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I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

If you’re in the United States like I am, and if you celebrated with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, like my family did, then you just might have fallen asleep sitting up in a chair (or in my case, stretched out on the couch) and missed some of the highlights in the news this week. Never fear, I woke up early to bring the top five news items you should know for this week. We have industry bookings and sales news from IPC, some news from the flex sector, an explanation of induction lamination from Happy Holden, and two different takes on “sustainability.”

Happy Thanksgiving From the I-Connect007 Team

In the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday is a celebration of gratitude and appreciation for the harvest and for the people close to us. Thankfulness, however, transcends just one day of official observance. The fourth Thursday of November is when the U.S. officially celebrates Thanksgiving Day and as we take time to observe this holiday, the I-Connect007 team wishes to offer our thanks to you, our global readers and contributors: designers, fabricators, engineers, assemblers, quality and process control gurus, chemists, physicists, supervisors, managers, entrepreneurs, business owners, standards writers, industry experts, and more. You breathe life into the vital, thriving, world-changing electronics industry. You are the real story.

All Flex Discusses Merger and New Medical Applications

I recently spoke with Jamin Taylor, vice president of sales and marketing at All Flex Flexible Circuits in Minnesota. We discussed the company’s recent merger with Printed Circuits Inc., and some creative new flex applications, including flexible heaters and catheters for the medical field. As Jamin explains, "It’s always interesting to see different technologies amongst different companies. We’re working on a few new applications and products, like being able to do some fine lines and flex materials, but with large format, a longer format than usual. Some of their capabilities with lasering and fine features really help with our long flex capability; when we merge the two, we see a new market being created for that technology."

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This month—and this year, really—has just flown by. As someone mentioned to me recently, “There are basically only three full work weeks before New Year’s Day.” Yikes. Thanksgiving is next week, which means most of your customers and suppliers will be hard to reach. Unless there’s a problem, that is! In that case, they’ll find you, even if you’re carving a turkey with the kids and grandkids. So, with a short week on the horizon, most of us are in overdrive now, trying to get ahead of the game.

Honoring Those Who Served

On this Veteran’s Day holiday, the I-Connect007 staff takes a moment to honor those men and women over the years, who served to protect and defend their country. Just on the I-Connect007 staff, we have loved ones who served, ranging from World War I to present-day active-duty military. The holiday isn’t intended to be a political statement, but rather a reflection on service, duty, and personal sacrifice. In some cases, the ultimate sacrifice. Our staff has submitted images of veterans who are near and dear to their hearts. Check them out!

Taiyo Discusses New Inkjet Technology and Solder Mask for Flex

At PCB West, Nolan Johnson spoke with Brian Wojtkiewicz of Taiyo about some of the company’s new inkjet technology, which will be manufactured in the U.S. Brian also discusses a new solder mask that has been developed especially for the flexible circuit segment of the industry. "They basically want to keep all the same specifications with regular solder mask, so we’re trying to keep all of that: the printability of it and how it looks. We’re getting a lot more interest on the colors. They just don’t want green anymore. They want it to be standard blue, reds, and whites and stuff like that."

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

It’s merger mania! Yes, there’s been a lot of M&A activity lately in our industry over the past few months. This week was no different when it comes to merger activities. In this week’s selections, we have news about DuPont’s acquisition of Rogers, Nano Dimension’s merger with Essemtec, and NCAB’s acquisition of Elmatica. We also have news from SMTA International, and an interview with Joe Clark of DownStream Technologies about their new flex and rigid-flex technology.

Averatek Moves Ahead With A-SAP™, ASAP

During DesignCon, the I-Connect007 Editorial Team spoke with Mike Vinson and Paul Dennig of Averatek. They discussed the company’s latest advances in air cavities and semi-additive processes, and what this new technology will mean to the industry, especially PCB designers. Vinson said, "Over the next 12 months, I think you’ll see more involvement from a number of areas—everything from sensors to the actual printed circuit boards themselves and miniaturization. This technology can enable the more advanced packages and the smaller components to be used on the printed circuit board without a great deal of expensive modification."

DownStream Adding More Flex, Rigid-Flex Functionality

I recently spoke with Joe Clark, one of the co-founders for DownStream Technologies. We discussed the company’s latest software release, which adds more flex and rigid-flex capabilities, as well as updates to the scripting in DownStream’s tools.As Joe explained, "With our current release of software, we focused in on rigid-flex designs, which is becoming a common design challenge for our customers. We’ve implemented support for rigid-flex embedded components going to the next level now, and we’re working with some large companies to define the design for manufacturing checks that would be necessary for verifying these advanced designs. So that’s coming in our DFM release that will be out later this year."

