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Creating a Healthy Work Environment
01/19/2018 | Stephen Las Marias, I-Connect007
7 Simple Ways to Motivate Your Electronics Manufacturing Staff
01/18/2018 | Neil Sharp, JJS Manufacturing
The Importance of Product Testing for Quality, Reliability and Durability
01/17/2018 | Patty Rasmussen, East West Manufacturing
Assigning IDs Within the Internet of Things
01/16/2018 | Hubertus Grobbel, Swissbit AG
Improving Design, Manufacturing and Assembly Teamwork
01/15/2018 | Syrma Technology
SMT :: Twitter
Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Columns of 2017
Another year is over in the SMT industry. 2017 saw a myriad of hot topics, including Industry 4.0, the millennials’ entry into the manufacturing space, and alternative solder materials, to name a few. Without further ado, here are the Top 10 columns from SMT007 over the past year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
RTW SMTAI: AIM's Dr. Mehran Maalekian Speaks on New Alloys for Harsh Environments
Dr. Mehran Maalekian, R&D Manager at AIM Solder, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about new alloys that are targeted for high-temperature and demanding applications, particularly in harsh environments, where standard lead-free alloy such as SAC will not perform as well.
The Root Causes & Solutions for Warped PC Boards
There are two primary types of causes of board warping: process related at the fab or assembly shop, and layout related issues. If it's warped before assembly, it's between fab and layout. If it's flat before assembly and warped after, it's most likely between layout and assembly. That said, sometimes a fab problem won't show up until a pass through the reflow oven at your assembly partner.
RTW SMTAI: Alpha Discusses Solder Dross Reclamation
At the recent SMTA International 2017 exhibition in Rosemont, Illinois, Mitch Holtzer, director of Americas Reclaim Business of Alpha Assembly Solutions, talks with Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about the solder dross reclamation process, and discusses his new role in leading Alpha’s reclamation business.
RTW SMTAI: MIRTEC on Staying Ahead of the Curve
Brian D’Amico, president of MIRTEC, talks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about some of the latest 3D AOI challenges, including dealing with highly reflective surfaces of solder joints or wafer-level die, which make it impossible to characterize in 3D. He says it's not just plain SMT boards anymore, but an integration of wafer-level manufacturing, which they see as coming down more and more.
Improving the Rework Process
An optimized SMT assembly process typically provides a yield of nearly 100%. Technology advancements—from the solder paste printing process, SPI, and parts placement, to reflow and wave soldering and AOI—have pushed the efficiency and accuracy of these steps in the SMT process such that a board assembly should be perfect at the end of the line. Still, EMS providers continually face the need to rework and repair PCBAs even after dialing in the perfect set-up.
The Past and the Future of the European EMS Industry
The EMS industry in Europe is still in a growth stage of its life cycle. This does not mean that there is enough space for everybody. Looking back over the past 10 years, we have seen tremendous changes in the number of companies, counting every separate legal entity.
RTW NEPCON South China: Keith Bryant Discusses New Role and Goals at YXLON
Keith Bryant, the newly appointed Global Director of Electronics Sales at YXLON International, talks about his new role and goals at the company.
RTW NEPCON South China: KYZEN on Optimizing the Cleaning Process
At the NEPCON South China event happening this week in Shenzhen, China, Thomas Forsythe, executive vice president at KYZEN Corp., discusses the current cleaning challenges in the PCB assembly industry, and how manufacturers can optimize their cleaning process.
The Importance of Supplier Training
The human factor remains a critical issue when it comes to the overall efficiency of your PCB assembly lines. But how do you make sure your operators, engineers and supervisors have the proper knowledge and skill sets to perform at their peak levels, day in and day out?
Today’s Mil/Aero Enemies: Counterfeits, Obsolescence and Failure
The need for high-reliability electronics, components and assemblies that can perform in harsh operating conditions involving extreme temperatures, vibration, and moisture continue to challenge electronics assembly providers catering to the military and aerospace markets. These are on top of current manufacturing issues such as the miniaturization of products, shrinking component sizes, higher density board assemblies, and the obsolescence of electronic components.
The Importance of Conformal Coating, Now and in the Future
At the SMTA Michigan Expo and Tech Forum, held in Grand Rapids on May 11, Technical Editor Happy Holden spent a few minutes with AIM Solder’s Technical Marketing Manager Tim O’Neill to discuss O’Neill’s presentation on the topic of conformal coating over no-clean fluxes.
EMS Firm Tsukiden Electronics Seeing More Business in Prototypes
At the recent Philippine Semiconductor and Electronics Convention and Exhibition (PSECE) held in Manila, Karen Flordiles, marketing supervisor at EMS firm Tsukiden Electronics Philippines Inc., talks about their customers' changing requirements and their manufacturing challenges. She also discussed new opportunities they are seeing in the EMS sector.
A New Player in the Philippine EMS Industry
There's a new EMS player in town. Come August 2017, Artem Global, a startup EMS firm in the Philippines, will start manufacturing operations, with services ranging from PCB assembly to box build, and even turnkey services. I-Connect007 Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias caught up with Artem Managing Director Art Ledonio at last week's PSECE event in Manila.
Assembly Training and Education
Even if your PCB assembly process is optimized, there is always room for improvement. And no matter how successful your company has been in the past, you just can’t rest on your laurels. It is always in your best interest to strive towards a better operations model. We've created a survey to help us gauge the importance of training and education in your workforce, and the benefits that you get in ensuring that your operators and engineers have the most current knowledge and skill sets.
3D Inspection is the Way to Go
In an interview with SMT Magazine during NEPCON China, Guido Bornemann, head of sales in Asia for Viscom, discusses how inspection technology is keeping up with the latest requirements and demands from customers. He also explains why 3D technology is the best inspection technology to utilize in electronics assembly.
