Latest Articles

A Textbook Look: Signal Integrity and Impedance

Believing that I knew a bit about signal integrity and controlled impedance, I was pleased to take the opportunity to connect with an educational webinar that I hoped would extend my knowledge. In the event I was surprised at how little I actually knew, and the webinar was an excellent learning opportunity. The webinar was introduced and expertly moderated by Anna Brockman of Phoenix Contact in Germany.

Technica Heats Up ROI Discussion

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team speaks with Technica’s Frank Medina, Ed Carrigan, and Jason Perry about trending hotspots that provide the PCB fabricator a high return on investment (ROI). A theme that carries throughout the conversation is that traditional methods for calculating ROI are being replaced by models that include more qualitative factors.

PCB Technologies’ InPack to Focus on Miniaturization, Packaging

I recently spoke with PCB Technologies’ Jeff De Serrano, Yaniv Maydar, and Alon Menache about their new venture, InPack. They explain their plans to focus on advanced packaging, miniaturization, and other high-end technology, with much faster time to market, and they offer a view of the global market as well.

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

The big news in the industry this week was the new bill introduced to the U.S. Congress in support of the PCB manufacturing industry. The Supporting American Printed Circuit Boards Act of 2022, which was introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Blake Moore (R-UT), incentivizes “purchases of domestically produced PCBs as well as industry investments in factories, equipment, workforce training, and research and development.” The bill is a PCB-oriented complement to the semiconductor-oriented CHIPS Act of 2021.

EIPC Technical Snapshot: Supporting Autonomous Driving

EIPC’s 17th Technical Snapshot webinar on May 4 focused on developments in automotive electronics, particularly on advances in the technologies required to support the evolution of autonomous driving. The team brought together two expert speakers to present their detailed views on topics encompassed within “CASE,” the acronym that appears to be taking over the automotive industry.

FIRST: Endorsed by Teachers and Students Alike

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is a robotics program at Oregon’s West Linn High School led by computer science and engineering teacher Tim Manes. Barry Matties caught up with Tim and his student team, 2BDetermined, at the FIRST Pacific Northwest District robotics event in Salem, Oregon. The team has excelled at the local and regional levels and was invited to participate in the world competition in April.

A Game Plan for Upskilling Your Fab Workforce

There’s been a lot of talk among PCB manufacturers about the need to upskill their workforce. But where do you start—do you set up your own program or send staff to third-party training centers? We asked David Hernandez, IPC vice president of education, to weigh in on this topic, and the criteria that goes into creating IPC training programs. In addition to upskilling strategies, David also delves into the need for our industry to develop a labor pipeline, as well as the challenges we face in hiring, training, and retaining employees in this industry during a tight labor market.

Exploring High Density With Axiom

Nolan Johnson and Barry Matties talk with Axiom’s Rob Rowland and Kevin Bennett about the current high-density challenges facing EMS manufacturing. In this interview, Bennett and Rowland zero in on component packaging and feeder technology as critical areas in need of improvement.

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

This week, we have some M&A news from Summit Interconnect, and a variety of columns. Chris Bonsell discusses the lack of preventive maintenance planning in PCB manufacturing, and Kelly Dack lays out some solder mask guidelines for PCB designers. Duane Benson helps make sense of the quoting process in a time of 50-week lead times, and Dan Beaulieu has a great review of a book about how shareholder policies have caused many of the problems we see in corporations today.

Additive Manufacturing Requires Additive Design Techniques

Although I am not a designer by trade, I want to share my thoughts on what additive manufacturing means for designers, especially how it relates to solder mask. In this article, you will learn what topics I feel are the most important to address.


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

It certainly seems that our times continue to be interesting, don’t they? Just how many different flavors of supply chain disruption can we come up with? Investment on the supply side needs to increase, but the size of the labor force needs to increase even more, if we want to accomplish the task of the buildout itself, let alone running the facilities properly.

DFM 101: Solder Mask and Legend

One of the biggest challenges facing PCB designers is understanding the cost drivers in the PCB manufacturing process. This article is the latest in a series that will discuss these cost drivers from the PCB manufacturer’s perspective, and the design decisions that will impact product reliability.

Designing PCBs With Additive Traces

Advances in technology have been clear to see within the component packaging industry, as the ball grid array (BGA) package sizes reduce from 1.0 mm pitch to 0.8 mm, 0.4 mm, and even beyond. However, while these improvements have occurred with component packages, it has become increasingly more difficult to break out and route the dense circuitry associated with these parts. Currently, the high-density interconnect (HDI) method typically used for the breakout of such parts has been to create the smallest possible subtractive-etched traces with microvias to allow for connections and escapes on the innerlayers of your PCB.

Book Review: 'Advocacy' by John Daly

I’ve always wondered why some great ideas succeed while others fail. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to be both a student of Dr. John Daly and to read his book on advocacy. I highly recommend checking out his YouTube videos as well. He’s an energetic and entertaining speaker.

