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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.

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

This week, trade shows are at the top of our feed, with our coverage of the Del Mar Electronics and Manufacturing Show and IPC APEX EXPO. These two longtime events are almost polar opposites in size and scope, but Del Mar seems to be expanding from its roots as a “neighborhood gathering” with its move into the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The Del Mar show always has a good “buzz factor,” which is something you can’t buy.

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.

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

Spring is a renewal each year as dormant flora bloom, and baby ducklings and geese are ever present in local bodies of water. Even though it is beginning to get hot, I love this time of year in Arizona, with the sun waking me around 5 a.m. It fills me with an energy that I often lose in the dark winter months. Wherever you find yourself in the world, I hope you are enjoying Spring and that you are filled with energy and enthusiasm for all the great work part of our daily lives in this industry.

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2024: Laser-Based Micro Machining Systems from MKS

Casey Krueger, director of product marketing for MKS, introduces their laser-based micro machining systems, particularly the CO2 drilling system for the HDI market. They discuss CO2-formed vias, the benefits of AOD technology, hypersonics, and enhanced optical transmission. The discussion also covers accuracy and the application of water-cooled galvos. Casey offers insights into the advancements and enhancements in their second-generation CO2 drilling system.

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.

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: all4-PCB, A Premier Solution Provider for the PCB Industry

In the PCB industry, all4-PCB, is a top-tier equipment supplier and process solution provider. Ralph Jacobo highlights the active market and the demand for high-quality equipment, discusses their existing customers, investment in advanced substrates, and smaller board shops.


Growth Potential: Electronics Manufacturing Driving Massive Surge in Manufacturing Investment

In the early months of the pandemic, investment in manufacturing infrastructure, such as plants and production facilities, declined sharply. Real investment dropped over 11%, before finally recovering to pre-pandemic levels in the first half of 2022. Over the past two years, however, several factors have combined to drive manufacturing investment to record levels.

Digitalisation and ESG

Digitalisation and ESG are prominent and high-priority topics in the global business community. The first focuses on applying technology throughout the value chain to produce faster, smarter, and more desirable business outcomes. The latter emphasises the broader value a business is expected to create for its stakeholders from an environmental, social, and governance perspective.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2024: Looking Back, Looking Forward With IEC

IEC came to the RTW booth and discussed both the legacy of IEC's past and the vision for its future. Industry veteran Bruno Ferri highlighted his quarter-century tenure in the industry and with IEC since its founding. He still exhibits boundless enthusiasm for the industry. Brando Stone, a young professional and a future face of IEC, talked about IEC's plans going forward and his experience at this year's IPC APEX EXPO.

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.

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.

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

We are well into trade show season and what a season it has been so far! SMTA Dallas, IMAPS, and the SMTA UHDI Symposium have filled out the past two weeks as we barrel toward IPC APEX EXPO in just a week’s time. There have been many exciting announcements of equipment and technology that will be showcased at IPC APEX EXPO, including announcements from Ventec, Blackfox, Insulectro, Indium, and more. Click through the news to see what’s in store for the big show.

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

This week's news feed contains a bunch of big money items, as well as some interesting industrial and technology puzzles to be solved. There’s even some down-home people news from the Dallas SMTA conference held this week. Don’t overlook the latest issue of PCB007 Magazine, either. The topic is sustainability, which is becoming an ecosystem of its own.

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 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.

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

I just finished counting the percentage of times in which artificial intelligence/machine learning/data analytics topics appeared in the I-Connect007 news this week. What do you think the percentage is? AI has moved well beyond a technical term; heck, it has clearly also eclipsed catch-phrase status. It seems a foregone conclusion that AI applications will be inserting themselves into manufacturing just as they are appearing in our handheld devices. Speaking of handhelds, that market seems to be growing as well. This week’s five must-reads include smartphone market data, telecom infrastructure development, a new white paper on the influence of data analytics, a report on the European market, and the launch of a new podcast series on PCB 3.0, a new design methodology.