Saki Discusses Industry 4.0 and True 3D Technology
Quintin Armstrong, general manager for North America Sales and Service at Saki America, speaks to SMT Magazine about the Industry 4.0 strategy for inspection equipment providers. He also talks about why manufacturers are finding it more and more relevant to have an inspection line in their assembly lines now.
3D: Towards Better Inspection Capability
For this month's issue of SMT Magazine, we spoke with Mark McMeen, vice president of engineering at STI Electronics, to know more about the inspection challenges and requirements from an EMS provider's standpoint. We also talked with Jean-Marc Peallat, vice president of global sales at Vi TECHNOLOGY, to find out, from a supplier's perspective, how they are looking at these challenges and addressing them through their product development efforts.
HDP User Group 2017 European Meeting Highlights Technology Progress
The conference facility at the offices of Oracle, in the royal burgh of Linlithgow in West Lothian, Scotland, was the venue for the 2017 European meeting of the High Density Packaging User Group. I was delighted and privileged to be invited once again to sit in on the open session, an intense programme of technical presentations and discussions, project reviews, status updates and new project proposals.
The Need for 3D AOI
While the coplanarity of height-sensitive devices such as BGA packages and leaded components can be inspected in 2D using multi-angled colored lighting and side-angle cameras, these will be susceptible to an increase in false calls, a need for additional programming and cycle time, and possible escapes. These factors underscore the need for 3D technology in inspection strategies.
Tape and Reel Solder Preforms: A Success Story for the UD00 X86 SECO Board
SECO's latest product innovation, UDOO X86, is a real computer with an integrated Arduino 101 compatible board that is capable of running games and videos in 4K. But while the success of the UDOO X86 is impressive, so is SECO's ability to develop this game-changing product with low-cost technology for mass appeal and affordability.
RTW NEPCON CHINA: Mycronic Meets High-volume Demand with Solder Jet Printing
Mycronic VP for Global Dispensing and Managing Director Clemens Jargon discusses how the flexibility of solder jet printing helps reduce downtime in the line, thus increasing total line speed and enabling it to keep up with high-volume demand.
Business and Technical Developments at Super Dry Totech
At the recent SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg, Germany, I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey visits Super Dry Totech and spends a few minutes with CEO Jos Brehler and Sales Manager Terry Morgan to talk about the rationale behind ASYS Group's acquisition of stake in Super Dry Totech, as well as the latest technology developments happening at the company.
RTW NEPCON China: Data I/O on Securing the Supply Chain
At the recent NEPCON China show in Shanghai, Anthony Ambrose, president and CEO of Data I/O Corp., discusses the cybersecurity challenges facing the electronics manufacturing industry today amid the proliferation of connected devices and the Internet of Things.
Mentor Graphics: Connecting the Manufacturing Environment
Oren Manor serves as the director of business development for Mentor Graphics Valor Division. In this interview with SMT Magazine, Manor discusses the latest updates in their OML community, their case study regarding Phoenix Contact’s implementation of their IoT solution in its facilities, and what’s new in ODB++.
SMTA West Penn Expo: Who Says There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch!
Bill Capen of DRS Technologies, the president of the SMTA West Pennsylvania Chapter, speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about the recent West Penn Expo & Tech Forum. He also talks about the group's upcoming chapter meetings this year, and the latest developments happening in the military segment.
Manufacturing Through the Eyes of Human Resources, Recruitment and New Hire Training
Perhaps more important than the technology and tools a manufacturing company has are its people. People are what make a company truly great and the process of recruiting talented, skilled, dedicated employees and training them properly for success is an important aspect of any manufacturing company.
IMPACT 2017: Electronics Industry Leaders Meet with Members of Congress and Trump Administration on Capitol Hill
IPC places a high priority on making our presence known in the halls of government to educate our government officials on the policies that will strengthen the advanced manufacturing industry.
Blackfox Program Trains Vets for Manufacturing Jobs
It's harder than ever for managers in the PCB manufacturing industry to find qualified staff, with some reporting that positions are remaining open for months at a time. On the other hand, there are thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines transitioning out of the service each year and seeking good jobs. In this interview, Allen Dill, president of Blackfox, discusses their program that offers manufacturing training to veterans, even while they are still in the military.
The Challenge of Filling PCB Assembly Positions
U.S. manufacturers are having a difficult time filling open positions. They cannot find workers with the necessary skills to fill the openings. If we look specifically at the PCB assembly industry, the rhetoric is similar. There are more openings than people to fill them. The discussions reveal that lower wages, lack of skills, and sometimes the reported low unemployment rate in the United States is part of the problem.
The Complex World of Soldering
Industry veteran Happy Holden and Saline Lectronics Senior Process Engineer Cathy Cox discuss the various challenges and issues that users face in soldering, including the lack of a "one-size-fits-all" approach in the process, and some key factors that the PCB assembly industry should consider when it comes to different applications and markets.
RTW NEPCON China: Viscom Talks 3D AOI Developments
Guido Bornemann, head of sales for Asia at Viscom, speaks with I-Connect007 Editor Stephen Las Marias about inspection challenges such as false calls and improving first pass yields. He also talks about the latest developments in 3D AOI to address these issues as well as test strategies to achieve zero defects.
RTW NEPCON China: Metcal Highlights Innovation in Hand Soldering Technology
At NEPCON China, Bryan Gass, vice president of Metcal, discusses how their Connection Validation soldering station will revolutionize the hand soldering technology industry.
Virtex on Military and Aerospace Requirements
Brad Heath, VirTex CEO, and Upinder Singh, Vice President and General Manager at VirTex MTI, discuss their company's military and aerospace business, and how they are addressing the latest demands and requirements from their customers.
