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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.

Pushing the Limits of PCB Impedance Control

All PCB fabricators have their own carefully guarded methods of modifying their process to achieve the desired controlled impedance specification. When you start considering the techniques and processes in PCB manufacturing, the list seems endless: etching, high layer counts, feature density, pressing, layer registration, material storage, and expansion/contraction. With so many contributing factors, who can blame them for playing their cards close to the vest?

Shane Whiteside Appointed as New PCBAA Chair

Summit Interconnect President and CEO Shane Whiteside was recently appointed as chair of the Printed Circuit Board Association of America (PCBAA), replacing Travis Kelly, CEO of Isola Group. Shane’s distinguished career in PCB manufacturing and leadership spans several decades, so this new role lends itself well to PCBAA’s mission as an important advocacy vehicle for the PCB industry.

Beyond Prepreg: The Glassless ‘Revolution’

As our industry rallies around the call to action for HDI and UHDI, we find unparalleled and myriad laminate options. This abundance is rivaled only by the question surrounding them: Can they measure up to the high technology packaging demands required in our near future? Unsurprisingly, recent developments in FR-4-esque materials for high-speed and high-density designs, as well as newer, glassless technology for replacing traditional glass-impregnated laminates and prepreg, are garnering much interest. I caught up with Alun Morgan, technology ambassador for Ventec International Group, to ask about the impending “glassless revolution” and how it’s poised to solve some of our manufacturing challenges.

USPAE’s Jim Will on PCBMC, Defense Needs, and Onshoring

Jim Will has assumed the role of executive director of the U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE). In his first interview with I-Connect007, Jim discusses his background in the commercial and defense industries, emphasizing U.S. defense assured electronics needs. His passion shows through as he discusses USPAE initiatives and looks forward to finding ways for partner organizations to work more closely together.

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.

IPC Impact Day Recap With Rich Cappetto

IPC has hosted its annual IPC Impact Day in Washington, D.C., for at least the past decade, with the first event taking place in the 1990s. This popular and important advocacy tool allows an industry segment to meet their local congresspeople, educate them on important issues, and influence new or existing legislation to support their interests. We spoke with Rich Cappetto, senior director of North American government relations at IPC, about the importance of the event and what it means for the greater PCB industry. He also highlighted an important change: There will be several IPC Impact Days throughout the year to allow smaller groups of industry professionals to visit Washington more often with a more targeted message.

Off Like a Rocket: A Review of the EIPC Summer Conference, Part 1

Motorway traffic jams, airport car parking, walking for miles, queuing for security, delayed flights—oh, the joys of travelling. I was quickly reminded of my status as a foreigner while waiting patiently in line for a half-hour at passport control to enter the European Union at Amsterdam Schiphol, having flown all the way from London Luton in the United Kingdom, that great distance of 200 miles. 

An IPC ‘Blockbuster’: IPC-7711/21

Dan Foster, Missile Defense Agency, has been instrumental in developing IPC-7711/21, Rework, Modification and Repair of Electronics Assemblies, over several revisions of this important guideline document. We talked to Dan and committee member Agnieszka Ozarowski, BAE Systems, about the most recent revision.

Governments Struggling With ‘Silicon-to-Systems Approach’

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? That is the conundrum facing U.S. government officials overseeing billions of dollars in strategic investments in the domestic microelectronics industry. Enormous grants are beginning to flow to the chips sector, and after years of IPC advocacy and education efforts, policymakers have gained a clearer picture of the rest of the electronics supply chain, including everything chips depend on to function.

Advancing PCB Technology: A Conversation With John Johnson

John Johnson, an industry veteran with 45 years of experience, shares insights on the adoption of the Averatek process at American Standard Circuits, highlights the shift toward finer lines and spaces in PCB manufacturing, and emphasizes the importance of technology, cleanliness, and material adhesion in achieving ultra-fine lines. He addresses the challenges in advancements of the additive process, emphasizing the need for a mindset shift and employee training.

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.

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.

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