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Chiplet Architecture for AI Will Create New Demands for Assembly

As we look deeper into the entire AI ecosystem, it becomes clear that AI algorithms are intensely hungry for compute power. This demand for compute resources is accelerating beyond the customary rate predicted by Moore’s Law, just as traditional semiconductor fabrication methods are failing to maintain Moore’s Law. It’s a real dilemma.

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.

Advocacy: There’s No Time to Waste

In the late 1990s, I worked for a PCB company ardently working to build manufacturing presences in Malaysia, Taiwan, and eventually China’s mainland. For some of us who had the resources, we followed our OEM customers offshore as they began demanding increasingly greater price concessions from their stateside suppliers. The government was not coming to the rescue of the PCB manufacturer, so we rode the changing economic tide as it turned unwaveringly toward globalism and cheaper labor.

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2024: Summit Interconnect: Ready for Challenges of Today and Tomorrow

Guest Editor Gabriel Zepeda and John Vaughan, VP of strategic markets for Summit Interconnect, highlight the challenges in the PCB sector, such as the dwindling number of fabricators and the trend towards miniaturization. As John points out, Summit was a founding member of the Printed Circuit Board Association of America, which has grown to 50 member and aims to educate legislators, while funding opportunities support chip operations.

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

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.

USPAE to Springboard U.S. Technology Forward

The U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE) was launched as a nonprofit subsidiary of IPC in 2020, specifically to manage the DoD relationship and access to funding, and to develop a cooperative facility to develop UHDI capabilities in the U.S., not only for the defense sector, but for the whole of the U.S. electronics industry. It is a tall order, but industry veteran Joe O'Neil believes it will happen. Having been tasked with making the UHDI Capable Cooperative Production Facility (UCCPF) a reality, he provides an update on this important project for U.S. electronics manufacturing.

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2024: Insight into Summit Interconnect's Success

Shane Whiteside, CEO of Summit Interconnect, discusses the company's recent recognition as one of the best PCB fabricators in the industry by receiving IPC's Peter Sarmanian award. Whiteside touches on the impact of changes in the marketplace, such as the Defense Production Act and presidential determination, on their growth. Whiteside also shares the company's focus on mechanical and data automation to enhance manufacturing processes and anticipates more automation and evolution in the industry.

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.

Big Win for Defense Production Act Budget Allocation in FY24 Budget

One year ago, President Biden issued a determination that chips and packaging are critical for national security. Since that time, much work has been done to continue the conversation in Washington, elevating the importance of the entire chips value chain, and including printed circuit boards and substrates, without which chips cannot operate.

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.

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: An Introduction to Mastering IPC Certifications With Blackfox

Darin Pesola, master instructor for IPC certifications and sales manager at Blackfox, discusses the development of training materials for their training centers and online courses. Darin also emphasizes the challenging space addendum training course, which involves meticulous tasks and takes a week to complete. Upon finishing, students can demonstrate their acquired skills and move into the workforce.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2024: IPC Government Relations Holds Lawmakers Accountable

The IPC Government Relations team is constantly educating Congress and the executive branch about the importance of a robust domestic electronics manufacturing industry. As Richard Cappetto explains, the GR team is focused on proactive strategies, workforce policies, and sustainability, as well as the significance of apprenticeship programs, President Biden's executive order, and employer incentives. Also discussed is the PCB Act, its investment program, tax incentive, and DoD's understanding of supply chain risk.

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.

The Impact of U.S. Defense Production Act on PCB Industry

This interview with David Schild, executive director of PCBAA, covers the recent passage of the Defense Production Act and its impact on the printed circuit board industry. It highlights the importance of funding, domestic production, and government support for the industry's growth. He mentions proposed legislation like the Protecting Circuit Boards and Substrates Act and the need for a strategic approach to national security and supply chain resilience.

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.

SMTA Conducts First UHDI Symposium

SMTA’s first UHDI Symposium in Peoria, Arizona, on Tuesday, March 26 featured a standout full-day technical program with 11 separate presentations on what will be required for our companies to move to ultra HDI manufacturing. The event was the brainchild of Tara Dunn, SMTA director of training and education. It included a compelling and collaborative presentation by David Haboud of Altium, John Johnson of American Standards Circuits, and Chrys Shea of Shea Engineering, who had spent the past several weeks creating and building an appropriate SMT test board vehicle for UHDI, something that was passed around for all conference goers to see and touch.

Blackfox Ready for IPC APEX EXPO 2024

Blackfox Training Institute offers IPC-certified training for a myriad of PCB assembly techniques and standard certifications. With many technologists beginning to eye retirement, this training is at a premium. I recently spoke with Jamie Noland, director of training and education for Blackfox, about the company’s latest educational efforts, and his plans for the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO, where Blackfox will be exhibiting.