What a Tangled (Soldering) Web We Weave!
Soldering remains one of the most critical processes in the PCB assembly industry. Which is why it is of the utmost importance that the soldering process should be perfect. But soldering is just too complex a process, and further complicating the situation, the requirements and technologies vary between our industry’s market segments. There are just a lot of factors to consider before you put your boards into the reflow and let them run.
JJS Stresses Need for Baking Prior to Flex Circuit Assembly
From an assembly perspective, baking the flex circuits prior to manufacturing assembly is crucial as they can be susceptible to delamination. In this interview, Russell Poppe, director of technology at JJS Manufacturing explains why, as well as discusses other challenges in flex circuit assembly and strategies to address them.
Fixturing: Key to Accurate Flex Circuit Assembly
Adrian Nishimoto, operation manager at Spectrum Assembly Inc., talks about the critical factors to consider during flex circuit assembly, such as fixturing and accurate thermal profiling. He also mentions why jet printers are suitable for use in assembling flex circuits.
Strategies for Addressing Flex Circuit Assembly Pain Points
In an interview with SMT Magazine, Steve Fraser, VP of Operations at Firstronic, discusses the key factors that have the greatest impact on the quality of flex circuit assemblies, the challenges they face during assembly, and their strategies to ensure the reliability of the products.
Supportive Tooling: The Magic Ingredient for Flex Circuit Assembly
Flex circuits have changed the way product development engineers can design and package their electronic products. Flex applications have opened the doors for PCBAs to move out of square, box enclosures and fit into small, tight, even oddly shaped three-dimensional spaces that can withstand harsh vibration and multiple flex uses. While these flex assemblies may perform in the same way a traditional rigid PCBA does, they have their own set of assembly rules and manufacturing nuances.
Navigating the Complex World of Flex Circuit Assembly
We recently conducted a survey on flexible printed circuits to know more about the challenges that designers, fabricators, and assemblers face when dealing with flex circuits. We asked what steps in their processes have the biggest effect on yields; the challenge they face when dealing with flex circuit materials; as well as the factors that have the greatest impact on the quality of their flex circuit design, fabrication and assembly.
Alpha Papers Investigate High-Reliability Solder Alloys
During SMTA International, Morgana Ribas, manager of Metals Technology Group at Alpha Assembly Solutions, presented a pair of papers that focus on the company’s reliability testing of solder alloys. I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy sat down with Morgana to discuss these papers, and some of the surprising results that the testing yielded.
Alpha on New Technologies to Tackle Voiding
Tom Hunsinger, vice president of marketing at Alpha Assembly Solutions, discusses with SMT Magazine how their company is addressing voiding—one of the greatest challenges in soldering. He talks about the latest market development trends that are shaping product innovation strategies at Alpha. Hunsinger also details some of their latest solder technologies, and how they are helping their customers address their soldering challenges.
Goepel electronic Talks Test and Inspection Innovations
Thomas Wenzel, managing director of the Embedded JTAG Solutions Business Development at Goepel electronic, discusses the latest technology innovations happening in the test and inspection segment, and the market trends shaping them.
SMT Xtra Discusses Expansion Plans in the US
At the IPC APEX EXPO 2017 event in San Diego, SMT Xtra's Alexandra Stovin, marketing and public relations manager, and Paul Pittman, sales manager for the United States and Canada, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about their company’s expansion plans in the U.S. and the benefits they offer their customers.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Alpha Highlights Technologies Dedicated to Eliminating Solder Voids
Robert Wallace, marketing manager for the Americas at Alpha Assembly Solutions, discusses their new product introductions for this year and their level of customer support as these products are rolled out. He also talks about how these technologies are helping address the issue on solder voiding.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: The Power of Synergies with MacDermid Enthone and Alpha Assembly Solutions
Don Cullen, global director of marketing communications with MacDermid Enthone, and Tom Hunsinger, VP global marketing with Alpha Assembly Solutions explain the structure of MacDermid Performance Solutions, which combines the former MacDermid, Enthone and Alpha Assembly Materials businesses to provide PCB and EMS industries with enhanced innovation and service throughout the supply chain, with unified sales strategies and improved processes.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Thomas Scales of Saline Lectronics Discusses Internet of Things
Thomas Scales of Saline Lectronics speaks with Guest Editor Dick Crowe about their company's approach to offering networking and process control solutions in the automated factory.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: CyberOptics' Subodh Kulkarni Discusses Ultra-High-Resolution AOI
Dr. Subodh Kulkarni discusses the new bleeding-edge AOI technology CyberOptics has developed that will advance vision technology to a level not achievable today. MRS technology combines accuracy with speed, which have been mutually exclusive in the past.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: 3D AOI Update With MEK
Henk Biemans of MEK Europe discusses with I-Connect007 Editor Andy Shaughnessy their latest developments in 3D AOI, and their efforts to educate their customers about this growing market.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Indium’s Eric Slezak Talks Project 99
Indium Corporation's Eric Slezak talks with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Steve Williams about the launch of their new Project 99 wave solder process flux system. Indium has created an exciting new spin on this technology by using a comic book theme, with "villains" representing common wave solder defects and "superheroes" representing their flux solutions to combat the problems.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Rehm Highlights Reflow Improvements for Reliable Solder Results
Michael Hanke, CCO of Rehm Thermal Systems, highlights the latest developments in their reflow solutions, which are targeted at improving the reliability of the soldering process. He also discusses their complete solution, which is inline with the Industry 4.0 trend.
Real Time with...IPC: CalcuQuote on Risk Assessment and RFQ Management
Chintan Sutaria, president of CalcuQuote, discusses how their RFQ management system, with its risk assessment feature, helps EMS customers improve their supply chain. He also talks about their new BidCQ solution is improving the bidding process.