Real Time With... SMTAI: Anaya Vardya of American Standard Circuits

Anaya Vardya, president and CEO at American Standard Circuits, speaks with Nolan Johnson ahead of the SMTA International exposition. Vardya shares why American Standard Circuits will be exhibiting at the show, and outlines the topics ASC will be presenting on the show floor.


From DesignCon: FCT Building Fifth Facility in China

During DesignCon, Nolan Johnson spoke with Terrill Schmidt of Flexible Circuit Technologies (FCT) about their exciting facility news and the customer demand that is driving the company’s growth.

Applying DFM Analysis to Flexible PCBs

Flex circuit designs have unique properties and materials that separate them from rigid printed circuit boards. The flex circuits’ thinness makes them more delicate, and they are more susceptible to accidental damage during manufacturing. This negatively affects the yield, increasing the per-item cost. Let us explore why running concurrent DFM is even more important with flexible circuitry than for rigid PCBs.

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Once again, seemingly like clockwork, the controversy erupts. It’s such a divisive issue, and it seems no one can be undecided in this debate; each of us is expected to take a stand. All of society—including the media—asks, “Which side are you on?”

Real Time with... American Standard Circuits: Flex and Rigid-Flex PCBs

In the first of a series of three Real Time with…ASC interviews, I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson got some no-nonsense answers from Anaya Vardya and Dave Lackey on the topic of flex and rigid-flex PCBs. I was impressed by ASC’s generosity in sharing knowledge and technology.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

The kids and grandkids are back in school, and fall is on the way. During this busy week, we published a variety of articles, covering everything from trade shows to mergers. It’s hard to argue with IPC’s plans to require proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test to enter IPC APEX EXPO; you can expect other trade shows to follow suit in the future. We’d hate for a show to become a super-spreader event.

Flex DFM: When All Things Must Be Considered

One of the best ways to avoid flex failures is by communicating with your flex fabricator early and often. Here are a couple key reasons why involving your flex and rigid-flex supplier early in the design of your product will help you save time and money—and produce a more reliable flex circuit.

DFM 101: PCB Controlled Impedance

One of the biggest challenges facing PCB designers is not understanding the cost drivers in the PCB manufacturing process. This article is the latest in a series that will discuss these cost drivers (from the PCB manufacturer’s perspective) and the design decisions that will impact product reliability.

Siemens Webinar: Rigid-Flex Design Without Respins

Rigid-flex circuits have become almost ubiquitous over the past decade; most personal electronic devices contain at least one rigid-flex circuit. But there’s a downside to rigid-flex: Respins are almost a given with rigid-flex designs. And rigid-flex respins can be quite expensive, since this technology costs quite a bit more, on average, than flex or rigid boards.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Trade show season is around the corner, and we’re talking about real, in-person trade shows. The virtual shows served their purpose, and we may see more virtual shows in tandem with live events, but I’ll be glad to get back on the show floor and see what’s “really” going on out there. It's great to see IPC’s hand soldering competitions returning to Europe this fall.

Averatek Pushing Boundaries of Additive and Semi-Additive Processes

At the IEEE International Microwave Symposium show in Atlanta, I met with Tara Dunn, I-Connect007 columnist and VP of marketing and business development for Averatek. We sat down at the show and discussed the past year and a half, and after joking about how we felt like we were on an episode of The Twilight Zone, Tara gave me an update on Averatek’s continuing research into additive and semi-additive technologies.


I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This may be a global industry, but the effect is very real: holidays in the U.S. will drive the industry news cycle. In fact, I can even (unscientifically) rank the major U.S. holidays by their silencing effect on the news. Christmas leads the way, of course, followed by New Year’s, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. Here's a wrap-up of the biggest stories of the past week, starting before Independence Day weekend.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Optimism is on the rise. This week, we saw signs of increased confidence in the PCB industry, but this was tempered by the realities of supply chain issues and 50-week lead times for some components. We saw some M&A activity and a bit of really interesting news from Stanford University about flex. Cherie Litson brought us a story of her life in PCB design, against a backdrop of Star Trek. IPC also announced an introductory PCB design class. Isn’t it nice to have new designers again?

