SMT Perspectives and Prospects

Column from: Dr. Jennie Hwang

Dr. Jennie S. Hwang—an international businesswoman and speaker and a business and technology advisor—is a pioneer and long-standing leader to SMT manufacturing since its inception as well as to the development and implementation of lead-free electronics technology. Among her many awards and honors, she was inducted to the International Hall of Fame–Women in Technology, elected to the National Academy of Engineering, named an R&D Star to Watch, and received a YWCA Achievement Award. Having held senior executive positions with Lockheed Martin Corp., Sherwin Williams Co., and SCM Corp., she was the CEO of International Electronic Materials Corp. and is currently CEO of H-Technologies Group, providing business, technology, and manufacturing solutions. She has served on the board of Fortune-500 NYSE companies and civic and university boards; the Commerce Department’s Export Council; the National Materials and Manufacturing Board; the NIST Assessment Board; as the chairman of the Assessment Board of DoD Army Research Laboratory and the chairman of the Assessment Board of Army Engineering Centers; and various national panels/committees and international leadership positions. She is the author of 600+ publications and several books and is a speaker and author on trade, business, education, and social issues. Her formal education includes four academic degrees, as well as the Harvard Business School Executive Program and Columbia University Corporate Governance Program. For more information, visit JennieHwang.com.


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January 17, 2024

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Critical Materials—A Compelling Case, Part 3

New tumultuous forces involving geopolitical pull and technological and market push have emerged since I published the first two parts of this topic in February and May 2022, respectively. Here, I will consider the impact of these new forces. Critical materials and minerals that are the foundation for essential goods have long been sourced from areas with wars or near-wars and some unfriendly nations; this causes high-risk concerns.
October 25, 2023

SMT Prospects and Perspectives: AI—A Prelude to Opportunities, Challenges and Possibilities

It seems that artificial intelligence (AI) has become unprecedently widespread, an everyday word used by everyone. However, its reality and potential are yet to evolve. On one hand, there is sheer excitement about evolving intellectual and dexterous capabilities to improve our lives, businesses, economy, and national security; on the other, there has been trepidation about unknown and/or unintended consequences.
July 18, 2023

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Pearls of Wisdom

Each year, the one-of-a-kind Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting draws tens of thousands of attendees from all walks of life who make the pilgrimage to Omaha, Nebraska. It is a yearly ritual for me as well to attend in person so I can listen to the wise duo of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, while observing the dynamics of the aspiring and the admiring attendees. This year’s attendance was reportedly overwhelmingly higher than usual; people stood in line as early as 5 a.m. waiting for the start of the event at 8:30 a.m. An impressive percentage of attendees came from overseas; the person sitting next to me was from Australia.
April 11, 2023

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 7: A Case Study in Fillet-Lifting

In my column series on “The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics,” I have addressed the properties, safety, resources of elemental Bismuth (Bi), the effects of Bi in SnPb, and the effects of Bi on the properties and performance of solder interconnections when Bi is not a constituent element in lead-free solder alloys.
January 18, 2023

SMT Perspectives & Prospects: Creating a Better World Through Engineering

What is the role of an engineer? In my definition, an engineer plays a crucial role in bridging science and society. In this spirit, The National Academies of Engineering (one of the triad Academies of The National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine) recently initiated a video interview series with the theme, “Today’s Engineers—Creating a Better World.” I was invited to be one of several interviewees for the series. What follows are excerpts from that conversation.
November 22, 2022

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Cybersecurity Requires an Active Approach

I last wrote about cybersecurity nearly 10 years ago in my column, “Cybersecurity—from Boardroom to Factory Floor.” So, where do we stand on cybersecurity? As the digital world continues pushing ahead, it comes with new challenges in the cyberspace. Individual systems and/or infrastructure systems are subject to attacks by increasingly savvy adversaries who can leverage new and emerging technologies. A cyberattack can be surreptitiously detrimental, crippling business operation, the national economy and security, or just jeopardizing an individual laptop. This pervasive and persistent security threat is one of the most formidable challenges of our times.
August 10, 2022

