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IPC Design Competition Wrap-upApril 6, 2023 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
The IPC Design Competition took place during IPC APEX EXPO 2023, with five finalists competing—a far cry from the original 49 entries last fall. After the competition was over, we spoke with Kris Moyer, the IPC instructor who created the design used in the competition and served as a design advisor and judge for the event.
We asked Kris to give us a quick wrap-up of the competition, as well as his thoughts on this year’s design, which none of the finalists completed.
Andy Shaughnessy: Kris, would you give us a brief rundown on the design competition?
Kris Moyer: To provide a better challenge for our competitors, we added some additional levels of complexity over last year’s design. We had five finalists, three here at IPC APEX EXPO, plus the two finalists from our India branch. We ran them through the design yesterday, and we saw some very interesting designs. We came down to one clear winner, although I will say it was very close between the first and second place.
As far as complexity, this year we ended up with a multilayer rigid-flex board incorporating several more advanced complexities: sequential lamination, HDI, advanced packaging, controlled impedance, high-speed digital design, and power distribution design. Our competitors didn’t finish, but they showed a lot of excellent technique and capability.
Shaughnessy: Some said that they never worked with rigid-flex before.
Moyer: That’s right. Unlike last year, all the competitors this year were given the opportunity for a one- to two-hour individual session with me on Monday evening before the competition. I also provided a two-hour cram session where we reviewed not only the tool, but all the different features and technologies that we have to use. So, although they may never have routed rigid-flex before, I introduced them to it and some the issues they would be involved with.
Shaughnessy: Who was the winner?
Moyer: The winner was Sathishkumar Vijayakumar of Tessolve, one of our finalists from India. He did quite well in the work that he was able to complete. He showed good technique, complexity, and the broadest range of features and methodologies. Adam Thorvaldson of Innovex came in second. Adam also had a good amount of design complexity and features, so it was very close.
Kelly Dack: Kris, were these designs graded on manufacturability?
Moyer: Yes, that was one of the criteria, and we gave them some rules up front. The bulk of the design rules were provided to them already in the design because of the time limitations, but we said, “Here’s the range of via sizes you can make. You can make microvias for the BGA escape routing all the way up to larger, higher-current vias for the power distribution, etc.”
To read this entire conversation, which appeared in the March 2023 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.
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Z-zero founder Bill Hargin has been studying stackup design techniques for years. He developed the company’s PCB stackup planning software, and he wrote an I-Connect007 eBook, The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Stackups: The Design within the Design. In this interview, Bill shares his thoughts on designing rigid-flex stackups, the challenges they bring, and what rigid board designers need to know about designing stackups in 3D. “Flexperts” Mark Finstad of Flexible Circuit Technologies and Nick Koop of TTM Technologies also offer insight into the many tradeoffs that rigid-flex designers face.