Dana on Data

Column from: Dana Korf

Currently the principal consultant at Korf Consultancy LLC, Dana Korf works with companies to improve PCB fabricator front-end engineering processes. Dana is AME standards manager at Nano Dimension. He also works with OEMs and ODMs to create design rules and technology roadmaps, assist with supplier selection/qualification, and reduce DFM cycles. Dana previously worked in China for over seven years at Multek in Zhuhai as senior director of manufacturing engineering and NPI and at Huawei Technologies in Shenzhen as director of PCB technology where he was responsible for PCB technology ranging from mobile phones to RF antennas, base stations, and high-speed digital servers and switches; before that, he worked for Samina-SCI, HADCO, and Zycon as director of product engineering. He has been awarded the IPC President’s Award, chaired many high-speed IPC committees, and was a co-chair for the iNEMI Data Convergence project, which has become IPC-2581. Dana graduated from Washington State University with a BSEE, and he enjoys following college and professional football and golf.

May 22, 2024

Dana on Data: The Insane PCB DFM Process

This industry just doesn’t like to change. Line width/space is consistently narrowed; layer counts are now over 120 layers; via diameters constantly shrink. But a fabricator still can’t build per the supplied data package because of design, document, and capability mismatch errors. I have been writing for I-Connect007, and of the 41 articles and interviews I have done, 39 have focused on highlighting designer-to-fabricator data transfer issues with proposed solutions. Little has changed to improve the transfer. This industry seems to accept receiving erroneous PCB data.
April 04, 2024

Dana on Data: eCAD PCB Design Deficiencies

Printed circuit board manufacturers are paid to create PCBs that reflect the supplied data package technical data. Decades ago, the industry started to send data packages that could not be built properly per the supplied documentation. Nobody seems to know when this started or the first manufacturer who said, “I’ll fix your error for free.”
January 18, 2024

Dana on Data: Nuke the Netlist

Late last year, I started thinking about the IPC-D-356 netlist. Why do we generate it? What is its purpose? Why are there so many issues using it? The central theme of my I-Connect007 columns, as well as presentations at PCB technical meetings, has focused on improving data package quality sent from designers to manufacturers. The goal is to transfer the design information to manufacturing and build the PCBs as-is. No semi-automated DFM, stackup generation, CAM editing, or data quality analysis should be needed.
November 29, 2023

Dana on Data: Simplify PCB Documentation

November’s issue of Design007 Magazine had an excellent theme that evolved around design simplification. There were exceptionally good articles about how to reduce over-constrained or needlessly complex designs. One significant time-consuming category is the creation of many design files and drawings which lead to lengthy creation and interpretation time along with the considerable time to resolve conflicting or erroneous information.
October 24, 2023

Dana on Data: IPC AME Standards Development Launched

An important element of design requirement determination and manufacturing requirements involves qualification, performance, and inspection standards. These are critical to ensure that the product’s electrical, mechanical, and reliability requirements are met without expensive over/under specification.
August 07, 2023

Dana on Data: Filling the Gap When Tribal Knowledge Runs Out

The March issue of Design007 Magazine took on the topic of tribal knowledge. The magazine posed this question: Is tribal knowledge friend or foe? The articles generally discussed the value and concern of having a significant amount of knowledge locked into peoples’ heads. Articles also discussed how that knowledge can be transferred into automation for both repeatability, quality, and manufacturing cycle time reduction.
May 18, 2023

Dana on Data: Can ChatGPT Solve My PCB Data Transfer Quality Problem?

The media is talking about how artificial intelligence will replace all of us with its ability to search massive amounts of online data to create fast, automatic solutions. To this end, I asked ChatGPT how to solve the data transfer quality problem. Below are three questions I posed, along with ChatGPT’s unedited responses, followed by impressions about how well the AI did.
April 04, 2023

Dana on Data: Are You Ready for 3D AME?

The PCB interconnect revolution has started. We are no longer constrained to X/Y trace routing with large drilled vias & pads connecting individual horizontal routing layers. Why be constrained with a trapezoidal trace? Why not route with twisted pairs or a coax interconnect? Additively manufactured electronics (AME) eliminates the need for through, blind, and buried vias by replacing them with a trace at non-vertical angles. What’s holding this implementation up?
January 19, 2023

Dana on Data: An IPC APEX EXPO 2023 Data Transfer Mission

January: Time to leave home and travel to sunny San Diego to attend the meetings, professional trainings, technical sessions, and exhibition at IPC APEX EXPO 2023. I hear that this year promises an excellent turnout for both the large exhibit floor and IPC committee meetings; maybe Tom Cruise will give us a fly-over from the Miramar Top Gun airbase? For myself, I have a full agenda and new tennis shoes, so my feet won’t wear out as soon as they did last year.
December 08, 2022

Dana on Data: PCB Data Transfer Non-evolution

The PCB industry still sends scanned copies of paper documents, which I have termed “ePaper,” back and forth to each other; this process requires humans to interpret the information on the electronic copy of a document before manually entering it into a computer. As many as 90% or more of all design data packages sent to manufacturing are still Gerber file-based with additional ePaper files. So much for the concept of continuous improvement.
October 06, 2022

Dana on Data: My Holiday Season Data Wishlist

Every year children often start creating their holiday gift list before Halloween. So, I thought that it would be a great idea to provide my holiday present request list to the PCB industry this month. My fundamental wish is simple: I wish to make it easier for designers to output designs and for PCB fabricator front-engineering teams to spend less time reviewing data so they may release production tooling into their factories faster. Secondarily, these requests should reduce the NPI cycle time and cost by reducing the insidious back and forth DFM review Technical Query (TQ) cycle. Here is my gift wish list.
July 28, 2022