Real Time with...IPC: Tim O'Neill Discusses Latest Developments in Lead-Free Soldering Market
With RoHS requirements in full swing, companies must adapt and adapt quickly as lead based soldering will be completely phased out by 2019 in Europe.
Real Time with...IPC: BEST Talks Rework Challenges and Opportunities
Bob Wettermann, president of BEST Inc., talks about the challenges in rework, and how his company is helping their customers address these problems. He also discusses his paper presentation at this week's technical conference.
Real Time with...IPC: Alpha Discusses Improving LED Reliability Issues
At this week's IPC APEX EXPO 2017 in San Diego, California, Steve Godber, LED Commercial Manager at Alpha Assembly Solutions, discusses with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias the reliability and voiding challenges in the LED market, and how the company is helping their customers address these issues through their solder technologies.
Bringing SMT Assembly In-House: Case Studies of the Effects on Lead Time, Inventory, Quality, and Overall Cost
A growing number of low- to medium-volume manufacturers of specialized electronic products are reaping the rewards of bringing their SMT assembly in-house. How have some of these companies justified the cost of their endeavors? In this article, three OEM companies share their experiences.
Help Wanted! Our 2017 Industry Hiring Survey
This month we conducted an industry survey on plans for hiring during the year. Included here is a summary of the results. We started by simply asking, “Do you plan to hire additional people this year?” More than half of the respondents answered yes while about a third said no—which we take as an optimistic sign that our industry plans to expand in 2017.
CES 2017: Disruptive Technologies
Those of you that have read my previous columns covering CES 2017 know that at recent CES shows I have seen many drones, autonomous cars, IoT devices, robots, and many other items ranging from robots who stand in for your doctor to smart trash cans who tell you via Alexa, Google, or soon, Cortana on your own computer, that since you have thrown away two empty milk cartons in the last few days it may be time to order more milk; just say yes and consider it ordered.
Editor's Note: Understanding Plating and Surface Finishing
This month’s issue of SMT Magazine focuses on the impact of plating and surface finishing in electronics assembly. True, plating and surface finishing may be more directly significant in PCB fabrication, but surely they are important issues as well when it comes to the assembly side. In fact, according to our recent survey, 82% of the respondents said surface finishing impacts their assembly process.
Front Lines: Sales—a.k.a., Trench Warfare!
In his inaugural article for his column Front Lines, Craig Arcuri writes about sales—real sales—not pop sales ideas, not sales jargon of the day, not flavor of the month tactics. He talks about sales in the trenches, and provides simple steps to build a sales foundation that will help your company generate more sales.
Editor's Note: Selling Success in the PCBA Industry
I am neither a salesperson nor a marketing person, but over the course of my editorial work, and through speaking to technology and systems providers in the electronics manufacturing industry, I have learned a few things when it comes to sales and marketing, namely, the importance of collaboration, positive relationships, and technical knowledge. For example, sales and marketing teams must work together to make sure deals get closed and contracts are awarded.
LA/Orange County SMTA Tech Expo a Success
On November 3, I had the pleasure of attending the LA/OC SMTA Tech Expo in Long Beach, California, and meet with chapter President Kathy Palumbo and Vice President Scott Penin, to learn more about this annual event and the chapter’s ongoing activities.
Real Time with...HKPCA & IPC Show 2016 Slideshow - Day 2
The 2016 IPC Hand Soldering World Championship was held concurrently for the first time at the International Printed Circuit & APEX South China Fair (HKPCA and IPC Show 2016) in Shenzhen, China. View the slideshow here.
Solder Voiding, Autonomous Autos, and Statistics—So Much to Learn from Dr. Ron
While at the 2016 SMTA International conference and show, I had the lucky opportunity to talk with Indium Corporation’s Dr. Ron Lasky. He gave a great synopsis of the extensive testing done by Indium Corporation’s Chris Nash on solder voids, outlined in a paper co-authored by the two, which was being presented by Ron at the conference.
SMTA Tech Expo Panel Session: It Takes a Village to Discuss Proper Cleaning Solutions
An expert in cleaning processes, Barbara Kanegsberg is known as “The Cleaning Lady.” She moderated the technical session “Ask the Experts: Meeting the Challenges of Effective Cleaning, Defluxing in Southern California.” Here Barbara discusses the myriad of challenges regarding cleaning PCBs (particularly in heavily regulated California) and what transpired during the open forum technical session.
A Long-term Career Prospect
The next millennial in this series is Alex Johnson, an associate engineer at Saline Lectronics and who has been with the company for over two years. Even though Alex received a lot of negative information about manufacturing throughout his lifetime, his work experience in engineering has directly challenged those preconceived notions.
What Makes a Great Leader?
Leadership encompasses the ability of an individual to lead or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations in the accomplishment of common goals. In many industries, great leadership is required now more than ever as companies face a myriad of challenges such as globalization, uncertainties in global markets, and increased demand for flexibility.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Computer-Aided-Manufacturing, Part 1—Automation Protocols
I have addressed automation planning previously in this series, so I hope by now you realize the difference between ‘automation’ and ‘mechanization.’ In printed circuit fabrication and assembly, most of what is advertised is mechanization. But when you get to assembly test, then you begin to see true automated solutions.
Real Time with NEPCON South China: Rehm Thermal Systems Highlights Industry 4.0 Benefits
In Shenzhen, China, Ralf Wagenfuehr, plant manager for Rehm Thermal Systems, speaks with I-Connect007’s Stephen Las Marias about Industry 4.0 and the benefits of this automation trend.
