Latest Articles

Customers Drive Investment Decisions

In our recent survey on investing in new equipment, one question we asked is what or who influences the research into new equipment to buy for their factories. A majority, 77% of respondents, say that addressing customers’ needs is the primary influence in their research for new equipment, followed by market conditions or trends.

Top Reasons for Investing in New Equipment

In our recent survey, a majority of respondents said they consider increasing capacity and improving their existing manufacturing capability as top reasons for investing in new equipment for their production lines.

Evaluation of Stencil Technology for Miniaturization

SMT stencil printing technology continually evolves to keep pace with device miniaturization technologies. Printed circuit board assemblers have numerous new technology options to choose from, and need to determine the most effective ones to produce the highest quality and most reliable solder interconnections.

Step Stencil Technologies and Their Effect on the SMT Printing Process

Components such as quad flat no lead (QFNs), land grid array (LGAs), micro ball grid array (micro BGAs), 0201s and even 01005s continue to push manufacturers to use thinner stencil foils to apply the correct volume of paste onto their boards, but larger components such as edge connectors still require larger paste volumes.

Mirtec Succeeding Through Inspection Innovation

David Bennett, president of Mirtec Europe, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about the company's latest inspection technologies, the challenges that miniaturization can bring, and Mirtec's efforts to stay on the leading edge and never be a “me too” company.

Industry 4.0 and the Platform-Based Approach to Testing

Chandran Nair, the vice president for Asia Pacific at National Instruments, explains how the Industry 4.0 vision will change electronics manufacturing. He discusses key technology enablers that would drive the evolution of manufacturing processes, and how a platform-based approach can help improve test and measurement.

Koh Young Europe Ready for Next Year, and Beyond

Harald Eppinger, managing director of Koh Young Europe, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about the demands of the European market, the company's long-standing success with its solutions, and the future of Koh Young Europe.

The Year of IoT Digitalization

There is no longer any significant disagreement that having an industry-wide standard for IoT communication is absolutely essential for digitalization of factories if they are going to deliver on Industry 4.0 performance expectations. Digitalization of manufacturing is the key business opportunity of the decade, whoever and wherever you are, so stand-up and be a part of it, and create your opportunities.

Solder Printing Process Inputs Impacting Distribution of Paste Volume

The volume of solder deposition, like any process, has variations that may be characterized by a statistical distribution curve, whether normal or non-normal. As complexity, density, cost and reliability requirements increase, there may be value in narrowing the distribution curve. It is common sense that less variation serves the interest of quality of the more complex and dense circuit boards.

Tips & Tricks: Generating Stencil Tooling

Many engineers are leaving the editing up to the stencil fabricator these days. From the outside, this may appear as a time saver for process engineers, but considering how many stencil redos have been required and how many processes that have run 'sort of OK,' there's a tremendous amount of scrap and rework that could be saved from just a little more attention paid to stencil tooling.


Improving Solder Paste Printing

Of the three elements involved in the solder paste printing process—stencil, solder paste, and printer—the stencil is considered one of the major factors affecting the transfer efficiency, accuracy, and consistency, of solder pastes into the pads, especially with the continuing trend towards miniaturization.

9 Ways to Keep Up with Changes in Manufacturing Technology

The world of manufacturing technology might not be quite as fast to change as consumer electronics, but it is evolving, and faster than you think. Recent evidence shows that companies are increasingly adopting 'servitized' business models and technology is a key enabler, so falling behind the times is not really an option.

Two Questions to Ask Yourself with PCB Continuous Strips of Parts

Sometimes, you don't want to buy a reel, full or partial, but still want your PCB parts all in one continuous strip. Everyone wants to use up their odds and ends, but once those are gone, it's easier for you if each part is one strip. If you want to save a little money and can use a longer turn-time, you might want to choose a short-run production service with continuous strips.

Insights from productronica

The recently held productronica was a busy exhibition. There were booths that were so crowded that people were standing in the aisle to talk with company representatives. But some booths were nearly empty. Read to find Dieter G. Weiss' comments on this biennial show.

Equipment Matters in Solder Paste Printing

The solder paste printing process has always been considered a major contributor to yield loss. According to many studies, solder paste printing accounts for up to 70% of all PCB assembly defects. For the December issue of SMT Magazine, we interviewed experts in the solder paste printing process to learn more about the key issues leading to this huge percentage of defects, and the technology developments that are addressing these challenges and improving yields in the process.

What Matters Most is Communication

While there may be new techniques and strategies, technologies, equipment, tools, and materials to employ and utilize, there is always one thing that will ensure the manufacturing/ assembly success of your product: communication. Communication between the designer and the assembler will help improve the manufacturability and assembly of the final product—even before the board design gets fabricated.

