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

Are you ready for the weekend? Fin de semana? I think we all are! In this week’s roundup, we have one article on what it takes to thrive in the industry today, as well as an interview that discusses one student’s drive to succeed as a PCB designer. We also have an article by our newest columnist, Tom Yang, who introduces us to his family-owned PCB company. Columnist Hanna Grace brings us an interview with her mentor, and Anaya Vardya continues his UHDI coverage with an article that explains UHDI’s use in the RF/microwave arena.

A Great Recipe: Collaboration, Motivation, and Design Classes

John Watson, CID, is a professor at Palomar College near San Diego. John teaches a basic PCB design class and an advanced class, and graduates from these classes are ready for their first PCB design job. These appear to be the only classes of their kind in the U.S., and as more designers retire, the demand for classes like this will continue to rise. I recently spoke with John and one of his students, Mehdi Kacem, a junior embedded systems engineer intern at Avempace in Tunisia. In this interview, Mehdi explains how his desire to collaborate and his motivation to succeed helped him get the most out of John’s courses.

UHDI Fundamentals: UHDI for RF Microwave Applications

Ultra high-density interconnect (UHDI) technology has significant potential for RF (radio frequency) microwave applications. Its advantages lie in its ability to provide high-density routing and integration, which are crucial for complex RF circuits. Here are three key UHDI benefits in RF microwave applications:

THECA: Thailand’s Coming-out Party

Swaek Prakitritanon is vice president and general secretary of the Thailand Printed Circuit Association (THPCA), and we recently spoke about the inaugural Thailand Electronics Circuit Asia (THECA) trade show, July 24–26, in Bangkok. Among the six specific benefits cited for THECA attendees are valuable insights into the technology transfer to the China + 1 Asian region, specifically Thailand, as a ripe investment opportunity for PCB and PCBA companies. 

Do You Collaborate With Your Component Supplier?

Mention the word “collaboration” to a group of designers, and a few of them might acknowledge working closely with their fab and assembly partners. But how many designers consider their component providers to be true stakeholders in the process and collaborate with them regularly? Duane Benson, founder of Positive Edge, has a long history of working on the component side of things. I asked Duane to weigh in with his thoughts on collaborating with component suppliers.

New Issue of IPC Community Now Ready for Your Summer Reading Pleasure

If you’re like most of us in this industry, you have a passion for your work—and it shows. In the new issue of IPC Community, which publishes online today, we feature multiple examples of individuals and companies passionate about their jobs and their work in electronics manufacturing. They truly care about #buildingelectronicsbetter.

IPC-2581 Consortium Welcomes Big Names

At PCB East, I spoke with Hemant Shah, chair of the IPC-2581 Consortium. In this interview, we discuss the new associate and corporate members of the consortium, including Panasonic Connect, Beta CAE, Quilter.ai, and Apple. Shah explains how EMS providers can benefit from IPC-2581, which is now connected to the IPC-CFX manufacturing format. He also lays out a plan for skeptical PCB designers to migrate over to IPC-2581 slowly, and not necessarily quitting Gerber “cold turkey.” Are you handing off data in a digital format yet?

The Value Side of Training, Part 1: Five Easy Ways to Measure the ROI on Training

The best thing about a good investment is the yield it provides. This series of articles on the value side of training will focus on how to effectively measure the return on your investment (ROI) when training your staff. I will offer practical, quantifiable metrics you can apply today. Think of it as a quick checklist for every effective training program.

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

It’s a holiday weekend in the United States, but the news doesn’t stop just because a few of us have the day off! You’ll have to pardon me; my ears are still ringing from the fireworks. Without further ado, here are the five things you should not miss from this week.

Collaboration Station

As a PCB designer working for an EMS provider, Kelly Dack has seen his share of boards fail because they were designed in a vacuum; the designer simply threw the design “over the wall” and hoped for the best. In this interview, Kelly discusses the need for collaboration between all the stakeholders involved in designing and manufacturing the PCB. As Kelly points out, IPC’s CID curriculum provides a great framework for setting up a collaboration culture in your company, and standards help enable this kind of environment.


UHDI Fundamentals: UHDI Applications for Medical Devices

Ultra high-density interconnect (UHDI) technology typically refers to advanced printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing techniques that allow for a higher density of electronic components and interconnections within a smaller area. While not directly related to medical applications on its own, UHDI technology can indirectly benefit various medical devices and equipment by enabling smaller, more compact designs with increased functionality and performance.

Don’t Overconstrain Your Board Materials

When we started planning May’s issue, which centers on the use of traditional laminates in certain high-frequency PCBs, we knew we had to interview Kris Moyer and Ed Kelley together. Kris teaches advanced PCB design classes for IPC, and Ed is the former CTO of Isola and founder of Four Peaks Innovation. What ensued was a wide-ranging discussion on the evolution of “standard” PCB laminates and the recent trend by some OEMs to use these materials in high-frequency and even RF boards.

