Latest Articles

Tom Lavoie on Career Planning and Professional Development

In this interview at the IEEE Rising Stars Conference, Tom Lavoie, a former HP D-level executive and now president of Consensia IT Partners and a certified Focal Point business coach, discusses how to help entry-level technical stars get their careers started with a plan, and experienced executives enhance their professional skills.

CPCA Show and productronica China 2019 Review

It was a busy week in China for the electronics industry. With multiple trade shows and conferences going on simultaneously in Shanghai, including the CPCA Show 2019, productronica China, SEMICON China, electronica China, and FPD China, it appears from the crowds that the market is strong in the region.

Smart Factories: A Shift in Thinking

The components that make up the smart factory foundation are not new, at least not at a basic technological level. Factory automation still uses PLCs, sensors, robotics, etc. But two things are quite different today: governments and key industry players across the globe are striving for cleaner, greener factories for the sake of the environment; and the 21st century allows for interconnected, multifaceted use of the data available through all these sensors and robotics.

SMTA Europe Electronics in Harsh Environments Conference 2019: A Preview

As a prelude to this year's Electronics in Harsh Environments conference, which will be held on April 2–4, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, SMTA Europe chairman Keith Bryant, supported by technical specialist Bob Willis, showcased the challenges and key issues faced by design and process engineers worldwide, in a webinar entitled "Harsh Environment Failures—Causes & Cures."

IPC Validation Services: New Programs and Updates

At the recent IPC APEX EXPO 2019 show, Randy Cherry, director of IPC Validation Services, gives Judy Warner an overview of a new IPC-1791 QML program focused on prime contractors and OEMs, and provides updates on existing programs.

IPC: Trump’s FY2020 Budget Plan Kicks Off U.S. Policy Debates

Within the last week, U.S. President Trump released his $4.7 trillion fiscal 2020 budget plan, kicking off the annual federal budget process. IPC is watching several budget debates that could impact the electronics industry and its supply chain.

Four Hidden Materials Handling Costs Every OEM Should Know

Many of the expenses within your electronics manufacturing business are highly visible and undergo regular scrutiny. But there can also be much to be gained by keeping track of those less obvious material costs that may not be formally accounted for in your monthly reporting.

Current Megatrends You Pay the Most Attention To

In our recent survey, we asked the following question: "What current megatrends do you pay the most attention to?" Below are some of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Joining Materials with Laser Energy

Kelly Dack and General Manager Denis Barbini discuss Laserssel's laser soldering equipment. Laser soldering is presented as a solution to mitigate the effects of high heat processing on printed board substrates and components by pinpointing energy where it's needed to join the metals. He talks about the challenges that their customers usually face, and how they are helping them address those by optimizing their processes. He also mentioned their device that eliminate any type of warpage.

Automation and the Smart Factory: Introduction to Industry 4.0

The characteristics of successful automation application in manufacturing depend on how well business and technical management understand and promote the strategies, tactics, and philosophies used in modern manufacturing. This article briefly outlines the background of computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) and its evolution to Industry 4.0 and smart factories.


2019 IPC EMS Management Meeting Wrap-up

At the recent EMS Management Meeting during IPC APEX EXPO 2019, EMS leaders gathered to discuss issues critical to EMS providers today, including supply chain issues, customer contracts, labor optimization and talent shortages. The highlight of the day was a supply chain challenges panel and discussion featuring supplier, distributor, and end-user perspectives on addressing component supply and lead time challenges.

Industry Outlook from IPC's Sharon Starr

Sharon Starr, IPC's director of market research, provides updates on the EMS and PCB industry outlook, benefits of IPC membership and participation, plans to expand the EMS statistical program, and new studies being published.

Rehm Focuses on International Hiring

Rehm Thermal Systems has been successfully recruiting skilled workers from abroad for some time now.

What Do You Know About Automation?

Test what you know in this 10-question automation quiz! Hint: It helps to download and read I-Connect007’s free eBook Automation and Advanced Procedures in PCB Fabrication, which provides an in-depth look at automation, computer-integrated and computer-aided manufacturing, mechanization, and chemical monitoring and control.