DFx on High-Density Assemblies

Use of new technologies poses a number of challenges for solder paste selection, PCB design, assembly process, and reliability. The type of end product will have different challenges, concerns, and requirements in all aspects. The assembly line for many of these end products will look very similar, but specification limits would be different.

Is Your EMS Provider The One for You?

No matter where you are in your outsourcing journey, ensuring that your EMS provider is right for you is one of the most important success factors. The right partner should bring you years of pain-free manufacturing that has the ability to evolve and adapt to your needs as your business grows.

Via-in-Pad Plated over Design Considerations to Mitigate Solder Separation Failure

Under certain conditions, the use of VIPPO with other pad structures within a BGA footprint can result in a unique failure mode in which the BGA solder joint separates between the bulk solder and the intermetallic compound either at the package pad or PCB pad interface, depending on whichever is the weaker interface. It can be either a complete or partial separation and hence, may or may not be detected at ICT/functional test.

Video from productronica 2017: YXLON Moves Away from One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Keith Bryant, global director for electronics sales at YXLON International, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about their latest X-ray inspection machines that are designed as a specific fit for its own market sector. He also talks about what's state of the art right now in X-ray inspection systems, as well as updates on the progress of the integration of SMART Group into the SMTA.


Nancy Jaster Brings Manufacturing, Design Background to Designers Council

Nancy Jaster was recently named the head of the IPC Designers Council. At the recent AltiumLive 2017 event, I spoke with Nancy about her unique background in both design and manufacturing, and how she hopes to use that experience and mindset to revitalize the Designers Council going forward, particularly with the International and student chapters. We also discussed her plans to bring more young people, particularly women, into the industry.

Video from productronica 2017: Rehm Discusses Trends Driving Product Development

Michael Hanke, chief customer officer of Rehm Thermal Systems, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about the importance of communicating with their customers when it comes to new process and technology trends. He also talks about Industry 4.0 and big data, and process monitoring and transparency.

How to Ensure Good Service from Your EMS Partner

What does good service mean from an EMS provider? Sure, it’s about consistently delivering products, on time, and to a high quality. But there's more to it than that. This article highlights two factors to consider when choosing an EMS provider to ensure good service and a strong, healthy and happy outsourcing partnership.

Zuken Teams With Nano Dimension for 3D Printing Design Flow

At PCB West, Zuken shared a booth with Nano Dimension. Zuken has been working with Nano Dimension for some time, and adding support for 3D printing and nanotechnology to its design tool platforms. I sat down with Zuken’s Humair Mandavia and Nano Dimension’s Simon Fried to learn more about this alliance, and to find out more about this odd-looking box being demonstrated in Zuken’s booth.

Video from productronica 2017: Heraeus Highlights Need for Highly Reliable and Compatible Assembly Materials

At the recent productronica 2017 event in Munich, Germany, Stefan Merlau, global product manager of assembly materials for Heraeus Electronics, discusses with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy the biggest pain points of their customers, and how his company’s latest technologies are helping them address these issues. He also speaks about their outlook for the industry going into the new year.

Video from productronica 2017: Koh Young Focuses on Total Inspection Solution

At the show floor of productronica 2017, I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey speaks with Managing Director Harald Eppinger of Koh Young Europe GmbH about the principles of Koh Young’s total 3D inspection solution for SMT process optimization and yield improvement.

Video from productronica 2017: Mycronic Discusses Precision Jetting Systems

From the show floor during productronica 2017, Clemens Jargon, VP of Global Dispensing at Mycronic, discusses with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey the company’s portfolio of precision jetting equipment, with particular reference to the speed and versatility of the MYSmart series.

Blockchain for Manufacturing: What are the Opportunities?

Blockchain is one of the hottest topics in the tech world, and a buzzword that’s been popping up quite a bit over the last year or so. It is said to have the potential to radically simplify many business processes, by reducing risk and boosting transparency. In the manufacturing world, what are its opportunities?

Video from productronica 2017: Nordson ASYMTEK Highlights Bulk Dispensing Technology

At this week’s productronica, Nordson ASYMTEK highlights its the new Helios SD960 bulk and two-component dispensing system. Almar Thewissen, program manager for Industrial Applications, EMEA, at Nordson, discusses its applications with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey.

Video from productronica 2017: Goepel Highlights Updates on X-Line 3D In-line System

At productronica 2017 in Munich, Germany, Goepel electronic's Andreas Turk, head of AXI Systems, explains the latest enhancements to their X-Line 3D in-line system for high-end inspection. He also discusses the benefits of the Stingray Detector option.