The Authors of the Printed Circuits Handbook 'Speak'
The seventh edition of the Printed Circuits Handbook was published this spring, which was also the 50th anniversary of the first edition. For this issue—“Voices”—we asked the many authors of the handbook for their thoughts—their voices. We asked a few questions to get them started; though not everyone spoke strictly about the handbook, we found their comments interesting and thought-provoking, and we hope you do as well.
Improving Test and Inspection
In our recent survey on PCBA test and inspection challenges, respondents consider the following to be among their biggest problems: probing to narrower traces and pads; testing boards with smaller and finer features and sizes; dry solder and other solder-related issues; finding sublayer defects; dealing with flat, no-lead components; and testing cycle time. This month, we look into different PCBA test and inspection strategies that address the key challenges in today’s electronics manufacturing and assembly environment.
Jumping Off the Bandwagon: The Production Engineering Student as Customer
Production, industrial, process, manufacturing engineering, to name a few fields of engineering study, will never be successfully taught on-line. In his latest article, Tom Borkes explains why.
Pad Defined vs. Mask Defined: Which Method is Optimal?
It seems that there is no universal consensus on a seemingly simple choice used in designing electronic circuits. Should the pads on the PCB be defined by the edge of the solder mask opening (mask defined), or should the solder mask opening fall short of the circuit board interconnect (pad or non-solder mask defined)? In this article, SMT Magazine columnist Mitch Holtzer discusses which among the two methods is optimal.
To Bake or Not to Bake (in Rework)—That is the Question
When performing rework on printed circuit boards, the issue of the moisture having to be baked out of the PCB is often debated. Whether it is localized mini-wave rework, hand-soldering or convection rework, the board, as well as neighboring components, needs to be taken into account in terms of moisture protection during the reflow cycle. This article details the baking requirements during PCB rework.
Solder Paste Printing: Challenges and Best Practices
In an interview with SMT Magazine, Watson Tseng, General Manager of Shenmao America Inc., talks about the challenges in solder paste printing, key parameters and best practices to consider, and variables involved when it comes to selecting the appropriate solder paste for the printing process.
3D Solder Joint Reconstruction on SMD Based on 2D Images
Solder joint inspection has been a critical issue for quality control, mainly due to their specular reflections. AOI systems have been faced with the same difficulty for solder inspection. This paper presents an algorithm for 3D solder joint reconstruction, which gives 3D analysis capability to the traditional 2D AOI equipment, practically without increasing the financial cost and with no cycle time impact, bringing 2D AOI equipment back into the game of SMT technology.
Solder Paste Exploration
From the manufacturers of solder pastes, to equipment makers, all the way to the solder paste inspection guys, and the electronics assemblers who are using their products, I talked to the supply chain to find out what’s going on in the solder paste printing process, what factors impact the process, the challenges, and the best practices to consider to be able to address those challenges and improve efficiencies and yield in the SMT line.
Making Systems Smarter to Gain Visibility, Traceability, and Reduce Handling Errors
At the recent IPC APEX EXPO event in Las Vegas, Bjorn Dahle, president of KIC, talks about his views on automation, the technology improvements being made in reflow ovens, and some of the strategies to reduce handling errors in assembly lines.
A Preview of the 2016 International Microwave Symposium
The 2016 International Microwave Symposium (IMS) is taking place May 22–27 in San Francisco. I-Connect007's Barry Matties spoke with IMS’s Amanda Scacchitti about the upcoming show, the keynote speakers, and how IMS continues to put an emphasis on STEM education with their own STEM program for kids.
How Far Does It Make Sense to Automate?
There are often many advantages to automating the final assembly process, but how far does it make sense to automate? Is a fully automated process better than a semi-automated, or partially manual process? This article tells you more about the challenges and advantages of automation, and the right approach to adopt based on your operations.
The Launch of a Lifetime: Catching up with Barry Lee Cohen
Dan Beaulieu catches up with industry veteran Barry Lee Cohen to talk about the new company he launched last month—Launch Communications; his vision; and why he took the chance in striking it out on his own.
Selective Soldering: Design, Process Challenges and Practical Solutions
A SMART Group workshop at the Bromsgrove, UK, premises of equipment and process materials distributor APP Electronics, set out to provide the answers, with a programme combining technical presentations, live demonstrations and hands-on sessions, introduced and moderated by Nigel Burtt, senior electronics manufacturing engineer at Renishaw and SMART Technical Committee Chairman.
Selecting a Selective Soldering System, Part 1
So far in this series, we’ve covered stencil printers, pick and place machines, reflow ovens and multiple types of through-hole soldering. In this and the next couple of chapters, we’ll discuss selective soldering machines. It’s useful to start by understanding why and when selective soldering is used.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Rehm Discusses Advantages of Moving Heat Technology
Rehm Thermal Systems general manager Paul Handler speaks with I-Connect007 guest editor Steve Williams about the advantages of the moving heat chamber compared to traditional technology in the market today, and why their systems are all Industry 4.0-ready.
In a Culture of Continuous Improvement, Processes Continually Improve
In an interview with SMT Magazine, Etratech’s Mike Renneboog, manufacturing manager, and Robert Clarke, process manufacturing engineer, discussed their most significant challenge to improving SMT line productivity and quality, and the lessons they learned along the way.
Standard of Excellence: Tips for Finding a Great PCB R&D Partner
This new column, Standard of Excellence, represents a cooperative writing effort by a team of experts at American Standard Circuits. This month, we begin with CEO Anaya Vardya, who focuses on R&D. In his piece, he provides his insights on what characteristics to look for in a good R&D PCB fabrication vendor partner, and a few things that are expected of them to do for you.
Finding the Perfect Partner
Whether you’re making screen printers or producing solder paste, whether you’re part of a multinational conglomerate or you’ve spotted a niche and you’ve launched a startup company, one day you’ll need someone to find you new business, sell your stuff and keep your customers happy.
