Patty's Perspective: How do You Define Process Step Elimination and Automation?
This month, we can call our theme PSE&A—a fancy acronym for process step elimination and automation. Sounds straightforward, but what exactly do we mean by “process step elimination?” Does it refer to shortening the numerous steps involved in making a printed circuit board? There sure are a lot of them, but they all must be necessary—or why would we have them?
Victory Giant Technology: The Qualified Forerunner of PCB Smart Factories
The topic of the July issue of PCB007’s China Online Magazine is “Automatic PCB Factories,” focusing on the pressures of cost, delivery time and process, and the irreversible trend toward automated PCB factories. Centering on this theme, we interviewed Andy Zhou, COO of Victory Giant Technology (HuiZhou) Co. Ltd., the first domestic PCB manufacturer who carries out large-scale implementation of intellectualization throughout the factory.
Catching up with Prototron Circuits Tucson GM Kim O’Neil
This has been an exciting year for Prototron, which has achieved Mil-PRF-31032 and gone into the flex business. Most recently, Prototron received word that they had achieved their AS9100 Rev D, which made me want to check in with Kim O'Neil and find out more.
IPC: Department of Labor Releases RFI to Seek Information on Overtime Regulations
This week, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a Request for Information (RFI) to gather additional feedback from the public on the overtime regulations, which define and delimit exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime requirements for certain executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and other employees.
Embedded Technology: A Useful Tool in Freedom CAD’s Toolbox
Freedom CAD has been designing and fabricating boards with embedded technology for years, and doing some pretty innovative work along the way. I asked Scott McCurdy, Freedom CAD’s director of sales and marketing, to share some details about their embedded processes, as well as the challenges and opportunities that embedded technology offers.
The Skills Gap – Meet People Where They Are!
A perennial concern in the U.S. electronics manufacturing industry is the lack of skilled talent in many parts of the country. According to a recent IPC member survey, most companies have a hard time recruiting qualified production workers, engineers, and other technical professionals.
Patty's Perspective: What Happens in Washington Doesn’t Stay in Washington—It Reaches All of Us
I went to my second IMPACT Washington, D.C. event this year (May 1–3) and, as much as I applauded last year’s event, this one far surpassed it—just ask anyone who was there. In this month’s issue, a special section on IMPACT backs that claim.
Mr. Laminate Tells All: PTFE is About to be Banned by IEC TC111
There, I said it. Technical Committee 111 of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is preparing to effectively ban PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) materials from electronics. As history goes, the electronics industry has focused on only two of the four halogens (bromine and chlorine) to be limited in order to be called “halogen-free” or more accurately “low-halogen.” But now, fluorine is being dragged down too, just because of its location in the periodic table.
Rex Rozario, OBE, Wins Two Awards in Two Weeks
During their recent summer conference, the European Institute of Printed Circuits (EIPC) presented Rex Rozario with its distinguished Honourary Fellowship of the Institute Creditation for his contributions to the world electronics interconnection industry. Then at the Devon County Show, Rozario received the Pride of Devon Award for his contributions to Devon businesses and local radio.
The Significance of the PCB in the Value Chain of the European EMS Industry
At SMT Nuremberg, Pete Starkey meets with Dieter Weiss, who comments upon the significance of the PCB in the value chain of the European EMS industry, and looks to a future where we embrace an open-minded attitude and a willingness to work together.
Happy Holden Second Recipient of I-Connect007 'Good for the Industry' Award
Our second 'Good for the Industry' award has been presented to Happy Holden. After working with Happy for a number of years it is clear to see that he is dedicated to improving the industry. He has a long history in the PCB industry, starting off with HP in the '70s. Not only did he develop HDI, but he then wrote the HDI Handbook, which is provided to readers at no charge.
Global Impact on European PCB Fabrication: EIPC Summer Conference 2017, Day 2
The second day saw the conference room full once more, the late networking session in the bar having resulted in no significant casualties, and I was pleased to accept the invitation to moderate the first session, on processes and materials for flexible PCBs.
Global Impact on European PCB Fabrication: EIPC Summer Conference 2017, Day 1
Electronics industry professionals from 13 countries, mainly from Europe and Scandinavia, others from the USA, but some from as far away as India and Japan, gathered in Meriden, the centre of England, for the EIPC Summer Conference.