Catching up With Siber Circuits

Siber Circuits is a Canada-based PCB fabricator doing most of its business in the U.S. and often with defense contractors, proving against the odds that it can be done. I spoke with the owner and president, Simon Etherington, about his company and why his long-time customers love working with them.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

There is, increasingly, a sense of returning to “normal” daily life where I live. Of the state’s population, 35% have been immunized against coronavirus as of this week. Lockdowns are lifted, schools have partially reopened, and even some offices are staffing back up.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Finally, it’s May. The snow has melted, the flowers are beginning to bloom, and summer is just around the corner. We’re slowly getting back to normal after the craziest year I can remember. And our industry is on the move! This week, we bring you a veritable seafood platter of articles and columns about PCB design, fabrication, and assembly.

Arlon President Discusses Acquisition by EMC

Arlon President Brad Foster updates Nolan Johnson on EMC’s acquisition of Arlon in December 2020. Foster shares the basic structure of the agreement, the long-term stability built into the merger, and outlines how this brings EMC, Arlon and Technica together as a team. Foster also hints at what we can expect to see from Arlon and EMC in the coming months.

IPC-2581 Revision C: Complete Build Intent for Rigid-Flex

With the current design transfer formats, rigid-flex designers face a hand-off conundrum. You know the situation: My rigid-flex design is done so now it is time to get this built and into the product. Reviewing the documentation reveals that there are tables to define the different stackup definitions used in the design. The cross-references for the different zones to areas of the design are all there, I think. The last time a zone definition was missed, we caused a costly mistake.

I-Connect007 'Just Ask' Q&A Compilation Available Now

Throughout 2020, we asked you to send us your questions for Happy Holden, John Mitchell, Joe Fjelstad, Tara Dunn, and Heidi Barnes. You all had plenty of questions for these industry experts. The following is a handy compilation of your questions and their answers.

With Flex, Sometimes You Gotta Break the Rules

Sometimes in life, we need to break the rules. For example, in junior high I had a curfew but to have my first kiss, I had to break curfew. I got grounded, but it was worth it! My last article was about reasons to follow IPC design and inspection rules. This time, we are discussing instances where, due to complex requirements, customers are not always able to follow the rules. I will also discuss some design options that will hopefully keep you from “getting grounded.”

Rooting Out an 'Us vs. Them' Mentality: An Interview with Laura Kriska

Earlier this year, I-Connect007 columnist Dan Beaulieu submitted a book review on "The Business of WE: The Proven Three-Step Process for Closing the Gap Between Us and Them in Your Workplace." As a follow up to that review, Dan has interviewed the book's author, Laura Kriska.


After Decades of E-Textiles Work, a Rising Star Award

After decades of work in my field, I was awarded the Rising Star award during IPC APEX EXPO 2021. I would like to thank my research team, all the colleagues from the D-75A-EU E-Textiles Wearables Standard Task Group in Europe, Chris Jorgensen from IPC, and Sigrid Rotzler, the Task Group vice-chair. Last but not least, I would like to express my thanks to IPC CEO John Mitchell for this award.

Happy’s Play-by-Play of IPC APEX EXPO

This was the first time IPC had a virtual APEX EXPO. It went well, but I missed seeing everyone. On the other hand, all this material being available for 90 days certainly allows it to fit anyone’s schedule. I spent all week intently listening to the presentations.

I-Connect007 Video: A Salute to The Industry

I-Connect007 has produced this new one-minute video to acknowledge nearly 35 years of sharing your stories. In 1987 we launched our first industry publication and we have been dedicated to covering this industry ever since. We did not start out as publishers: in fact, our background was in printed circuit board fabrication. In 1987 there were still nearly 3,000 PCB shops in North America. At the time, profits were goods, trade events included giant industry parties (remember the extravagant hospitality suites in Anaheim?), and the industry was in a state of change.

DownStream Focused on Rigid-Flex and Embedded Component Support

Editor Kelly Dack and Joe Clark, co-founder of DownStream Technologies, discuss trends in PCB design and how this has led to the company's introduction of rigid-flex design support for their tools.

Real Time With… Premium Sponsors Share ‘Top 5 Things You Need to Know’

As part of I-Connect007’s coverage of the IPC APEX EXPO 2021, four premium sponsors share their knowledge and expertise in the following categories.

ICT Webinar: Novel Materials and Methods for Printed Circuit Fabrication

For the first time since its foundation in 1974, the Institute of Circuit Technology had no alternative than to conduct its Annual General Meeting online. The event, which took place on February 25, 2021, was remarkably well-attended, and was followed, as is traditional, by a technical seminar. The seminar became a webinar focused on novel materials and methods for printed circuit fabrication and moderated by ICT Chair Emma Hudson.