Blackfox on IPC Training and Certification and Mexico Expansion

Joel Sainz, sales manager for Blackfox Training Institute in Mexico, speaks with Guest Editor Osvaldo Targon about his company’s IPC training and certification services during IPC APEX EXPO 2019. Sainz also discusses their plans for expanding their reach in Mexico.

2019 Outlook: IPC Advocacy for Workforce Education and Training

The chronic shortage of skilled workers is the top business challenge facing the electronics industry worldwide. Our skilled workers are aging and retiring faster than we can hire replacements.

What Drives Your Optimism?

In our previous I-Connect007 survey, we asked the following question: "What drives your optimism?" Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Standards Updates—IPC-7093 & IPC-7530

Ray Prasad, IPC Hall of Famer and chairman for multiple committees, gives Guest Editor Joe Fjelstad an update on two IPC standards: IPC-7093 on bottom-termination components (BTCs), and IPC-7530 progress with reflow characterization. Prasad talks about the many challenges in dealing with BTCs, including circuit/board design, manufacturing, voiding, connections (or lack thereof), warpage, and reliability. He also addresses no-clean flux and its challenges.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: iNEMI on Next-generation Soldering

Grace O’Malley, VP of technical operations at iNEMI, and Editor Nolan Johnson discuss the next-generation soldering buzz session workshop hosted by iNEMI at IPC APEX EXPO 2019 and the upcoming bi-annual technology roadmap that will be released this spring.

Nate Ramanathan on Choosing a Prototype Partner and Production Supplier

AEye, a developer of perception systems for autonomous vehicles, has transitioned from initial engineering development into the final design for production and manufacturing of very large quantities. In an interview with I-Connect007, Nate Ramanathan, VP of operations at AEye, speaks about the criteria and his perspective on selecting vendors.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Aculon on Technology Developments and Partnership with Henkel

Aculon CEO Edward Hughes and Editor Pete Starkey discuss surface modification technologies based on nanochemistry. Of particular interest to electronics technologists are recent developments in waterproofing treatments for assemblies, and how Aculon's strategic partnership with Henkel opens up new opportunities.

Digi-Key’s Dave Doherty: Tweaking the Supply Chain

In an interview with I-Connect007, Digi-Key COO Dave Doherty discusses supply chain disruptions and shortages and shares a number of ways in which Digi-Key is helping to smooth out the delivery of components even with the current turmoil.

Todd Westerhoff Discusses His New Position and Much More

At DesignCon, I met with our old friend Todd Westerhoff, a veteran signal integrity engineer. Todd joined Mentor, a Siemens Business, since we last spoke. We discussed his new job responsibilities, his drive to get more designers and engineers to use SI tools, and the increasing value of cost-reduced design techniques versus overdesigning PCBs.

Advice to OEM System Designers

In our previous survey, we asked the following question: "What advice would you give an OEM system designer?" Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Reducing Voiding in Reflow Soldering

Chris Nash, product manager for PCB assembly solder paste at Indium Corporation, speaks with Kelly Dack and highlights Indium’s take on three important aspects of reliability: thermal, mechanical, and electrical. He talks about challenges of all three aspects, which include solder voiding, and how Indium helps the industry address these issues through its solder paste formulations.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Thermaltronics Discusses New Soldering Robot

Michael Gouldsmith, director of Thermaltronics, speaks with Editor Dan Feinberg about their new TMT-9800S robotic soldering unit. He also talks about an inline robotic soldering system—the next stage of their product development—which is scheduled to be released in the middle of the year.

USMCA Fights Ramps Up; IPC Helps Launch New Coalition

The coalition has a series of daunting and time-pressing tasks ahead of it. The USMCA needs to surmount procedural and political hurdles and be passed this year if we are to avoid the pitfalls of election year politics in the United States.

Accelerating and Disrupting Innovation: The Tesla Story

The time was right for Tesla to bring new thinking into the concept of electric transportation when the company observed the quantum shift in battery technology from lead-acid to lithium-ion that had been driven by developments in portable consumer electronics.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Five-year Standard Committee Collaboration on JS-001

David Hillman from Collins Aerospace and IPC's Teresa Rowe speak with Editor Dan Feinberg about how a seemingly simple question resulted in years of committee work to develop the JS-001 standard on the use of conformal coatings and avoiding tin whiskers.