Design for Test in the U.S. Market
With most high-volume printed circuit assembly being sent outside the United States, we have a unique challenge for testing the lower volume/high turnover assemblies domestically. However, with a little planning and the right contract manufacturer (CM), test does not need to be an issue.
IPC APEX EXPO: Kimball Electronics Sees Strong Growth in Automotive Electronics Sector
Kimball Electronics' Chris Thyen discusses with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias the company's growth and first year as an independent, public company after its spin off from Kimball International, as well as its new facility in Romania.
Reflow Oven Changeover in a World of Short Production Runs
When drilling down to the individual machines, you may find that the biggest drag on your productivity is the reflow oven. The use of more effective production planning and scheduling as well as modern data mining software to identify one or a few oven recipes may provide dramatic improvements to line changeover time and, consequently, profits.
3 Ways to Ensure Your EMS Provider's Supply Chain is Excellent
As an original equipment manufacturer, once you’ve outsourced your manufacturing to an electronics manufacturing services provider, you will have very little hands-on involvement with your materials supply chain. And that’s a good thing because it means you have more time to focus on your core competencies (i.e., designing and selling your products).
Product Compliance Requires Supply Chain Transparency
Changes to the RoHS, REACH, and conflict minerals regulations make the need for supply chain transparency more crucial than ever. In line with this, full material declaration (FMD) is quickly becoming the "gold standard" data requirement for an OEM to accurately assess the risk of restricted materials in a product.
The Benefits of a Vertically Integrated Approach to EMS
The combination of vertical integration and investments made in workforce and systems offers a responsive, cost competitive and scalable business model that will help electronics assemblers improve customer satisfaction, improve their margins, and increase their profitability.
A Practical Guide to Managing Material Cost Impact
More SMT lines, faster machines, or new ERP software are not the only, or even the best, answers to achieve business goals in the electronics manufacturing and assembly industry. To win the race for survival, growth and profitability, companies must give the highest priority to the material operation and material handling tools.
An Onboarding Process Can Build a Strong Organizational Culture
Designing an onboarding process that aims to make employees feel valued by the company will deliver leading metrics that include compound annual revenue growth rate >50%, gross margin >21%, on-time delivery over 99.6%, and inventory turns between 12–14.
According to our recent survey, the key challenges impacting profitablility of electronics manufacturers and assemblers are cost, process improvement, changing customer demand, design, training, and Lean manufacturing. The March 2016 issue of SMT Magazine highlights strategies that will help electronics manufacturers address those issues and achieve profitability in their operations.
While the latest technology innovations bode well for the electronics industry, they also offer many challenges in terms of the way products are being manufactured. The latest issue of SMT Magazine features "what's new" in the electronics assembly industry, and discusses how they are addressing current manufacturing challenges.
EMS: Quo Vadis? (Where are You Going?)
In an industry that is constantly changing, EMS providers have reinvented themselves to stay relevant and fuel profitable growth. In this article, Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc.'s Frederick Blancas talks about five of the many transformation trends happening in the EMS industry, and how they are pushing the industry to continue to evolve, progress and advance.
Selecting a Wave Soldering System, Part 3
In my last column, we discussed the attributes of the various types of wave solder systems, the most common through-hole assembly system for small- to mid-volume operations. In this chapter, we will dive a little deeper and address board handling techniques; in particular, the three common methods of running boards in wave soldering.
New Year Outlook: China’s Five Year Plan
In this article, Dr. Jennie Hwang writes about the latest developments in the current global economic landscape, as well as mega-technological trends, which include: the highlights of macro-economy outlook, China factor, oil dynamics, cyber security, and grand challenges in technology and the path forward.
Medical EMS: Opportunities Abound
Megatrends such as the increasingly ageing population and growing demand in emerging economies worldwide bode well for the medical electronics assembly industry. However, challenges such as margin pressures, compliance costs and risks, supply chain instability, and new product introduction headaches are hindering a more aggressive prognosis of the industry. But, with innovation, medical manufacturers can churn out more.
Lost in the System: How Traceability can Solve the Problem of Counterfeit Materials
The word "counterfeit" encompasses a wide range of activities that are happening continuously in an "underground” SMT supply chain. In this article, Michael Ford of Mentor Graphics Valor Division investigates why this is so, and highlights how the SMT industry can eliminate counterfeit components in the supply chain.
Top 10 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Medical EMS Company
Once the decision has been made to use an EMS company, selecting the right one involves several steps. Although most EMS companies perform the same basic services, every EMS company is different. In this article, Mo Ohady and David Estes of Digicom Electronics write the 10 key factors to consider when selecting your medical EMS company.
Why Medtech Manufacturers Should Automate Fluid Dispensing Operations
The fluids used to manufacture medical devices applications must be dispensed according to scientific principles—especially as devices shrink, parts are closer together, and substrates become more fragile and more prone to contamination. This article discusses how fluids can be dispensed most precisely, reliably, and repeatedly to help manufacturers save materials, time, labor, and resources.
Medical Electronics: Manufacturing Vitals
With the rapidly growing aging population, rising healthcare costs and increasing health awareness, opportunities abound in consumer medical devices, diagnostics, imaging, and instrumentation. However, the medical electronics industry is not without its own set of challenges. The January 2016 issue of SMT Magazine highlights the manufacturing challenges and opportunities in this growing sector.
Selecting a Wave Soldering System, Part 2
In his last column, Robert Voigt introduced the various types of through-hole soldering techniques, which include: manual, dip, drag, wave, and selective. In the continuation of his new article series, he talks about wave soldering—the most common and efficient form of through-hole soldering available—and the steps in selecting a wave system depending on your needs.
