Latest Articles

Reassessing Surface Finish Performance for Next-gen Technology, Part 2

The introduction of 5G/6G has created a growing demand for faster rates of data transfer and operation at higher frequencies, pushing signals to travel toward the outer edges of conductors. As a result, the surface finish applied over the copper circuitry is now gaining more attention.

Book Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to... Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates, Vol. 2, Chapter 3

Chapter 3 of this book is titled Thermal Resistance/Impedance and Measurement. To assess a vendor’s claims about the performance of an IMS, it is important to know the test method that has been applied. Designers may need to rely on empirical data and past experience to develop an IMS specification to meet their needs.

Cadence Continues ‘Left Shift’ of SI Functions 

At DesignCon, the I-Connect007 Editorial Team met with Brad Griffin, product marketing group director for the System Analysis Group at Cadence Design Systems. Brad explains how this analysis tool enables designers to address SI and PI issues early in the design process, before they become costly errors, and why he believes his late co-worker Dennis Nagel would be proud to see his efforts come to fruition. 

Embedded Design: Materials Matter

The rapid advance of mobile technologies has sparked an insatiable demand for radio spectrum bandwidth. The rush to capitalize on wider bandwidths, higher data rates, and lower latency offered by frequency bands like 5G and millimeter wave is evident across industries. Cellular 5G and 6G networks, low-Earth orbit (LEO) and mid-Earth orbit (MEO) satellites, interconnected devices (IoT), autonomous vehicles, and even defense and environmental monitoring systems are driving this paradigm shift.

Embedded Capacitors for PCBs, Chips, and Packages

Package designers and chip designers assist the PCB layout engineer by including embedded capacitors on-chip and in-package to address the entire range of frequencies where decoupling is needed. As more electronics companies take a leading role in chip and package design, there is a need to determine the appropriate amount of capacitance needed to ensure low PDN impedance throughout broad frequency ranges. This article will look at the different types of capacitors that can be used as embedded components in PCBs and in chips/packages.

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

It was a good week in PCB design and manufacturing. In this week’s wrap-up, we have news about an uptick in EMS shipments in January, a look at the current M&A climate, some guidance on investing in your company in order to stay competitive, a primer on designing with embedded capacitance materials, and a roadmap for the industry to embrace sustainable PCBs in the future.

Build Tariff Planning into Product Development Strategy Early 

An attorney at DesignCon? I wasn’t sure I heard that right either, but it’s true. I sat down for an interview with international trade lawyer James Kim of ArentFox Schiff LLP. James was at the show to present a session entitled “Chips, Batteries & Charging Stations,” which highlights the Biden administration’s steps to secure the supply chain for the EV industry. James gave me a quick primer on international tariffs and trade laws, and much more.

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

It’s been another busy week in the industry. We lost another old friend last week. The EIPC show happened, and Pete Starkey provided us with complete and compelling show coverage, from start to finish. Recently, we posed the question, “When is it time to introduce embedded components into your PCB design?” which was asked and answered by design aficionado Kris Moyers in the latest issue of Design007 Magazine. We are proud to be a part of the exciting Global Insights weekly newsletter, which Nolan Johnson and Brian Knier explored in their interview, and we rounded out the week with some big merger news. Here are my picks for the past week’s must-read news items.

Imagineering Driven by Customer Demand

During DesignCon, I met with Amir Roy, vice president of business development for Imagineering. Amir discussed the company’s high-reliability manufacturing and focus on listening to the needs of their customers. Business is booming and Imagineering is adding new lines to increase capacity.

Design Guidelines for Flexible Printed Circuits

An important but sometimes overlooked aspect of flex and rigid-flex fabrication and assembly is the flex circuit tail, which is attached to a rigid PCB with pressure-sensitive conductive adhesives. This sub-assembly is becoming very common. We often see this applied to glass displays and microelectronic applications.

Catching up with BidChip’s Moshe Hezrony

I love talking with start-ups, and I’m always on the lookout for interesting ones to feature. It was with great pleasure that I learned about BidChip, a new company focused on helping companies find the best value in chips and other components, especially ones that are hard to find. I spoke with founder Moshe Hezrony about his novel approach. I learned a lot, and I think you will, too.

EIPC Winter Conference 2024, Day 2: A Closer Look at Global Trends

The opening session of the second day’s conference proceedings focused on global PCB trends and was introduced and moderated by Dr. Michele Stampanoni, vice president of strategic sales and business development at Cicor Group in Switzerland. He opened the session with Dr. Hayao Nakahara’s knowledgeable and enlightening video presentation on the IC substrates industry.