2020: A Year of Learning, Innovation for Taiyo America

Pete Starkey has a virtual visit with John Fix, director of Sales and Marketing at Taiyo America, where they discuss the changes taking place because of COVID-19 restrictions, and some of the new products Taiyo will be presenting at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO.

Orbotech Flex Equipment Introduction

Barry Matties speaks with Meny Gantz about the challenges for flex manufacturing, what’s driving the complexity around it, and how Orbotech’s new products will help their customers produce flex in much more effective way.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This week’s news gave off every indicator that we’ve started a new calendar year. The news channels were busy with changes in leadership—both corporate and governmental—and changes in ownership. Changes in representation, too. Honestly, it was hard to sort out the news to just five top items. Be that as it may, here are five things we think you ought to read, even if you read nothing else about the electronics manufacturing industry this week: tradeshow coverage, strategic acquisitions, market discussion, and governmental advocacy.

Your Greatest Competition is Yourself

It really doesn’t matter who you think your external competitors are, because the only competitor that really matters is you. Of course, you will look externally to stay on top of latest trends, but when it comes to competition, just competing with yourself is a win. When you look at yourself as your greatest competitor you will start with a huge advantage: you already have great intel on how “your competition” thinks. Ask yourself, “What can I do to displace my ‘competitor’ and create something much better?”


I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

It’s a new year, and time for new resolutions and new beginnings. “New year, new you” certainly is reflected in this past week’s news. We saw several announcements regarding mergers, acquisitions, and organizational changes, plus some government legislation to help kick off the new year. Based on viewing activity, readers were keen to keep up on the changes under way.

I-Connect Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

We always hear that the PCB industry is “mature,” full of people past their prime who don’t know how to change with the times. I think 2020 puts the lie to that idea. I’m honored to be a journalist covering such an amazing group of people. In the words of U2, “I will begin again.” Happy New Year!

I-Connect007 Wishes You a Happy New Year

Could there be a more welcome year in recent memory than 2021? If there’s one thing most of us can agree on, it’s that we want 2020 squarely in our rearview mirror as we speed ahead with a fresh, new start. This past year has brought with it much reflection, change and even some consternation. Thank you for taking this journey with us!

Happy Holidays from I-Connect007

The I-Connect007 team would like to wish you and your loved ones the happiest holiday season. Continue to stay safe and healthy as we head into 2021. Happy Holidays!

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This week’s mainstream news was dominated—well, my personalized online news feed was, at least—by ballistics. SpaceX was in the news daily for lobbing multiple pieces of iron, even as their CEO took his household suborbital, leaving California and touching down in Texas. Pandemic numbers charts continue their skyward trajectory worldwide. The ever-present military tests and technology demonstrations, seemed a bit more commonplace this week as well. Worldwide political news, in general, seemed to follow parabolic curves like an Australian boomerang, veering off in unexpected ways only to suddenly cut a curving path and return.

Pacothane on the Future of Laminate Technologies

Nolan Johnson recently spoke with the Pacothane Technologies team about the current drivers of circuit board technology and how that has influenced and increased their product development of lamination and lamination assist products.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Around the holidays, we often see a slowdown in PCB design and manufacturing news. But this holiday season, there’s been no rest for the newsmakers in our industry! In the last week, our daily and weekly newsletters have been chock-full of breaking news and up-to-the-minute technical information that readers like you rely upon every day.

Just Ask Tara Dunn: The Exclusive Compilation

We asked for you to send in your questions for Averatek’s Tara Dunn, and you took us up on it! We know you all enjoyed reading these questions and answers, so we’ve compiled all of them into one article for easy reference. And if you’d like to hear more from Tara, be sure to view her Flex007 column series “Flex Talk.”

Just Ask Tara Dunn: Will IC Substrates Be Produced in Volume in the U.S.?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Tara Dunn’s turn! Tara is the vice president of marketing and business development for Averatek. Today's question: Do you think IC substrates (BGA, CSP, flip chip, etc.) will ever be produced in high volumes in the U.S.?

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Well, it’s the last Friday in November. On any normal year in the U.S., this would be “Black Friday” because, for many retailers, the kickoff to the holiday season’s shopping spree is the source for most of the operating income for the year. While it remains to be seen how exactly how much traditional in-store and online retailing will rake in, with the varied pandemic lockdowns, it’s clear that readers wanted to get the latest electronics industry sales numbers!


