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IPC APEX EXPO: Some Thoughts About Growth

After two and a half days of wandering the aisles at IPC APEX EXPO 2024, for the first time, I almost felt like I was exploring CES. There were so many booths and exhibits that I could describe, but I’d like to focus on the growth and huge value of this event, which has expanded well beyond just the growing and impressive exhibit show floor.

A Review of the 2024 Del Mar Electronics and Manufacturing Show

The Del Mar Electronics and Manufacturing Show (DMEMS) in Del Mar, California, recently took place at an unlikely venue: the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Doug Bodenstab, founder and show organizer, says the show covers everything in electronics manufacturing: design tools, components, base materials, training, testing, board fabrication, AI, data analytics, and more. While you can find about anything online these days, Bodenstab adds that there is no substitute for meeting people in person.

Do You Think Enough About Ergonomics?

Vitorio Lorenzini, a workstation design expert with Assembled Product Specialists, discusses the importance of ergonomics in the workplace. He emphasizes the value of early involvement in workstation planning to optimize space and resources, ultimately enhancing workflow efficiency. 

A Potpourri of Design PD Classes

What is invention without innovation? What is innovation without capability? Kelly Dack addresses these questions and more in this review of the Professional Development courses at IPC APEX EXPO, including the flex course lead by "Flexperts" Mark Finstad and Nick Koop.

Listen Up: Popular Podcast Series Returns With Discussion of Electroless Copper

In the latest episode of the podcast series, On the Line With: Designing for Reality, Nolan Johnson returns to Sunstone Circuits in Mulino, OR, to continue down the manufacturing process with Matt Stevenson.

Star Wars and Disney: ‘Spinning the Script’ With Paul Bailey

Paul Bailey has quite a story to tell. The current vice president at AOA, and former principal concept technical director for Walt Disney Imagineering gave the opening keynote speech at IPC APEX EXPO 2024. He delved into some of the technological marvels he’s been involved with throughout his career, particularly with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the new Star Wars experience at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

IPC Focuses on Education and Onboarding

I recently spoke with Carlos Plaza, senior director of education for IPC, about expanding educational efforts in the PCB design, fabrication, and assembly segments. As Carlos explains, PCB design is a hot topic, but onboarding may be the hottest one of all.

Podcast Review: On the Line with… Designing for Reality

As a technologist, if I were forced to come up with just one recurring theme that I might call a professional “nemesis,” it would be the difference between theory and reality. A lot of technology we have at our disposal works well in theory but falls short when reality hits. That’s not the only reason I chose to listen to and review On the Line with… Designing for Reality, featuring a series of conversations with ASC Sunstone’s Matt Stevenson, but it certainly helped that the title caught my eye.

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

This week’s most important news is strategic—and telling. When one puts together the IPC industry reports, we simply have to include the recent conversation with Shawn DuBravac and Tom Kastner. On the design side, check out the latest “On The Line With…” podcast featuring Brad Griffin from Cadence Design Systems, discussing SI and PI in the realm of intelligent system design.

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2024: Software Solutions for Circuit Board Challenges

Nolan Johnson speaks with Will Webb from Aster Technologies about their software solutions for design teams, manufacturing, test engineers, and process engineers. Aster's software addresses the increasing complexities of circuit boards and the need for alternative testing methods.

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2024: My Role as a Technology Solutions Director

Peter Tranitz, senior director of technology solutions at IPC, shares insights into his role as the design initiative lead. He details his advocacy work, industry support, and the responsibilities of the design initiative committee. The conversation also covers the revamping of standards, the IPC Design Competition, and the implementation of design rules in software tools.

IPC's Vision for Empowering PCB Design Engineers

As architects of innovation, printed circuit board designers are tasked with translating increasingly complex concepts into tangible designs that power our modern world. IPC provides the necessary community, standards framework, and education to prepare these pioneers as they explore the boundaries of what’s possible, equipping engineers with the knowledge, skills, and resources required to thrive in an increasingly dynamic field.

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2024: A Global Presence in PCB Manufacturing

Rob DiGiovanni, VP of sales for the Americas at STARTEAM Global, discusses the company's global presence in PCB manufacturing. As he explains, the firm operates facilities across Europe, Asia, and North America, specializing in serving contract manufacturers in the automotive and medical industries. They emphasize quality and meeting OEM standards, focusing on offshore supply and non-Chinese factories in the North American market. The company has grown through acquisitions and rebranding to offer multiple products.

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

In this week’s roundup, we have a variety of articles covering everything from design through assembly, and even box build. I’ve always wondered whether box build was all it was cracked up to be. Do customers really pick one EMS provider over another because one company offers box build? And if you’ve ever wanted to volunteer, IPC’s Thought Leaders Program is looking for a few good technologists to help them on their mission. Check out Stanton Rak’s article, which was published in the spring issue of IPC Community.