Every Designer Needs to Understand Embedded 

IPC’s Kris Moyer teaches design techniques for embedding components, and he’s noticed an upswing in his students’ interest in embedded component design. We recently spoke with him about embedding component design: best practices, pros and cons, and when it makes sense for designers to start embedding.

Ventec: The Flexibility We Need in Standards-driven Manufacturing

Ventec International COO Mark Goodwin and technology ambassador Alun Morgan had quite a bit to say at productronica 2023 about slash sheets, IPC standards, and how to bring the PCB designer closer to the supplier. As Mark says, what matters to designers, manufacturers, and even consumers, is that the products meet compliance standards, such as REACH. They don’t need to know how something is built. They just want performance and availability.

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

With such an extremely newsy week, it was hard to select just five items you absolutely must read, but here goes. We have advocacy news from PCBAA and IPC, global market data on AI PC and GenAI smartphone hardware, a roundtable discussion on sales and marketing, a bookended pair of international milaero stories emphasizing a healthy aerospace industry, and an industry report on global semiconductor sales. 

The Designer and Manufacturer Must Be in Sync

It’s no industry secret that most PCB data packages sent to fabricators from designers cannot be built as-is. The finished boards often seem to work, despite a factory estimating what the designer wanted vs. what the documentation showed, then jointly rectifying issues through lengthy technical query (TQ) cycles. In general, everyone seems to be satisfied with this process, so why do we need to improve the designer/manufacturer relationship?

A System Designer’s Dream World at DuPont

DesignCon 2024 was held January 30–February 1 in Silicon Valley, and Design007 Editor Andy Shaughnessy and I were there to experience this important show for PCB and system designers. We are always on the lookout for gems that showcase innovation and cutting-edge technology. Such an opportunity arose through a private tour at DuPont’s Silicon Valley Technology Center in Sunnyvale.

DesignCon: Suzanne Deffree Feeling Positive Energy

On Tuesday, January 30, considered “day zero” of DesignCon 2024, I caught up with Suzanne Deffree, group event director, during the Samtec welcome reception. She gave me an update on the event, particularly the launch of an initiative called 40 Under 40, a years-long effort to enable the next generation of engineers, and their interest in sustainability. We also talked about Drive World, and the important new focus on electric vehicles.

What Designers Should Know About Test

Bert Horner, president of The Test Connection, Inc. (TTCI) in Hunt Valley, Maryland, has been helping PCB designers address design-for-test challenges, as well as the need to consider DFT early in the design cycle. In this conversation, Andy Shaughnessy asked him to discuss some of the DFT issues that PCB designers need to be more aware of, and what designers can do to help PCB manufacturers avoid test problems farther down the line. As Bert says, many DFT snafus could be avoided if designers had a better understanding of the actual testing process.

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

I’m writing this in Santa Clara, California on the last day of DesignCon. It was nice to get out of Atlanta, which was 28 degrees when I left. It’s a little rainy here, but it’s been in the 60s all week, and I’ll take that kind of weather any day. In this week’s must-reads, we have a little bit of everything, including sad news about the passing of our columnist Michael Ford. Everyone who knew him just loved the guy.

Rain or Shine, DesignCon 2024 is Happening

Located in Silicon Valley, DesignCon may not be bulletproof, but it’s pretty close. If you’re an engineer working with chips, packaging, or PCBs, DesignCon is a must-attend show. Attendees and exhibitors said this year’s event seemed to be as busy as the 2019 show, which was a high-water mark for attendance right before the effects of the pandemic.  

BOOK EXCERPT: 'The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to... Stackups—The Design within the Design', Chapter 5

We are sharing this sample of 'The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to... Stackups—The Design within the Design,' by Bill Hargin, to give our readers a glimpse into the important topics that are covered in this book. He writes, "In my work, I deal with impedance and the entire ecosystem surrounding it daily. Whenever I talk to hardware teams, they often ask me the question of how two fabricators can come back with two totally different designs for the same target impedance.

Talking Digital Twin and DFT With Aster

Digital twin is a buzzword, but it’s really just a way to define what everyone has already been aiming for, says Dean Poplett, technical director at Aster Technologies. But how much does a test company need to put into digital twin? Is it all the equipment or just what needs to be tested? Dean lays out the scenarios Aster manages and how they work with companies to help them achieve their goals.

Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to... Designing for Reality,' Chapter 4

With an understanding of the overall manufacturing process, we can dive into the most important design-for-reality areas. Most front-end CAM tooling departments can do a great deal to help turn a marginal design into a manufacturable product, but even these superheroes have limitations to their powers.