Two Full CFX Demo Lines at IPC APEX EXPO 2019

During IPC APEX EXPO, Editor Dan Feinberg spoke with David Bergman, IPC VP of standards and technology, about CFX, IPC’s Connected Factory Exchange software for machine-to-machine communication. With more than companies now supporting CFX, IPC set up two full lines for demonstration at the show.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: MIRTEC Discusses Automation, CFX, and Sales Success

MIRTEC President Brian D'Amico speaks with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu about automation, the Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) standard, and their banner year last year. He speaks about Industry 4.0, automating the inspection process, and collecting more data to help refine the manufacturing process.

Stephanie Martin: Component Supply Challenges from the Catbird Seat

Vexos Senior Vice President for Global Supply Stephanie Martin gives the I-Connect007 editorial team a wide-ranging and insightful overview of the current parts supply situation from the perspective of procurement at a contract manufacturer.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Judy Warner on Altium's Transformative Vision

During IPC APEX EXPO, Guest Editor Kelly Dack sat down for an interview with Judy Warner, Altium's director of community engagement. They discussed Altium's efforts to educate PCB designers, regardless of their CAD tools, and the company's plan to transform the industry by bringing together PCB design and manufacturing.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Industry Leaders: IPC STEM Student Outreach Program

At IPC APEX EXPO 2019, I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman spoke with Colette Buscemi, IPC's senior director for education programs, about the success and expansion of the IPC STEM Student Outreach Program, activities and scholarship opportunities for students through sponsor support—including I-Connect007—and feedback she received on the event.

How Inspection Improved the Manufacturing Process

In our previous survey, we asked how inspection has helped improve the manufacturing process. Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Advanced 3D Solder Paste Inspection Technology

Olivier Pirou, managing director of Vi TECHNOLOGY, provides Joe Fjelstad with an overview of the company's advanced 3D solder paste inspection technology, featuring the ability to make corrections in real time. Pirou also talks about their efforts in strengthening their inspection systems.

Trump Administration can Ease EPA Reporting Burden for Electronics Industry

The finish line may be in sight in a decade-long effort to persuade the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to curb unnecessary and duplicative Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reporting requirements that discourage recycling of manufacturing byproducts.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: BTU Discusses New Solder Flux Reclamation Solutions

Bob Bouchard, corporate marketing manager at BTU International Inc., updates I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson on new solder flux reclamation solutions and details the new aqueous scrub methodologies, their increased ROI and efficiencies, and reduced maintenance.

Executive Forum on Advancing Automotive Electronics

Presented by IPC Hall of Fame Council, the Executive Form on Advancing Automotive Electronics, which aims to provide information on the complete supply chain for automotive electronics, featured 10 presentations on all facets of automotive electronics from materials, fabrication, and reliability testing to market information and future needs.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Making Components Count

VJ Electronix is filling the void in pre-build component count verification challenges. Don Naugler, president and general manager, sits down with Guest Editor Kelly Dack to explain details of the machine, how it works, and who benefits from it.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: LPKF on Benefits of Laser Depaneling

Laser technology marches on, and marching along with it is LPKF's new line of laser depaneling equipment. Stephan Schmidt, president, talks with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Kelly Dack about the many benefits of using lasers including cleanliness and higher yields through increased array density.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Manncorp Highlights Custom SMT Lines

Ed Stone, sales manager for Manncorp Inc., sits down with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu and discusses how they are helping customers with low- to medium-volume type production needs by installing custom SMT lines within 48 hours.

Advice to OEM System Designers

In a recent I-Connect007 survey, we asked the following question: "What advice would you give an OEM system designer?" Here are just a few of replies, slightly edited for clarity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Lenthor Discusses Facility Expansion and New Equipment

Rich Clemente, general manager of Lenthor Engineering, discusses with Dan Feinberg, I-Connect007 Guest Editor, the company’s expansion and new facility and equipment. He also talks about his outlook for the electronics manufacturing industry in North America.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: MacDermid Alpha Highlights Solutions to Combat Voids in Solder

Joe Fjelstad speaks with Paul Salerno, global portfolio manager at MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions, about their latest product and process solutions to combat voids in solder including modifications in pastes, preforms, and vacuum assist soldering.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Comet Group's Lab One Facility in Silicon Valley

Joe Fjelstad speaks with Ken Burden, senior director of North American field service, and Craig Arcuri, business development, about Comet Group’s Silicon Valley-based Lab One customer center, which is a key resource for a variety of testing and inspection services, and also offers opportunities to collaborate with Comet Group's industry experts.