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: In Search of Wisdom

After two-year COVID-19 hiatus, I made a point to attend the Berkshire Hathaway (BH) shareholders annual meeting in person, so I could listen to legend Warren Buffett and observe the dynamic of the aspiring people from all walks of life. The event was full of high-spirited, eager attendees; it was quite festive as well. Buffet, now age 91, and his long-time business partner Charlie Munger, age 98, are as sharp, quick-witted, and as humorous as ever. Their deep and profound thought process and broad-based knowledge are inspiring. It was a completely worthy trip; I personally felt intellectually nourished. Their investment wisdom is vividly manifested by the indisputably phenomenal results.
May 03, 2022

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Critical Materials—A Compelling Case, Part 2

When I wrote Part 1 on this topic in January, the global geopolitical landscape could be characterized as “status quo”—testy, challenging, yet absent of “war” in any region of the world. Now with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which elevates the peril and uncertainty of metals, minerals and materials into overdrive, the title of the article may warrant: “Critical Materials – A Precariously Escalated Compelling Case.”
February 23, 2022

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Critical Materials, A Compelling Case, Part 1

It has come the time for a national strategy, in a deliberative and comprehensive manner, to address the critical materials/minerals. Doing so is increasingly critical to the long-term economy, national security, and the nation’s global competitiveness. With the handling of conflict minerals as an exemplar, there is perhaps an even more urgent need to rally another concerted effort to tackle the critical materials/minerals. Overall, critical materials/minerals will have an overarching impact on the entire supply chain to all industries, and once again, electronics/microelectronics is on the front line.
October 18, 2021

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Reliability Primer—A Pragmatic SMT Perspective

When we look at the reliability of a product, be it associated with a physical product or virtual service, there is a set of performance expected from the users or the customers.
July 20, 2021

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Digital Manufacturing—Just-in-Case or Just-in-Time

Under the dynamic global-macro factors and the burgeoning digital manufacturing platforms, the construct that is solely based on just-in-time inventory management as a stand-alone practice could be proven inadequate. Considering both just-in-time and just-in-case appear to be a pragmatic model to operate in the digitized enterprise; perhaps a “comforting” approach as well.
February 04, 2021

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Ebullient Trade Events Going Virtual

Jennie Hwang reflects on past and current versions of CES and IPC APEX EXPO, and outlines her two presentations at APEX.
October 01, 2020

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Joint Industry Standard IPC J-STD-00-Electronic Solder Alloys, Part 2

In Part 2 of her column series on requirements for electronic-grade solder alloys and fluxed and non-fluxed solid solders for electronic soldering applications, Jennie Hwang addresses questions raised regarding the subject industry standard IPC J-STD-006. She also summarizes relevant background information, the options for plausible naming systems, and the logic behind the decision to adopt the current naming system.
July 28, 2020

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Rethinking Manufacturing–Bracing for and Embracing a Post-Pandemic Decade

Against the potent backdrop of current events, how should our industry respond? How should we manage and rethink manufacturing? And what are the main issues at hand in near-term and long-term horizons? Dr. Jennie Hwang explores these questions, as well as three tangible areas of business and manufacturing.
January 02, 2020

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Joint Industry Standard IPC J-STD-006—Electronic Solder Alloys

It has been nearly two decades since the global electronics industry adopted lead-free conversion from leaded electronics. Readers who have been in the industry during this period will recognize the changes and challenges the industry has faced and appreciate the fact that taking the element lead (Pb) out of electronics has not been a straightforward path.
April 13, 2020

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Smart Factory Implementation—How Smart Is Smart Enough?

As we are moving further into the Industry 4.0 era, rigidity is out, and flexibility is in; stiffness is out, and agility is in; and sluggishness is out, and swiftness is in. Dr. Jennie Hwang explains how manufacturing companies need to develop a thorough understanding of the available technologies that can be utilized to translate business objectives into business roadmaps targeting operational excellence to produce competitive, reliable, and economic products that perform in a timely fashion in the marketplace.
November 21, 2019

SMT Perspectives and Prospects—Revisiting Globalization: Technology, Jobs, Trade

In 2004, Dr. Jennie Hwang wrote a column titled “Globalization: Technology, Jobs, Trade,” which was published in the July issue of SMT007 Magazine. Amid the protracted and roller-coaster trade uncertainty between the U.S. and China, and the renewed debate on globalization, she revisits the topic. What has changed over the last 15 years? Where do we stand today? Is globalization undergoing a retreat or reverse course?
July 12, 2019