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

It's been a chilly week for most of us in the United States, and whether you’re in the frozen Pacific Northwest (where I live) or the windswept plains of the Midwest and beyond, you were hunkering down and fighting to stay warm. What better way to pass the time than these editorial offerings. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Mya Gatzke: Mapping Out Her Future

I attended PCB Carolina at NC State’s McKimmon Center. This year’s event was the biggest show in its 10-year-plus history, and many engineering students were among the usual veteran PCB technologists. I spoke with several engineering students from the Class of 2027, and their excitement about this industry was contagious. One such freshman, Mya Gatzke, sat down for an interview. As she points out, an electrical engineering degree will come in handy in a wide variety of careers.

Save Your Design by Understanding Fab Processes

At PCB Carolina, I met with Laura Martin, director of applications engineering for Summit Interconnect. Laura has been at Summit for about a year, moving into the role from a similar position at Insulectro. She has now become Summit’s go-to design for manufacturing (DFM) expert, and she’s working to move DFM further up in the design cycle, eliminating unpleasant surprises at CAM.

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

Welcome back, readers! Glad to see you. I hope you had plenty of rest over the holidays and you don’t need a vacation from your vacation. This week, our five must-reads include articles and news items on global fab trends and challenges, a breakdown of M&A activity in 2023, Ventec’s move into the equipment arena, the opportunities that arise from designer-fabricator communication early in the design cycle, and a new kind of AOI that’s driven by an AI neural network.

What Do You Know About PCB Manufacturing?

What manufacturing concepts are designers missing? We posed this question to Tony Bell, division manager of San Diego PCB Design, which was acquired by APCT in April 2023 and continues to operate under its original name, although with plans to transition to its official new name of APCT Design. Tony has experience in PCB design, fab, assembly, and test, so we asked him what PCB designers need to know about manufacturing. He said the need for designers to continue learning about fab and assembly processes throughout their careers, and why asking questions is not bothersome, it’s necessary for the job.

Beyond Blueprints: Early Involvement Shapes Superior Fab Outcomes

PCB fabrication is the cornerstone of innovation in electronics, transforming intricate circuit designs into crucial PCBs. As technology advances, the demand for reliable PCBs with ever-increasing circuit density surges and highlights the pivotal role of fabrication in shaping the electronics landscape. In this intricate dance between innovation and execution, a symbiotic relationship emerges between designers and fabricators. This forms the core of success.

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

The Christmas and New Year’s holidays made for much-appreciated off-time in the U.S. and Europe, but there was still a lot of good industry reading for all to enjoy. From Happy Holden’s influence on our youngest and brightest to the cost of rework, policy challenges ahead for European PCB and PCBA companies, to new faces in the industry—with some bonus R2-D2 thrown in for good measure—these articles are worth a few minutes of your time. Here are my picks from this past week in industry news and feature articles.

Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Designing for Reality,' Chapter 2

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Perfection is an unattainable goal. Don’t expect manufacturing to be perfect. There will always be variations from optimum at every step of the manufacturing process. Designers should recognize that variation and physical challenges within the PCB manufacturing process can be exacerbated by their design decisions.

EDA Tools and Unconventional Geometries - Designing Embedded Components

Designing PCBs with embedded components has never been a simple task, and traditional EDA tools required designers to employ a variety of workarounds. Fortunately, the EDA software tools of today are much better equipped to work with embedded components than previous design tools.

Happy New Year 2024 From I-Connect007

As we bid farewell to a remarkable 2023, let's welcome the New Year with renewed hope and endless possibilities. Though we are taking the day off to spend the holiday with our family and friends, the entire staff at I-Connect007 wishes you a happy and prosperous new year.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Most-returned Holiday Gifts

It’s the last Friday of 2023, and a relatively quiet news week here for the industry. Most of our staff has been spending time with family and friends. Still, the news never sleeps, and I encourage you to revisit our websites and see what’s been happening. Now, we all appreciate great gifts, but sometimes they just aren’t what we need—or want. So, in keeping with the holiday spirit, here are the top five most returned gifts.

UHDI Fundamentals: Talking UHDI with John Johnson, Part 2

American Standard Circuits is an early adopter of Averatek’s A-SAP™ process for its ultra-high density interconnect (UHDI) products. I had the opportunity to sit down with industry veteran John Johnson to discuss this. John, who previously worked at Averatek, currently works as vice president of business development at American Standard Circuits where he oversees quality.

