Reflow Perspectives to Flex Circuit Assemblies
At the recent NEPCON China 2018 event in Shanghai, I spoke with Ralf Wagenfuehr, plant manager at Rehm Thermal Systems, to gain insight into flex circuit assembly, and the challenges of reflow soldering. He also speaks about the need for industry forums focused on soldering flex printed circuits.
Flex Time: Why is Rigid-Flex So Expensive?
One question that I hear fairly often, particularly after an initial quotation, is “Why is rigid-flex so expensive?” In this article, I’ll share with designers the cost drivers in rigid-flex relative to standard rigid boards and flex circuits with stiffeners. A typical rigid-flex PWB will cost about seven times the cost of the same design on a hard board, and two to three times an equivalent flex circuit with stiffeners.
EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference Day 2: The Past, the Present and the Future, Pt. 1
The sun was shining in Dusseldorf as delegates returned to the conference room for the second day of the EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference. There were very few empty chairs—even those who had enjoyed a late networking session in the hotel bar had taken their seats as Paul Waldner opened the proceedings with Session 5, on a theme of future PCB design, material and processes for the PCB supply chain.
Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Flex and Rigid-Flex Fundamentals
The design process is arguably the most important part of the flex circuit procurement process. The decisions made in the design process will have a lasting impact, for better or worse, throughout the manufacturing cycle. In advance of providing important details about the actual construction of the flex circuit, it is of value to provide some sort of understanding of the expected use environment for the finished product.
5G—Generation after Generation
If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard of 5G, but you may not understand what all the fuss is about. First, 5G simply means fifth-generation mobile networks. The best way to understand what 5G is about is to understand all the other Gs, like 3G and 4G (we rarely hear about the early Gs!).
The Institute of Circuit Technology Annual Symposium 2018
ICT technical director Bill Wilkie is well-known for choosing notable venues for Institute of Circuit Technology events, and his choice for this year’s Annual Symposium was the National Motor Museum, located in the village of Beaulieu in the heart of the New Forest, a national park in the county of Hampshire in Southern England. The region is known for its heathland, forest trails and native ponies.
Experts Discussion with John Talbot, Tramonto Circuits
For this first issue of Flex007 Magazine, we interviewed John Talbot, president and owner of Tramonto Circuits. Headquartered in metro Minneapolis, Minnesota, Tramonto manufactures flexible and rigid PCBs for a variety of industry segments. Editors Andy Shaughnessy, Patty Goldman and Stephen Las Marias asked John to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the world of flexible circuits, and some of the trends he’s seeing in this market.
Experts Discussion: The Flex Technologists Speak
For our first issue of the Flex007 Magazine, we invited a group of flexible circuit experts to discuss their work in this rapidly growing segment. Participants included Jonathan Weldon of DuPont, Mark Finstad of Flexible Circuit Technologies, and Scott McCurdy and Scott Miller of Freedom CAD. In a free-wheeling discussion with Andy Shaughnessy and Barry Matties, these technologists share their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities in flexible circuits, as well as what constitutes the cutting edge of flex right now.
The Survey Said: Industry Optimistic After Strong 2017
During recent trade shows and conferences, we spoke with a variety of fabricators and assembly providers. They had one thing in common: Every company achieved strong growth in 2017, and shared a positive outlook about the future. This year, the industry is optimistic, driven by positive economic outlook, growing customer demand, and new technologies and vertical markets, among others.
Geeking Out at Geek-A-Palooza MSP 2018
Kiersten Rohde, I-Connect007 editor, covers Geek-A-Palooza MSP 2018. Geek-A-Palooza "is a different kind of gathering that combines networking with a fun, relaxing atmosphere." This event provided an opportunity for local electronics geeks from every industry segment to gather for a professional social event that included great music, food, drinks, games, raffle prizes, and booths.
