Article Highlights
Preparing the Next-gen Tech Workforce
05/18/2022 | Marc Carter, Independent Contributor
The Data Format Effect on Business Costs
05/09/2022 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Exploring High Density With Axiom
05/06/2022 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Finding Solutions in the Quoting Process
05/03/2022 | Duane Benson, Screaming Circuits
SMTA Dallas Expo: A Novel Approach to Outsourcing Sales
04/27/2022 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
SMT :: Business

Latest Articles

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

This week, we bring you an article about manufacturing training for veterans, and a review of a great signal integrity webinar. IPC honors its A-Teams with the coveted Golden Gnome Awards, and Technica discusses various ways for fabricators to increase ROI. Dan Beaulieu has a review of a really cool book: Back to Human—How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation. In spite of all the meetings on Teams and Zoom, it’s easy to feel disconnected. But great leaders find a way to foster that connectivity.

Preparing the Next-gen Tech Workforce

Knowledge transfer, especially from the “graying-out” experienced technical workers in our industry, is a complex, difficult family of problems. It differs wildly between companies, and even within divisions of the same company. One of the biggest barriers is the full manufacturing schedules in North American electronics companies that don’t leave any slack time—and the 40-hour work week is a complete fantasy for many.

Jahr Turchan Discusses Blackfox's Training Scholarships for Veterans

Nolan Johnson recently interviewed Jahr Turchan, director of Veteran Services & Advanced Manufacturing Programs for Blackfox Training Institute. They discussed some of the new programs at Blackfox, including the Veteran Advanced Manufacturing Certification program. Thanks to programs like these, this is a great time for veterans transitioning into the manufacturing workplace.

The Data Format Effect on Business Costs

Nolan Johnson and Barry Matties talked with Axiom’s Rob Rowland and Kevin Bennett about current challenges facing EMS manufacturing. During this conversation, the pair discuss the impact of data file formats on pricing, manufacturing, and quality. As they explain, the use of intelligent data formats such as IPC-2581 and ODB++ can speed up the data import process compared to Gerber.

Exploring High Density With Axiom

Nolan Johnson and Barry Matties talk with Axiom’s Rob Rowland and Kevin Bennett about the current high-density challenges facing EMS manufacturing. In this interview, Bennett and Rowland zero in on component packaging and feeder technology as critical areas in need of improvement.

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

This week, we have some M&A news from Summit Interconnect, and a variety of columns. Chris Bonsell discusses the lack of preventive maintenance planning in PCB manufacturing, and Kelly Dack lays out some solder mask guidelines for PCB designers. Duane Benson helps make sense of the quoting process in a time of 50-week lead times, and Dan Beaulieu has a great review of a book about how shareholder policies have caused many of the problems we see in corporations today.

Are Your Existing Machines Enough to Keep Up?

Buy new or make do? It’s an age-old debate for manufacturers who are trying to decide how best to manage machine assets inside their manufacturing facilities. New machines are expensive, but so is operating existing machines at a comparative deficit.

VJ Electronix: Automating the X-ray Inspection Process

VJ Electronix's Brennan Caissie shares the benefits of a new inspection tool that can be used on a variety of boards, with an automated system that takes the pressure off the manufacturing floor operators and can provide feedback all the way to the design process.

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

It certainly seems that our times continue to be interesting, don’t they? Just how many different flavors of supply chain disruption can we come up with? Investment on the supply side needs to increase, but the size of the labor force needs to increase even more, if we want to accomplish the task of the buildout itself, let alone running the facilities properly.

How Smart Are You?

The standard IQ test has been established for many years now. Though the content within these tests has been cleverly and carefully put together, there are different kinds of “smarts” among people. It is likely that those who are putting together IQ tests will favor the kinds of “smarts” that they themselves have. Humans are very complex, however. Everyone is different, with natural skills and abilities in a multitude of disciplines: technical, artistic, social, and others. Put us all together as a society, and we make a pretty good team, at least when we all work together and support each other.


