’s event is “Global Wisdom Shaping the Future.”

Aismalibar on Markets, Materials, and the Increase in Copper Prices

As a European laminate provider specializing in insulated metal substrates and thermal management, Aismalibar is often put in the demanding position of catering to some of Europe’s toughest customers, including the automotive industry. Pete Starkey and Barry Matties caught up with Director General Eduardo Benmayor at the most recent Electronica trade show to learn more about the company and get his take on the current state of the IMS marketplace.

Weiner’s World

Here we go again! The winter holiday (and trade show) season is upon us! Electronica's mood was upbeat. Next, the Asia and San Diego shows. We just received word as we were preparing for our trip to next month's HKPCA/IPC event in Shenzhen China that the CPCA (China Printed Circuit Association) show suddenly changed its March 2017 date and venue. Meanwhile, the HKPCA show, now billed as our industry's largest event, will have nearly 550 exhibitors—of which 20% are new.

Rogers on the Booming Wireless Infrastructure Market

With the advent of 5G and next generation antennas, the already booming wireless infrastructure market is slated for continued growth through 2021, and as the primary material supplier for this sector, Rogers Corp. must continue to meet the technological demands of the Verizons and AT&Ts of world.

Walt Custer’s Global Market Outlook

With 2016 winding down, Walt Custer shared his end-of-the-year market research data with me at the recent electronica trade show in Munich, Germany. In our interview, Walt breaks down his findings and offers insight into the changing trends as we head into 2017.

Mr. Laminate Tells All: The Certification of IPC-4101D Polyimide Base Materials: Buyer Beware

At the most recent IPC meeting held in Rosemont, Illinois, one of the hot topics of discussion at the Laminate and Prepreg Subcommittee was the three polyimide specification sheets. The header portion for the three polyimide-based copper-clad laminates and prepregs are shown in Figure 1, for easy comparison of polyimide grades.

Rogers Highlights Thermally Enhanced 92ML Materials at electronica

I met with Rogers Corporation Business Development Manager John Ranieri at Electronica recently. Ranieri’s professional focus is on the 92ML series of laminate, prepregs, and IMS, which was highlighted at the Munich show. The 92ML products are geared for the power electronics marketplace where thermal management is a major concern.

Streamline Circuits: The Importance of Being a Sales-Driven Organization

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Tom Doslak, senior VP of sales and marketing for Streamline Circuits. We discussed how the company got started, technologies that seem to be driving the marketplace, critical equipment for today’s PCB fabricator, and how being a customer-centered, sales-driven organization serves as the key to their success.

EIPC's New Tagline and electronica 2016 Reflections

EIPC Technical Director Michael Weinhold and Editor Pete Starkey discuss the significance of EIPC's new tagline, 'The European Electronics Association'.


Let's Talk Testing: Vias for Dummies

In simple terms, a circuit board is but a composition of things designed to be connected and not. The number of layers and number of connections make no real difference as the geometry shapes the landscape.

What’s New with IPC’s Validation Services

During this year’s IPC Fall Committee Meetings, held in conjunction with SMTAI in Chicago, I met with my friend Randy Cherry, director of IPC Validation Services. Since the inception of Validation Services three years ago, I’ve conducted video interviews with Randy at IPC APEX EXPO, and I've been tracking the growth and progress of this program. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to do a mid-year check-up on IPC’s Validation Service programs.

Catching Up (Literally) with Uyemura’s George Milad at SMTAI 2016

I managed to catch up with George Milad of Uyemura at the recent SMTA International conference, which wasn’t easy to do. But he did take a few minutes to fill me in on his schedule for the week and it sure was packed—with a tutorial, presentations and IPC committee meetings.

IPC’s President on IPC EDGE: Cutting Edge and Education

Chatting with IPC President John Mitchell is always a good time—he never fails to be upbeat and full of ideas, and his eagerness to fill us in on what’s happening with IPC was evident during our recent interview at the IPC Fall Committee Meetings, co-located with SMTAI in late September.

