I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

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The captive shop used to be the rule, not the exception. Until outsourcing caught on, that is. North American captive shops went the way of the dodo bird, and the PCB market hasn’t been the same since. Even R&D went out the window, or offshore, if you want to be technical about it. 

But Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) is something of a wild card. The company recently opened a new captive facility in Idaho, and the industry is paying close attention.  

This week, Nolan Johnson goes deep with an interview with SEL technologists, who discuss the new facility and their plans for the future. Is the captive format the way forward for PCB manufacturing, or is this an anomaly?  

We also feature an interview with designer Adam Thorvaldson, who came in second in the IPC Design Competition, and Pete Starkey’s thorough review of the ICT annual general meeting. Don’t forget to read Mark Laing’s state of the union for the EMS industry, and Kelly Dack’s twist on “The Tale of Five Monkeys,” or in this case, CAD monkeys.  

Schweitzer: Building Inner Strength
Published March 15 

How many captive shops are there in the U.S. now? We’re about to have one more, as Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) ramps up production on its new captive facility in Boise, Idaho. Nolan Johnson conducted this interview with three SEL managers, who outline their plans for this state-of-the-art North American facility. 

Runner-up Discusses IPC Design Competition
Published March 16

PCB designer Adam Thorvaldson had quite a run in the IPC Design Competition. He came in second place, despite being quite new to the EDA tool. But he plowed ahead and took care of business. He even came close to winning the competition. Check it out. 

ICT Seminar 2023 Review: Energy, Thermals, and Assistive Technology
Published March 16

Technical Editor Pete Starkey has been busy lately—he’s our “go-to guy” for covering industry seminars in Europe. He recently attended the annual general meeting of the Institute of Circuit Technology, which culminated in Rex Rozario OBE receiving an ICT Honorary Fellowship. Among the news to come out of this event: Europe’s share of PCB production has plummeted in the last 20 years, but revenues have remained fairly stable. 

The EMS ‘State of the Union'
Published March 15

Following on the heels of the presidential State of the Union address, Mark Laing of Siemens Digital Industries Software offers this SOTU of the American EMS segment. As he points out, high-mix is the watchword of the day, and EMS providers are now stocking inventory to preclude future supply chain snafus. 

Target Condition: The Tale of Five CAD Monkeys
Published March 16, 2023

You may have heard “The Tale of Five Monkeys,” which deals with a handful of primates learning new behaviors through negative reinforcement. Columnist and noted folklorist Kelly Dack brings us a new twist on this story, now focusing on five PCB designers—or CAD monkeys. Grab a banana and read on!


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