Big Data Can Bring Your Business Back

Let’s face it, in the past, electronics manufacturing has not been a big business for North America. A majority of electronics are assembled in Asia where supply chains and operating costs offer many economic advantages. In North America, the electronics manufacturing industry has been generally focused on lower volume, high-cost devices, while higher volume products are produced elsewhere. However, the COVID pandemic and various legislation in the U.S. are changing the situation, making electronics manufacturing in North America a more attractive option. How can factories in North America compete for the same type of manufacturing traditionally performed in lower-cost regions?

KIC Adds Wave Monitoring Technology to Industry 4.0 Ecosystem for Thermal Processes

At the SMTA Dallas Expo, Andy Shaughnessy sat down with Miles Moreau of KIC to discuss the company’s latest offering in wave process inspection technology. Miles also explains how KIC’s early focus on automated real-time process monitoring has enabled them to become a leader in Smart factory implementation.

CalcuQuote’s Breakthrough Quoting Solution

While at SMTA Expo Dallas, I learned more about CalcuQuote’s automated quoting and purchasing software from CalcuQuote president, Chintan Sutaria. As Chintan explains, in these days of supply chain challenges, having an automated system that easily and efficiently searches for—and purchases—components can be a game-changer for EMS companies.

The Reality of Regulated Manufacturing

Nolan Johnson speaks with Ryan Bonner, CEO of DEFCERT, about government regulations for data and cybersecurity. A key component of moving to a digital factory will be to ensure security of the data required to operate a digital factory, and most importantly, customer design data.

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

Spring has definitely sprung, and the trade show season continues to roll right along. Managing Editor Nolan Johnson just returned from DesignCon 2022, and as he says in his review, the attendance was up from last year’s event, which had been at the McEnery Convention Center in the waning days of the pandemic. I hope we’re getting back to normal, whatever that means. This week, we have a few articles about Industry 4.0, as well as a column on setting your priorities. We have a cool article about methods for measuring the breakdown of resins during multiple thermal laminations, and a conversation with an EMS company president who realized that he was actually running a data collection firm that happened to make circuit boards. Can you say the same about your own company?

The Future is Driven by Data

When we visited Rocket EMS in 2013 to observe a DIY 4.0 factory data collection and management system in action, we were very impressed. This was clearly a factory of the future, even back then. We recently followed up with Rocket’s president, Michael Kottke, to discuss how this work has given the company a huge advantage over the competition. The moment he realized he’s now in a data collection business that happens to build printed circuit boards, everything changed. Is this where all companies should be headed? Perhaps, but you’ll want to take a cue from this type of innovative thinking.

Matt Kelly: The Digital Factory is Now

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team spoke with Matt Kelly, IPC chief technologist, about Factory of the Future. In this wide-ranging conversation, the team starts with the premise that factory automation is no longer a future topic, but a concern for right now. The conversation takes a closer look at the need for digitization, upskilling the workforce, ensuring ROI is gained from digitizing the factory and, at the center of it all, the need for a strong commitment to move forward as a company.

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

According to a quick look at history.com, “Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. In the Julian Calendar, as in the Hindu calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1.” All well and good, but why April Fools’? “People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.”

How to Minimize Quoting Time and Increase Accuracy in EMS Production

New product introductions (NPIs) and customization have been increasing rapidly over the past few years—with the results that the already-small profit margins in electronics assembly are shrinking even further. Fifteen years ago, the PCB was the product. Today, most products are a system, with multiple PCBs, cables, and enclosures. Many manufacturers want to provide turn-key products that have multiple BOMs, making the assembly process even more complicated.

Dallas SMTA Expo: Open for Business

This year’s theme was “Texas is Open for Business,” and the turnout seemed to reflect that observation. We saw a steady stream of attendees arriving throughout the day, and most of them stayed through the barbecue lunch and happy hour. Dallas SMTA Expo and Tech Forum is becoming much more than a regional show. I met exhibitors and attendees from around the southwest, and a few from across the country. The Plano Event Center has a configurable layout that can accommodate events of all sizes, and next year’s show is expected to be even bigger.


M&A Activity: Keep Your Eye on the Ball

M&A activity is on the rise and shows no indication of slowing down, even if interest rates climb. In the past two years, there were more than 45 deals. Where does your company fit in? In this interview with Dan Beaulieu, M&A expert Tom Kastner breaks down the market and who benefits most when it comes to buyers, sellers, and where you live.