Embedded Technology: It’s All Around Us
In the early ‘80s, the PCB company I worked for was testing some of the first material for buried resistors. I can’t recall what customer it was for, or how far along the project got, but over the years it seemed like the technology was slow to be adopted and perhaps ahead of its time.
A Conversation with an Industry Twenty-Something
At a recent SMTA Expo, I met with Matt Hammesfahr, a salesperson with Amitron. Matt is young, by our industry standards—in his midtwenties. Just a few years out of college, Matt holds a business degree and is already a top salesman with the company. Here’s one of those twenty-somethings we keep saying we want to attract to our industry. How did this happen? I had to get the story.
How to Find –and Retain– the Right People for the Right Jobs
I sat down recently with Rebecca Brennan, director of human resources, and Aimee Miller, director of corporate communications for Compunetics and Compunetix. I already knew a little bit about their programs, having spent time at Compunetics in past years. I was looking forward to learning more about their methods.
HDP User Group 2017 European Meeting Highlights Technology Progress
The conference facility at the offices of Oracle, in the royal burgh of Linlithgow in West Lothian, Scotland, was the venue for the 2017 European meeting of the High Density Packaging User Group. I was delighted and privileged to be invited once again to sit in on the open session, an intense programme of technical presentations and discussions, project reviews, status updates and new project proposals.
Growth Ahead for Flexible Hybrid Electronics Industry
According to Zion Research, “global demand for the flexible electronics market was valued at $5.13B in 2015 and is expected to generate revenue of $16.5B by 2021, growing at a CAGR of slightly above 21% between 2016 and 2021.” Key elements of the market, in the view of most analysts, include flex displays, sensors, batteries, and memory.
Help Wanted With IMI’s Peter Bigelow
In preparation for this month’s topic, especially what companies in our industry are currently experiencing when it comes to finding and hiring the right people, I sought out Peter Bigelow, president and CEO of circuit board fabricator IMI Inc. We spoke in February at IPC APEX EXPO.
Deep Into Technology at Compunetics
There aren’t many printed circuit companies in my neck of the woods. There is one, however, that has always fascinated me, and that is Compunetics, in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Having worked with them on the electrophoretic photoresist, a PPG product, many years ago, it was great to stop by and catch up with CTO Tim Schmitt and Technical Applications Manager Jesse Ward, along with General Manager Burhan Capar, a relative newbie to the company.
Ding Cheng of BYD Electronic: Embracing the FPC Factory Model of the Future
The topic of the third issue of PCB007 China Magazine is "The Wide World of Flex." Around this theme, we asked one of the leaders of China's FPC industry, Ding Cheng, general manager of the FPC Division of Shenzhen BYD Electronic Parts Company, to share his perspective about trends in flex, and where he thinks that market is headed in the future.
Weiner’s World—April 2017
China’s economy accelerated for a second straight quarter as investment picked up, retail sales rebounded, and factory output accelerated in March. Gross domestic product increased 6.9% in the first quarter from a year earlier, compared with a 6.8% median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.
Innovating in the Technology of Stretchable PCBs
Express Circuits is a long-established PCB fabricator located in Coleshill, near Birmingham in the Midlands of England, specialising in quick-turn complex prototype and small- to medium-volume microvia multilayer and rigid-flex. With the benefit of associate companies focused on design and assembly, Express is recognised for its exemplary customer service and technical support, as well as for its innovative manufacturing solutions.
Material Choices for High-Speed Flexible Circuits
Materials to make high-speed flexible circuits are now available from many material suppliers. In deciding which materials to test or use, remember the tradeoffs the suppliers made in categories we discussed: electrical properties, mechanical/flex properties, and ease of processing. A choice should only be made after considering these options. Remember with any new materials it is very important to find fabricators that are knowledgeable about processing these new materials.
TTM Shines a Light on Optical Interconnect
Are embedded optics on PCBs set to make a breakthrough in the upcoming years? According to Dr. Craig Davidson, VP of Corporate Technology at TTM, it might be closer than you’d expect. In a recent interview with the I-Connect007 team, Craig outlines TTM’s current pursuit of high-volume manufacturing lines able to deliver embedded optical interconnect, what that would mean for the PCB industry, and why he thinks there will be manufacturing production capability by 2020.
