Mr. Laminate Tells All

Column from: Doug Sober

Doug Sober has over 30 years experience as a producer of copper-clad laminates and prepregs for the printed circuit board market including with General Electric, Westinghouse, Fortin and Isola. More recently he was NA sales manager for Bakelite and marketing manager with Kaneka Texas Corp., both suppliers of resins used in PCB laminate materials.

Sober has been the IPC Base Materials General Committee Chairman since 1996 as well as the UL Task Group Chairman, the IPC Halogen-Free Subcommittee chairman, the USA delegate to IEC TC91 (Geneva, Switzerland): Printed Circuits, Working Group 4: Printed Boards and Materials (Chairman), and Working Group 10: Test Methods, as well as the ANSI National Technical Advisor to IEC TC91: Printed Circuits. He is also a member of the Underwriters Laboratories Industry Advisory Group (STP) for UL746E and UL796.  He was inducted into the IPC Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Dieter Bergman Fellowship Award in 2015.

September 28, 2020

Mr. Laminate Tells All: Is Your Laminate and Prepreg Supplier Cheating? Only One Way to Find Out

According to Doug Sober, a huge void now exists in the base materials specifications for PCBs and PCB assemblies with the inactivation of MIL-S-13949 for base materials and the loss of the military’s oversight function. IPC-4101 replaced the specification for MIL-S-13949, but there was no mechanism established for an oversight function.
January 25, 2019

Mr. Laminate Tells All: Good Morning, Vietnam!

Many electronics-based OEMs and their supply chains are looking for China alternatives in the current economic and political landscape. Of all the remaining locations possible in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is coming to the forefront as a viable choice for successful export manufacturing. Every day, we see evidence of large OEMs shifting their focus to Vietnam.
April 24, 2018

Mr. Laminate Tells All: IPC-4101 Validation Services—The QPL Lives Again

When the electronics industry transitioned from the military standard MIL-S-13949 to the industry standard IPC-4101 in 1997, the electronics supply chain lost something fundamental: the Qualified Products List (QPL) for all the laminate and prepreg materials.
January 18, 2018

IEC TC111 and the Ban on PTFE: Update

When Steve Tisdale and I last wrote about this subject, TC111 of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the ad hoc group, PT63031, was preparing a draft of a standard that would effectively ban PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) materials from electronics.
July 10, 2017

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.
November 22, 2016

The Certification of IPC-4101D Polyimide Base Materials: Buyer Beware

At one of the IPC meetings held in Rosemont, Illinois, one of the hot topics of discussion at the Laminate and Prepreg Subcommittee was the three polyimide specification sheets.
February 10, 2016

CEM-3 Reinvents Itself (Again)—or, Atari Game Boards on eBay?

CEM-3 was unusual as the reinforcement was a combination of woven fiber-glass fabric and fiber-glass paper. The resin system was a dicy-cured epoxy resin yielding a Tg the same as FR-4 at the time, of 110–120°C range. Because it was all epoxy and all fiberglass, the properties were electrically identical to those of FR-4.
January 05, 2016

Who Would Like a Mil-Spec Audit?

I remember when IPC-4101 was completed and released in December 1997 and the question came up “should IPC create a policeman program to enforce it?” To a person that helped create IPC-4101, absolutely no one wanted such an audit program ever again. Including me and the IPC staff liaisons. Maybe we should have rethought that position.
November 12, 2015

Mr. Laminate Tells All: Where in the Holy Halogens did 900, 900, 1500 Come From?

The 900, 900, 1500 is not a combination to an enormous safe that contains the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, nor is it the weight of three elephants at the San Diego Zoo in kilograms. The 900, 900, 1500 is the maximum parts per million (ppm) of bromine and chlorine and the total bromine and chlorine in a material that can be defined as “halogen-free” in the electronics industry today. But where did these requirements come from? Clearly, 900 ppm of bromine or chlorine is obviously not halogen-free. Some would argue that it is not even low-halogen at all.
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