Dana Korf: What Fabricators Expect From Designers


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Andy Shaughnessy and Barry Matties spoke with Dana Korf, former chief PCB technologist for Huawei and currently principal consultant of Korf Consultancy, about the breakdown in communication between manufacturers and designers. Dana discusses exactly what a fabricator expects from a PCB designer, why these expectations are often not met, and the need for designers to make mistakes so that they can learn from them.

Andy Shaughnessy: Dana, we’re going to talk about expectations and the problems with unmet expectations. Can you give everybody a quick rundown of your background?

Dana Korf: I started out post-Vietnam War in the mini-computer industry where we were trying to displace mainframe computers; it was said that you couldn’t do it, but at the end of a few years, our machine came out, and we could beat them in some benchmarks. Then, PCs came out and displaced that industry. At that time, I was working my first PCB in the fab shop, which was a six-layer board and hand layout with tape with Mylar paper two times the size. Over the years, I worked in fabrication on design for a telecommunications company. I co-founded Interconnect Technology Inc. (ITI) in the early ‘80s with some people from Tektronix, where we had a service bureau set up doing the laser blind via drilling PCB layout, fabrication and surface-mount assembly. Unfortunately, the company didn’t make it, but I made a lot of friends in various groups that scattered out around the industry, and some of them are still around.

After that, I went into telecom design and worked on one of the first fiber-to-the-home distribution systems, and then I went back to the board fabrication industry, where I’ve been there pretty much the last 25+ years. I’ve been involved in high-end circuit board manufacturing, run R&D, and was involved with buried capacitance technology when it first came out. It was a radical idea that enhanced the existing decoupling capacitors with higher frequency plane-to-plane capacitance, which was critical for signal integrity and power distribution. We marketed it for many years then it finally took off. That was with Zycon, then we got bought by HADCO and subsequently by Sanmina, so we had a lot of board shops around the world. I was responsible for the front-end engineering for all the shops globally, where the key challenge was to be able to transfer designs from North America to Europe and Asia; that was difficult because the materials and plant capabilities were not always the same.

To read this entire interview, which appeared in the May 2020 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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