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2024: Tools, Training, and Trends in Manufacturing Engineering

Guest Editor Kelly Dack and Product Specialist Erik Bateham of Polar Instruments discuss Polar's latest technology, including their role in aiding manufacturing engineers. They highlight the advanced capabilities of Polar's tools and the critical role of signal integrity analysis, as well as the importance of accurate modeling in board manufacturing. Polar's unique training approach and demonstration contact details are also explored.

Elevating PCB Design Engineering With IPC Programs

In a monumental stride for the electronics manufacturing industry, IPC has successfully championed the recognition of the PCB Design Engineer as an official occupation by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This pivotal achievement not only underscores the critical role of PCB design engineers within the technology landscape, but also marks the beginning of a transformative journey toward nurturing a robust, skilled workforce ready to propel our industry into the future.

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

For my must-read picks of the week, I’m highlighting Parker Capers, a young professional seeking employment, solid counsel from Dan Beaulieu on what your post-show plan should look like, more information and insight on “chiplets” and the need for secure data transfer standards from columnist Preeya Kuray, as well as Matt Stevenson’s design for reality wisdom. It’s a reminder to download one of our newest books (there are several) you don't want to miss if you are an assembler.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2024: Exploring IPC's PCB Design Courses with Kris Moyer

Guest Editor Kelly Dack and IPC instructor Kris Moyer discuss IPC's PCB design training and education offerings. They delve into course topics such as design fundamentals, mil/aero, rigid-flex, RF design, and advanced design concepts. They also highlight material selection for high-speed design, thermal management, and dissipation techniques. The interview wraps up with details about how to access these courses online.

Designing Electronics for High Thermal Loads

Developing proactive thermal management strategies is important in the early stages of the PCB design cycle to minimize costly redesign iterations. Here, I delve into key aspects of electronic design that hold particular relevance for managing heat in electronic systems. Each of these considerations plays a pivotal role in enhancing the reliability and performance of the overall system.

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

As we publish this week’s most-read news, the I-Connect007 team is wending its way home from an eventful and productive week at IPC APEX EXPO in Anaheim, California. We’ve posted a variety of dispatches from the show this week, released 73 video interviews (and counting), and also gathered the content and updates you’ll be looking for in the upcoming issue of Show & Tell… IPC APEX EXPO 2024.

What’s New in Design Education at IPC APEX EXPO?

Kelly (Kel) Allen shares her thoughts on the educational offerings at IPC APEX EXPO and beyond. In this interview, she discusses some of the newest classes taking place during the conference in Anaheim, covering everything from design, fab, and assembly through mil/aero, test, and supply chain issues.

Design Community Town Hall Review 

The Design Community Town Hall took place on the afternoon of April 10, 2024. I was fortunate to attend this event, which marked an opportunity for members of some newly found design groups to get together and exchange ideas. Peter Tranitz, senior director of solutions for IPC, opened the session with a slide presentation introducing these new groups and members within the solutions department.

IPC Design Competition: On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

I recently spoke with IPC’s Patrick Crawford, manager of design standards and related industry programs, and Kris Moyer, certified IPC master instructor, about this year’s IPC Design Competition. Now in its third year, the preliminary heat began in January, and the winners will compete in the final heat at IPC APEX EXPO in Anaheim.

Feeling the Magic of a Show Opener at IPC APEX EXPO 2024

As we walked the show floor at IPC APEX EXPO on Tuesday, April 9, we were struck by the subtle differences in the feel of the show floor between Anaheim and the previous home in San Diego. Somehow, the large booths seem less dominant, and the smaller booths seem more prominent here in the shadow of Disneyland where everything feels just a little bit magical.

A Closer Look at Professional Development at IPC APEX EXPO 2024: 3D Printing and AI

While the finishing touches were being made to the show floor at IPC APEX EXPO, just as much activity was happening in the conference rooms of the Anaheim Convention Center on the days before the show officially opened. The hallways and classrooms were filled for standards committee development meetings and Professional Development Courses, and IPC hosted evening receptions for Emerging Engineers, ECWC, and those who are attending for the first time in a special “newcomers” event.

IPC APEX EXPO 2024 Readies for Tomorrow’s Show Opener

IPC APEX EXPO is finally happening in Anaheim this week. As we entered the Anaheim Convention Center this past Friday, the weather was colder than expected, but the sun still shone. Making our way to the entrance doors, the small groups of happy but tired-looking Disneyland goers filled our path, as did hundreds of young, sparkle-clad cheerleaders from across the nation whose competition was taking place in a neighboring hall.

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

Spring has definitely sprung; it was 81 degrees last week in Atlanta, and this week it’s been in the 40s. That’s typical spring weather in Atlanta. My newly cut lawn is looking great, thanks to my “yard guy” Clive. I need to finish packing for IPC APEX EXPO, so without further ado, here’s my must-reads for this week. I hope to see you at APEX next week.

IPC APEX EXPO 2024: There’s an App for That

With so many things to do at a large trade show and conference like IPC APEX EXPO, you cannot possibly take every class, attend every talk, or see every vendor on your list. But you can plan your days and maximize your time with the IPC APEX EXPO mobile app. The app allows you to easily view the show’s daily agenda, keynote speakers, the conference and professional development schedules, and, of course, flag and make notes on exhibitors.

