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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.

Advanced Materials Update with John Andresakis

At PCB West, I sat down for an interview with John Andresakis, the director of business development for Quantic Ohmega. I asked John to update us on the company’s newest materials, trends in advanced materials, and the integration of Ticer Technologies, which Quantic acquired in 2021. As John explains, much of the excitement in materials focuses on laminates with lower and lower dielectric constants.

PCBFlow Fosters Collaboration Between Design and Manufacture 

During PCB West, I spoke with Susan Kayesar, program manager for PCBFlow, a business unit of Siemens that provides a collaboration environment for designers and manufacturers. We discussed the intent behind PCBFlow and how this platform helps to improve pre-manufacture communications. 

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

My must-reads for this week all seem to be forward-looking: an introduction to Factory 5.0, an interview from the floor at SMTA International on rework stations, announcement of a merger of two components suppliers, board of directors news, and an insightful PCB CAD tool market projection report.

Got Questions? Standards Have the Answers

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team recently spoke with Gerry Partida, vice president of technology at Summit Interconnect, and co-chair of the IPC-6012 committee. Gerry has been involved with standards development for years, and he believes that adhering to IPC’s standards and specifications has been a big part of Summit’s success. In this interview, Gerry explains how Summit utilizes standards, manufacturing data, and information to reduce re-spins and scrap while increasing yield and profitability. He also discusses the repercussions that can occur when designers don’t follow IPC standards. As Gerry points out, everything you need to know is in the standards, so why not follow them?

Manufacturing Driven Design: Moving Beyond DFM

Andy Shaughnessy sat down for an interview with Max during PCB West and asked him to explain exactly what manufacturing driven design entails. As he says, MDD isn’t just another term for DFM; it’s a whole new way of thinking. If the industry embraces this concept, it could save companies millions of dollars each year, but it’s going to require companies to work together with their manufacturing partners.

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

In this week’s Top 5, we start with a conversation with Mike Soble, who explains why SEL and Chemcut have such a great partnership. We have a review of SMTA International, which took place this week in Minneapolis. We also have a conversation with the design team at Monsoon Solutions; they explain how they geared their documentation process to the requirements of IPC standards. Mike Morando explains how to qualify your rigid-flex manufacturer. And we have an announcement about the IPC Checklist, a very useful document that I-Connect007 recently published.

Insulectro Flex Materials Showcase Offers Tips for Technologists

Insulectro continues its drive to educate PCB designers about the ins and outs of advanced flex materials. On Sept. 19 the company hosted an all-day seminar on flexible and printed electronic materials at its San Jose, Calif., facility.

A Standards-driven Design Environment

For this issue about standards, we interviewed Jen Kolar, VP of engineering, and Cory Grunwald, director of designer development, at Monsoon Solutions, a design bureau in Bellevue, Washington. In this conversation, Jen and Cory explain how they created the company’s internal documentation process around the requirements of IPC standards. They also discuss their onboarding system for new hires, including the standards that the new designers should become familiar with.

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

Historically, engineering teams using some types of insulated metal substrates in high-performance LED applications have noted the formation of solder cracks after prolonged thermal cycles. Solder cracks, as the name suggests, are discontinuities in the solder joint, usually caused by excessive mechanical stress. This stress typically results from a mismatch between the coefficients of thermal expansion (CTE) of each of the joined components.

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

This week, our must-read picks include the PCB industry monthly report, IPC’s Alison James’ statement to the EU regarding the vitality of our industry, an overview of test and inspection, greenfield fabrication facility design, and the future of advanced packaging and solder.

Selecting a Rigid-flex Manufacturer

If you’re coming from the rigid PCB world, you’re probably wondering how to get started and how to select a rigid-flex vendor. If you’re designing PCBs for an OEM that is betting everything on a next-generation rigid-flex design, you would want to use the absolute best vendor for your rigid-flex design. Your new rigid-flex design needs to be put into the right shop to leverage the best manufacturing solution.

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

Based on the wisdom of 50 years of PCB manufacturing at Sunstone Circuits, this book is a must-have reference for designers understanding the PCB manufacturing process as it relates to their design. Designing for manufacturability requires understanding the production process fundamentals and factors within the process that often lead to variations in manufacturability, reliability, and cost of the board.

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

This week’s must-reads cover a little bit of everything: advanced packaging substrates, rigid-flex design, the potential loss of tribal knowledge, ultra HDI processing, and the need for fabricators to begin utilizing Smart systems. In a few weeks, we’ll be attending SMTA International in Minneapolis, and then productronica in Munich. We hope to see you on the road!

UHDI Fundamentals: A Primer on UHDI 

There has always been pressure to reduce line and space as we have seen the bleeding edge technology go from 8 mils to 5 mils and then to 3 mils. The difference between “then” and “now” is that the prior advancements, for the most part, used the same processes, chemistry and equipment going from 8 mils to 3 mils. But going from 3 mil to sub 1 mil trace and space is a quantum leap in printed circuit board (PCB) technology that requires a whole new set of processes and materials.