Learn From the Wise

How can we get ahead in this digital world inundated with a gargantuan amount of information available to all? More sustainably, how can we stay ahead of the curve? Knowledge and wisdom are the fuel to propel us ahead; learning from the wise is the speedier path to acquire the fuel.
May 10, 2019

The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 6

In this installment of this column series on the role of bismuth (Bi) in electronic products, Dr. Jennie Hwang looks at the effects of Bi on the properties and performance of solder interconnections in electronic products when Bi is not contained in the solder alloy for the SMT assembly process (Bi-absent solder alloy composition of solder paste).
March 07, 2019

The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 5

The fifth part of this column series addresses the most interesting, yet intricate, aspect of the subject—plausible underlying operating mechanisms among the four elements (Sn, Ag, Cu, Bi) in a SnAgCuBi system. This article features illustrations on relative elemental dosages in relation to relevant properties and performance.
November 15, 2018

SMT Manufacturing: Why Soldering?

Upcoming AI hardware requires advanced semiconductors, packaging approaches, new architectures, increased speeds and capabilities of inference processing, and system design and manufacturing prowess continually developed to reach the interconnect density. Against this backdrop, packaging and assembly levels will continue to be critical technology and serve as the backbone of manufacturing electronic hardware to deliver desired products with enhanced miniaturization, functionality, and augmented intelligence promptly.
September 18, 2018

Artificial Intelligence: Super-Exciting, Ultra-Competitive

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have become common everyday words, however, the present reality and future potential are yet to evolve. This article looks into the key considerations and strategies to better leverage these trends that are expected to transform the manufacturing world.
August 08, 2018

The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 3

The third part of this column series aims to answer why SAC isn't able to become a universal interconnecting material for electronic circuits, and why a quaternary alloy system offer a more wholesome approach.
June 04, 2018

The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 4

Dr. Jennie Hwang's column series continues in Part 4, which addresses two pivotal questions: Why SAC is not able to be a universal interconnecting material for electronic circuits, and why a quaternary alloy system offers a more wholesome approach.
March 12, 2018

New Year Resolutions and Best Wishes

The New Year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals. But the true challenge is to keep these goals from falling into a wish list and to know how to stick to those goals and when. I hope that in this year to come, goals give us direction in whatever we do, be it on AI, 5G, mixed reality and quantum computing or the next chip design.
December 08, 2017

The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 2

Part 2 of Dr. Jennie Hwang's article series outlines the Bi effects on 63Sn37Pb solder material, which have been substantiated by years of field performance prior to lead-free implementation. This should serve as the sound baseline for further discussion on the subject.
October 17, 2017

The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 1

In this column series about bismuth, Dr. Jennie Hwang starts with its elemental properties: where it is usually mined, its safety data, and application areas—in the chemical world, the metals industry, and electronics. She also writes about how bismuth compounds improve the performance some electronics devices, such as varistors.
August 24, 2017

The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics: A Prelude

When it comes to considering applications in electronics and microelectronics industry, over last three decades, the industry has shied away from using bismuth (Bi), at least not in standard practices in mass production. However, an interest has surfaced recently. This article series is tailored to electronics and microelectronics industry, to provide an overview in its entirety in the areas of importance to industry applications going forward.
May 02, 2017

Do Acquisitions Bear Fruit? A Pragmatic Perspective

Acquisition is an effective tool for a company’s growth as a part of corporate growth strategy; and it is one of the top fiduciary duties of a company board’s governance oversight. However, statistically, the acquisition failure rate is quite high. In her column this month, Dr. Jennie Hwang reflects on her hands-on experience as well as observations on mergers and acquisitions in the corporate world.
November 23, 2016

The Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 5

In this installment of the series on the theory behind tin whisker phenomena, Dr. Jennie Hwang completes the discussion of key processes likely engaged in tin whisker growth—crystal structure and defects.
January 25, 2016

New Year Outlook: China’s Five Year Plan

In this article, Dr. Jennie Hwang writes about the latest developments in the current global economic landscape, as well as mega-technological trends, which include: the highlights of macro-economy outlook, China factor, oil dynamics, cyber security, and grand challenges in technology and the path forward.
November 05, 2015