What PCB Fabricators Should Know About IPC APEX EXPO 2024

On the cusp of another IPC APEX EXPO, we focus on how bare board fabricators can maximize their time and investment at the show. We visited with Matt Kelly, IPC chief technologist, and Julia Gumminger, IPC professional development and events manager, as well as Udo Welzel and Stanton Rak, the chairs of the technical program committee, to discuss the technical depth and breadth that the 2024 show will bring to fabricators and professionals all along the supply chain.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pete Starkey’s Five Must-Reads of 2023

I must say, this has been a good year. We were free at last from COVID travel restrictions and obligatory face masks. This means I have been able to get out and about, network with colleagues in the industry, and report on some notable presentations from distinguished technical specialists in Europe. It has been a difficult job choosing a “top five” from such a multiplicity and diversity of high-quality papers, but here’s my selection.


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.

Flexible Printed Circuits: A Design Primer

Flexible circuits consist of conductive strips in a sandwich of insulating or dielectric material. They resist moisture and contamination and are insulated from external shorts, with holes or contact surfaces for interconnection. Understanding a package’s electrical requirements and not over-designing permits means taking full advantage of a flexible circuit’s potential compared to conventional wiring.

Real Time with... productronica 2023: Ventec Now Also an Equipment Supplier

Mark Goodwin announces that Ventec is now in the equipment business, as it were, now offering equipment under representation as well as equipment Ventec is now building. The equipment line matches up well with Ventec’s core. Some equipment includes: Legend/solder paste, via fill, press plates, and more. These new offerings just demonstrate how Ventec continues to be a value-add supplier.

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.

Real Time with... productronica 2023: Aismalibar Poised to Meet Thermal Management Challenges

Technical Editor Pete Starkey and Aismalibar's Eduardo Benmayor reflect on opportunities and challenges for thermal management and the battery industry and discusses Aismalibar's product solutions.

Check Out Our Real Time with... productronica 2023 Interviews

Last week in Munich, 42,000 visitors descended on productronica’s 88,000 square meters of show space over eight sprawling halls to see some of the 1,400 exhibitors, representing 45 countries worldwide and all parts of the PCB/SMT supply chain. If you weren’t able to make it to productronica this year, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. 

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.

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

This week's edition focuses almost entirely on young people. This in itself is quite a feat as not long ago, there were no young people coming into this industry. Now, we have a small but steady stream of young folks entering the industry, and we’re focusing on providing them with the latest training and education. Our industry, for a variety of reasons, is now attractive to people born in this millennium. Didn’t see that coming!

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

When I use our analytics to see what’s of most interest to our readers, what comes to the top of list are topics such as sustainability, materials, reshoring, upskilling, and high reliability. It makes sense, doesn’t it? In today’s business climate, we must be ever aware of the impact we’re having on the environment while maintaining a high-quality product that supports our national economic and security interests.


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. 

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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!

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.


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

This week has been chock full of news about upcoming trade shows and conferences. Clearly, the season is upon us. This week, I-Connect007 reported on PCB West in Santa Clara (often referred to as the show which kicks off trade show season) and the topic of artificial intelligence was everywhere. By the looks of it, not just at the conference, either. For months now, the mainstream media has been gobbling up all sorts of news about generative AI engines, painting the picture that we’ll all lose our jobs to these tools, while also reporting on situations where the results from AI have gotten progressively worse over time.

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.

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.”

A Look Inside SEL’s New PCB Factory

After years of planning, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories is now manufacturing printed circuit boards in its new $100 million captive facility in Moscow, Idaho. I recently toured the facility with Engineering Director John Hendrickson, who managed the design and setup of the greenfield site, along with Mike Brask, president of Integrated Process Systems (IPS), a key supplier for the new Moscow facility.

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.

Stiffeners for Flex Circuits

One of the most recent topics in the flex world has been the evaluation of materials required to build a rigid-flex or flex circuit. Discussions around flex and materials include variations of polyimide and copper. Here I will discuss another material that plays a very important role in the world of flex circuits: stiffeners. These are critical components to a flex circuit because they broaden its scope and potential applications.

Designing and Manufacturing Wearable Biosensors

As wearable electronic devices continue to be more prevalent, it’s an ever-greater challenge for companies that manufacture them to keep their competitive edge. It is vitally important that each device is effective, cost-efficient, and of the highest quality available.

PCB Technologies Invests in Advanced Packaging

Jeff De Serrano, president of PCB Technologies North America, gives an update on the company’s recent move into advanced packaging—a move that stemmed from company leadership and vision for the future. He also shares his forecast on the PCB market, specifically around rigid-flex, along with some of the challenges the industry still faces.


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