Tech Talk: 225 Tech Talks—1995 to 2016

Checking back on Tech Talk Nos. 100 and 200, which reflected on past and anticipated future changes in electronic packaging, I noted the production shift to Asia, followed by the relocation of the supplier base, and, more recently, the design of electronic devices.

Ventec Sees Growth in Automotive Electronics

Didier Mauve, sales and marketing manager for Ventec Europe, talks with Editor Pete Starkey during electronica 2016 about how the automotive electronics industry is driving growth for the company.

Lessons in Leadership From My Father

When I was asked to contribute an article for this issue on leadership, I thought it was an opportune time since my Dad, Nagji Sutariya, had recently passed away. I had spent nearly every daylight hour with him since I started working with him at Saturn in 2001.

All About Flex: Specifying a Flexible Circuit

IPC has created a specification document, IPC 6013, which is referenced for many flex circuit applications. This commercial document, in combination with the CAD data and print, is used as the product specification. Most flexible circuitry fabricators’ internal quality standards are based on IPC 6013.

New Developments at MacDermid Enthone

One of the best parts of industry conferences and shows is the opportunity to meet new people and renew acquaintances. Another highly enjoyable part is learning what is going on within companies—especially those with which one has had a close association in the past.

Standard of Excellence: Let’s Get Flexible

Although flex and rigid-flex technology has been around for many years, it is only in recent years that it has come into its own. The reason for the increased requirements for the flex and rigid-flex technology is simple: Devices are getting smaller.


All About Flex: Five Characteristics of a Reliable Flexible Circuit Supplier

Due diligence when selecting a source for a custom electronic product can be a critical sourcing procedure. Chains are only as good as the weakest link, and the electronic components assembled to create a marketable product need to combine into a robust solution.

Patty’s Perspective: Take Me to Your Leader

We must have touched a real hot button when we decided to do this issue on leadership. When we sent out our survey on the topic, we received a lot of responses, which we’ll review in a separate article, plus many of our regular columnists were inspired to write on the subject.

The Right Approach: My Leadership Journey

I have been in leadership positions for the majority of my 40-year career, but it has not always been a smooth and natural relationship. With the following three stories, I will attempt to share the lessons learned on my journey as a lifelong student in pursuit of the art of leadership.

GP Ventures: Facilitating ‘Multi-layered’ M&A Deals

One of our newer I-Connect007 columnists is Tom Kastner of GP Ventures, an M&A advisory company. I spent a few minutes with Tom at SMTAI recently, and he filled me in on his background in the electronics industry, which includes specializing in buying, selling or merging businesses; his columns deal with many of the requirements and issues on all sides of those changes.

Let's Talk Testing: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel—Find an Expert!

Back in the day when I was an engineer fresh out of college, I quickly learned that experience is the solution to many problems. Now that being said, experience comes in many forms…it could be knowledge learned from a textbook, it could be an observatory comment jotted down in a notebook, it could be a conversation with a co-worker or colleague, or it could be an Internet search that finds a scholarly technical article, etc.

One World, One Industry: Voting—A Civic Duty and Industry Opportunity

On Tuesday, November 8, more than 240 million people in the United States will have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote, make their voices heard in government, and influence the direction of public policy for years to come. Much of the world is closely watching with interest in this major U.S. election.

Real Time with... SMTAI: Alex Stepinski is Presented with I-Connect007's First 'Good for the Industry' Award

I-Connect007’s Barry Matties and Patty Goldman present the first “Good for the Industry” award to Alex Stepinski of Whelen Engineering for his unique design approach to a fully automated PCB factory.

All About Flex: Flexible Circuit Prototypes

Most electronic projects begin with at least one build of prototype parts before moving into volume manufacturing. But the definition of a flex circuit prototype can vary considerably from one project to another. In many cases, a prototype build is only a few parts used to verify form, fit and function, with engineering trying to determine if something actually works.

Isola CEO Jeff Waters Shares Insights and Reflections

It’s been eight months since Isola’s Jeff Waters was appointed CEO, marking his transition from the semiconductor space to the PCB industry. At PCB West, Jeff reflected on his first impressions of the PCB industry and how Isola continues to adopt changes in its manufacturing strategy and product development with a plan to become the industry leader with a global, competitive presence.