Capitol Connection: IMPACT Update—To CEOs on Why You Should Attend IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2017
Here at IPC, we place a high priority on making our presence known in the halls of government, because so many policy debates have a direct effect on the electronics manufacturing industry. IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2017 is a chance to join with fellow industry executives in advocating for better public policies for a stronger, more advanced manufacturing economy.
Mutracx Makes Green Operations Economically Viable
During IPC APEX EXPO, I sat down for an interview with with Jeroen de Groot, CEO of Mutracx. He detailed the company’s plans to install new equipment at a facility in Romania, and he explains why having a green manufacturing operation is not enough—it must also be economically feasible.
Navigating the Complex World of Flex Circuit Assembly
We recently conducted a survey on flexible printed circuits to know more about the challenges that designers, fabricators, and assemblers face when dealing with flex circuits. We asked what steps in their processes have the biggest effect on yields; the challenge they face when dealing with flex circuit materials; as well as the factors that have the greatest impact on the quality of their flex circuit design, fabrication and assembly.
Weiner’s World – March 2017
The CPCA show held at the China International PCB And Assembly Show was moderately busy even though the new venue was not quite ready (no escalators, the "water closets" not fully finished, the heat was only on for a few hours one day). It showcased products for PCB Manufacturing, Electronic Assembly Materials and Manufacturing Services.
Ray Pritchard Looks Back at IPC’s Beginning and His Role in Getting it Started
I have known Ray Pritchard for a long time—as long as I’ve been involved with IPC, in fact. He directed the organization for 35 years before turning over the reins. One could say he grew up with the organization—or vice versa. Ray was always a bundle of energy and still is, still joking and warm, a great people person, and I am sure he had a little something to do with the spirit of camaraderie and cooperation that is the hallmark of the IPC we know today.
Capitol Connection: Direct Legislative Action—IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2017
This ties in to why IPC–Association Connecting Electronics Industries invests so much into our government relations efforts. We place a high priority on government relations because so many public policy debates have large impacts on our industry. Our members continue to value our advocacy efforts on issues such as taxes, regulations, immigration and the environment.
RTW CPCA Show 2017: ESI Discusses Latest Innovations in Laser Drilling
At the recent CPCA Show 2017 in Shanghai, China, Mike Jennings, director of marketing for flex and interconnect products at Electro Scientific Industries Inc. (ESI), highlights their expertise in laser drilling, as well as being the first roll-to-roll capable UV laser drill provider.
He also talks about their recently released RedStone PCB laser processing system, a low cost-of-entry solution for FPC manufacturers considering the adoption of laser processing for flex PCB.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Ventec Discusses CCL Supply Chain Issue
Mark Goodwin, COO of USA and Europe for Ventec International Group, and Jack Pattie, CEO of Ventec USA, discuss the effect of current material issues on the supply chain for copper-clad laminate, comment upon prospects for the future and stress the importance of customer-supplier relationships in forecasting and planning requirements.
Eagle Electronics: Success through 'Building Everything'
During a recent visit to Chicago, Editors Andy Shaughnessy and Patty Goldman stopped by Eagle Electronics just outside of Chicago. Chief Operating Officer Brett McCoy gave them a tour of the facility, and spoke about the company’s plans for the future, and why Eagle is bucking the niche market trend and manufacturing a wide variety of PCBs.
Rogers' John Ranieri Discusses 92ML Conductive Epoxy Materials for Power Electronics
John Ranieri, Business Development Manager for Rogers Corporation, sat down for an interview with me at IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego. He discussed Rogers’ 92ML™ series of thermally conductive epoxy materials, and some of the challenges facing technologists in the power electronics market.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Impact of Cross-Hatched Ground Planes on HF Electrical Performance of Flex Circuits
The HDPUG High-Frequency Flex project is studying the effect of different design features, specifically cross hatched ground planes, on signal integrity for flexible printed circuit boards operating at frequencies up to 20 GHz. Jonathan Weldon, RF Applications Engineer at DuPont Electronic Materials, discusses some of the results of the program.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.