A Look at the Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 3

The third installation in Jennie Hwang's five-part series on tin whisker phenomena continues the discussion on key processes engaged in tin whisker growth. She discusses the energy of free surface, recrystallization, and the impact of solubility and external temperature on grain growth.
August 06, 2015

The Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 2

In the second part of this article series, Dr. Jennie Hwang writes that a plausible theory of tin whisker growth can be postulated through deliberating the combination and confluence of several key metallurgical processes.
May 27, 2015

The Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 1

In this first article of a five-part series, Dr. Jennie Hwang goes back to basics as she discusses the theory behind the tin whisker phenomena--the reasons and mechanisms behind its occurrence--as well as how tin whiskers can be mitigated in the plating process.
March 04, 2015

New Year Outlook: What Can We Expect in 2015?

Dr. Jennie Hwang takes a long view on market thrusts in the anticipated global economic landscape, as well as mega-technological trends in selected areas deemed timely and relevant to the industry: macro-economy, oil dynamics, China factor, cybersecurity, and grand challenges in technology and the path forward.
August 21, 2013

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Cyber Security - From Boardroom to Factory Floor

Cyber attacks are and will continue to be a huge concern to U.S. corporations in the foreseeable future. It's a matter of when, not if. It is not industry-specific and every company will have to deal with this challenge. The earlier preparation is made, the better a company is positioned to fend off the attack.
April 03, 2013

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Conflict Minerals: A Snapshot

As the supply chain becomes increasingly complex and global, with an ever-increasing number of suppliers, full traceability of conflict minerals throughout the global supply chain is a daunting task. To comply with the SEC’s reporting and disclosure requirement, a company must formulate a comprehensive program to achieving traceability and transparency.
March 13, 2013

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: SAC System, A Revisit

In compliance with the RoHS Directive initiated by the EU and later deployed globally, SAC305 of SnAgCu (SAC) system has been used as a lead-free solder interconnection alloy for both second- and third-level interconnection since the implementation of lead-free electronics. After a 10-year run, Dr. Jennie Hwang takes a look at SAC305 for IC packages and PCB assembly.
February 06, 2013

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Outlook for the New Year

After protracted high unemployment and lack of a speedy recovery in the U.S., and in the absence of clear solutions to the Eurozone's financial crisis and China's lower manufacturing activities in 2012, will the grim global economic outlook extend to 2013?
January 16, 2013

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: 2012 Year-End Review

Dr. Jennie S. Hwang compares the past year to predictions made in her January 2012 column, "What Can We Expect in 2012?" including business, technology, and global marketplace issues. She feels that, overall, 2012 was another intriguing year filled with both wanted and unwanted events.
November 27, 2012

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Can Microstructure Indicate a Good Solder Joint? Part IV

How does one examine solder joint microstructure? Is the microstructure important? This month, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues a series that addresses the practical aspects of solder joint microstructure and what it can tell us about solder joint reliability. The focus of this offering is the role of the phase diagram in microstructure.
November 06, 2012

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Can Microstructure Indicate a Good Solder Joint? Part III

How does one examine solder joint microstructure? Is the microstructure important? This month, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues a series that addresses the practical aspects of solder joint microstructure and what it can tell us about solder joint reliability.
September 11, 2012

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Can Microstructure Indicate a Good Solder Joint? Part I

How does one examine solder joint microstructure? Is the microstructure important? This month, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang begins a series that addresses the practical aspects of solder joint microstructure and what it can tell us about solder joint reliability.
August 21, 2012

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: 100 Points on Lead-Free Performance and Reliability, Part 2

In the final of a two-part series, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang takes a wide, sweeping look at the history, timeline, highlights, and future projections for lead-free manufacturing.
October 26, 2011

Reliability of Lead-Free System: Part II, The Role of Creep

The degradation of a solder joint is inevitable. The solder joint intrinsic degradation process engages two scientific phenomena--fatigue and creep. In this article, industry expert Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues her look at the reliability of the lead-free system with a closer examination of the latter.
September 14, 2011