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

Much of our recent coverage focuses on being ready for the future—technologically and otherwise. We have news about APCT relaunching as AdvancedPCB, and an interview with Freedom CAD’s Scott Miller about their new leadership—young managers who bring new vision to the company.  We also have coverage of “Bold Breakthroughs: Women Reshaping the Engineering Landscape,” a webinar that celebrates Women in Engineering Day. We bring you an interview with Ventec’s Alun Morgan, who discusses the advent of glassless materials, and an article by FCT’s Chris Clark about cost-drivers in the flex and rigid-flex arena.

Freedom CAD Ready for Future With New Leadership

During PCB East, I caught up with our friend Scott Miller of Freedom CAD. Scott has been chief operating officer of the company for quite a while, but he recently assumed a new title as new, younger managers moved up into top leadership positions. I asked Scott to discuss his new role, as well as the company’s move to keep looking at the industry in novel, fresh ways.

Bridging the Gap: Re-engaging Design and Manufacturing with Downstream

At PCB East in Boxborough, Massachusetts, I caught up with Joe Clark, co-founder of DownStream Technologies. In this interview, Joe walks us through how we got into our current situation, with design, fab, and assembly functioning in separate silos, and how DownStream and the IPC-2581 data format can help bridge this gap. He also discusses what we lost by moving from the captive model, and what we stand to gain by knocking down the walls between design and manufacturing.

Career Opportunities Are Knocking

Are workforce topics on your mind? In this market, of course they are! Finding and keeping qualified employees is continually cited as one of today’s greatest business challenges. That's why I-Connect007 features Career Opportunities in every magazine issue. Whether you’re looking to hire or be hired, check out the Career Opportunities section in every issue of our magazines.

Mustaches and Automation in Flexible PCB Fabrication

In any manufactured product, whether a house or a flexible circuit, there is always a raw material component in the overall cost. In the flexible circuit, flexible heater, and rigid-flex industry, sheet materials can account for 20–60% of the overall price. Admittedly, this is a very broad range, but factors, such as how common the materials are in the region where they are made, can cause this to swing one way or the other. Your actions as an engineer or sourcing agent have an impact on overall cost, which I’ll illustrate through the example of building a house.

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

He’s back, and in splendid form. Pete’s Starkey’s coverage of the EIPC Summer Conference, which took place June 4-5 at the European Space Centre, The Netherlands, is top notch. Joan Tourné from NextGIn Technologies emphasized that our attention must be focused on the interconnection ability of our PCBs and highlights VeCS as an alternative to the traditional plated-through-hole approach. Finally, Martyn Cauwe of IMEC discusses environmental impact and specifically, the need for a better, parametric approach to quantifying it, something European businesses are being required to do on the regular.

The Collaboration Culture

As the founder of Trilogy Circuits, the provider of design and assembly services acquired by Zentech, Charlie Capers understands the value of collaboration. We spoke with Charlie about the need for designers to collaborate with all the downstream stakeholders, the hurdles to solid communication, and why real collaboration (or lack of it) can make or break your deadline.

Traditional Materials, High-Frequency Boards?

Not long ago, high-frequency and RF boards required specialized laminates, which tend to be costly and difficult to manufacture. But now, high-frequency designers use traditional PCB laminates for certain high-frequency boards. How is this possible? For some insight, we asked Ed Kelley, founder of Four Peaks Innovation and former CTO of Isola, to discuss how traditional materials have improved and what this means to PCB designers and design engineers today.


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

This week’s must-reads are comprised of news which moves the industry forward. We’ve had quite a lot of news on a global scale, and they’re all good reads. To winnow down to just five, I chose either new information or interesting takes on ongoing industry stories. To that end, we have news about new capital equipment for advanced packaging, discussions of material selection and the imaging process during PCB fabrication, a columnist's ode to the best engineer she knows, and some optimistic news from the semiconductor industry.

Catching Up With Bob Duke of ASC’s Global Sourcing Division

Since we last talked to Bob Duke, president of American Standard Circuits’ Global Sourcing Division, I wanted to see how things are going and what a difference a year makes. Not surprising, and knowing how Bob operates, things are (spoiler alert) going great. Check it out for yourself.

PCB East Keeps Getting Bigger

PCB East is definitely on the move. The U.S. Northeast’s annual PCB design and manufacturing show went on hiatus years ago as sister show PCB West continued to expand in Silicon Valley. But PCB East relaunched a few years ago, and it’s been growing each year. Show managers said that attendance at the 2023 show was double that of the 2022 event. 

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

It’s been a great week. I spent part of the week at PCB East, which was held at the Boxboro Regency in Boxboro, Massachusetts. I haven’t been to Boxboro in about 20 years. The last time I was at PCB East in Boxboro, design instructor Mary Sugden had a hot plate and a supply of bologna in her room, because she preferred fried bologna to anything she could get in a restaurant. Never a dull moment with PCB designers! 

Overconstrain? Underconstrain? Selecting Materials for High-speed Designs

When selecting materials for a high-speed design, you need to be very familiar with the materials’ electrical characteristics, as well as the requirements of the PCB you’re designing. There are myriad details that need to be considered during the material selection process, and missing one iota can lead to your job being put on hold. We asked Stephen Chavez, principal technical product marketing manager at Siemens, to share his thoughts on material selection for high-speed designs. Steph discusses material constraints, stackups, and the cut-off point when a “traditional” laminate will (and won’t) work for a high-speed board.