Our Thanksgiving Wish

As we take time to observe this holiday, the I-Connect007 team wishes to offer our thanks to you, our global readers and contributors: designers, fabricators, engineers, assemblers, quality and process control gurus, chemists, physicists, supervisors, managers, entrepreneurs, business owners, standards writers, industry experts, and more. You breathe life into the vital, thriving, world-changing electronics industry. You are the real story.

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

In my top five picks, we have news about columnist Tara Dunn moving to Averatek to work with their A-SAP additive processes, and an interview with Audrey Sim regarding the “hybrid” model adopted by the HKPCA for its upcoming Electronic Circuits World Convention. We also have a compilation of the questions that readers have asked Joe Fjelstad and news about DownStream Technologies adding support for flex, rigid-flex, and embedded component designs. Finally, we share a review of some of KYZEN’s new training sessions on cleaning electronic assemblies—virtual courses that pack a lot of information into 15-minute snapshots. Knowing how tight everyone’s schedules are now, 15-minute events might be the ticket.

Just Ask Joe Fjelstad: The Exclusive Compilation

We asked for you to send in your questions for Joe Fjelstad, and you took us up on it! We know you all enjoyed reading these questions and answers, so we’ve compiled all of them into one article for easy reference. We hope you enjoy having another bite at the apple. And if you’d like to hear more from Joe, view his column series “Flexible Thinking.”

Tara Dunn Transitions to New Role at Averatek

I-Connect007 columnist Tara Dunn shares the exciting news about the transition from her role as president of Omni PCB to vice president of marketing and development at Averatek, where she will be working primarily with OEMs to break down the advantages of additive manufacturing.

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

My last turn to select the top five editor’s picks was just before the triple-threat Halloween holiday (full moon, blue moon, and on a Saturday). Now that it’s my turn again, it falls the mega-superstitious Friday the 13th. You’re not triskaidekaphobic, are you?

Just Ask Tara Dunn: What Is the Thickest Flex Layer Available?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Tara Dunn’s turn! Today's question: What is the maximum thickness of a single flex layer?

Just Ask Tara Dunn: Maximum Number of Flex Layers?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Tara Dunn’s turn! Tara is the vice president of marketing and business development for Averatek. A regular Flex007 columnist, Tara discusses flexible circuits, rigid-flex, and rigid PCBs, as well as RF/microwave technology, microelectronics, and additive processes. She is also co-founder of Geek-a-Palooza and a show manager for the SMTA Additive Electronics TechXchange event. She has over 20 years of experience in the PCB industry. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Tara.”

Just Ask Tara Dunn: Why Don’t Fabricators Provide More Feedback to Designers?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Tara Dunn’s turn! Tara is the vice president of marketing and business development for Averatek. A regular Flex007 columnist, Tara discusses flexible circuits, rigid-flex, and rigid PCBs, as well as RF/microwave technology, microelectronics, and additive processes. She is also co-founder of Geek-a-Palooza and a show manager for the SMTA Additive Electronics TechXchange event. She has over 20 years of experience in the PCB industry. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Tara.”

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This past week, we published a variety of articles, interviews, and columns—and readers definitely made their favorites known. There was good news about hiring and staffing. (In case you were wondering, there are quite a few open positions in this industry right now.) We touched base with a pair of young engineers to get their thoughts on what it’s like for recent grads working in the PCB manufacturing community. We learned about a company’s new program that can help take some of the stress out of NPI. We also launched a new chapter in our “Just Ask” series, this time starring columnist Tara Dunn. And there was sad news that a contract manufacturer’s chairman had just passed away.

Just Ask Tara Dunn: DFM for Flex and Rigid-Flex

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Omni PCB President Tara Dunn’s turn! A regular Flex007 columnist, Tara discusses flexible circuits, rigid-flex, and rigid PCBs, as well as RF/microwave technology, microelectronics, and additive processes. Tara is the co-founder of Geek-a-Palooza and a show manager for the SMTA Additive Electronics TechXchange event. She has over 20 years of experience in the PCB industry. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Tara.”


Just Ask Tara Dunn: What’s Next for LCP Materials?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Omni PCB President Tara Dunn’s turn! A regular Flex007 columnist, Tara discusses flexible circuits, rigid-flex, and rigid PCBs, as well as RF/microwave technology, microelectronics, and additive processes. Tara is the co-founder of Geek-a-Palooza and a show manager for the SMTA Additive Electronics TechXchange event. She has over 20 years of experience in the PCB industry. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Tara.”