2015’s Most Read SMT Articles
Every year, we like to take a look back at the most popular SMT news and articles. These are the top 10 most-read SMT articles from the past year. Check them out.
Industry 4.0: Creating a Standard
Mentor Graphics Valor Division's Dan Hoz, general manager, and Ofer Lavi Ben David, product line director, discuss where Industry 4.0 is taking the industry, and the changes it will bring to both large and small companies, customers, and the supply chain, including how Mentor connects different machines on the shop floor to provide universal Industry 4.0 visibility.
2015's Most Read SMT Interviews
For 2015, we have interviewed a lot of industry experts and technologists to get their insights on the SMT, PCB assembly and EMS industries. In these interviews, they've talked about the latest developments happening in the industry—from a technology, manufacturing process, or business standpoints. Before we close this year, here's a look at the top 10 most-read interviews on SMT007.
Pete’s Top Ten SMT Articles for 2015
Every year, our technical editor and industry veteran Pete Starkey picks his choose of the 10 best SMT technical articles for the year. Check them out.
IPC: Connecting Electronics Industries
John Mitchell, president and CEO of IPC—Association Connecting Electronics Industries, provides the basic overview of the association—its goals and basic mission, activities, and how it best serves its membership. He also provides a snapshot of how IPC promotes technology development in the industry through standardization.
SMTA: Working Hard for the Global Industry
SMTA President Bill Barthel, who is currently serving his second term to this elected position, and who also happens to be the quality solutions manager at Plexus, discusses with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman the role of SMTA, its conference's offerings, the pending departure of longtime SMTA Executive Administrator JoAnn Stromberg, and various opportunities for members of the association.
Saki America Wants to Dominate the Inspection Marketplace
At SMTAI, I-Connect007's Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Quintin Armstrong, general manager for North American sales and service with Saki America. Quintin discussed Saki’s 3D and X-ray inspection equipment and the company’s expansion around the globe, as well as the inspection challenges his customers face every day.
Improving Production Efficiencies with Better Data Strategies
Is your manufacturing company wasting significant time and energy struggling to collect and analyze its own data? I sat down with Bill Moradkhan, the founder, president and CEO of Portus, to discuss the benefits of upgrading your data intelligence to help transform that data into actionable business intelligence and improve your business.
productronica 2015: Transition Automation Talks about Improving Paste Print Quality for New Markets
Mark Curtin, president of Transition Automation explains the finer points of metal squeegee blades to I-Connect007’s Stephen Las Marias. The improved print quality has proved significant to meet the reliability challenges of high power electronics as well as the increased precision required for newer automotive electronics requirements.
The SMT Internet of Things— Back to Basics
Different people have different understandings and expectations about what the Internet of Things (IoT) actually is, especially with respect to how it could work and what it could bring to the SMT assembly industry. There are a lot of expectations to fulfil as principles behind innovations such as Industry 4.0 take hold.
Made in USA and Total Cost: Six Ways U.S. Sourcing Saves Money
There is no question that manufacturing in countries known for lower labor costs can save money on some projects. In cases of highvolume production, selecting low-cost labor regions close to end markets can generate significant savings and in some cases, fulfill the local content requirements necessary for entry into those markets.
Industry 4.0: Implications for the Asia Pacific Manufacturing Industry
Industry 4.0 refers to a new level of organization and control of the entire value chain, across the life cycle of products. Seen as the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 seeks to merge physical and virtual worlds. This marks a significant change in the level of complexity from the third industrial revolution, where electronics and information technology were used to automate production.
Cycle Time Reduction in the Eye of AOI
In our survey for this month’s topic for SMT Magazine—cycle time reduction—inspection was identified as one of the key issues highlighted by respondents as a bottleneck in their manufacturing process when it comes to cycle times. I spoke with Norihiko Koike, COO of Saki Co. Ltd, to get his insights on this, and how his company is helping their customers address the issue. He also talked about the future technology developments that we can expect in the AOI industry.
Automotive EMS: Going Beyond Assembly
The trend toward outsourcing in the automotive industry continues as automotive manufacturers strive to capitalize on the technical expertise and cost effectiveness of the EMS providers. For their part, the automotive EMS players have expanded their role through vertical integration and venture into the realm of non-electronics manufacturing.
The New Face of Automotive Traceability
Depending on the level of detail, accuracy, and timeliness of data capture from areas such as quality management, manufacturing, engineering, and supply chain, traceability can become the ultimate quality-management tool, as well as bring enhanced productivity and reduced operating costs.
What’s Driving Automotive Electronics?
Despite optimistic forecasts surrounding the automotive electronics industry, challenges remain, driven by the high level of complexity of devices and electronics being built into cars and the harsh operating conditions that these products are expected to operate in. Find out how equipment suppliers and automotive OEMs and EMS providers are addressing these issues in the September 2015 issue of SMT Magazine.
ELEDLights.com: Manncorp's Bright Future
Ed Stone, sales manager at Manncorp Inc., speaks with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias about some of the trends he's seeing in the SMT equipment technology space that's driving demand for their ELEDLights.com business.
Advances in Electronics Assembly Technology - SMART Group Seminar Preview
In a preview webinar to introduce the upcoming SMART Group seminar where the latest advances in assembly technology and reliability will be discussed by industry and subject experts, SMART Group Technical Committee members Charles Cawthorne from MBDA and Ian Fox from Controls and Data Services summarized the papers to be presented.
Exact Science Implemented at Kester for Increased Reliablity
Kester's Bruno Tolla and Dr. Yanrong Shi discuss with Guest Editor Steve Williams the importance of fully understanding their many solder formulations with respect to solderability and reliability, as related to customer needs and applications. With their fully equipped lab Kester's team can delve deeply into understanding the interactions of the chemistry involved, all of which can affect solderability performance.