Geek-A- Palooza: Get Your Geek On in Minnesota!

If you haven’t been to Geek-A-Palooza yet, you may just get a chance, because the social networking event could be coming to your city in the near future. Barry Matties met with founder Tara Dunn following the most recent Boston event, to learn more about Geek-A-Palooza and why the laid-back atmosphere is beneficial for both the sponsors and the attendees.


2016 Election Forecast

Throughout this election cycle, candidates have offered many promises to boost the U.S. and global economy, as well as address other national priorities. As we inch closer to the finish line, it’s worth examining how the presidential and several congressional races could shape the future of policies affecting the manufacturing industry.

Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island Seminar 2016

In recent years, the Hayling Island Seminar has become established as the most popular date on the Institute of Circuit Technology calendar and, as expected, the 2016 event attracted a large gathering of industry professionals to the south coast of England to share knowledge and experience and to discuss current developments.

Flex Talk: Troubleshooting Flex Circuit Applications for Mil/Aero Projects

I imagine that everyone has been in this position at one time or another: Despite everyone’s best attempt at creating the perfect design, PCB fabrication and assembly, something goes wrong and the troubleshooting begins.

Weiner’s World

This month, I was a guest at the High Density Packaging Users Group (HDPUG) meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. The consortium, composed of more than 50 companies (small and large) in the electronics packaging supply chain, conducts projects to solve real world problems or develop data for product parameters, package/component life, and production processing.

EIPC Reliability Workshop, Tamworth, UK, September 22, 2016

EIPC’s reliability workshop, presented in cooperation with Amphenol Invotec, attracted a capacity audience from eight countries—some delegates having travelled from as far away as Russia—to take the opportunity to learn first-hand how to meet OEM, ODM and EMS product quality and safety requirements, and to understand how interconnection stress testing techniques could be applied to determine the reliability of multilayer PCBs.

All About Flex: Flex Circuit Specifications for Commercial and Military Applications

Applications across the various markets for printed circuit boards can have significantly different specifications and performance requirements. Circuits for toys and games logically have lower performance requirements than those used in medical devices. IPC-6013 is an industry-driven specification that defines the performance requirements and acceptance features for flexible printed circuit boards.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Recruiting and Interviewing

Hopefully, your career has progressed to the point that you are empowered to recruit your own team or a key person for your team. There are always technical people looking for better jobs, but many times, the most talented are busy doing their work and not looking for a new opportunity.

All About Flex: Lead-Free Soldering Flexible Circuits

Ever since the European community adopted the RoHS directive in 2006, the U.S. electronics industry has been steadily increasing its use of lead-free solder. Medical was the first U.S. industry to go totally lead-free. Today, a significant percentage of electronics soldering is done with lead-free solder.

Laser Pointers: Laser Processing and Telecentricity

Since Mike and I often receive questions on topics that are relevant to a broader audience, we’ve decided to start using this column to share those questions and answers with our readers. We’ll periodically devote the space in this column to address questions that we receive that are especially timely or topical, or address a topic that affects a wider range of readers.

Factors Affecting the Adhesion of Thin Film Copper on Polyimide

The use of copper foils laminated to polyimide (PI) as flexible printed circuit board precursor is a standard practice in the PCB industry. We have previously described an approach to very thin copper laminates of coating uniform layers of nano copper inks and converting them into conductive foils via photonic sintering with a multi-bulb conveyor system, which is consistent with roll-to-roll manufacturing.


All About Flex: FAQs on RoHS for Flex Circuits

In 2003, the European Union (EU) adopted a standard called the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), which restricts the use of certain materials in electronic products and electronic equipment. The intent is to reduce the environmental impact of known hazardous materials and has driven changes in manufacturing processes and materials used to manufacture a wide array of electronic products.