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Welcome to the Halloween issue of the I-Connect007 Top Five Editor’s Picks! This year’s Halloween lands on a doozy of a day. Astronomers among us will, undoubtedly, already have noticed that not only does the spooky holiday fall on a Saturday night, but it also falls exactly on a full moon—and a Blue Moon, at that! The last time a Halloween Blue Moon occurred in all time zones was in 1941. As if there weren’t enough “ghoulishness” already, 2020 delivers yet another rare occurrence.

Flex on the Brain: The Future of Neural Interfaces

The SMTA Additive Electronics TechXchange took place virtually on October 14, with presentations from a wide variety of technologists involved in additive processes. Andy Shaughnessy describes how one of the highlights was a presentation titled “Flexible Electronics for Neural Interfaces” by Dr. Jonathan Viventi, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

After a crazy year like this, we shouldn’t be surprised that this trade show season is unlike any other. Here’s one of the many “silver linings” of 2020: We actually dodged a bullet earlier this year when COVID-19 hit after most of our industry’s big events had taken place. In this week’s top five, we have an assortment of trade show and conference news items, plus a few examples of technological trends and innovation.

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Trade shows and technical conferences haven’t died; they’ve just moved online. The trade show season continues in virtual full force this week, and event coverage dominates the top five this week. Surprisingly, I don’t see events as this week’s theme. No, this week’s theme is “pundits.” We have Walt Custer’s industry outlook, seven experts on additive electronics, a designers conference keynote, and the IPC’s government relations expert. Don’t get me wrong: These folks are asked to speak to the industry for a good reason. They know their subject matter, and they present it skillfully. This week’s top five picks are worth reading.

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

It’s showtime! This past week, we saw quite a bit of news about virtual trade shows. It’s great to see show managers pivot from live, in-person events to virtual shows with only a few months to make it all happen. How would you like to be a show manager today?

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Most all the action this week involved the STMA International Conference and Exposition. I-Connect007’s Real Time with… video interviews generally led the way for views and clicks. In each item, the intent was to make things better in some fashion. Whether it was pivoting on trade show delivery, optimizing the metalization process in the fab, adding more AI to manufacturing capital equipment, unifying and furthering the concept of the digital twin concept, or responding to company growth by upgrading systems with the help the equipment manufacturers, all these news items speak to being adaptable and forward-thinking.

Flexible Circuit Technology Workshop #5 Tackles Structures, Applications, Materials, and Manufacturing Processes: Think and Plan in Three Dimensions!

In just 15 minutes, flex expert Joe Fjelstad will teach you about implementing this useful technology into your manufacturing operation. Joe suggests you start with defining your end-product requirements and understanding cost and product life cycle expectations, as well as end-user needs. He further addresses the many considerations with adopting this useful technology.

Real Time with…SMTAI 2020: ASC Makes Lemonade Out of Lemons

Steve Williams and Anaya Vardya, president and CEO of American Standard Circuits (ASC), discuss the upcoming virtual SMTAI show and how the company is “making lemonade out of lemons.” As they point out, there may be no face-to-face interaction, but virtual shows are open to attendees from around the world with no travel or hotel costs. Anaya explains how the COVID-19 lockdown has caused ASC to become more creative in its marketing efforts, including holding webinars and publishing two eBooks with I-Connect007. They also discuss ASC’s holistic approach to the marketplace, with a diversified product mix across various segments.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

In this week’s picks, we bring you news about the upcoming SMTA International 2020, IPC’s plans for the fall, a move for Burkle North America’s headquarters, and advice on how to select the correct CAD tool. And we have the first installment of our newest series: “Just Ask John Mitchell.”


Just Ask John Mitchell: Are IPC’s Positions Dictated by Politics?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, and Eric Camden in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s IPC President and CEO John Mitchell’s turn! A regular PCB007 columnist, John focuses on many of the challenges affecting the global electronics industry supply chain. Over the years, he has served as an engineer, manager, and executive at a variety of companies and organizations. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask John.”

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Two weeks ago, when it was my turn to pick the top 5, I made a comment about themes. I’m making a stretch here, but this week’s theme is technical education. Three out of the five most popular news items this last week reported on upcoming technical events or publications.

Documenting Your Flex Circuit Design

As a flex circuit applications engineer, when I receive an RFQ, the first thing I do is look at the customer’s data and review their manufacturing notes. Quite often, I find notes that supersede IPC specifications in manufacturing documents, as customers often believe these added notes and associated specifications will make the circuit more robust. However, these non-standard IPC manufacturing specifications/notes can wreak havoc on the manufacturing process and can actually lead to a less robust circuit.