Dave Hillman on Living Your Passion

Barry Matties leads this engaging retrospective conversation with Dave Hillman, a Fellow, Materials and Process engineer at Collins Aerospace, who talks about mentorship, pandemic changes, and solder. “Soldering is soldering,” Dave says. “But how we do that keeps evolving in response to the new technologies and smaller packages.” What’s the key to his success and longevity? “Find your passion.” Here’s how he’s done it.

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

It’s been a crazy week, with lots of bad news coming out of Ukraine. (I’m a news junkie by trade, but I confess that some days I just unplug from the news completely to avoid overdosing on negativity.) And, as you might have guessed, this is all having ill effects on our electronics supply chain, which is already stretched thin. This is reflected in our IPC news item that shows an uptick in PCB sales in February, but a drop in bookings YOY, in part due to the trouble in Eastern Europe. But there’s positive news in this week’s top reads. We have a NextFlex article about an innovative flexible technology called flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) and a great interview by Dan Beaulieu. We also have a column by Travis Kelly, who discusses PCBAA’s efforts to lobby for American manufacturing in Washington. And last but not least, let’s welcome our two newest columnists, Paige Fiet and Hannah Nelson, who discuss their excitement about entering this industry.

Doug Pauls, Collins Aerospace, Receives Dieter Bergman IPC Fellowship Award

Doug Pauls holds a B.A. in chemistry and physics from Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin, and a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He worked nine years for the Navy, eight years as technical director of Contamination Studies Labs, and 19 years at Rockwell Collins (now Collins Aerospace), in the Advanced Operations Engineering group, where he is a principal materials and process engineer. Doug was awarded the Rockwell Collins Arthur A. Collins Engineer of the Year Award in 2004.

David Pogue: Is the Fear of Change Holding Us Back?

David Pogue, an American technology and science writer and TV presenter, sat down with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team after his keynote presentation at IPC APEX EXPO to talk about today’s technology, the breakthroughs that have shaped our current landscape, and whether fear of change and innovation is what’s keeping us from the next technological revolution. What do you think?

Lean on Me: A U.S.–Europe Partnership

The United States is not the only region to feel the sting of losing the bulk of its printed circuit board manufacturing to Asia. European countries, such as France, recognize the dire need to modernize their factories, upskill their labor force, and provide for a more secure supply chain. But what are governments doing to help? In this conversation with Nolan Johnson, IPC Europe’s Alison James breaks down the tremendous potential for a partnership between the U.S. and Europe and what that means for a stronger global industry.

IPC APEX EXPO From a College Student’s Perspective

My name is Hannah Nelson, and I am currently a junior electrical engineering major at Valparaiso University. I was given the honor and privilege to attend the IPC APEX EXPO as the new student director on the IPC Board of Directors. The student director position is used as a voice on the board for all IPC student chapters. It is a way to bridge the barrier between the educational system and the electronics industry and bring students toward the Factory of the Future. By attending APEX EXPO, I was given the opportunity to expand my knowledge regarding the needs of students who are heading into the industry.

IPC Student Director: Three Things IPC APEX EXPO Taught Me

IPC APEX EXPO 2022 was my first in-person APEX EXPO event, and it surely did not disappoint. The show this year was packed with high quality technical courses, engaging professional development courses and, of course, an admirable show floor exhibition. This year APEX EXPO really resonated with me, and I would like to leave you with three insights I learned while attending.

Conversations With Two IPC President’s Award Winners

We interviewed two of this year’s IPC President’s Awards, Joe Kane of BAE Systems and Zhiman (Susann) Chen of Zhuzhou CRRC Times Electric Co., Ltd. The IPC President’s Award is given to IPC members who have exhibited ongoing leadership in IPC and have made significant contributions of their time and talent to the association and the electronics interconnect industry. The award is a personal honor to recognize the winners’ selfless dedication to the electronics industry in terms of their time, expertise, and leadership.