Holiday Greetings From the Staff at I-Connect007

The staff at I-Connect007 wishes you and your loved ones a happy holiday season. Today is Christmas Day, and we wish all those celebrating this holiday a merry and carefree time.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week—Holiday Movie Edition

Every year, my friends on social media have a discussion about Christmas movies. It starts with someone asking whether “Die Hard” qualifies as a Christmas movie. Then everyone speculates about which Christmas movies are the best or worst of all time. Here are the top five highest-grossing Christmas movies of all time.

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

Ever notice how the end of the calendar year creates a “tennis spectator” effect in our thinking? Let me explain. We’ve all seen the video of people watching a tennis match, with their gazes moving back and forth, left to right, as the ball moves between the contestants; that lazy head-shake led by the gaze of the eyes, right? Well, as we reach the end of a year, we seem to take stock in what’s happened behind us (reflectively gaze to the left), and what is coming in the future (expectantly gaze to the right.) Our thoughts bounce back and forth as if time were the tennis ball. In this week’s must-reads, however, we keep our gaze firmly affixed to the right, as it were, considering the future. If you only read five pieces of industry news this week, here are my suggestions.

Unconventional Geometry Design Techniques

We survey our readers from time to time, and a number of respondents have mentioned that designing boards with odd geometries can be a real challenge. We asked design instructors Kris Moyer and Kelly Dack to discuss the challenges related to designing odd-shaped PCBs, as well as some solutions for designing today’s boards that are anything but rectangles. What’s the craziest-shaped board you’ve ever worked with?

Engineering Their Future at PCB Carolina

At the PCB Carolina show in Raleigh, North Carolina, I had the opportunity to speak to several engineering students from NC State. I sat down for an interview with Cayden Longwell, a member of the class of ’27 in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at NC State. Even as a freshman, Cayden already has a basic roadmap for his career in electronics.

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

Every year, companies in the consumer electronics segment look forward to the Christmas season. Some of these companies make almost half of their revenue in November and December. What are the hottest electronics gadgets this year? According to the Consumer Reviews Guide, these are the top sellers in the electronic gadget market this holiday season. Do any of these gadgets strike your fancy, as my grandmother used to say? Check them out.

Your Thermal Designs Are Inefficient

Most designers rely on the trace widths suggested in IPC-2152, the “bible” for calculating high-current trace widths (unless you have read our book). IPC-2152 is the best, most thoroughly researched study of trace currents and temperatures available. But it does have some weaknesses. One weakness is that it (by necessity) studies 6-inch-long traces in isolation. But traces are not all 6 inches long nor in isolation.

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

This week’s news items taught me a few things I didn’t know. For instance, there’s news about the new equipment for THT work, governmental support for advanced packaging technologies, an upcoming webinar from iNEMI on counterfeits, an interview with U.S. Rep. Blake Moore, one of the sponsors of the bipartisan Protecting Circuit Boards and Substrates Act, and columnist Tim Haag, using Star Trek to illustrate why simplicity is, ahem, paramount.

8 Simple Rules for Streamlining Your Design

There are many ways, dozens to be sure, and most likely many more, to streamline a PCB design. My goal here is to pick a single-digit number of rules to abide by, that can be reasonably adhered to, and provide some bang for the buck. These rules are meant to reduce design scope creep, avoid PCB respins, and improve production yields.

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

I learned to cook late in life, and is my go-to recipe source. Their recipes are peer-reviewed, you might say, and they’re always dead-on. So, this week, I present my top five recipes for traditional Thanksgiving dishes; these will also work well for Christmas dinner, or any big family gathering. Enjoy!

UHDI Fundamentals: Talking UHDI with John Johnson, Part 1

American Standard Circuits is an early adopter of Averatek’s A-SAP process for its ultra-high definition interconnect (UHDI) products. I sat down with industry veteran John Johnson to discuss this. John, vice president of business development, oversees quality at American Standard Circuits, and previously worked at Averatek. In the spirit of full disclosure, we will be discussing and sharing photos, slides, and materials with permission from both ASC and Averatek. This is the first of a three-part interview. 

Real Time with... productronica 2023: Neil Chamberlain Discusses Polar’s Vast Database 

Neil Chamberlain, European sales manager for Polar Instruments, and Editor Pete Starkey discuss how the company responds to industry's need to analyze a huge variety of materials. Neil explains how Polar has rolled with the punches as the number of materials continues to grow each year.