I-Connect007’s Latest Innovation: Joe Fjelstad’s E-Workshop on Flexible Circuits

Denied the prospect of physically attending conferences, symposia, or live workshops by travel and social-distancing restrictions, Pete Starkey welcomed the opportunity to enjoy a privileged preview of I-Connect007’s latest innovation in technical webinars: a series of e-workshops on flexible circuit technology with the industry’s leading authority—Joe Fjelstad.

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

When compiling my Top Five, I tend to let the reader views guide my choices. Oh, sure, sometimes a news item is significant well beyond the reads it receives; that’s why this is an editor’s picks, not a strict Top Five. Still, readership habits inform my choices. That makes it even more interesting when a week demonstrates a theme so convenient as to seem contrived. Take this week, for example. In this week’s top five, four of the top five are news reports on mil-aero topics. You, dear readers, gobbled up the military and aerospace news this week. The outlier is, as we all would expect, a conference report from our very own Pete Starkey.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This week, we have quite a potpourri for you. There's good news about the PCB market. And as this year continues to surprise us at every turn, companies are discovering the true nature of their leaders. Todd Kolmodin has a great column about bosses and leaders and why the two words are not synonymous. Not to be outdone, columnist Barry Olney found a way to explain the wavelength of electromagnetic energy by using a chocolate bar and a microwave oven. We also have great articles by Sagi Reuven and Pete Starkey.

Got a Question? Just Ask Joe!

A few months ago, we launched our “Just Ask” series with Happy Holden. Many readers took us up on it, sending all manner of questions for happy to answer. Now, Joe Fjelstad—inventor, technologist, author, and Flex007 columnist—is getting in on the action. Here’s your chance to pick Joe’s brain. What’s the one question about this industry that you’ve always wanted to ask Joe?

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This week’s picks include a little of everything. We have an interview with the founder of Avishtech, a new EDA software company that has a spin on field solvers and stackup tools. We also have an interview with Mike Carano, who discusses the need for mentors. Then, there’s news about partnership between Koh Young and Mentor, and an iNEMI "best practices" guide for disinfecting your facility. Finally, we've compiled all of the "Just Ask Happy" entries into a single document for your viewing pleasure. Happy Friday!

Joe Fjelstad Updates His Online Flex Workshop

Joe Fjelstad has been an innovator in flexible and rigid-flex technology for four decades. About 10 years ago, I-Connect007 helped Joe produce an online workshop on flex technology based largely on his book Flexible Circuit Technology, which was first published in 1994 and is now heading into its fifth edition. In this online video course, Joe offers a primer on flexible circuits, covering everything from the history of this technology through the most cutting-edge technologies.

Just Ask Happy: The Exclusive Compilation

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! We loved them so much, and we know that you did too, so we’ve compiled all 21 questions and answers into one document for easy reference.


I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: 5 Must-Reads for the Week

Nolan Johnson's top 5 picks this week include the SpaceX Dragon splashdown, the Mars 2020 mission’s Ingenuity helicopter—featuring an interview with the carbon fiber company that built the helicopter’s landing gear—and the U.S. Air Force’s efforts to secure space systems with the help of volunteer hackers. Readers also responded to news from IPC and iNEMI, and blockchain turned out to be hugely popular.

Flex Workshop Update With Joe Fjelstad and Anaya Vardya

When Anaya Vardya, president and CEO of American Standard Circuits, heard that Joe Fjelstad, founder and CEO of Verdant Electronics, was releasing an updated version of his flexible circuit technology workshop, he knew ASC had to be a sponsor. We recently asked Joe and Anaya to discuss the flexible circuit technology workshop, as well as the ongoing need for flex and rigid-flex training—even in the time of COVID-19—as the demand for flex continues to rise.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Say what you will about 2020, but it certainly isn’t boring. There’s a lot going on in the PCB world, and there’s something for everyone in this week’s top five picks. And it’s all positive, despite the lingering presence of COVID-19 and its aftereffects.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This week’s top five is a smattering across the industry. There’s an update on an established vendor and a press release from a startup. Then, we have two columns: one on M&A, and the other on supply chain disruptions. Finally, I highlight an interview from a U.S. food distributor sales manager, shedding light on the similarities of supply chain interruption in all industries. It's quite an assortment, but what they all have in common is that readers found these items compelling.

Find the Perfect Employee With D.B. Management Group

If you’re searching for the right person for an open job in the PCB industry, look no further than D.B. Management Group’s recruiting page in each of the I-Connect007 magazines.