Collaboration and Innovation: Insights from SMTA's First UHDI Symposium

Anaya Vardya provides valuable insights on industry collaboration and innovation at the first SMTA UHDI Symposium, delving into the necessity of collaboration in driving innovation and progress within our industry. He shares his experience in helping put this event together, and pride in being a part of bringing the UHDI test board to life.

Heavy Copper PCBs: Bridging the Gap Between Design and Fabrication, Part 1

They call me Sparky. This is due to my talent for getting shocked by a variety of voltages and because I cannot seem to keep my hands out of power control cabinets. While I do not have the time to throw the knife switch to the off position, that doesn’t stop me from sticking screwdrivers into the fuse boxes. In all honesty, I’m lucky to be alive. Fortunately, I also have a talent for building high-voltage heavy copper circuit boards. Since this is where I spend most of my time, I can guide you through some potential design for manufacturability (DFM) hazards you may encounter with heavy copper design.

PCBflow Helps Designers Choose Best Manufacturer for the Job

I recently spoke with a few technologists who have first-hand experience with PCBflow: Susan Kayesar, technical product manager with Siemens; Evgeny Makhline, CTO of Nistec, a CEM based in Israel; and Peter Tranitz, senior director of technology solutions and leader of the IPC Design Initiative. They explain how PCBflow functions, from the designer’s and manufacturer’s viewpoint, and how this database helps break down the wall between these stakeholders.

The Many Complexities of PFAS

In its simplest definition, PFAS is a group of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. Fluoropolymer coatings can be in a variety of products. Though this definition is not inaccurate, it can be misleading. Depending on who you ask, there are upward of 10,000 PFAS chemistries that can meet various definitions.

UHDI Fundamentals: ASC Sponsors Ultra High Density Interconnect Symposium 

American Standard Circuits (ASC) is a major sponsor of an upcoming symposium on one of the most talked about new technologies that has come along in quite a while: ultra high density interconnect (UHDI).

Being the Best Design Engineer

During DesignCon 2024, I met with Bill Hargin, founder and CEO (Chief Everything Officer) of the stackup design software company Z-zero. In this interview, Bill discusses his stackup curriculum, what it takes to become a great design engineer, and why the best designers keep reading and challenging themselves constantly so they can stay on top of their game.

The Challenges, Opportunities, and Future Specialties of PCB Design

What were once specialties have become more generalized over time—PCB designers must learn about design automation, signal integrity (SI), electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), complex high-speed design, mechanical design, and manufacturability/producibility. Design engineers must learn about layout, simulation, and supply chains—and in their place new specialties have emerged, like multi-gigabit SerDes channel design, advanced manufacturing, IoT, and multi-physics system verification.

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

It was a busy week in PCB design and manufacturing. This has been a pretty “dense” week, and this week’s Top Five features an article on density equations by Happy Holden, and a news item about the SMTA UHDI symposium in Phoenix. We also have news about our latest podcast, and a Chris Mitchell column about economic security here and abroad. And Todd Kolmodin discusses the ins and out of 4-wire Kelvin testing, and he tells us a little about Lord Kelvin himself. 

OrCADX: High Performance That's Easy to Use

During DesignCon, I spoke with Chris Banton of EMA about the newest developments around OrCADX, which provides PCB designers with more design automation capability across the whole design process in an easy-to-use GUI. As Chris says, this tool is designed for agile design teams, and features an updated PCB UX, an enhanced 3D engine, SolidWorks integration, and AI for a superior user experience.

The Survey Said: What Does It Take to Become a Great Designer?

What does it take to become a great designer? After all, there isn’t exactly a critical path to becoming a great designer. How does a designer qualify as “great” in the first place? We posed that question to our PCB designer readers in a recent survey, and, as usual, the readers did not disappoint.

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

It may not officially be March Madness until March 17, but it feels pretty mad to me. Let’s just say it out loud: We are T-4 weeks to the IPC APEX EXPO. As I reviewed the big news of the week, I noticed quite a bit from mil/aero, and I recommend that you look for those headlines. But for now, I am more interested in the IPC Technical Conference and the ways that one engineer says you can get the most from your time spent at the show; Pete Starkey’s take on the world and European markets through the view of the EIPC keynote presenters; the reported growth in the global PCB market and the European EMS market; and what we are actually doing to remedy our workforce problems.

UHDI Fundamentals: Talking UHDI with John Johnson, Part 3

American Standard Circuits is an early adopter of Averatek’s A-SAP process for its ultra high density interconnect (UHDI) products. In this final part of my interview with industry veteran John Johnson, vice president of business development at American Standard Circuits, we use photos, slides, and materials to discuss what he learned from his previous role at Averatek.

The Survey Said: What’s the Difference Between Good and Great Designers?

With many PCB designers facing retirement, there’s been a lot of discussion about how we’ll replace this “brain drain” and what it means to be great PCB designer. Think about it: What’s the difference between a good designer and a truly great designer? We posed that question to our PCB designer readers in a recent survey.

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.

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