Tips & Tricks: What to Do if You Can't Have Reference Designators on Your Board

Sometimes, you can't have reference designators on your board. Perhaps it's because it's too densely populated and there isn't room. Or maybe, for aesthetic reasons, you've chosen to leave them off. Here's how you can address that issue.

Optimal Electronics Sets Sight on Growth

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Dr. Ranko Vujosevic, CEO and CTO of Optimal Electronics, speaks about the latest technology developments at his company, and his plans to sustain growth. He also talks about his paper on lights-out electronics assembly, the technologies that would support this vision, and the ultimate goal of Industry 4.0.

Solder Preforms 101: Ask the Expert

At the recent SMTA International 2017 event, Jerry Sidone, product manager for the engineered materials at Alpha Assembly Solutions, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman about the voiding challenge, especially with bottom termination components, and how solder technologies from Alpha are helping PCB assemblers address this issue.

HDI Considerations: Interview with ACDi's Garret Maxson

Garret Maxson, manager of engineering services at American Computer Development Inc. (ACDi), discusses the PCB assembly challenges when dealing with high-density interconnect (HDI) boards, parameters to consider, and strategies to help facilitate a smooth assembly process when using HDI boards.

5 Simple Elements to Guarantee Outsourcing Success

Rather than viewing outsourcing as a way to offload unwanted tasks, OEMs should spend time carefully selecting and then maintaining a properly managed relationship with their chosen EMS partner. Here are five simple elements that you should focus on before, during and after an outsourcing strategy to guarantee it is a success.

Dealing with Vias-in-Pad

Screaming Circuits, a division of EMS firm Milwaukee Electronics, specializes in short-run, one-off, and prototype PCB assembly. In an interview with SMT Magazine, Duane Benson, CTO of Screaming Circuits, talks about the challenges when dealing with microvias and vias-in-pad from an assembly standpoint, and how in-circuit test issues, such as access to test points, can be addressed.

Two Prevalent Rework Heating Methods--Which One is Best?

There are two prevalent heating technologies in use throughout most electronic assembly operations for advanced component rework—the first method employs the use of hot air gas to heat up the component through the package, while the second much-used heating technology relies on infrared energy. This article highlights the pros and cons of the two methods, and discusses which one is the best to use for your application.

Happy Holden and Charles Pfeil Discuss the Past and Future of PCB Design, Part 1

When it comes to the PCB design community and the challenges facing it, as well as where design has been and where it’s heading, there aren’t many people as qualified to speak on the topic as long-time industry veterans Happy Holden and Charles Pfeil. Joined by I-Connect007’s Barry Matties at the recent AltiumLive 2017 event in San Diego, the three sat down for a discussion about the current state of PCB design, what the future holds, and what it means to be a designer.

Reliability of ENEPIG by Sequential Thermal Cycling and Aging

Electroless nickel/electroless palladium/immersion gold (ENEPIG) surface finish for PCBs has now become a key surface finish that is used for both tin-lead and lead-free solder assemblies. This article presents the reliability of LGA component packages with 1156 pads assembled with tin-lead solder onto PCBs with an ENEPIG finish and then subjected to thermal cycling and then isothermal aging.

What Does an OEM Really Gain from Outsourcing their Manufacturing?

But what does an OEM really gain when they make the move from an in-house manufacturing operation to an outsourced one? This article looks at two key benefits OEMs stand to gain once they relinquish control and hand over their production responsibility to an EMS provider.


Creating the Perfect Solder Joint

From a visual standpoint, a good solder joint should be smooth, bright, shiny, clean, and have a nice concave solder fillet. But how do you ensure that inside those joints, good intermetallic bonds are formed? Solder joints play several different roles, and they represent several different opportunities to be a problem, a partial improvement, or a complete improvement. Since all solder joints aren’t created equal, the first step is to understand what is expected or required of that joint.

Cleaning Trends: The Challenges of Miniaturization and Proximity

At the recent SMTA International conference, I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman caught up with Ram Wissel, VP of Global Technology at KYZEN, to talk about the latest cleaning challenges, and bringing Industry 4.0 into the world of cleaning in PCB assembly.

Soldering Tip: Key to Good Solder Joints

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Enrique Moreno, technical support engineer at JBC Soldering, discusses the key parameters to consider during hand soldering to achieve the perfect solder joint. He also talks about the the increasing move towards automation and robotics soldering.

Achieving the Perfect Solder Joint: The Many Perspectives on Soldering

For this month's issue of SMT Magazine, we brought several experts together to discuss the many aspects of soldering, from solder paste, to automation, inspection, and the challenges in achieving the perfect solder joint. We also talked about the strategies and parameters to consider to ensure reliable, good solder joints.