Selling in a Post-COVID Environment, Part 2

Nolan Johnson continues his conversation with Penny Cole about how COVID-19 has affected her industry’s distribution channels and supply chain, as well as how she has adapted to the shifting dynamic as a salesperson.

Dale Smith and David Moody: Lenthor Pushing Limits of Flex Technology

Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Dale Smith and David Moody of Lenthor Engineering. Dale is Lenthor’s new chief technology officer, and David is the director of sales/marketing.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Like a bad penny, COVID-19 just keeps coming back and affecting the PCB industry. This week, we saw more industry events going fully virtual—a trend that’s likely to continue. But as Chris Mitchell explains, the COVID-19 outbreak is also forcing lawmakers and organizations to work together for the good of the U.S. electronics supply chain. Sometimes, it takes a crisis to make everyone cooperate, so let’s celebrate these little victories.

Just Ask Happy: Ranking the Top Countries by Fab Technology and Production

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. Enjoy.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

The common theme in this week’s Top 5 editor’s picks is “change.” We’re talking change in the form of forwarding process, achieving milestones, evolving, and improving metrics. This week’s picks are not only newsworthy but also captured reader attention based on metrics. If you haven’t read any other news items from the industry this week, I propose these five must-reads.


Nano Dimension Appoints LM Instruments to Market PCB/Hi-PEDs 3D-Printers

Nano Dimension Ltd., a leading Additively Manufactured Electronics (AME)/PE (Printed Electronics) provider, has signed an agreement with LM Instruments, which will represent Nano Dimension in the Mid-Atlantic States by marketing its 3D-Fabrication Machines for High-Performance Electronic Devices (Hi-PEDs).

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

The USMCA trade agreement was just the tip of the iceberg in news affecting our industry this week. We also saw more young people getting involved in the industry, an HDP User Group webinar on automotive thermal issues, and more questions for our own Happy Holden—this time, on stacked microvia reliability, or the lack thereof.

IPC: Shawn DuBravac and Chris Mitchell on USMCA

On July 1, 2020, the USMCA trade act (United States-Mexico-Canada Act) phased in as a trade agreement guiding economic trade and growth in North America. Nolan Johnson spoke with both Shawn DuBravac, IPC’s chief economist, and Chris Mitchell, IPC’s vice president of global government affairs and an I-Connect007 columnist, about the impact of USMCA on North American electronics manufacturing.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Updates on trade shows, conferences, and associations dominated industry news this past week. Some events are returning to a physical venue; others are opting for a virtual version in 2020. Add to that a spate of cross-association cooperative agreements and new programs for career development coming from multiple associations, and you’ve delivered four of my top five picks.

Happy Holden Is Taking Your Questions Now

Happy Holden, the industry icon and “Father of HDI,” is ready to answer your questions! What have you always wanted to ask Happy, but never thought you'd have the chance? Now is your chance! Please take a few minutes to jot down your questions for Happy. A select group of answers will be published in upcoming editions of I-Connect007 magazines and newsletters.

Where The Jobs Are: The I-Connect007 Help Wanted Pages

If you’re looking for a career in the PCB industry—design, fabrication, or assembly—the I-Connect007 Career Opportunities section, jobconnect007.com, is the first place you should look. Right now, there are job openings for positions that span the entire circuit board supply chain, and you can submit your resume directly to the hiring managers by clicking on the ad.

The iNEMI 2019 Roadmap: Flexible Hybrid Electronics

The emerging trend for “electronics on everything, everything with electronics” was the theme of iNEMI’s webinar presentation of the highlights of its recently published Flexible Hybrid Electronics Roadmap Chapter, delivered by Girish Wable, senior engineering services manager with Jabil. Pete Starkey provides an overview.

SpaceX Manned Mission Promises More Success for Milaero and Electronics Manufacturing

On May 30, 2020, SpaceX became the first non-governmental organization to send human cargo into orbit and to a successful docking rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). On June 1, Nolan Johnson spoke with military/aerospace consultant and I-Connect007 columnist Mike Hill about the significance of this mission.

Flexible Circuit Technologies Adds Johnson Company as a Product Representative

Nolan Johnson spoke with Carey Burkett, VP of business development at Minneapolis-based Flexible Circuit Technologies. FCT recently signed a sales representation agreement authorizing Johnson Company to represent FCT in the Midwest region of the U.S.

Happy Holden's Essential Skills: Online Instruction and Distance Learning

Online courses have become increasingly available and popular. For this to be effective, specific requirements must be met for courses taken or produced over the internet in order to provide the user with a positive experience. Read Happy Holden's updated article from his series on 25 essential skills for engineers.


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