Rigid-flex Design Guidelines 

Rigid-flex circuits are unique structures; part rigid board and part flex, they’re increasingly working their way into many of the electronic devices we use every day. There have been many advances in rigid-flex lately as more companies find themselves exploring this technology. So, before I started writing this article about rigid-flex design, I double-checked a few things. Fortunately, there is plenty of rigid-flex information available on a variety of great websites that we all know and trust.

Three Things to Improve High-Speed PCB Signoff, Part 2

Another challenge for SerDes is losses within the channel design. At high speeds, dielectric material can be very lossy, making the appropriate selection of the right material, length, etc., critical for the channel. Many questions about stackup, trace widths, and height from the ground plane need to be defined up front. Simulating a signal with a topology explorer tool extracted from the design can be used to set up and run sweep parameters and push min/max length/spacing values into the Allegro schematic constraint manager (system capture).

PCB West Review: EDA Tool Companies Finally Embrace AI

The weather couldn’t have been better for PCB West, and PCB designers and manufacturers packed the show floor for much of the exhibition on Wednesday, Sept. 20 in Santa Clara, California. The show floor was sold out, and it was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

Rigid-flex Stackup: It’s a 3D World

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.

Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Manufacturing Driven Design,' Chapter 5

In chapter 5 of 'The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Manufacturing Driven Design', the author, Max Clark, looks at transparent collaboration and examines the adoption of cloud-based platforms. He writes, “If the electronics manufacturing industry focuses on formats alone, they are looking backwards, resolving the problems of yesterday and limiting industry advancement in this fundamental area.”

Rigid-flex DFA

Rigid-flex assembly brings its own set of issues, but designers can do quite a bit to make things easier on their downstream brethren. We asked IPC instructor Kris Moyer to give us the lowdown on DFA for rigid-flex circuitry.

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

We’ve had a hot week in this industry. In my picks for this week, we introduce a new SMT007 columnist, and we have a look at the CHIPS Act one year later. We have a great article about sourcing diversification, and a look at the latest electronics news coming out of India. And columnist Vern Solberg explains DFM best practices for flexible circuits.

An Overview of Rigid-flex Design

For this month’s issue on rigid-flex design, we spoke with instructor Kris Moyer, who teaches the IPC class “PCB Design for Flex and Rigid-Flex Boards.” In this wide-ranging interview, Kris breaks down the hurdles facing rigid-flex designers and offers a variety of solutions for rigid board designers taking on their first rigid-flex circuits. He also provides a few horror stories to illustrate what happens if you don’t follow sound design practices, rules, and standards. And, as Kris points out, “Your fabricator is your friend.”

Sourcing Diversification – Empowering Your Supply Chain for Success

In today's interconnected and rapidly evolving business landscape, sourcing diversification has emerged as a crucial strategy for organizations aiming to stay competitive and thrive in a dynamic marketplace. The traditional approach of relying on a single source for procurement is being replaced by a more sophisticated and strategic mindset that emphasizes the advantages of exploring multiple procurement channels. This approach not only opens doors to a whole different network of suppliers, but also offers numerous benefits, such as navigating sales increases, ensuring smoother deliveries, and promoting innovation within the organization.

Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Manufacturing Driven Design,' Chapter 4

In Chapter 4 of 'The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Manufacturing Driven Design,' the author, Max Clark, explores industry advancements that bridge the gap between concurrent and intelligent DFM. Both systems complement each other within the typical workflow and represent the beginnings of a transition away from a classical DFM, allowing for an improved NPI process.

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

As I looked over the news and stories of the week, I noticed "firsts" from Insulectro and Lockheed Martin, plus a historic transition in leadership at Foxconn. There’s also financial health from KLA, and upbeat market data from IPC. With the start of a new school year, and often a fiscal year, September brings a sense of newness and change for many of us.

Challenges in Modern PCB Design and Analysis

Zuken recognizes the need to address innovation in all areas of the design process while remaining responsive to customer-driven requirements. While we can make predictions about various challenges, concerns, and requirements, our customers play a vital role in shaping the company’s development direction. They have the benefit of being “in the trenches,” so to speak, on a daily basis, so they are the subject matter experts and can help identify gaps in our tools based on where their processes are heading.

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

As we head into the Labor Day weekend, we have a variety of articles for this week’s editor’s picks. Hannah Nelson discusses the onboarding process she went through when she started a new job. Gaurab Majumdar explains why tech companies should consider hiring workers from India. Happy Holden details the importance of great sensor technology and why sensors are a critical ingredient in Smart manufacturing processes. Mike Brask discusses the new IPS ENIG line installed at the SEL facility in Idaho, and Chris DeMartino explains how Modelithics works to provide simulation models, primarily for the RF/microwave community.

PCB Design, Digital Twin, and Digital Transformation

There’s been a lot of talk lately about digital twin and its use in PCB fabrication and assembly. Manufacturers have been quick to get onboard the digital twin train. But what about PCB designers and design engineers? Can the front-end folks benefit from digital twin? We asked David Wiens, Xpedition product manager for Siemens Digital Industries Software, to weigh in on this topic. He’s been involved with digital twin for years, and he explained what digital twin can potentially offer to PCB design, and why he believes designers have been using digital twin for decades, whether they realize it or not.

