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Balver Zinn Group Mourns Loss of Managing Director Gregor Jost

It is with deep sorrow that Balver Zinn Josef Jost GmbH & Co. KG says goodbye to its managing director, Dipl.-ing. Gregor Jost.

APEX Thursday Keynote: Shawn DuBravac on a Data-driven Tech World

Shawn DuBravac, IPC chief economist, provided Thursday’s IPC APEX EXPO keynote address, “The Tech Industry in a Post-pandemic World.”

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

There was a lot going on in the industry this week, and most of it happened at the virtual IPC APEX EXPO. Sure, it wasn’t the same as being in San Diego, but the show went pretty well, especially for a first-time event. There were a few technical snafus, but the IPC technical staff was responsive and took care of most of the issues right away. As I said a few months ago, how would you like to be in trade show management during a pandemic? So, without further ado, here are my top five stories from the past week.

Lessons Learned During Pandemic Fuel KYZEN's Customer Support, Growth

Tom Forsythe shares how KYZEN applied pandemic experiences to their delivery of customer support. The company's R&D has continued, including AquaNox product line formulations for water soluble organic acids, where cleaning has historically not been necessary but now is increasingly required.

APEX Panel: Lessons Learned in Times of Crisis

During a crisis, communication among employees, customers and suppliers is key to keeping business operations running as smoothly as possible.This consensus came from a panel moderated by Mark Wolfe in the EMS portion of the Managers Forum on Monday, March 6, during the virtual IPC APEX EXPO 2021. Panelists were asked to speak about lessons learned during the pandemic and how it affected their business and employees.

IPC APEX EXPO 2021 Keynote: Travis Hessman on ‘The Great Digital Transformation’

Wednesday’s Premier Keynote at IPC APEX EXPO 2021 came from Travis Hessman, editor-in-chief of IndustryWeek, “a website and magazine dedicated to manufacturing leadership, operational excellence and the technologies that make it possible.” An energetic and animated presenter, a powerful storyteller and visibly passionate about digital manufacturing, Hessman made it clear at the outset that his goal was not to hype an already over-hyped industry, nor to focus on the technologies themselves, but to walk-through the process of transformation.

Real Time with...IPC APEX EXPO 2021: Optimizing Pin Inspection In Automotive With True3D Tech

Guest Editor Michael Ford and Gustavo Jimenez, Koh Young's sales manager for Northern Mexico, discuss some of the company's newest technologies, including True3D™ technology for pin inspection, which has proven popular with the automotive segment.

IPC Managers Forum: Packed With Useful Information

Gene Weiner of Weiner International Associates discusses the highlights of the IPC Managers Forum which took place on the first day of IPC APEX EXPO. The forum was filled with a variety of speakers covering a range of industry topics.

IPC Releases Free Smart Factory for Electronics Manufacturing Presentation

The IPC APEX EXPO 2021 Technical Program features a tract on the “Factory of the Future Implementation,” March 10-11. As part of that program, IPC has made available a free presentation and video from the Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC), a CFX Program member. In this presentation, Barry Maybank along with Naim Kapadia, MTC technology manager, explains the background of the MTC, one of seven high-value-manufacturing technology catapult centers established in the UK.

IPC APEX EXPO Keynote: John Mitchell on the State of the Industry

IPC President and CEO Dr. John Mitchell was the Monday keynote for the 2021 edition of IPC APEX EXPO. Delivered via video conference as a part of this year’s virtual format, Mitchell made good use of a panel approach. After opening remarks, Mitchell anchored an around-the-horn series of reports from IPC experts.


Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2021: Developments in Digital Manufacturing

Michael Ford and Pete Starkey discuss the industry trend towards digital manufacturing, the latest in 3D CAD technology, ontological data and the benefits of the new IPC standard for digital twins.

IPC APEX EXPO 2021: The Complete Agenda

IPC APEX EXPO week kicks off today in a first-ever virtual format. The 24-page IPC APEX EXPO program of courses and conference events details the events, technical program, keynotes, and much more.