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.

CACI Secures $239 Million Task Order for U.S. Army Unified Network Modernization

CACI International Inc announced that it has secured a single-award technology task order worth up to $239 million with a one-year base period and four one-year option periods to modernize the U.S. Army’s Global Secret Internet Protocol Router (SIPR) network (GSN), including the application of commercial solutions for classified (CSfC) technology to increase options for secure user access and mobility.

Real Progress Toward Solving U.S. Workforce Problems

IPC achieved a landmark in 2023 by creating an apprenticeship program approved by the U.S. Department of Labor. With such a registered framework in place, industry can work through IPC to secure local, state, and federal dollars for workforce development in a way they’ve never been able to do before. Cory Blaylock, director of workforce partnerships at IPC, has been instrumental in developing and moving this program toward adoption, and outlines what companies need to know to get involved.

BOSTONtec Shares Perspective on Today's Wire Harness Industry

BOSTONtec is a Michigan-based company established in 1993 that produces high-quality, height-adjustable modular workstations. It serves the assembly, fulfillment, medical, automotive, aerospace, and technology markets. We visited with Rob Doucette, senior applications engineer, to learn more about the wire harness industry from his point of view.

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.

John Mitchell Addresses Industry Workforce Challenges with U.S. Department of Commerce

IPC’s efforts in government relations and advocacy have been pivotal in getting legislation like the CHIPS Act passed. In February, IPC President and CEO Dr. John W. Mitchell was back in Washington, D.C., representing our industry in a meeting convened by the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he discussed workforce issues in our industry and how to ensure that our businesses have the workforce they need. In this audio interview, he reviews his concerns and solutions on workforce development.

DARPA’s REMA Program to Add Mission Autonomy to Commercial Drones

Commercial drone technology is advancing rapidly, providing cost-effective and robust capabilities for a variety of civil and military missions. DARPA’s Rapid Experimental Missionized Autonomy (REMA) program aims to enable a drone to autonomously continue its predefined mission when connection to the operator is lost.

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.

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.

Nearshoring: Mexico Making Pivotal Move in Supply Chain Dynamics

Amidst the turbulence of international trade wars, pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions, and the escalating demands for rapid delivery cycles, businesses are increasingly looking to relocate manufacturing and production operations to countries geographically closer to their core consumer markets. Nearshoring’s potential promise is not only to mitigate the vulnerabilities of extended supply lines but also to offer agility in responding to consumer needs, fostering a more adaptable and resilient business model.

Save Your Design by Understanding Fab Processes

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

Economic Outlook: Mil/Aero Gaining Altitude and Velocity at Axiom

Oregon-based Axiom Electronics specializes in complex assembly services for aviation, mil/aero, and similar complex high-reliability sectors. In this Q&A, Rob Rowland, director of engineering at Axiom, shares a bullish outlook for 2024 tempered by a few key concerns.

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.

Mil/Aero Leading the Way in 2024

We asked James Hofer, general manager of Accurate Circuit Engineering, to discuss the outlook for his company—and the overall fabrication segment—as we move into 2024. He’s bullish on fabrication, even though he does see a slowdown coming. In response to which process technologies he thinks will hold the most opportunity for growth in the industry in 2024, James says his company is very interested in how AI will integrate into their processes.

A Progress Report: Investing in U.S. PCB Fabricators

In the geopolitical arena, the supply chain lessons learned during the pandemic continue to be addressed with long-range plans as well as short-term stopgaps. In this conversation, David Schild, executive director of the Printed Circuit Board Association of America (PCBAA), provides a progress update on the U.S. CHIPS Act, and some of the fan-out dynamics already playing out. As David explains, there is new investment in PCB fabrication that has nothing to do with the CHIPS Act.

Review: The Institute of Circuit Technology Christmas Seminar 2023

A multitude of delegates from the UK printed circuit industry made the journey to the Institute of Circuit Technology Christmas Seminar on December 5 at the grandiose Majestic Hotel in the picturesque spa town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire. They were welcomed by ICT Chair Emma Hudson, who introduced a program of three presentations encompassing the diverse topics of satellites, electroless metallisation and electronics manufacturing initiatives.

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.

IPC Day Mexico Highlights Aeronautics Industry

About 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Mexico City lies Queretaro, an area rich in history, with stone streets and public squares, and which twice has been the country’s capital. But it’s also quickly becoming a global capital of electronics manufacturing, especially aeronautics, and was the location for the first IPC Day Mexico this past June.