Autonomous Transportation: Using Disruptive Technologies to Create Social Disruption and Change
Those of us who have been driving for the last 50−60+ years have seen great change. At first, it was slow; we went from manual shift to automatic shift transmissions, then we started adding simple things such as FM radio (yes, that was a premium add-on in the early ‘60s), then air conditioning and power windows, fuel injection, cruise control, airbags, and in the last decade everything from GPS to LED lighting to automatic speed and distance control, back-up and surrounding cameras and so much more.
Unimicron Germany Rises from the Ashes with New Smart Factory
This is a review of the grand opening of Unimicron’s new smart factory in Geldern, Germany. A fire in a PCB shop is an experience we all dread, but still it happens, and the consequences can be devastating. In the early hours of December 28, 2016, the innerlayer production plant at RUWEL International in Geldern, Germany, caught fire and the whole factory and its contents were destroyed.
SHOW & TELL: Bringing STEM Students to IPC APEX EXPO for a View of the Industry
On the last morning of IPC APEX EXPO 2018, we met with Nancy Jaster, IPC design programs manager and one of the driving forces behind IPC’s STEM Outreach program for high school students. We spoke about the students who were arriving on site at IPC APEX EXPO, and what the industry, and IPC, hoped to achieve with this valuable program.
Setting the Record Straight: CEO Asher Levy on the Future of Orbotech
With the recent planned acquisition of Orbotech in place by maker KLA-Tencor, much of the industry has speculated about Orbotech’s future. Barry Matties spoke with CEO Asher Levy about what lies in store for the Orbotech group and, more specifically, their PCB division should the deal close.
Succeeding at the Velocity of Technology: An IPC APEX EXPO 2018 Wrap-Up
After many months of planning, IPC APEX EXPO 2018 proved to be a success. From revolutionary advancements displayed on the show floor to expert insights conveyed in technical conference sessions and professional development courses, IPC APEX EXPO provided the learning and connections that helped 4,574 attendees from 43 countries prepare for the future.
The Vast Offerings in Laminate Technologies from TUC
While at IPC APEX EXPO a few weeks ago, I sat down with George Hsin, chief strategy officer for TUC Worldwide, and Alan Cochrane, president of TUC North America. I was interested in learning more about the company and their laminate products and Alan was happy to fill me in.
From Math to Marketing: Orbotech CMO’s Worldview of the Industry
Barry Matties met with Orbotech’s corporate VP of Business Development and CMO, Lior Maayan, in Shenzhen and spoke about the next-generation processes currently challenging Orbotech's R&D team. Most notable among them are additive technologies like the automated optical shaping solution, and the growth of MSAP, flex, and HDI.
A Discussion About Everything Under the Sun
From flex circuits to HDI, Industry 4.0, leading market drivers, and materials—this wide-ranging discussion with Sunshine Global Circuits CTO David Aldape highlights the latest and future developments, challenges, and opportunities in the PCB manufacturing industry.
ESI Targets Growing HDI Space
At the recent HKPCA and IPC Show 2017 in Shenzhen, China, Chris Ryder, director of product management for HDI at Electro Scientific Industries Inc. (ESI), discusses how laser-based processing is addressing the challenges in HDI development, and MSAP technology and its impact on the PCB industry.
Weiner’s World—March 2018
SEMICON China 2018 was amazing in its size and attendance. More than 1,000 exhibitors filled an event record of more than 74,000 square meters of exhibition space—the size of nearly 10 professional soccer fields. This year's theme was "collect, collaborate, innovate."
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Miraco Company and Services Introduction
Miraco's current quality manager, William Pfingston, fills Guest Editor Steve Williams in on the company's contract manufacturing capabilities and services, including strengths in design and flex circuits. He also talks about the company's expansion and organizational changes.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Insulectro Discusses Importance of Helping PCB Shops
Chris Hunrath, VP of technology at Insulectro, discusses their recent expansion of inventory, especially substrate materials, the need for quick access, and the importance of working closely with their customers and OEMs.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Catching Up with Cirexx International
Philipp Menges, president of Cirexx International, discusses yearly company updates and growing markets, including automotive, medical, and military.
Three New Mars2020 Rover Technologies: What Powers the “Body Parts” on the Mars2020 Rover?