Virtual IPC APEX EXPO Kicks Off Today

There will be no long TSA lines, late flights, Uber rides, noisy hotel rooms, missing luggage, or aching feet...all things that we long for. Instead, we will be attending our first-ever online IPC APEX EXPO 2021 starting today. One key benefit with this year’s IPC APEX EXPO is your ability to choose what session you will see or not see, as the IPC will have the sessions available for 90 days after the show so that you can catch up on whatever you missed. Also, those on your team who normally do not travel to the event will now be able to take part.

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

A perennial and yet irregular category on the popular game show Jeopardy is “potpourri.” My dad, as I was growing up, pronounced the word as “pot-poury.” It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that my girlfriend’s mom—who had a penchant for a soupcon of French euphemism in her tête-à-têtes—pronounced the word properly: “po-pu-ree.” Such are the risks of growing up just a bit rural.

Real Time With… Premium Sponsors Share ‘Top 5 Things You Need to Know’

As part of I-Connect007’s coverage of the IPC APEX EXPO 2021, four premium sponsors share their knowledge and expertise in the following categories.

Coming Out Ahead With Smart Processes

During a recent interview with Dr. Tim Rodgers that focused on supply chain management, the conversation also touched on smart factories. We’ve included Tim’s insights on smart processes here.

What Makes a Good Process Engineer?

Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Tuan Tran, director of customer solutions at Green Circuits, about what makes a successful process engineer. They also discuss a typical day in the life of a process engineer—from pre-manufacturing through post-DFM, for process improvement. As Tuan points out, there are a variety of paths to becoming a great process engineer.

Super Dry: Increasing Component Storage Needs

Nolan Johnson speaks with Super Dry’s Richard Heimsch about how the need for dry storage solutions has increased throughout the pandemic, including further demands for traceability and automation capabilities.

EIPC Technical Snapshot: Cleanliness

John Ling’s invitation to the fifth in EIPC’s series of Technical Snapshots was as droll as we have come to expect: “In these confined days of lockdown, and exhortations to stay at home and only go out for exercise, this only exercises the natural inclination to hop on a ‘plane to some sunshine.’ Although not the same as Factor 20, one of our webinars gives a high degree of protection from harmful ignorance, and you do not have to go out in the cold.”

2020: A Year of Learning, Innovation for Taiyo America

Pete Starkey has a virtual visit with John Fix, director of Sales and Marketing at Taiyo America, where they discuss the changes taking place because of COVID-19 restrictions, and some of the new products Taiyo will be presenting at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO.


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

We’re seeing an increase in optimism as more people are vaccinated and states under lockdown begin flipping open their shutters. This positive outlook is spreading, albeit slowly.

Finding Process Improvement Opportunities in Training

Nolan Johnson speaks with Leo Lambert of EPTAC about training the next generation out of high school and vocational schools, and how his company continues to improve processes, grow and adapt to changing requirements while fulfilling its mission to deliver technical certification training.

Predicting a ‘Roaring Twenties’ Innovation Boom

The 2020s have not started as anyone would have wished. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed weaknesses in supply chains and in global manufacturing, yet this could still be the most innovative decade ever.

Catching Up With Sean McConville, Niche Electronics

Dan Beaulieu catches up with Sean McConville, vice president of business development at Niche Electronics, who shares his background in the industry, the strengths of his company, and how the pandemic has affected its business.

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

I’m following the landing procedures for NASA’s Perseverance Mars lander as I’m finishing my Top 5 list for the week. The successful landing of the lander seems a nice highlight for this week. Our global aerospace programs, both national and private enterprise, make these missions seem almost, almost routine. They are, as we all know, anything but routine. No surprise, then, that aerospace-related news percolated to the top of mind for our readers this week.

Footprints: A Distributor’s Perspective

No issue on footprints and library management would be complete without input from a component distributor. I recently interviewed Geof Lipman of Octopart; as director of operations for part data, he’s one of the brains behind the entire site. Geof explains how Octopart functions and manages millions of component data points, and he also discusses the current landscape of electronic components.