Surprising European EMS Market Numbers

If you think market analysis is always correct and predict the future exactly, you are mistaken. The latest annual reports from EMS companies with manufacturing sites in Europe have changed the picture on the European EMS industry quite a bit and caught us by surprise. Yes, you read that correctly: SURPRISE.

Should I Involve My EMS Partner in DFM?

OEMs are seeking the support of EMS providers with more than just manufacturing, but with design elements too. One of the main design services EMS providers will be likely to offer is design for manufacture (DFM). This article highlights why engaging your EMS partner in DFM is worthwhile, and will be valuable in securing the longevity of your product.

Choosing Solder Processes: Getting It Right

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Ralf Wagenfuehr, plant manager at Rehm Thermal Systems, shares his insights on the topic of achieving the perfect solder joint, from the perspective of a reflow oven supplier. He also talks about the latest developments in reflow ovens aimed at addressing voiding in solder joints.

Moving Toward the Zero-Defect Line

During the recent NEPCON South China exhibition in Shenzhen, Olivier Pirou, chief operating officer of Vi TECHNOLOGY, talks about achieving the perfect solder joint from the point of view of an inspection systems provider, and how manufacturers can strategize to achieve a zero-defect line.

Spreading the Word about SMTA—One Local Show at a Time

Eileen Hibbler of TEK Products, who currently sits on the Board of Directors of SMTA and is the VP of Membership, talks about educating the people in the industry; the importance of the local shows; SMTA's university chapters and their initiatives; and how SMTA is reaching out to millennials.

Test Solutions Your EMS Partner Should Offer

When looking to outsource your manufacturing, you need to know that your chosen EMS partner has good test solutions in place so that they can produce consistent, high-quality products to your customers’ requirements. This article highlights the importance of test, and outlines the different types of test your EMS partner should offer.


Joining Forces: SMTA and the SMART Group in Europe

Tanya Martin, executive director at SMTA, and Keith Bryant, global director of sales for YXLON International and chairman of the SMART Group, speak with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman about the latest initiatives within their associations, and discuss some interesting news about an upcoming merger.

A Guide to IPC Survey and Report Season

IPC Director of Market Research Sharon Starr found time to discuss the recently conducted and published surveys and research reports and a few others still in the works. These reports are free to survey participants, which is certainly a great incentive for taking the time to complete them. (Hint: That’s a call to action for those of you sitting on the sidelines.)

Counterfeit: A Quality Conundrum

The rise in the ingress of counterfeit materials into the supply chain has made them prolific, though yet, the extent is understated. What needs to be faced now is the need for incoming inspection, but at what cost to industry, and does anyone remember how to do it?

Rework and Reball Challenges for Wafer Level Packages

Amid the growing trend in package and PCB miniaturization, wafer-level packages (WLPs) have garnered recent popularity for their affordable cost, small footprint, and thin profile. Component suppliers must be prepared to support failure analysis for PCB-assembled WLPs, including fault isolation, nondestructive screening, as well as destructive analysis techniques.

Eight Factors a CEM Should Know About its Suppliers

Selecting a contract electronics manufacturer (CEM) that fits well with your outsourcing strategy can be a difficult and long process. But, by taking the time to research and investigate potential shortlisted partners, you are much more likely to reap the benefits further down the line.

Three Reasons to Use PCB Panel Routing Techniques

Most PCBs are individually routed—meaning they're not panelized. That doesn't mean that, sometimes, sending them to a PCB assembler in a panel isn't a good idea or even required. Generally, assemblers don't require panels, but there are some cases when they do.

IPC Status Update: Training, Standards, and More!

At the recent IPC Fall committee meetings that are co-located with the SMTA International conference and show, IPC’s president and CEO, John Mitchell, sat down for a chat with me for an update on what’s happening at IPC.

RTW SMTAI: Mentor Eases Programming in Viscom Inspection Systems

Jesper Lykke, engineering manager for USA of Viscom AG, and Zac Elliott, technical marketing engineer at Mentor, speak with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about Viscom's adoption of the Valor Process Preparation and how it is helping users with their inspection programming.

Top Five BGA Challenges to Overcome

Higher reflow temperatures of lead-free rework increases the pressure for properly shielding the neighboring components. These developments are causing BGA rework challenges. This summary will discuss the most challenging aspects of BGA rework and options for solutions.

RTW SMTAI: EPTAC Discusses Manufacturing Training Trends

During SMTAI International 2017, Leo Lambert, vice president and technical director of EPTAC, discusses with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy his company's recent expansion and the trends he's seeing in manufacturing training.


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