Award-winning Koh Young Process Optimizer

Joel Scutchfield, sales director with Koh Young America, discusses the company's outlook and new product offerings for 2019, including their Koh Young Process Optimizer (KPO), which won an award at IPC APEX EXPO 2019 for the process control software category.

Dan Schoenfelder: Searching for Parts in Real Time

The I-Connect007 editors recently sat down with Dan Schoenfelder, vice president of business development at Octopart. We discussed online parts libraries and the impact they can have on choosing parts based on availability data during the design process.

Improving the Efficiency of Your PCBA Production

Ensuring you're hitting your build times is always a major priority in surface mount production. The challenge for many OEMs, however, is that the processes involved with PCBA can be numerous and complex. And the smallest of details can make the biggest of differences.

A Drone's-eye View of the IPC APEX EXPO Show Floor

If you couldn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego, don't worry. We have full coverage of this annual must-attend event, from the opening ceremony to the close of the final day. To get a sense of the size of this year's show, check out our drone's-eye view of the show floor. Can we name our drone Air007?


TUM Hyperloop Team Learns PCB Design on Way to Setting World Speed Record

At AltiumLive Munich, I met with Tobias Bobrzik, a Technical University of Munich student and member of the TUM Hyperloop team. In 2018, the TUM Hyperloop team’s prototype pod set the world speed record of 290 miles per hour, which lead to their meeting with Musk. Tobias designed some of the PCBs used in that vehicle, so I asked him to tell us more about this experience, and what he hopes to do after graduation.

Flex Circuit Supply Chain Challenges

In our recent Flex and Rigid-Flex survey, we asked the following question: "Do you have problems with your flex circuit supply chain?" Below are just a few of the explanations of those who answered "Yes", slightly edited for clarity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Electrolube Discusses Overcoming Secondary Cure Issues

Phil Kinner, technical director of Electrolube's coatings division, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about how secondary cure issues with UV conformal coatings have been overcome and shows some typical examples.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Enabling Complete Automation for Customers

Steve Williams and Saki CEO Norihiro Koike discuss Saki's AOI equipment and complete solution for electronic manufacturers, the industry-leading accuracy of their 3D equipment, and their recent Panasonic IoT certification to provide process data back to the pick-and-place equipment.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Panasonic Highlights New Products, IPC STEM Student Outreach Program

Sean M. Murray, GM of North American Sales EAG Group for Panasonic, and Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007 Managing Editor, discuss two new product announcements at the show—PanaCIM process tracker software and MPM-WX—and being a sponsor for the IPC STEM Student Outreach Program.

Super Dry Storage Options to Manage Intermetallic Growth

Guest Editor Kelly Dack speaks with Richard Heimsch, director of Super Dry, about some of the differences between storing components and other materials for assembly floor storage versus long-term storage, and how Super Dry can help combat intermetallic growth.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: New IPC Technical Education Program Manager

Brook Sandy-Smith discusses her new role as IPC technical education program manager, which is also a brand-new IPC position. She further explains the benefits of membership, when a member should contact her, the IPC STEM Outreach Program, and upcoming events.

Supply Chain in Crisis

In a traditional design flow, the project team tends to use the parts they already know and have footprints for—maybe a little long in the tooth, but known quantities, after all. Except these are not traditional times. Component supplies, prices, and lead times are in a great deal of turmoil. The automotive, IoT, and telecommunications sectors are vacuuming components out of the supply chain at a record pace, exerting influences like early obsolescence of older components and more.

Joe Clark Discusses DownStream’s Updated Tool Lineup and IPC-2581

DownStream Technologies recently revamped their entire product line, from CAM350 through BluePrint-PCB. DownStream co-founder Joseph Clark and Guest Editor Kelly Dack discuss some of these updates, including a new GUI and capabilities such as 3D analysis, as well as news about IPC-2581.

Critical Process Issues

In our recent I-Connect007 survey, we asked what the top three critical issues are in the production process. Below are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.


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