The Finer Points: World Champions of the IPC Hand-Soldering Finals

Productronica 2023 played host to the IPC World Hand Soldering Competition, bringing talented regional solder champions from all over the globe to compete for the title of World Champion. Each competitor was given sixty minutes to assemble a complex printed circuit board with their performance judged in accordance with IPC-A-610 Class 3 criteria. Each competitor’s efforts were rated on the merits of the results achieved, scored on the quality of the assembly process, the electrical functionality of the assembly and the speed at which the assembly was produced.

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

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.

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.

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.

MEDC Incentivizes Calumet Electronics $7.5M to Help Build DoD Technology, Upskill Workers

Calumet Electronics, a 55-year-old printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturer, located in Calumet, MI, has been called upon by defense OEMs to pioneer packaged substrates critical to the semiconductor sector for aerospace and defense.

A Gap in Capability in the Defense Industrial Base

The U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE) recently announced information about developing a public-private venture to catalyze advanced U.S. circuit board manufacturing capabilities. To learn more about the program and how industry can take part, we spoke with Joe O’Neil, who is directing the development effort for the partnership.

IPC Day Netherlands: A Focus on U.S. and EU Aerospace Electronics

I was delighted to accept the invitation to attend the Oct. 4 IPC Day Netherlands: Aerospace Electronics, at ESTEC, the technical and scientific heart of the European Space Centre in Noordwijk. A full house of electronics industry professionals, managers, and engineers made the most of the occasion, met with their peers, exchanged their experiences, enhanced their technical knowledge and learned about the latest in industry standards and training opportunities.

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.

USPAE, DoD Launch $10 Million Defense Business Accelerator

In a major initiative to innovate how the Department of Defense (DoD) spurs commercial technology development, the U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE) and DoD launched a Defense Business Accelerator (DBX) to open doors for industrial base growth and stimulate private investment.

Towards a Silicon to Systems Industrial Strategy

"Electronics systems are at the heart of almost all modern technology. The performance and functionality of these systems have increased at breathtaking speed, chiefly as a result of advancements in semiconductor technology. Semiconductors do not function in isolation," writes Alison James, IPC senior director of government relations, in a 2023 report for the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship. "These electronics systems feature prominently in key sectors like defence, aerospace, space, automotive, medical, and high-performance computing, but electronics are vital to every industry and are central to a variety of EU priorities, including the twin digital and green transitions and Europe’s technological sovereignty."

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.

CHIPS Act, One Year On

Fresh off his annual meeting with the Printed Circuit Board Association of America (PCBAA), Travis Kelly, CEO at Isola Group and chairman of the PCBAA, gave us an update on government legislation in the United States that directly and indirectly affects the printed circuit board industry. Travis was candid in his remarks about funding from the CHIPS Act, what the PCB industry needs to do, and how a bill reintroduced into Congress this year might be just the ticket we need.

POWER Program Selects Teams to Design Power Beaming Relays

DARPA is entering the first phase of the Persistent Optical Wireless Energy Relay (POWER) program, aimed at revolutionizing energy distribution through airborne wireless power transfer. Three teams—led by RTX Corporation, Draper Laboratory, and BEAM Co.—will design and develop wireless optical power relays. The program goals include demonstrating the key components necessary for a resilient, speed-of-light energy network.

A Labor Day Holiday Notice

Today is a national holiday in both the United States and Canada (though the Canadians spell it Labour Day). The U.S. Labor Day has been federal holiday since 1894, and honors both the American labor movement and the contributions of laborers in the creation of the United States. Labor Day falls on the first Monday of September and is often considered the last day of summer in American culture. This is likely because the American school schedules resume around the beginning of September.

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.

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

This week’s editor’s picks come from the top end of reader interest, so I don’t think it’s just me who’s sensing this kind of momentum. For example, we bring you a site visit to one of the newest PCB fabs in North America, and a captive facility at that. Nokia is now manufacturing sophisticated telecom optical components in the United States, and iNEMI publishes a roadmap assisting in specifying the right low-loss material for your particular application, among other topics. To wrap it up, we get NASA news that reminds us that we need not be a big corporation to participate in space programs.

Jet Appeal

In 2007, Stratos Aircraft set out to design and manufacture an exciting, high-flying new product, which they estimate is still at least five years away from going to market. With a hefty capital investment, they are now working on their second prototype: a six-passenger, single jet engine plane that cruises at 41,000 feet, with a range of around 1,500 nautical miles, and a comfortable cabin pressured to an altitude of 7,600 feet. I recently went to the Stratos manufacturing facility in Redmond, Oregon, to meet President and CEO Carsten Sundin and his team where I learned more about what it takes to design, build, and bring a new aircraft to market.

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.

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