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

On a global scale, productronica has been dominating the news this week, mostly with announcements and show preliminaries. It’s been a long and full week for those who have exhibited and attended the trade show (despite the November rain), and I encourage you to review our productronica coverage from this week. In the coming days, we’ll be showcasing more photos, videos, and interviews, so please stay tuned.

Avoid the ‘Ferrari Problem’ and Simplify Your PCB Design

When I last spoke with DirectPCB cofounder Greg Papandrew, he mentioned that many boards are designed like Ferraris when what the product really needs is a Ford Pinto. Those of us who work in PCB design education, whether on corporate training or on the conference scene, tend to teach new designers how to build Ferraris.

Simplifying Your Design

For this issue on simplifying PCB designs, the I-Connect007 Editorial Team spoke with IPC instructor Kris Moyer about ways that designers can avoid over-constraining their designs and making them needlessly complex. As Kris says, streamlining your design comes down to having a solid understanding of fab and assembly processes and the silicon tradeoffs that can simplify or overcomplicate your design, as well as the need to start working with fabricators early in the cycle.

PCB Carolina 2023 Breaks Attendance, Exhibitor Records

Call it a good problem to have. PCB Carolina 2023 was so big that that exhibitors were literally spilling out of the show floor at NC State’s MacKimmon Center for Continuing and Lifelong Education. This year, PCB Carolina drew 1,200 attendees and so many exhibitors that some “overflow” booths had to be set up in a classroom near the show floor, as well as in the registration area. Where did all these attendees come from? The line for lunch and dinner looked what you’d see at DesignCon

Insulectro: Education Begins with the Designer

During PCB West, Insulectro held an educational showcase at its office in San Jose that focused on flexible, printed electronics, and advanced materials. After the courses concluded, I spoke with Chris Hunrath, VP of technology, about the company’s efforts to educate PCB designers, and the variety of material options available for customers who want to push the envelope of innovation. 

New Materials Simplify Fab and Design Processes

During PCB West, Andy Shaughnessy and Kelly Dack met with Paul Cooke, senior director of business development, Ventec International Group. In this interview, Paul discusses some of the global trends he’s seeing in new materials that address the issue of stacked microvia failure, and his drive to educate North American designers about the use of pure resin and no-flow materials. 

Managing Design Standards

IPC provides a wide range of standards that cover PCB design, fabrication, assembly, materials, components, land patterns, and much more. Design standards fall under the purview of Patrick Crawford, so I asked him to share some background on the processes for developing and updating standards. Patrick explained which design, fabrication, and assembly standards PCB designers should be familiar with, and how standards can help designers avoid making costly mistakes.

Planning, DFM, and Inspection: Key to High-reliability Fab

At PCB West, Andy Shaughnessy and Kelly Dack spoke with Marc L’Hoste, VP of West and South Americas for ICAPE Group, a company that supplies and manufactures high-tech PCBs at locations around the world. We asked Marc to share some advice regarding high-reliability fab. In this conversation, Marc is clear that planning, pre-work, and inspection are the key ingredients to high-reliability success.

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

I don’t know everything, but I know one thing: This job is never boring. Here’s just a sample of what we’ve published online in the last week: an article on zero liquid discharge technology, an interview with a flex fabricator about avoiding DFM issues, a feature on the use of AI in smart assembly processes, a news item about investment in advanced substrate development in the U.S., and a story about one woman’s journey in electronics, starting when she learned to solder at 11 years old.

UHDI Fundamentals: Ultra HDI Pushes PCB Manufacturing Capabilities

Ultra high-density interconnect (UHDI) is a term used in the electronics industry to describe a cutting-edge technology that pushes the limits of fabrication capabilities for printed circuit boards (PCBs) and semiconductor devices. UHDI represents an advancement in miniaturization and integration, allowing for the creation of electronic components and systems with extremely high levels of functionality in a smaller footprint.

IPC Standards: Ticket to a Safe Passage

John Watson, CID, is a customer success manager with Altium who also teaches PCB design at Palomar College in Carlsbad, California. He’s noticed that most of his students are primarily new to the industry and not familiar with IPC standards. In his classes, he teaches how to use these standards while trying to help students access the documents more easily. When we met with John, we asked him to discuss the importance of understanding IPC standards, the price you’ll pay if you decide not to follow them, and his plans for getting new designers on board with standards as early as possible in their careers.

With Flex and Rigid-flex, Ask the Right Questions

I recently met with Tony Plemel, senior applications engineer with Flexible Circuit Technologies. In this interview, Tony discusses when flex designers need to break the rules, when they can’t break the rules, and why it’s so important for fabricators to ask designers the right questions to ensure a successful build.

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