The Mars2020 Rover Mission, designed by JPL, is the next NASA Mars Exploration Program mission that is planned to launch in 2020. Some goals of the mission include to check for past signs of life, to help prepare for manned Mars missions, and to collect soil samples and cache them on the surface for potential return to Earth by a future mission.
Bridging Knowledge and Understanding of Thermal Management Materials
At IPC APEX EXPO recently, Pete Starkey and Ian Mayoh, Ventec International’s technical support manager, had a chance to sit down and discuss the I-Connect007 micro E-book: The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates, of which Ian is a co-author.
New Year, New Equipment—Right?
This month, we will discuss the equipment purchasing decision-making process. How many of you can recall the earliest “dippy dunk” PCB shops, so-called because that’s exactly how it was done? There were no conveyorized lines, no automatic hoists, no load/unload stations, maybe not even a lab for analyzing the plating baths.
Part 2: EIPC’s Winter Conference in Lyon, France: Day 2 Review
The final session, on European needs for new technology, product safety and training, was introduced and moderated by EIPC board member Dr. Michele Stampanoni, vice president of strategic sales and business development at Cicor Group.
EIPC’s Winter Conference in Lyon, France: Day 2 Review
The first day of the conference had started and ended in the dark—a long and technically intense day! After a convivial conference dinner and a good night’s sleep we were back on the bus, this time in daylight at the slightly later time of 8:00 a.m., for the journey from downtown Lyon back to Alstom’s conference facility in Villeurbanne, and it wasn’t raining. In fact, there was even some sunshine later in the day!
Part 2: EIPC’s 2018 Winter Conference in Lyon, Review of Day 1
We continue with the rest of Pete Starkey’s report on Day 1 of the EIPC Winter Conference in Lyon, France. Included in this segment are presentations by Ventec, Ericsson, TTM and others, plus photos of their evening tour of Alstom.
Orbotech’s Strategic Decision for End-to-End Partnership Benefits Everyone
Barry Matties met with Sharon Cohen, president of Orbotech West, at productronica 2017 to discuss what’s new at Orbotech, specifically their shift to be more customer-centric and to provide regional coverage across the globe. He also discusses the current trends in the marketplace and Industry 4.0.
EIPC’s 2018 Winter Conference in Lyon, Review of Day 1
Venue for the 2018 EIPC Winter Conference was the splendid new Alstom Transport Information Solutions facility in Villeurbanne, in the Lyon metropolitan area of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in eastern France. An extremely popular event—117 delegates represented a total of 20 countries, unprecedented in recent years, and only just fitted into Alstom’s conference suite. Indeed, some were even standing at the back!
The Best It’s Ever Been, Every Year: The Goal for IPC, Part 1
The end of 2017 caps an exciting time for IPC and IPC China as membership has grown substantially, in part because of new offerings from the organization to its Asian members. Meeting with Barry Matties at HKPCA, John Mitchell and Phil Carmichael discuss the areas of focus for IPC in the upcoming year, first and foremost being education and welcoming a new generation into the industry.
Cicor’s Approach to Miniaturization: Cost of Function, and More
Barry Matties spoke with Karl Heinz-Fritz, VP of technology, about Cicor’s newest product line, which can shrink the size of a circuit by up to 40%, and the importance of measuring the cost of functionality.
In Terms of Experience, a 10,000-foot View of China
In the past 30+ years of PCB manufacturing in China, you would be hard-pressed to find someone more connected to the pulse of the Asian market than Gene Weiner. Barry Matties met with the industry veteran at HKPCA to get his take on the show, the current and future market conditions of China, and any effect the new U.S. administration might have on trade relations going forward.
CES 2018, Augmented Reality and Much More
The actual CES show is spread across many locations in Las Vegas. The main exhibit halls are at or near to the Las Vegas Convention Center with three buildings, two floors each, all filled with hundreds of booths. Then there is The Sands Convention Center with multiple halls filled to the brim and hotels with their own convention centers and floors of exhibitor suites. With almost 200,000 in attendance, all locations are very busy.