The Sky's the Limit: A Day in the Life of PCB Designer Paul Brionez

Paul Brionez is a senior printed circuit board layout engineer for Wisk Aero LLC. He’s responsible for the layout of PCBs and the management of library parts being created to use in PCB assemblies. He’s also involved in the creation of processes and procedures to be used in the creation, management, and release/revision of PCBs and PCBAs used for Wisk Aero applications.

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

This week, our columnists enjoy particular attention with Barry Olney, Mehul Dave, and Happy Holden all providing valuable insight on materials, the critical importance of the front-end engineering process once a PCB design is received, and an overview and observations around IPC APEX EXPO technical sessions.

UHDI Fundamentals: UHDI Applications for Wearable Electronics

Wearable electronics is a type of technology that can be worn on the body and often integrated into clothing or accessories. These devices typically offer functionalities beyond traditional clothing, such as monitoring health metrics, providing notifications, or enhancing communication. Ultra high density interconnect (UHDI) has several potential applications in wearable electronics, primarily in enhancing visual experiences, data analysis, and communication.

Underconstraining Your Materials? Leave It to the Experts

With traditional laminates now sporting improved resin systems, some OEMs are choosing various flavors of FR-4 instead of high-speed laminates for their high-speed designs—even RF applications. Avoiding overconstraining your materials in high-speed products can lead to considerable cost savings, not to mention a more streamlined trip through fabrication.

Catching Up With Tom Yang of CEE PCB

I was in the Bay Area recently and met with my new friend Tom Yang, CEO of CEE PCB, a $450 million Chinese PCB fabricator. For too long, we have enjoyed the luxury of complaining about Chinese companies without even knowing who they are and what they do. That’s just too easy. My mission was to talk to a real live shop owner in China. With this interview, you will have a better and more personal understanding of CEE and the rest of the Chinese PCB industry.


Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2024: An Introduction to IPC's Validation Services

Randy Cherry, director of IPC's Validation Services (VS) Program, sits down with Editor Marcy LaRont to discuss the program's global success and expansion, touching on the IPC-1791 Trusted Supplier and Cybersecurity List, the QPL/QML programs, and a newly introduced standard being developed in the automotive space. Randy also shares his upcoming travel plans to Australia and expresses his hope that the VS program will see much global growth in the coming months.

Delving Into Special Sessions at IPC APEX EXPO 2024

Once again, we were back at IPC APEX EXPO for another show and conference, and back to gathering in the Anaheim Convention Center. With Disneyland just across the street, there were tourists everywhere. This APEX EXPO was bigger than ever, with more activities, Professional Development Courses, standards committee meetings, and the 16th Electronic Circuits World Convention. I really enjoyed walking around and seeing everything the show had to offer.

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2024: IPC's Workforce Training and Onboarding Solutions

IPC's Kelly Allen and Carlos Plaza chat about the organization's workforce training courses. They discuss the importance of efficient onboarding, the challenges and opportunities in integrating new hires, and IPC's solutions for a smoother onboarding process. They also touch on expert involvement in IPC education and introduce new courses on component identification and standards.

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

Recently, I was reading a report from Deloitte on the Mexican economy (and don’t judge me what I read while I wait my turn at the gym). This particular report is cited in an interview scheduled for the June 2024 issue of SMT007 Magazine. I made note of a few things.

Listen to I-Connect007’s Latest Podcast Episode: Empowering Electrical Engineers

I-Connect007 is thrilled to announce the release of the latest episode in Series 3 of its popular podcast, On the Line With... , available now on Apple and Spotify.

The Thrill of Victory: IPC Design Competition

The final heat of the 2024 IPC Design Competition took place on Tuesday, April 9, during IPC APEX EXPO. IPC’s Kris Moyer and Patrick Crawford served as judges and onsite supervisors for the event, which featured five competitors—four online and one live at IPC APEX EXPO. The grand prize winner was Dinesh G., followed by Paul Brionez in second place (he placed third last year), Ajeesh Francis in third, and runners-up Joseph Chiu and Harish G (last year’s champion).

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2024: Insight into STARTEAM Global

In this interview, Martin Schneider, CTO of STARTEAM Global, talks about his long career journey that has given him valuable industry experience. He discusses his role as CTO, the company's initiatives in North America, the company's journey and its expansion into Thailand, as well as the advantages of attending IPC APEX EXPO. He expresses his gratitude and admiration for the industry.

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2024: Unveiling the New Chief Strategist of Advanced Packaging at IPC

Devan Iyer, IPC's new chief strategist of advanced packaging, shares his industry experience and the objectives of his role and emphasizes the necessity for solid standards and guidelines for new packaging technologies and design methodologies. He also highlights the significance of diverse package technologies across different markets. Devan is looking forward to collaborating with IPC and industry members as they find ways to connect emerging package technologies with PCB/EMS systems.

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: STARTEAM - 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 realtimewith.com 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.


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