Reliability of Lead-Free System: Part I, Solder Joint Fatigue

Industry expert Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues her look at the reliability of the lead-free system this month with a closer examination of solder joint fatigue. Fatigue is one of the most likely culprits for material failure--regardless of metals, polymers or ceramics.
April 15, 2002

Lead-free Symposium at APEX

Amid a variety of programs, lead-free technology was "a conference in a conference" at APEX 2002, in San Diego. The program was designed with six focal themes covering components, printed wiring board (PWB) surface finishes, materials, assembly processes, test and rework, and reliability. Additionally, SMT Magazine developed an illuminative panel forum and NEMI discussed a summary report by NEMI
June 11, 2013

Tin Whiskers: Clarity First

Lead-free solder comprises a wide array of alloy systems and each system can be modified in numerous ways. A test scheme to represent lead-free is a daunting task with an astounding price tag. Dr. Jennie Hwang advises that any tin whisker propensity study be conducted with a specific alloy composition, as clarity is the name of the game.
August 21, 2013

Cyber Security: From Boardroom to Factory Floor

Cyber attacks are and will continue to be a huge concern to U.S. corporations in the foreseeable future. It's a matter of when, not if. It is not industry-specific and every company will have to deal with this challenge. The earlier preparation is made, the better a company is positioned to fend off the attack.
October 09, 2013

Tin Whiskers: Phenomena and Observations

Tin whisker reflects its coined name. It has long been recognized to be associated with electroplated tin coating and most likely occurs with pure tin. Its appearance resembles whiskers. However, whiskers can also form in a wide range of shapes and sizes, such as fibrous filament-like spiral, nodule, column, and mound.
November 26, 2013

Tin Whiskers: Concerns & Potential Impact

What is the biggest concern about the growth of tin whiskers? A simple answer is "uncertainty." If or when tin whiskering occurs, what are likely sources of uncertainty or potential adverse impact? Dr. Jennie Hwang explains that concerns and impact concerning tin whiskers primarily fall into one of four categories.
January 09, 2014

2013, A Year-End Review

For this year-in-review column, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang checks on whether her January 2013 column, "Outlook for the New Year," is on or off target. She addresses the key sub-topics that directly or indirectly impact the industry in terms of business environment, technology, and global marketplace to see how her predictions actually panned out.
January 29, 2014

New Year Outlook: What Can We Expect in 2014?

In her latest column, Dr. Jennie Hwang takes a long view on market thrusts in the anticipated 2014 global economic landscape, as well as technological trends in selected areas important to the SMT industry. Readers, pay attention--her predictions for 2013 were extremely accurate.
March 26, 2014

Tin Whiskers, Part 4: Causes and Contributing Factors

According to Columnist Dr. Jennie S. Hwang, nucleation and growth can be encouraged by stresses introduced during and after the plating process. The sources of these stresses includes residual stresses caused by electroplatin, additional stresses imposed after plating, the induced stresses by foreign elements, and thermally-induced stresses.
May 21, 2014

Tin Whiskers, Part 5: Impact of Testing Conditions

Dr. Jennie S. Hwang says, "Real-life stresses may lead a different tin whisker behavior as in accelerated tests (temperature cycling, elevated temperature storage). The alloy-making process to achieve homogeneity needs to be taken into consideration. For an 'impurity' system, how the process that adds elements into tin could also affect the whisker propensity."
August 06, 2014

Capsulization

Since lead-free implementation, concerns about tin whiskers have intensified. For the past 12 years, studies and research by various laboratories and organizations have delivered burgeoning reports and papers, and Dr. Hwang has devoted an entire series to this subject. This article aims to capsulize the important areas of the subject.
September 24, 2014

Tin Whiskers, Part 6, Preventive and Mitigating Measures: Strategy and Tactics

In this installment of the tin whisker series, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang takes a look at the preventive and mitigating measures--the strategy and tactics. She says an effective strategy for prevention and mitigation starts with a good understanding of the causations of tin whiskers. A smorgasbord of material and technique options are offered as a guide to prevent or retard tin whiskers.
December 31, 2014

2014: Year-end Review

In her latest column, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang reviews how predictions in her January 2014 column actually panned out. She goes through the key sub-topics that directly or indirectly impact the industry in terms of macroeconomics, business environment, technology, and the global marketplace. By and large her 2014 outlook was on or close to target.
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