Preview: CES 2018 Unveiled
The official CES events started only about 15 hours ago. I have already been to CES Unveiled, an amazing (but somewhat long) NVIDIA press event, and now the Panasonic press conference is soon to begin, launching the Press Day activities. So far, it’s been amazing!
Weiner’s World—December 2017
Hold on to your seats! 2018 will be a year full of rapid changes, surprises, and growth. M&A activities will flourish. The supply chain will suffer shortages and changes as demand increases, copycats will rush to market, and new markets and potential suppliers will vanish before they are established.
Automation and Traceability Critical for High-Throughput Probe Testing
Peter Brandt, atg’s director of sales for Europe, India and Japan, joined Barry Matties at productronica to share his views on regional variations in electrical testing requirements, automation, traceability, and how to anticipate and satisfy the future demands of the market. Group general manager Dr. Jochen Kleinertz also comments on the need for close cooperation with customers to guide the R&D effort.
Institute of Circuit Technology Harrogate Seminar 2017
A return to the historic spa town of Harrogate in Yorkshire, England for the Institute of Circuit Technology Northern Seminar, to enjoy a diverse programme of presentations on safety standards, research in selective metal deposition, and developments in imaging and inspection techniques.
HDI: Today, Tomorrow and the Future
For the November issue of The PCB Magazine, our editorial team interviewed some of the top HDI experts in the PCB supply chain. Joining us on the conference call were Steve Bird, PCB/flex technology manager at Finisar, and Tony Torres of APCT.
Video from productronica 2017: Rogers Discusses Trends Driving Growth
Dirk Lefelon, European sales manager for Rogers Corporation, discusses his group’s final 2017 results. He also explains what the new year will bring, including increased investment in capacity for the European market, especially for the automotive segment.
Happy Holden and Charles Pfeil Discuss the Past and Future of PCB Design, Part 1
When it comes to the PCB design community and the challenges facing it, as well as where design has been and where it’s heading, there aren’t many people as qualified to speak on the topic as long-time industry veterans Happy Holden and Charles Pfeil. Joined by I-Connect007’s Barry Matties at the recent AltiumLive 2017 event in San Diego, the three sat down for a discussion about the current state of PCB design, what the future holds, and what it means to be a designer.
New I-Connect007 Team Members Tour American Standard Circuits
Recently, Anaya Vardya, CEO of American Standard Circuits, invited two of I-Connect007’s newest team members, IT coordinator Jonathan Zinski and Editor Kiersten Rohde, to tour his facility in West Chicago, Illinois. Happy Holden, resident PCB expert, also joined the newbies on their field trip to ASC. In the following articles, Jonathan and Kiersten describe their experience touring ASC. Special thanks to Anaya for hosting the I-Connect007 team.
IPC Status Update: Training, Standards, and More!
At the recent IPC Fall committee meetings that are co-located with the SMTA International conference and show, IPC’s president and CEO, John Mitchell, sat down for a chat with me for an update on what’s happening at IPC.
Update on IPC’s Validation Services and Hints of What’s to Come
SMTA International is the perfect time to get updates on IPC happenings. One that I’m always curious about is the Validation Services programs. At the busy show, I managed to find a quiet spot so Randy Cherry, IPC’s director of Validation Services, could fill me in on the latest.
Patty's Perspective: (Signal) Integrity for All
Our topic this month is signal integrity, certainly a common one in our industry. Signal integrity is achieved by controlling impedance, so my advice is to do that. There, I’m done. Just kidding…of course I’m not done. But if you are in PCB manufacturing and you think this is just a design problem and doesn’t concern you, please think again.
The State-of-the-Art in PCB Pre-production Engineering
If there’s one benefit of old age, it’s being able to remember the introduction to our industry of technologies that may be taken for granted by the present generation, but were revolutionary at the time. I can recall the history of Ucamco as far back as the late 1980s when, as one of the very early adopters of the DISC laser plotter and its associated electronic PCB front-end tooling system, our company gained entry to a spectacular new world of pre-production engineering capability.
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.