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

In the news this week we found a synchrony of topics. Much of the world is aware of the speaking points from U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address this past Tuesday. In that speech, President Biden talked prominently about U.S. legislation in process to bring more technology manufacturing back to the states. In fact, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger was not only an invited guest, but was referred to directly in the speech as a positive example. I can only assume that President Biden meant that moment to be a motivator for other CEOs in the industry.


A Hard Look at Strategic Chip Investment

Jan Vardaman is a key contributing author to an IPC report detailing the capabilities gap in advanced packaging capabilities in the U.S. manufacturing ecosystem. We talked with Jan about the report and the current dynamics in the U.S. market. Jan’s comments provide additional detail and insight to the findings published in the report.

Where Have All the Board Shops Gone?

When I look at the landscape of U.S.-based PCB fabricators, the title of this article reminds me of a 1960s protest song. If you don’t remember the song or that era, you have some interesting research to do. As well, a Hank Williams Jr. song comes to mind, “All my rowdy friends have settled…” Seriously, I am pleased to see many of my old friends taking advantage of the present opportunities.

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

Like many of you, for the past few months, we’ve been busier than a farmer with two rattlesnakes and one shovel. As soon as we got home from IPC APEX EXPO 2022 we started work on our post-show publication, Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2022 Show & Tell Magazine. Now in its fifth year, Show & Tell is the best—and most exhaustive—source of in-depth information about IPC APEX EXPO. We published Show & Tell this week, and the response from industry leaders has been off the charts. Show & Tell gives the reader a taste of what it was like to be at the show, from ribbon-cutting and keynotes through the last conference classes.

Chris Mitchell's Top 10 Takeaways from IPC APEX EXPO 2022

The recent surge in COVID cases provoked more than a few questions about what to expect at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO. But as I traversed the San Diego Convention Center last week, the top answer was clear: a lot of smiles! Sure, they were hidden behind masks, but they were evident in the eyes of everyone I met. Attendees were thrilled to be back together in person, sharing ideas as freely as elbow bumps. IPC is a community, and APEX EXPO is the place where we build it.

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

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re now closer to the equinox than to the solstice; change is in the air. Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve had unseasonably mild and sunny weather, teasing us that spring might be right around the corner. Change is in the air in our news feeds, too. This week, we bring you on-the-grow news from NCAB and Aegis, some market reports on smart manufacturing, and a widely read column on cybersecurity from Mehul Davé. Now that’s something to warm up to.

GEN3 Webinar Concludes With Release of Part 11: Historical Background

In this engaging, 11-part micro webinar series, topic experts Graham Naisbitt and Chris Hunt examine the history of the influences of Electrochemical Migration (ECM) and the evolving use of Surface Insulation Resistance Testing (SIR) that has been developed over the past 25 years by GEN3 and its association with the British National Physical Laboratory. GEN3 and NPL have created the standard that has now been in widespread use around the world since the turn of the millennium.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2022: Advanced Metrology and Inspection

In this interview, Steve Williams talks with Subodh Kulkarni, Ph.D., of CyberOptics Corporation, on their new SQ3000+ system for advanced metrology and inspection applications. This conversation looks at the challenges companies are facing with inspection. If you were unable to attend IPC APEX EXPO 2022, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events in San Diego, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2022: Digitized Component Storage

Richard Heimsch, Director for the Americas of Totech Super Dry, shares his thoughts with Nolan Johnson on the need and application of digitized component storage to maintain component reliability. Totech successfully demonstrated cutting-edge dry storage products and solutions at this year's show. If you were unable to attend but are looking to better manage your moisture sensitive devices and are not sure of what questions to ask when looking for a dry cabinet, listen to this interview.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2022: Connecting the Digital Thread

Jason Spera of Aegis Software has an interesting conversation with Nolan Johnson on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) digital thread connected data flow. As the move to smarter factories accelerates, the need for managing and optimizing interconnected sensors, instruments, and other devices networked together increases. If you didn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events in San Diego, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

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

The last time I was in this space, we were busy preparing for our extensive coverage of IPC APEX EXPO, so now I have the honors of compiling the news from the week following the event. We often use the phrase “busy news week” in these compendiums, but this week I have metrics—25% more news items published this week at I-Connect007 than our weekly average. All the more reason to read the website newsfeeds and newsletters, but also all the more reason for me to bring you the best of the best from the past week.


Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2022: Omron on Their New AOI

Brad Ward of Omron speaks with guest editor Steve Williams about their new VT-S1080 3D AOI, along with the high-speed updates to VT-X750 3D CT AXI. If you didn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events in San Diego, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO: Current EMS Trends

There's a lot going on in the global EMS market right now. Kaitlyn Dotson of CalcuQuote and Editor Nolan Johnson discuss a variety of current EMS market trends and some of the challenges that EMS customers should be focusing on in the near future. If you didn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events in San Diego, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO: John Mitchell Shares Thoughts on the Show

John W. Mitchell, president and CEO of IPC, shares his thoughts with Barry Matties about the return of the in-person IPC APEX EXPO after a two-year hiatus. Watch this interview or view it on our show page. If you didn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO: EMS Management Committee Update with Charlie Capers

Charlie Capers, VP and general manager of Zentech Dallas, attended and spoke at the EMS Management Committee meeting during IPC APEX EXPO. He discusses some of the challenges mentioned by attendees, including the supply chain, costs, and the continuing labor shortage. Watch this interview here or view it on our show page. If you didn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

Day 3: Lots of Action in San Diego

The perfect San Diego weather on Wednesday morning ushered in another full day at IPC APEX EXPO 2022. IPC President and CEO John W. Mitchell’s keynote presentation offered a roadmap for the organization and the future of the electronics manufacturing industry. IPC runs on the contributions of its tireless volunteers, and a group of these engineers and technologists were honored at yesterday’s Awards Luncheon. The traffic on the show floor was steady most of the day, and we saw a constant stream of visitors in the I-Connect007 booth and studio.

Day 2: Keynotes, Competitions, and a Busy Show Floor

Here in San Diego for IPC APEX EXPO, Tuesday saw the keynote address from tech author David Pogue, the ribbon cutting ceremony for the EXPO, the designer’s competition, and a full day of exhibition. Committee work and technical programs continued. We’re here, covering all the events, of course. Pogue stopped by our booth after the keynote. Barry Matties and I interviewed Pogue; look for that interview in our upcoming special edition magazine, Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO Show & Tell.

Day 1: It's Show Time!

IPC APEX EXPO officially opens today, and as Crosby, Still and Nash once sang, “It’s been a long time coming.” The last live IPC APEX EXPO was held two years ago and was—for many of us—the last trade show we would attend before the pandemic hit. A lot has changed since then. But not everything has changed. After spending a few days watching the exhibitors set up, I have to say that it looks a lot like the show floor always does at IPC APEX EXPO. I was surprised at the amount of capital equipment on the floor. I thought that exhibitors might have scaled back their spending, afraid that attendance might be light, but I saw no evidence of that. Companies came here ready to strut their stuff!

Testing Flexible Circuit Assemblies

I recently spoke with Bert Horner of the Test Connection Inc., about the current state of flex and rigid-flex assembly testing. He explained some of the differences between testing flex and rigid PCBs, the requirements for testing specialties such as high-voltage flex, and the added demands of handling flexible circuits.

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO: Siemens’ Supply Chain Solutions

Nolan Johnson speaks with Oren Manor of Siemens Digital Industries Software about the company’s booth at IPC APEX EXPO, which will highlight a DSI platform meant to help designers find and use components in their designs during these tough supply chain challenges. If you can’t make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don’t worry. We’ll be bringing you interviews with the engineers, managers and technologists who are making a difference in our industry.

‘Trust Me, I Have Your Chips Right Here’

When making the decision to purchase materials, there is a strong benefit from a trust in the supplier. When materials are in short supply, however, there is no time to establish trust with a new supplier, especially when it’s the only one that can fulfill a requirement. While the manufacturing world is seeking methods to find trust with previously unknown suppliers, there are also those who are getting cleverer at disguising their often-nefarious activities—ones that could bring catastrophic results. In the real world, how can supply chain trust be established and maintained, or is it safer to assume that everyone is out to get us?


Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO: CalcuQuote—Making Sense of the Supply Chain

Nolan Johnson speaks with Kaitlyn Dotson, COO of CalcuQuote, about the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO show, what CalcuQuote will be exhibiting, and the current supply chain and market dynamics. If you can’t make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don’t worry. We’ll be bringing you interviews with the engineers, managers and technologists who are making a difference in our industry.

Sunstone Growing With Supply Chain Strategies

Barry Matties and Nolan Johnson talk to Sunstone Circuits’ Matt Stevenson, Kelly Atay, and Dawn DelCastillo about the current supply chain challenges and how they are adapting. They also share insights on market conditions, including trends in reshoring and marketing strategies related to reshoring.

Making the Most of a Smart Factory Initiative

Nolan talks with Joel Scutchfield of Koh Young about trends he’s seen in 2021 and what’s ahead in 2022. “We see the expanded use of artificial intelligence in several areas,” Joel says. “We see predictive maintenance as being something that customers are asking for, and continued refinement and reduction of the human element in the programing process, data analytics, etc. Customers are also driving the trend toward more connectivity, and I don’t see that going away. It’s in their control. They’re going to make all of us get there.”

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

No matter how you look at it, we’re already off to a roaring start in 2022. Here on the West Coast of the U.S., heavy and persistent rains are doing what they can to fix years of drought through the southwest United States. The eastern seaboard is seeing plenty of rainy weather as well. As they say on the salt containers: When it rains, it pours. That adage is rather true in the news of the industry this week. Therefore, my must-reads include a celebration of longevity in business, the launch of our next space telescope, and the sale of equipment for the printing of electronics. On a more circumspect note, we also bring you the IPC’s report on rising material and labor costs, and an article on cybersecurity.

Jackie Mattox Keynotes Women in Electronics Reception

Named one of the Top 21 female influencers in 2021, Jackie Mattox started her career in the electronics industry during her college years at a small rep firm in Southern California, where she worked her way into the roles of sales and distribution manager and took a passionate interest in strategic key account management. Jackie graduated from California State UniversityNorthridge with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication/journalism. Jackie has always had a heart for people and especially for women’s issues, along with a dedication to personal and professional leadership development.

Mycronic is Bullish on Data-Driven Production

Nolan Johnson speaks with Mycronic’s Clemens Jargon and Göran Frank about data-driven production technology and strategies. With the introduction of new data-driven software, Mycronic has made monitoring the line easier to use, faster to learn, and more purposeful. They discuss the company’s plans to drive competition and improve customer engagement. "Everything in the production line needs to be rationally analyzed based on data," says Jargon. "Therefore, it is so important to collect good data, because then we can analyze it and continuously improve the performance of lines."

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

I’m starting to get more and more out-of-office replies. Are you reading this on your phone while standing in line at Best Buy? But if you’re reading this, here’s to you! It’s been a pretty good year—much better than last year, though that’s a fairly low bar to clear. It’s a mixed bag this week, with news about trade shows, along with articles and interviews focusing on everything from education to methods for dealing with supply chain issues by staying flexible and taking action earlier in the process.

GEN3 Releases Micro Webinar Episode 5, ‘Predicting Reliability in Electronics: Materials Testing—Circuit Boards’

In this engaging, 11-part micro webinar series, topic experts Graham Naisbitt and Chris Hunt examine the history of the influences of Electrochemical Migration (ECM) and the evolving use of Surface Insulation Resistance Testing (SIR) that has been developed over the past 25 years by GEN3 and its association with the British National Physical Laboratory. GEN3 and NPL have created the standard that has now been in widespread use around the world since the turn of the millennium.

Alun Morgan's productronica Slide Show

I-Connect007 has been bringing you interviews with a variety of technologists who attended last month's productronica show in Munich, Germany. As part of our continuing coverage of productronica 2021, we present this exclusive slide show of photos taken by our good friend Alun Morgan, technology ambassador for Ventec International Group and a fantastic photographer in his own right. Rumor has it that Lufthansa made him buy a separate seat for that giant camera of his.

Real Time with… productronica: Electrolube is Going Green

Pete Starkey visits with conformal coatings expert Phil Kinner of Electrolube about the company’s involvement in productronica, its new bio-friendly conformal coatings, and how the acquisition by MacDermid Alpha is opening new doors for Electrolube in the automotive industry.