0.3% Humidity, That's Super Dry!
Sitting down with Guest Editor Mark Thompson, Super Dry's Richard Heimsch describes their powerful new dry unit which is capable of 0.3 % relative humidity. Recovery after doors have been opened is lowered super fast in the storage cabinet, able to reach the "safe zone" within three minutes.
Solving Inspection Problems with True 3D in AOI, AXI and SPI Systems
SAKI America's family of true-3D inspection systems cover the whole spectrum of SPI, AOI and AXI tasks. Quintin Armstrong explains how the unique resolution capability of their AXI achieves 100% detection of head-in-pillow defects.
Enhancements in Consolidating Data Prep
Valor's principle of consolidating data once then using it in multiple areas downstream, for example stencil design, pick and place programming and test machine programming, has now been extended to include X-ray inspection programming. Mark Laing explains how.
Open Failure Analysis Lab Assessment Service Available
Bhanu Sood describes the services offered by the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering, and explains how physics-of-failure techniques are applied as a means of gaining a scientific understanding of reliability.
Software and Hardware Solutions
Jim Dickerson discusses software that goes beyond the SMT line to manage the whole process flow of the factory. Shawn Robinson describes award-winning placement systems with multi-recognition camera technology.
Universal Instruments Talks Challenges in China's Electronics Manufacturing Industry
Glenn Farris, Vice President of Marketing at Universal Instruments Corp., discusses with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Jessie Jiang at RealTimeWith...NEPCON China 2015 the key challenges facing China's electronics manufacturing industry.
The Importance of Solder Process Expertise
Alpha's Marketing Manager for the Americas Robert Wallace talks with Guest Editor Kelly Dack about the company's new products such as solder preforms shaped like passive components and low temperature solder alloy pastes, as well as other innovations that the company is doing.
Product Line Philosophy: Start Small...End Big
Ralph Savage, CEO of EasyBraid, talks to Kelly Dack about his company started their business, as well as some of the activites and technologies they are doing now, such as desoldering, stencil cleaning and a soldering technology based on the Curie principle. He also discussed the company's strategy in bringing world-class technology into the United States.
Electrolube Expands Their Coverage
Phil Kinner talks coatings and encapsulants with Kelly Dack and explains how thin coatings give environmental protection whereas thick opaque encapsulants provide IP protection and high reliability.
Direct Marketing Strategy Paying Off
Approaching 50 years in the business of supplying assembly equipment to the small-to-medium user, with an emphasis on understanding the needs of the customer and providing the best in value and service, Manncorp's Henry Mann and Ed Stone believe in direct marketing with readily accessible information.
Neutral Cleaning and Latest Developments in Closed-Loop Control
Cleaning processes that are pH-neutral have become a trend-setter in semiconductor and power-electronics applications, and concentration management is simplified by full closed-loop control. Harald Wack and Todd Scheerer explain the technical and environmental benefits.
Role of Plasma in Reliability of Conformal Coating
Besides its established applications in PCB fabrication, plasma is increasingly used in preparing assenblies for conformal coating, rendering surfaces hydrophilic and so promoting wettability and coating adhesion for increased reliability.
High-end Assembly Requirements for Precision Dispensing
Dispensing is the cost-effective solution for repeatably placing precise amounts of underfills, encapsulants and sealants in otherwise inaccessible areas as packaging complexity inceases, particularly in the third dimension. Brian Chung of Nordson Asymtek sees mobile and wearable electronics as the drivers of the leading edge of precision dispensing technology.
Minimizing the Risk of Tin Whisker Formation in Lead-Free Assemblies
Although tin whiskers are very small crystalline fibers, they have reportedly caused multiple NASA satellites to become inoperable, automotive accelerator pedals to become unusable and a nuclear reactor to malfunction. The risk, however, can be minimized by specifying material sets that are less likely to produce tin whiskers.
Proposed EU Legislation Receives Industry Support
Given the wide variety of opinions and proposed amendments on the conflict minerals legislation, it is hard to predict what will be included in the final legislation or when it will be passed into law. IPC will continue to stay involved, advocate for our members and keep you informed.
California Congressman Mike Honda Discusses American Manufacturing
Barry Matties, Publisher of I-Connect007, sat down with Congressman Honda, who represents District 17 in the Silicon Valley, and talked with him about American manufacturing, infrastructure, education and some of the current thinking in America. According to Honda, "The policies we pass and the things we do in D.C. that negatively impact our economy...a lot of those guys who don’t support some of the positive things we want to see happen don’t really understand that it impacts their districts, their social services, health and business."
Wearable Tech Back to a Healthy Development Pace
Wearable tech was a major sensation in 2014. The wearable tech industry generated extensive interest among media, investors, start-ups, wearable tech enthusiasts, technology leaders and trade fairs. Many events were held around wearable products and industry last year. The trend for early 2015 has seen the industry fall back into a healthy developmental pace. Investors are keen to see a return on their capital injections and former start-ups are now reaching maturity.
Risk and Mitigation for Tin Whiskers and Tin Pest
There is considerable and justifiable concern over the risks of tin whiskers. However, the same concern is not apparent regarding the dangers of tin pest. This paper will present an overview of both of these reliability concerns by reviewing what is known about the mechanisms and the occurrence of both phenomena.
Data I/O to Showcase PSV7000 at APEX
“The PSV7000 is our fastest ramping automated system and has become the preferred programming solution for leading automotive electronics manufacturers worldwide, with 8 of the top 9 automotive electronics companies purchasing at least one PSV7000 since its introduction.” states Anthony Ambrose, President and CEO of Data I/O Corporation.
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