Jered Stoehr Discusses New Leadership Role at Milwaukee Electronics

On Friday, February 12, 2021, Nolan Johnson spoke with Jered Stoehr, incoming CEO at Milwaukee Electronics Corporation (MEC) about his new role. Jered steps in for his father, Michael Stoehr, after approximately 35 years of leadership from the elder Stoehr. In their conversation Jered provides Nolan with some additional detail to accompany the recent press announcement, including the timeline for the transition, how Jered prepared for this role, and what he sees as the agenda to grow and advance the business.

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

We’re moving on into 2021, and there’s quite a bit going on in the world of PCB design, fabrication, and assembly. IPC APEX EXPO is fast approaching, and I know a lot of you will be attending, albeit virtually. In this week’s Top Five, columnist Eric Camden provides a how-to guide for PCBA technologists planning their IPC APEX EXPO schedule.

Building A Better, Brighter LED Headlamp with Top-Side Alignment Process (TAP)

An emerging trend in the automotive industry is the adoption of advanced LED headlamp lighting systems. These systems drive challenging placement requirements for LED packages. In this paper, we will review these unique challenges and discuss a novel approach to high-accuracy placement of LED packages enabling a scalable production solution.

Best Practices: Footprint Design and CAD Library Management

The I-Connect team spoke with Altium’s John Watson about the hurdles surrounding footprints and footprint design. John talks about how being proactive and improving the CAD library can better QC processes and help protect against footprint difficulties.


Joe Fjelstad's Book Review: The Innovators

"The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution" by Walter Isaacson is the best technology history book I have ever read, and at the same time one of the most engaging and entertaining. It is a forte of Isaacson to write biographies of great people. I have read his other books on DaVinci, Steve Jobs, Ben Franklin and Albert Einstein and found them equally brilliant. Isaacson has a number of other titles I have yet to get to in the future. He is a singularly great storyteller.

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

Another active news week in the electronics industry! February is launching with a high-G burn, to be sure. And if you’re a fan of The Expanse, like I am, then you’ve probably already watched through to the Season 5 finale; this means you have attention to spare for industry news all of a sudden. And if you haven’t reached the current end of the line for The Expanse, then today’s list is just what you need while you catch up.

Making the Most of a Virtual Event

Nolan Johnson speaks with Alicia Balonek, senior director of tradeshows and events at IPC, about how both attendees and exhibitors can best prepare for this year’s virtual IPC APEX EXPO and breaks down some of the events you can look forward to at this year’s show.

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

This week, we have a variety of news and articles to share, and it’s all positive. We have a new president, and he’s pledging to help American businesses. December PCB sales were up 4.5% over the same period a year ago. Atotech is just about ready to launch an IPO. Sunstone has tweaked its free CAD tool, PCB123, to make it even easier for designers to receive their Gerber files. And columnist John Watson breaks down what we all learned during the chaos that was 2020.

Book Review: The Timeliest Read of 2021—The Business of WE

It’s only January, but this may be the timeliest book of the year, as well as the most important. Why? Because it deals with the issues that we are facing right here now. The gap that Kriska refers to is the one between black and white, men and women and as the title suggests “we and them.”

IPC’s Alicia Balonek Talks Trade Show News

Nolan Johnson discusses IPC APEX EXPO 2021 with Alicia Balonek, senior director of trade shows and events at IPC. Alicia provides an update on how IPC APEX EXPO will be structured in a virtual format, overviews the programming changes, and new additions designed to make IPC APEX EXPO the best virtual event possible.

5 Keys to Smart Process Success

Smart factories require the core underlying processes to be connected and “talking” to generate the data necessary to make real-time process decisions, that is, the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). In a truly connected factory, an ongoing continuous dialog between machines, business processes, suppliers and customers is happening in the background. This dialog is not only interactive, but proactive, as a constant stream of real-time data is tweaking and adjusting processes to drive improvement. It also provides time-critical information on how processes are operating, supply chain pipeline, and delivery status updates—all based on data.

Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing Webinar Review

I-007e recently released a highly informative series of short webinars called Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices from Design Through Manufacturing presented by industry expert Jay Gorajia, the Director of Siemens Global Digital Manufacturing Services. The webinar is an excellent overview how data that is generated using a digital twin model can be effectively utilized to improve business execution using the Siemens tool suite.

Tech 2 Tech: KYZEN’s Short Technical Sessions a Big Hit

Nolan Johnson gets an update from Tom Forsythe on KYZEN’s Tech 2 Tech sessions. These brief 15-minute sessions were set up during the pandemic by KYZEN for customers, prospects, and new engineers around cleaning, and have since found traction with their manufacturers, reps and distributors.

Your Greatest Competition is Yourself

It really doesn’t matter who you think your external competitors are, because the only competitor that really matters is you. Of course, you will look externally to stay on top of latest trends, but when it comes to competition, just competing with yourself is a win. When you look at yourself as your greatest competitor you will start with a huge advantage: you already have great intel on how “your competition” thinks. Ask yourself, “What can I do to displace my ‘competitor’ and create something much better?”


MivaTek’s New Technology and Market Drivers

I recently spoke with Brendan Hogan about the upcoming new product releases from MivaTek. The conversation flows naturally from the new product’s market drivers to the X=Xc – 1 idea that is at the core of the market drivers.

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

Hard to believe that a year ago, I was getting ready to attend DesignCon and IPC APEX EXPO and wondering if this Novel Coronavirus was going to cut into attendance from the Pacific Rim. Now, we’re accustomed to virtual trade shows. They’re not ideal, but they’re the best we can do while meeting in person is not possible. We’ve learned to adapt.

CES Dispatches: Opening Day at Pepcom

On Monday, January 11, I attended the launch of the CES 2021. Well, more precisely, I attended the Pepcom program, one of the multitude of ways to connect with CES in the virtual environment. Pepcom is a regular at CES, functioning a bit like a show-within-a-show.

CES 2021: Just How Different Will It Be?

CES 2021 starts today and this year there is no need for an overpriced hotel room in Vegas, no long lines to get a taxi or board a bus, and no crowded exhibit halls (one good thing this year). On the other hand, you must decide ahead of time what you want to see and make a reservation or appointment if you wish to have time and access assured.

2021: The Year of X = Xc – 1

Throughout 2021, I-Connect007 will focus on our theme, “X = Xc – 1,” in which we will explore continuous improvement in a practical way. Get talking about continuous improvement as a business method and the conversation often hinges around large programs and grand transformations. “Company culture” and “corporate transformation” are terms that often appear in these conversations. Often, it seems, continuous improvement is simply a huge undertaking.

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

It’s a new year, and time for new resolutions and new beginnings. “New year, new you” certainly is reflected in this past week’s news. We saw several announcements regarding mergers, acquisitions, and organizational changes, plus some government legislation to help kick off the new year. Based on viewing activity, readers were keen to keep up on the changes under way.

IPC CEO and President John Mitchell Discusses New Membership and Dues Structure

In this video, IPC CEO and President Dr. John Mitchell discusses the organization’s move from a site-based and enterprise membership dues structure to a company revenue-based model. Mitchell explains that this change will go into effect upon each member company’s renewal in 2021, and he points out that many of the existing member discounts will remain unchanged.

This Month in SMT007 Magazine: The Skilled Worker

Why do we train and educate our employees? Here, I will share my perspective based on what is happening in facilities trying to outsource their products, as I see that many companies are losing the tribal knowledge of how things are manufactured and the basic skills necessary to physically build a product.