Weiner’s World

People in the printed circuit and electronic packaging industries often ask me about re-shoring. My response generally is that re-shoring is a myth. It seems that whenever I try to contact someone by email I get an automated response stating, "I am currently in China and will return to my office on…" Many of the facilities and much of the equipment that would be needed to re-shore have been auctioned off or sent to the scrap heap.

All About Flex: Soldering Flexible Circuits

The most common methods for component attachment on flexible circuits and rigid printed circuit boards involve soldering. The basic principles for soldering are the same for both flex and hard board, but soldering components to flexible circuits involves certain specific considerations vs. our rigid cousins.

Flex is Where It’s At

At the recent SMTA-Ohio Expo event, Jack Baculik of Circuits LLC speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about the latest developments driving demand for flex and rigid-flex circuits.

A Day with Pete (Starkey)

Usually the one conducting the interviews, I-Connect007’s own Pete Starkey recently found himself on the other side of the microphone when I spent time with him in his hometown of Market Bosworth, England. There, between hiking and gardening, we found time to discuss Pete’s rich history in the PCB industry and the many changes and surprises he’s seen in the manufacturing process over the years.

All About Flex: Considerations for Impedance Control in Flexible Circuits

Impedance can be thought of as a system’s opposition to alternating or pulsing electronic current. The unit of measurement is ohms, the same unit of measurement in a direct current system. However, the components for calculating impedance are much more complex than DC resistance.

All About Flex: Creating Via Holes in Flexible Laminates

Almost all double-sided and multilayer flexible circuits require through-holes or vias to enable an electrical connection between conductive layers. Creating a reliable plated via requires several critical steps. The first one is creating the through-hole.

Made in Brazil: The Evolution and Revolution of Impedance Control in PCB Production

The PCB industry in Brazil has gone through several changes over the last decade. Our customers have been demanding better quality and higher-reliability products more than ever before, but few things have changed as much as impedance control. PCBs with impedance control requirements have become the engine of the market, and finding solutions to fit the customer’s needs is extremely challenging.

All About Flex: Variability and Quality Costs

Statistics are terms used for measurements that describe groups of numbers. The most common averaging statistics are mean, median and mode. Mean and average are often used interchangeably, a statistic with all numbers added together and then divided by the quantity of numbers.

All About Flex: Taguchi Design of Experiments and Flexible Circuits

Reducing variability in a process, or a sequence of processes, can require a significant and structured amount of work and analysis. One must develop an understanding of critical variables and determine methods to control them. Statistically based experiments are often needed for proper analysis.


The Newest Flex Shop in the U.S.

I-Connect007 sales team member Angela Alexander and I recently got a tour of Lenthor’s new Silicon Valley flex board shop and then sat down with President and CEO Mark Lencioni to discuss the new flex facility, the markets, management, and the future.

Designers Notebook: Specifying Lead-Free Compatible Surface Finish and Coating for Solderability and Surface Protection

A majority of the components furnished for electronic assembly are designed for solder attachment to metalized land patterns specifically designed for each device type. Providing a solder process-compatible surface finish on these land patterns is vital; however, selection of the surface finish on the circuit structure, whether plated or coated, can be greatly influenced by the components’ terminal metalization and the specific alloy composition used for the assembly process.

Laser Pointers: Special Edition—Those Five Words I Didn’t Expect to Hear

I’m going to hijack the column this month for kind of a public service announcement regarding a topic that hit very close to home for me, and it may well hit home for others. On February 18, 2016, I heard the words, “Mike, you have bladder cancer.”

All About Flex: Common Flex Circuit Surface Finish Requirements

Copper is a unique metal and has been proven with the test of time in an incredible array of printed circuit and electrical wiring applications. It is highly conductive, has good flexibility properties, can withstand high temperatures and has good chemical resistance. Copper is also is in abundant supply and is fairly inexpensive.

EIPC Summer Conference 2016, Day 2: Strategies to Maintain Profitability in the European PCB Industry

Delegates awoke to a gloomy Scottish morning on the second day of the EIPC Summer Conference 2016. One or two who maybe overindulged in the whisky on the previous evening had some difficulty in finding time for breakfast before the conference proceedings, but the atmosphere in the meeting room was brighter than the weather outside, as Professor Martin Goosey introduced the day’s programme.