Dana on Data: Time for a Data Format Revolution

Starting in the 1950s, the Gerber data format, complemented with several paper and electronic files, was used to transfer the physical PCB data from designers to fabricators and assemblers. RS-274-D and RS-274X gave us incremental improvements to the Gerber format, but still required several additional files to transfer all the data. IPC-D-356 was released in 1992 to provide a data transfer quality check. The 274X format with associated file, are still the most predominant data transfer package in use today, 70+ years later. Hard to believe from the highest technology industry on the planet.
May 26, 2022

Dana on Data: DFM Issue Reduction—Company-specific PCB Acceptance Specifications

PCB data packages commonly generate fabricator DFM feedback questions that require resolution. Resolving these issues delays the manufacturing cycle time until the issues are resolved. There are many methods and techniques to reduce the DFM issues, such as working with the fabricator to review proposed stackup materials and impedance structures early in the design cycle. Another common method is to generate a company specific acceptance specification that provides requirements that are not covered in referenced IPC specifications and include negotiated DFM issue resolutions.
March 03, 2022

Dana on Data: Is the Customer Always Right?

Is the customer always right when it comes to customer PCB design data? Fabricators would be taking the design data and building the supplied data verbatim if this was true. The fabricator would only need to compensate conductors to account for etching processes and map finished hole sizes to drill sizes.
September 29, 2021

Dana on Data: Understanding Mechanical Drill Size Capability and Cost

Fabricator capabilities are generally initially provided on a one-page summary as part of the general marketing presentation. The technical values that are presented provide the “check mark” information so the potential customer can determine if the fabricators capability is greater than the design requirements. Often, this is the only method used for design rule knowledge transfer.
July 29, 2021

Dana on Data: The Critical Importance of the Fab Product Engineer

Billions of dollars are spent yearly on CAD and CAM software to produce complex PCB designs and fabricate PCBs. The final technical manufacturing decisions generally are made by one person for each design. This is the PCB fabricator product engineer. But I don’t think most design, procurement, or NPI teams understand how critical this person is to the data transfer success and liability protection.
May 13, 2021

Dana on Data: Effective Front-end Engineering External KPIs

PCB fabricator front-end engineering departments are always under great pressure to be kept small, generate production tooling instantaneously from customer data and never, ever, make a mistake. Key performance indicators (KPI’s) emphasis internal process improvements and are generally simple in nature, such as jobs/person/day and scrap dollars/month.
March 11, 2021

Dana on Data: Factory 4.0 NPI Compatible Industry Specification Format

IPC APEX EXPO’s emphasis on the Connected Factory Initiative based on CFX and IPC-2581 is underway in a virtual mode this month. One area that has not been addressed is the automation of industry technical specifications from organizations like IPC, ASTM, UL, IEC, etc.
January 14, 2021

Dana on Data: Factory 4.0 NPI Data Transfer Improvements

The recently released IPC Connected Factory Initiative scope is similar to other Factory 4.0 models with the same glaring omission: They all seems to assume that the incoming design data can’t be used as-is and must be reviewed and potentially manually modified prior to manufacturing release.
November 12, 2020

Dana on Data: Reducing PCB Specification Interpretation Issues

The PCB industry has accepted a low-quality level of provided documentation from its customers for the past several decades. In this column, Dana Korf reviews one common fabrication print note and asks, “How do you interpret this note?”
September 03, 2020

Dana on Data: A Team Method to Reduce Fabricator Engineering Questions

Hundreds of PCB designs are released to be quoted or fabricated every day around the world, and most will have engineering questions or technical queries generated once the data package has been received and analyzed. Dana Korf outlines seven fundamental steps based on Lean/Six Sigma concepts to reduce data transfer issues.
July 16, 2020

Dana on Data: How Can the PCB Industry Improve From COVID-19 Responses?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world transformed a very slow medical approval process into the equivalent of a concurrent NPI process by challenging some of the golden rules. Dana Korf shares his thoughts on four areas the PCB industry can re-evaluate and improve.
May 14, 2020

Dana on Data: The Importance of PCB Technology Roadmaps

Peter Drucker once said, “Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.” Dana Korf explains how it is critical that PCB fabricator technology roadmaps and capacity planning align with their customers’ product development and volume requirements to ensure that optimum cost, reliability, and performance goals are achieved.
March 19, 2020

Dana on Data: Automating DFX Transfer and Analysis Using IPC-2581C

We are inching closer to a world where a complete intelligent PCB data transfer is realized. The IPC 2-16 Digital Product Model Exchange (DPMX) Subcommittee has just sent revision C out for IPC-2581 Consortium review with final industry approval targeted for this June. Dana Korf discusses the significant additions and their impact.
January 09, 2020

Dana on Data: Creating IP-protected PCB Design Rules

One of the primary reasons that data packages aren’t compatible is the fabricator/assembler does not provide a complete set of design rules out of concern of giving away their intellectual property (IP). Dana Korf explores the design rule development hierarchy as well as what should be included in an IP-protected design rule document.
November 14, 2019

Dana on Data: The DFM/Data Transfer Process Is Broken

In a world that is showing great strides toward implementing a Factory 4.0 world, why can’t a design be passed from a designer to the fabricator without errors every time? Dana Korf emphasizes moving the responsibility up in the food chain, examines key design package error categories, and proposes creating a cultural change.
September 12, 2019

New Column—Dana on Data: IPC-2581 Intelligent Bi-directional Data Flow

The IPC Consortium is nearing completion of transferring notes on drawings and working with IPC on converting key IPC specifications into attributes that can be automatically loaded into CAD and CAM systems. This format is extendable to created automated company-specific acceptance files that can be automatically loaded into the CEM’s or fabricator’s engineering systems. IPC-2581 data format is being widely used globally and now needs to become the standard to reduce NPI cycle times by associating critical design information automatically to the physical features.
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