Three Ways to Improve High-Speed PCB Signoff, Part 1

Signal integrity (SI) and power integrity (PI) are top priorities for engineers designing today’s high-speed, high-density circuit boards, and faster signoff of designs can be achieved by uncovering SI/PI issues early in the design process, before costly respins are required. Three key issues engineers need to overcome to sign off on high-speed PCB designs include power analysis, serializer/deserializer (SerDes) link compliance, and double data rate (DDR) memory interface compliance.

Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Manufacturing Driven Design', Chapter 3

Chapter 3 of 'The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Manufacturing Driven Design' defines MDD as the method of providing full manufacturing awareness within the design process in a manner that allows designers to optimize a design for manufacturing with the first release. The author explains why a change is needed to what we refer to as DFM and how MDD is different—in a good way.

Model Citizens: Modelithics

We recently asked Chris DeMartino, an applications engineer at Modelithics, to discuss the company’s focus on providing simulation models, primarily for the RF and microwave segments. In this interview, Chris explains the Modelithics business “model” and why the need for good models continues to grow at a rapid pace.

Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Manufacturing Driven Design,' Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of 'The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Manufacturing Driven Design' explores why a change is needed due to increasing complexity in electronics design. The miniaturization and resultant increase in number of design features make it virtually impossible to manually verify a design's manufacturing fit.

3D Electromagnetic Analysis

Data rates in PCB interconnects are increasing in all signaling protocols (PCIe, DDR, GDDR, Ethernet, USB, SAS, InfiniBand, CEI, OIF, 5G). Most of those high-speed signaling standards have one-lane data rates over 6 Gbps (GT/s) and some up to 112 Gbps with signal spectrum in microwave and even millimeter wave bandwidths. Design of compliant interconnects at these data rates cannot simply rely on geometrical rules or rules of thumb. Signal distortion by reflections, dissipation and crosstalk can cause interconnect performance degradation or even failure. To avoid it, signal integrity compliance analysis and possible interconnect optimization is required.

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

This week, we have an article about flex-hybrid electronics, which the military and aerospace folks are following closely. We have an article about the digital twin and what it is—and what it’s not. We have 10 outside-the-box ideas for closing the deal—be sure to forward this to your sales team. John Perry brings us an interview with a father/son team of IPC volunteers. (Would you want your children to work in this industry?) Finally, John Watson discusses AI, simulation and SPICE, and what they have to offer for PCB designers.

The Fabric of Our Lives: A Closer Look at Standards for E-Textiles

The e-textiles industry recognizes IPC as a leader in standards development for the greater electronics industry, and in 2017 asked IPC for assistance to develop global standards for materials, design, and manufacture of e-textiles. Volunteers quickly adapted to IPC’s processes by integrating themselves into the fabric (pun intended) of IPC’s global standardization efforts.

How Far Can We Trust AI?

Since the advent of computers, engineers have been trying to create systems that “think” for themselves—making that leap from repeating an algorithm to actually inventing one itself. Sheldon Fernandez, CEO of DarwinAI, discusses the difference between true artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML), and whether we can trust what AI gives us. Is AI only as good as the training it’s given by a human?

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

This week, we have news about APCT’s acquisition of San Diego PCB Design, and PCBAA’s continued push to impress upon Congress the need to support electronics manufacturing in the U.S. Steve Williams breaks down the details behind Lean manufacturing, TQM and Six Sigma. Columnist Tim Haag explains how he learned to design advanced and complex PCBs. And Nolan Johnson has a great interview with Daniel Barish of Celanese, who discusses some of the company’s latest low-temperature co-fired ceramics and their advantages.

Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Manufacturing Driven Design'

Chapter 1 of 'The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Manufacturing Driven Design' revolves around understanding and acknowledging the progression of DFM which will help us discern between those tenets which are core to successful practices, and those which are holding us back. In MDD, manufacturing process requirements drive design decisions prior to and throughout the design layout process.

A Front Row Seat for U.S. Military R&D

It must be fun to work at a job that has a place in the history of the United States. Ryan Lang can tell you all about it. Ryan is a PCB designer at the New Mexico State University’s Physical Science Laboratory, where much of the early research for rocket guidance systems took place. I recently spoke with Ryan about his job, as well as the milaero PCB design class that he took with IPC’s Kris Moyer.

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

Holy mackerel, dear readers, you’ve been reading the good stuff this past week. I won’t need to steer you toward any of the must-read (but sometimes overlooked) content because your collective reading habits (as measured by clicks and reads) gravitated to the same things as I did. This week’s picks include an interview from IPC Community magazine on sustainability, two pieces on space travel technology, a new partnership between two well-known companies in our industry, and the July market report from IPC. Keep reading to see what I’m talking about.

Mil/Aero Design: Not Just Another High-Rel Board

Meijing Liu, CID+, is a senior PCB designer for Microart Services, an EMS company in Markham, Ontario, Canada. She recently took a six-week military/aerospace PCB design class from IPC’s Kris Moyer, and she was surprised at how much content she was able to absorb in such a short time. I spoke with Meijing and we discussed some of her takeaways from the class, and how it has inspired her to pursue more design education in the future.

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