IPC President John Mitchell Discusses IPC's Footprint in China

At the Capital Club in Beijing, IPC’s president John Mitchell met with I-Connect007’s Edy Yu to discuss the current activites of IPC China. Some of the topics covered included the growing China membership, training, trade shows and IPC China’s standards development effort.

All About Flex: Plating Process Options for Flexible Circuits

Plating copper through-holes or vias is a requirement for double-sided and multilayer circuits. In a previous column we discussed the plating process; specifically copper seed coating using electroless copper and Shadow plating, which is then followed with an electroplating process.

EIPC Summer Conference 2016, Day 1: Strategies to Maintain Profitability in the European PCB Industry

Resplendent in the kilt, EIPC chairman Alun Morgan welcomed a large and enthusiastic gathering of printed circuit professionals from all over Europe and as far afield as the USA, Canada and Russia, to the EIPC Summer Conference 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland's cosmopolitan capital city.

Institute of Circuit Technology Annual Symposium

On June 1, Technical Director Bill Wilkie introduced the 42nd Annual Symposium of the Institute of Circuit Technology, at the Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, UK, commenting upon the success of the recent Foundation Course and acknowledging the sterling efforts of his course tutors, although recognising that some of his longest-standing experts were now retiring.

Laser Pointers: Automate to Innovate in Flex Processing

The growing market demand for mobile devices, wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) devices continues to create new challenges for suppliers and manufacturers in the electronics value chain. Along with this market demand comes a challenging set of market requirements for the underlying circuits and components that drive such devices.


Graphene-based Transparent Electrodes for Highly Efficient Flexible OLEDs

The arrival of a thin and lightweight computer that even rolls up like a piece of paper will not be in the far distant future. Flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), built upon a plastic substrate, have received greater attention lately for their use in next-generation displays that can be bent or rolled while still operating.

Global Technology Development: HDP User Group European Meeting 2016

Delighted and honoured to be invited again to attend the open session of the High Density Packaging User Group (HDPUG) European Meeting, I made my way to the picturesque Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a tiny principality bordered by Belgium, France and Germany, and ranked among the world's top-three nations in both wealth and wine consumption, to learn about the latest in collaborative research and development by member companies engaged in the manufacture of products utilising high-density electronic packages.

Weiner’s World

Gen Consulting Company (GCC) has issued the Radiant Insights report “Global HDI Printed Circuit Board Market Forecast and Analysis 2016-2021.” The report provides a detailed analysis of worldwide markets for HDI printed circuit boards from 2011–2016, and provides market forecasts for 2016–2021 by region/country and subsectors.

All About Flex: Flexible Circuit Fabrication and Cleanroom Manufacturing

Facility cleanliness is a vital part of process control for flexible circuit fabricators. As higher density requirements continue a relentless drive toward finer traces and spaces, particles and foreign material can cause problems in a number of operations.

All About Flex: Imaging Methods for Etch Resist, Part 2: Photoimaging

This is the second of three columns describing typical methods for creating an etch resist for fabrication of printed circuits. Photoresist can come in the form of a liquid that gets coated on the substrate or as a dry film that is laminated. Liquid and dry film resist can be positive-acting or negative-acting.

The Right Approach: Quick & Easy 6S to Reduce Handling Issues

Handling is often the source of many pain points for PCB fabricators, resulting in rework, scrap and customer returns. Quick & Easy 6S is a fantastic tool to minimize handling risk by reducing product travel and improving shop cleanliness.

All About Flex: Flexible Circuits and Kaizen Events

All Flex uses a variety of different tools and techniques in its continuous improvement efforts. A Kaizen event or Blitz is one technique that has resulted in significant improvements in our yields, productivity and customer satisfaction.

Flexible Thinking: Process Engineering—PCB Manufacturing’s ‘Delta Force’

Process engineers serve a vital function on the front line of printed circuit manufacturing. They are often, if you will, the “Delta Force” that subdues and controls that which is one of the mortal enemies of manufacturing…process variation.

IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2016: Industry Leaders Advocate for a Pro-Manufacturing Policy Agenda

IPC places a high priority on educating government officials about key policy issues of importance to the electronics industry. That’s why top executives from leading electronics companies gathered in Washington, D.C. recently for “IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2016.”

Stepping up to Laser Processing for Flex, Part 3: Readiness and Site Preparation

With so many processes to keep track of in a flex manufacturing line, it can be easy to get lost in the details and begin to rely on your suppliers to address any issues that might crop up. However, given that laser processing equipment and flex materials are both impacted by your facilities, your attention to and investment in clean, stable, and robust facilities and support equipment will quickly pay off in less downtime, higher yield, and—perhaps most importantly—fewer headaches!


Happy’s Essential Skills: Technical Writing

Technical writing is one of those topics that they don’t really talk about in college—at least not where I went. Writing and English has never been a strong like of mine compared to science and math. So I did my required time in English and wrote my lab reports the best I knew how.

Beyond FR-4: High-Performance Materials for Advanced Designs, Part 1

In the past 40-plus years of PCB manufacturing, the primary material of choice has overwhelmingly been e-glass supported FR-4 resin laminates. This is due to the excellent dimensional stability and reasonably acceptable thermal performance (based on glass transition temperature [Tg] and decomposition temperature [Td]). In general, these materials exhibit impressive performance and excellent cost for a wide range of applications.

Weiner’s World

3D printing, China’s SMT equipment and robotics markets, IPC’s mandate, counterfeiters, and Taiwan PCB makers’ shift to automotive electronics—Gene Weiner talks about these things and more in this new article.

All About Flex: Imaging Methods for Etch Resist, Part 1

Imaging is a major process step in creating a copper circuit or flexible PCB. In single-sided circuit fabrication, the imaging process creates the resist pattern that protects the copper from the etchant. It is critical that this pattern precisely define the circuit traces, as issues with imaging will transfer to the subsequent processes.

Designers Notebook: Flexible and Rigid-Flex Circuit Design Principles, Part 5

The outline profile of the flexible circuit is seldom uniform. One of the primary advantages of the flexible design is that the outline can be sculpted to fit into very oblique shapes. This month, Vern Solberg focuses on outline planning, physical reinforcement, and accommodating bends and folds in flexible and rigid-flex circuits.

Ventec International Group Expands North American Focus

Ventec International Group is looking to expand their U.S. operations, and they’ve begun this process by bringing Chris Alessio on board as VP of sales and operations of Ventec USA. I met with Chris and Ventec USA President Jack Pattie at IPC APEX EXPO 2016 to discuss their approach and possible opportunities for the North American laminate market.

All About Flex: Lean Manufacturing and NPIP for Flexible Circuits

Many companies are familiar with lean manufacturing concepts and have successfully used these techniques to improve manufacturing processes. Lean techniques, while most often used in printed circuit fabrication and assembly operations, can also be applied to nonmanufacturing processes. One such process is new part number introduction (NPIP).

Flex Talk: PCB Sourcing? One Size Does Not Fit All

When analyzing a set of PCBs to improve yields and maximize profits, the first place to start is with a critical review of each PCB design. Are there any attributes that are pushing your manufacturer’s standard design rules? If so, is this necessary to the design or is there another approach that could improve the manufacturer’s yields, reduce cost, and ultimately increase profit?

LPKF Launches New Laser Drilling System for Flex Printed Circuits

At Laser World of Photonics Exhibition in Shanghai recently, I had a chance to speak with Florian Roick, strategic product manager with LPKF. The company is celebrating a big anniversary this year with the launch of a laser drilling machine to support the specific requirements of the flexible circuit industry.

A Salute to Process Engineers

It seems very appropriate, coming on the heels of IPC APEX EXPO 2016, that the focus of our April issue is process engineering. I believe process engineers (and process engineer types) are the worker bees of IPC (and obviously of the companies they work for).


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