Tales from a Trailblazer: An Interview with Christine Davis

Columnist Steve Williams recorded a series of interviews with new I-Connect007 columnist Christine Davis, president and founder of contract manufacturer CAMtek, who recently joined Zentech Bloomington. As a female business owner in a male-dominated industry, Christine has a unique perspective on what it takes to thrive in the electronics industry, and shares some of her stories and lessons learned along the journey.

This Month in SMT007 Magazine—Continuous Improvement: As Simple as X = Xc – 1

X=Xc – 1 is a conceptual equation for continuous improvement. You define X and work to reduce it by a factor of 1. This could be one work hour, one process step, one day less in a cycle, and so on. We recently met with Dr. Ron Lasky to discuss the concept of X=Xc – 1 and get his advice on generating enthusiasm among readers and the next generation about continuous improvement. As this discussion illustrates, many process improvements are small in scale, not yearlong, major efforts.


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

We always hear that the PCB industry is “mature,” full of people past their prime who don’t know how to change with the times. I think 2020 puts the lie to that idea. I’m honored to be a journalist covering such an amazing group of people. In the words of U2, “I will begin again.” Happy New Year!

I-Connect007 Wishes You a Happy New Year

Could there be a more welcome year in recent memory than 2021? If there’s one thing most of us can agree on, it’s that we want 2020 squarely in our rearview mirror as we speed ahead with a fresh, new start. This past year has brought with it much reflection, change and even some consternation. Thank you for taking this journey with us!

Chapter 1 Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to Process Validation

The original principle underlying the IPC’s ionic cleanliness requirement was that the mobility of surface ions, detectable from SIR measurements, would correlate to a maximum value of detectable ionic elements permissible on the circuit surface. The industry required a test that was both fast and accurate for process control. Thus, a simplified ion chromatograph that was able to detect ionic elements without differentiation was created.

Happy Holden Discusses His Favorite Career Moment

Managing Editor Nolan Johnson recently buttonholed Happy Holden and asked him to discuss the favorite moment of his career. To know Happy is to understand the full weight of his quiet influence on this industry. We’re delighted to share with you Happy’s reminiscence about spending time with his family at David Packard’s ranch while re-engineering the tank controls at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. As Happy explains, Packard may have been a billionaire and an ex-secretary of defense, but he still cleaned all of the fish that Happy’s kids caught on the ranch.

Book Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to Smart Data, Chapter 1

Accurate data is required to adjust processes and to ensure quality over time. This is difficult because not all data is in the same format, and not all sensors perform the same over time. How do you know what the best data to collect is and how to filter out the junk data from useful or smart data? This is not an easy task when the interfaces to data collection sources are complex, and they do not speak the same language, often requiring the vendor’s help to get data out of the machine and then spending time normalizing the data to turn it into something useful. This is a challenge for companies trying to set up a custom data collection system themselves.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT Articles of 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, the I-Connect007 Editorial Team takes a look back at its most read articles. Here are the top 10 reads in SMT from the past year.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Recruiting and Interviewing

Printed circuit manufacturing was not one of the jobs that electrical engineers in HP wanted to do. EEs were also not the best choice for printed circuit manufacturing because chemical engineers, chemists, and mechanical engineers had more skills useful to support the PCB manufacturing process. Therefore, I was authorized to recruit external hires. To recruit chemical engineers, we went to those universities noted for their focus on industries like electronics, process control, and environmental...

EIPC Technical Snapshot: PCB Surface Finishes

For the third in a series of Technical Snapshot webinars, EIPC chose to focus on PCB surface finishes, comparing specific properties, examining corrosion behaviour and discussing selection criteria for low-loss, high frequency applications.

John Watson Discusses His Favorite Career Moments

As we celebrate the holidays after a tumultuous year, it’s important to remember all of the good things in our lives. In this short video, Altium’s John Watson discusses a few of the moments that really stand out in his career: earning his IPC Certified Interconnect Designer credentials and designing his very first circuit board.

Happy Holidays from I-Connect007

The I-Connect007 team would like to wish you and your loved ones the happiest holiday season. Continue to stay safe and healthy as we head into 2021. Happy Holidays!


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