Latest Articles

The Drive Toward UHDI and Substrates

Panasonic’s Darren Hitchcock spoke with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team on the complexities of moving toward ultra HDI manufacturing. As we learn in this conversation, the number of shifting constraints relative to traditional PCB fabrication is quite large and can sometimes conflict with each other.

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.

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.

Women’s Leadership Program at SMTA International 2023

The Women’s Leadership Program is a popular, annually recurring event hosted during SMTA International. This year’s event is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 9, at the Minneapolis Convention Center and is free for all participants at SMTA International. The theme for this year’s program is “Personal Branding: Creating an Authentic and Sustainable Perception.”

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

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

10 Steps to Outstanding

So often when I talk to PCB shop owners, they ask me how they can be outstanding. How can they position their own company to stand out from the crowd? That’s because one of the issues PCB shops face these days is they all seem to be alike. While they used to be judged and differentiated based on performance, now they all have very good quality.

Developing a Fabrication Business Strategy

Over the years, we’ve talked a lot about business strategies for PCB manufacturers here in the pages of PCB007 Magazine. But let’s back up a bit and look at the process for developing a new strategy. Where should you even begin? What’s your strategy for developing a strategy, if you will? We asked Chris Chapman, a Lean/Agile leadership coach and publisher of the Digestible Deming newsletter, to share his thoughts on developing successful business strategies and how the management philosophy of W. Edwards Deming can help leaders in our industry take their companies to the next level.

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.

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

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

IPC Day Comes to Romania

When IPC staff wanted to showcase the latest industry developments to a European audience, they made an obvious choice: Timi?oara, Romania. The dramatic economic expansion here over the past 30 years has resulted in a large concentration of manufacturing and technology businesses. Long-term planning by authorities positioned the city as a business-friendly and diverse cultural hub on the western border, providing easy access to Central Europe.

Innovations in Final Finishing

In this interview, IPS President Mike Brask shares some insights about the company’s latest automated ENIG line installed at SEL’s new $100 million PCB facility in Moscow, Idaho. As Mike explains, this line features quite a few innovations not usually seen in North America.

Creating a Golden Gnome: 3D Printers and a Little Ingenuity

A-Teams play such a crucial role in helping standards committees accomplish their goals that IPC established the Golden Gnome Awards Ceremony in 2021 to recognize their contributions. As part of the event, IPC wanted to provide a tangible and meaningful keepsake for award winners to take home. IPC invested in 3D printers and leveraged their capabilities to create unique and personalized gnome trophies. Here's how I did it.

Discussing SEL’s Strategy

The Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) leadership team made some far-reaching decisions in the past decade: They opted to build their own captive PCB fabrication facility in Moscow, Idaho, and they decided to utilize zero-discharge processes. Now the facility is up and running and the state and local officials are firmly on SEL’s side, thanks in large part to the green processing, not to mention the employment opportunities.

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.

What’s Your Process for Developing a Strategy?

Dr. Tim Rodgers might not call himself a “business strategies guru,” but the moniker certainly fits. As an adjunct faculty instructor at the University of Colorado, Tim specializes in project management, problem-solving, and streamlining processes in engineering and manufacturing. Plus, Tim knows the business side of PCB fabrication. We asked Tim to discuss the process of developing a successful business strategy for PCB fabricators, why operational efficiency is not a strategy itself, and how smaller companies can differentiate themselves in an industry that’s becoming more and more commoditized.

Going Green at SEL

SEL is going green at its new 162,000-square-foot, environmentally friendly PCB manufacturing facility in Moscow, Idaho. As John Hendrickson explains, being a zero liquid discharge (ZLD) facility—a trend you are likely to hear more of in our industry—is not just a smart business decision, it’s driven by SEL’s core values.

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.

Linkage Technologies Ready for ‘China Plus One’

I recently spoke with Mehul Davé and Michael Schumacher of Linkage Technologies. In this interview, they discuss their acquisition of a PCB facility in Malaysia, their global expansion plans, and how Linkage stands to benefit as companies begin pursuing the China Plus One sourcing strategy.

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.

TTM CEO Tom Edman on the Process of Strategy

For this issue on strategy development, we sought input from Tom Edman, CEO of TTM Technologies. He’s been at the helm for almost 10 years and has overseen quite a few major changes in that time. In this interview, we asked Tom to discuss what goes into planning a successful strategy, how to narrow down the perfect strategy for your company, and why the boss shouldn’t bear the entire responsibility for this strategy. It needs to be a team effort.

Hiring for Soft Skills in Technology

In the age of digital transformations and disruptions, many technology companies continue to amaze us with ever increasing capability and the breakneck speed of development. But beneath the surface, nearly every one of those organizations is made up of teams of employees who are tasked with delivering better results year after year. Technical capability is no longer enough to achieve long-term success. Soft skills are now a key factor in distinguishing high performing organizations from those that struggle, and their effect is far reaching.

Supporting the New Workforce: An Interview With Joe O'Neil

IPC Community celebrates member success while sharing the important work done within IPC to better serve its members and the entire global electronics manufacturing community. But who will take us into the future? How do we prepare the next generation of industry professionals for the needs of today’s consumer, industrial, and defense bases? Joe O’Neil, chair of the IPC Education Foundation, shares his vision for developing that pipeline of new talent entering the electronics industry.

TQM: So Much Larger Than Quality

Sit down to a conversation with industry pioneers like Happy Holden and Dan Feinberg, then add TQM proponent Barry Matties to the table, and continuous improvement eventually becomes the topic. In this roundtable discussion, the group turns to the subjects of legacy and the impact of TQM on quality, management, and business operations.

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

In 1971, David Bowie released his album “Hunky Dory.” One obscure track (at the time, at least) on that album, “Changes,” would slowly evolve into a Bowie signature piece, stutter and all. As time went on, his admonition for us all to “turn and face the strange” carried more and more weight in popular music and popular culture. Of course, a cover of “Changes” which was featured in the movie “Shrek 2” caused the song to peak again in 2004, 33 years after it was first released. Just a little reminder that change is a constant.

Sunstone and American Standard: A Sum Greater Than Its Parts

American Standard Circuits’ CEO Anaya Vardya and Sunstone Circuits' vice president and general manager Matt Stevenson took a break from the company transition to talk with I-Connect007 about why the merging of these two leading industry brands is so important—for both customers and the two respective companies.
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