Polar Instruments Driven by Customer Demand

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Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Geoffrey Hazelett, vice president of sales for Polar Instruments, about the virtual IPC APEX EXPO and the eventual return of live trade shows and conferences. They also discussed some of the company’s newest releases, many of which came about through customer demand.

Andy Shaughnessy: Geoffrey, IPC APEX EXPO is wrapping up, but I understand that you still have a few committee meetings to attend.

Geoffrey Hazelett: Yes, I was not working the virtual booth. I’ve got the D-21 High-Speed High Frequency Design Subcommittee, and the D-24d High-Frequency Signal Loss Task Group, which I co-chair with Xiaoning Ye, a nice gentleman from Intel.

Shaughnessy: And I know that Polar has been working on a lot of things throughout the pandemic.

Hazelett: Yes. This last year with COVID and everything, despite that, our engineers and engineering team have been working really hard. Just with Speedstack alone, last year, we had six releases bringing out new features, and we’re releasing right now our third release of Speedstack this year, which has brought forth some really great features that some of our customers have been asking about for a while. Other customers are really excited to see these new features, because they haven’t asked for them, but they wanted them. They didn’t know that they wanted them yet, specifically the shielding materials.

Our library was released last month, and this month the Tatsuta materials will be included in the library. Additionally, we also have some exciting new features, like the ability to apply plating colors so that you can assign different colors within Speedstack for whether a layer is plated or not.

Shaughnessy: You could just glance at it and see whether it was a plated layer?

Hazelett: Funny enough, last year a lot of our customers were building boards in the four- to 12-layer range, and our wizard for generating stackups had a cap of 64 layers, a pretty thick board. Last year, due to customer demand actually, we had to increase that to 128 layers because we had some customers building boards that were that complex. Our customers today are doing some incredible things, where customers are focusing in the 16–18-gigahertz ranges and doing 56-gigabit channels, and even pushing 112-gigabit channels. So, it’s really exciting seeing how some of our customers are really pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in a printed circuit board and what technologies they’re using to build some of these boards.

Shaughnessy: During the pandemic, innovation barely slowed, at least in our industry.

Hazelett: Yes. Everyone was nervous that society might collapse, but within the tech sector, it was booming for our industry. I remember when the pandemic hit trying to find a Logitech webcam, and they were going for a markup of 200%, and I thought that’s crazy. People were selling used ones for $400 and up.

At Polar, we’ve upgraded a bunch of our network stuff so we could work from home. And I’m sure we’re not the only ones who have been rolling out tech upgrades during this time to facilitate their employees to continue working. That then feeds back into the cycle of the increased demand for tech, which then helps our business, our industry.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the 2021 edition of Show & Tell, click here.



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