Designing Additive and Semi-Additive PCBs

With components getting smaller and electronic devices becoming more compact, we are reaching the physical limits of the typical etched fabrication processes. To address these limits, new additive and semi-additive processes are being developed to fit into the current fabricators’ production lines without too much disruption or extra cost.

Addressing the Gap in Process Performance

The first steps in process improvement are to determine what the gap is and why it happens. Having a process is not sufficient; the process needs to be effective as well. For those responsible for creating and maintaining processes, the ultimate goal is to create a procedure that becomes self-perpetuating, that seeps into the fabric of the company’s culture. For better or worse, plenty of procedures do indeed become ingrained in company culture. How does one go about ensuring that company culture is loaded with effective processes that deliver a positive outcome? That is the question, to be sure.

PCBAA Member Profile: Davy Nakada, Rogers Corporation

Our industry has suffered from a lack of visibility with policymakers. PCBAA brings many voices together so those in Washington realize what's at stake. Semiconductors have received the most attention in recent years while the domestic production of PCBs and related PCB materials continues to decline. We are now seeing legislative language supporting domestic production because of how PCBAA has educated lawmakers and policymakers on the PCB’s place in the microelectronics ecosystem.

FIRST Program Inspires Next Generation of Innovators

Today’s students grow up immersed in a world of technology, yet how many of them actually see themselves taking on careers that advance this science? Since many of the jobs for our future workforce haven’t even been created yet, what can be done to encourage students toward STEM careers? In this interview, Barry Matties speaks with Adrienne Collins, director of programs at FIRST Washington, about the success of a student robotics program that fosters innovation, builds problem solving skills, and cultivates a concept that most of us have never heard of—gracious professionalism. When you see the interplay of these skills in action, you are blown away. There’s a bright future ahead.

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

It’s been a busy week in this industry, and we have news and articles from the PCB design, fabrication, and assembly communities. The roller coaster ride continues, with whiplash-inducing news from IPC about March North American shipment—they’re up from February but down from the same period a year ago.

Catching up with EISO Enterprises’ President Gary Chien

While there are many Chinese companies now selling in the United States, I wanted to find one in Taiwan that is penetrating the U.S. market. I was delighted to come across EISO Enterprise Co. Ltd., a printed circuit board fabricator located in Taiwan. I know that the American companies are usually looking for PCB global partners in countries other than China, which made my conversation with Gary (Jung Kun) Chien all the more interesting, especially when he shared his thoughts on the U.S-China trade wars.


Training the Future Manufacturing Labor Force

To better understand what’s needed for upskilling your labor force in today’s job climate, we reached out to Sunstone Circuits, a PCB fabricator in the Pacific Northwest. We posed our set of questions to individuals in three departments to hear their perspectives depending on what area they work in. The following are the questions and answers from Michael Connella, operations manager; Matt Stevenson, vice president of sales and marketing; and Debra Coburn, human resources manager.

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

Welcome to April 15, everyone! There are reasons we tend to cover topics in a continuous conversation. First, there are always developments and news in the industry. Second, you dear readers respond to that content by reading it. This week the news items that drew the most reader interest verify that our industry has ongoing interest in government involvement in industry infrastructure, supply chain issues, cybersecurity, and new technologies like additive in fabrication.

The Carbon Footprint of HDI: Direct Metallization vs. Electroless Copper

As the electronics supply chain contends with the struggles of moving out of the pandemic and into a new normal, it is increasingly obvious that a new normal will be one with sustainability and resource conservation as the top priority. Over the past year, we have seen printed circuit board manufacturers encounter challenges associated with environmental regulations, water and power outages, and pressures from the supply chain to reduce environmental footprints. From the perspective of a board fabricator, especially one that specializes in HDI, a highly resource-intensive step in the process of making a printed circuit board is the primary metallization step. All circuit boards that have multiple layers go through such a primary metallization, which is either electroless copper or direct metallization (DM).

Material Application for Mini Backlight Unit

In 1980, about 90% of the materials used to make PCBs was FR-4. As time went by, technology developed, and electronic devices relentlessly integrated into every area of our lives. The constant acceleration of upgrading meant endless challenges and opportunities for CCL suppliers. Wazam New Material Co. Ltd. is a CCL supplier that strives to be attentive to the needs of its end customers and provide comprehensive solutions. One example is the mini backlight unity (MBLU) application material.

Engineering RF Dielectric Material to Enable 5G/6G Antenna Devices

Accurate characterization of frequency-dependent inhomogeneous dielectric material properties is key to the optimal design of high performance and cost-effective PCB antennas. These antennas will be required to enable the plethora of devices forecasted for 5G/6G communication. Therefore IT-88GMW, an advanced resin system reinforced with tightly woven thin glass fibers has been formulated to improve the Q-factor of interconnects and passive components fabricated on PCB laminates.
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