Technical Track Opportunities at IPC APEX EXPO 2022

Matt Kelly, IPC chief technologist, discusses the growth of the technical conference tracks in this year’s IPC APEX EXPO program, as well as market dynamics that are influencing the topics presented at this year’s event. "We are thrilled with the number of abstract submissions we have received. As of today, we have over 150 submissions, which may be the highest number we’ve ever received. It shows the appetite and the interest people have to present and share their knowledge."

DoD Faces Growing Risks from Reliance on Lead in Electronics

Like a cancer that spreads untreated until it becomes an urgent problem, the U.S. defense community is facing a small but growing problem that is increasingly undermining U.S. military readiness and technological dominance. The problem is lead—specifically, the lead-alloy solders that traditionally have been used to attach electronic components to printed circuit boards (PCBs). Over the last 15 years, the commercial electronics industry has shifted to lead-free solders, prompted by environmental health regulations in Europe and elsewhere. However, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and its contractors never made the switch and are still heavily reliant on leaded solders. Now, leaded electronics are becoming harder to find and more outdated.

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

Right now, it seems that almost everyone I know is talking about the future. Doesn’t matter whether it’s with my family, loved ones, friends, industry colleagues, or neighbors I meet on the street, conversations are almost entirely forward-looking. This being the holiday season, some reminiscing is to be expected, but I’m just not hearing it in the chatter all around me–this year is different somehow. And it shows in this edition of my must-reads for the week as well. This week we bring you forward-looking discussions with ,,,

CyberOptics: The Confluence of PCB and Semiconductor in Inspection Systems

Dr. Subodh Kulkarni talks to Nolan Johnson about CyberOptics' advancements in metrology inspection applications—especially for highly reflective surfaces—and how semiconductor inspection and PCB inspection are continuing to converge. If you didn’t make it to SMTA International in Minneapolis, don’t worry. We have interviews with the SMT segment’s top engineers and managers. Visit realtimewith.com now for all the interviews produced by I-Connect007 in partnership with SMTA at this year's event.

IPC APEX EXPO 2022: What to Expect Regarding COVID Restrictions

As IPC is adhering to California Department of Public Health Guidelines, proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test will be required to attend IPC APEX EXPO 2022. IPC has partnered with InHouse Physicians (iHP) for attendees to upload their proof of vaccine or negative COVID test results in advance of arrival at IPC APEX EXPO. Once information is uploaded via the iHP link, a trained medical professional will review the information within 24 hours and provide an email confirmation with a green check mark indicating they’ve been cleared for entry.

Segment 11 of Koh Young Micro Webinar Series: Connectivity Using CFX and Hermes

In under four minutes, episode 11 Connectivity Using CFX and Hermes teaches viewers about Machine-to-machine (M2M), the foundation that drives the smart factory vision, enabling automatic SMT line maintenance and management. The systems should be designed to work with the printer, mounter, conveyor, and other equipment types to simplify communication across the entire SMT line. Presenter Ivan Aduna shares how initiatives such as IPC-CFX, IPC-Hermes, and IPC-DPMX all help to pull the factory of the future into the present.

Industry Market Drivers, Inflation, and the Supply Chain

In this wide-ranging interview, Shawn DuBravac, chief economist for IPC, discusses a variety of market drivers and pressures that are affecting PCB manufacturing and assembly. He also shares his thoughts on the relationship between inflation, wages, and the current supply chain challenges—and what all this may mean to your bottom line in 2022.

Test and Inspection: Competitive Advantage and Cost of Doing Business

In this interview, Charlie Capers of Zentech breaks down the changing requirements he’s seeing in test and inspection in the industry, and the growing importance of investing in testing for the future growth and success of your company. According to Capers, "When you collect statistics on defects, you will start to see a trend that says, for example, we’ve got a lot of shorts and opens, meaning that our solder paste process is not tight. If you’re collecting statistics and really studying them, you will see trends in your processes."

John Mitchell: Focus on the Future

In a far-ranging interview, Dr. John Mitchell and Barry Matties discuss the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO, IPC programs, and the challenges (and opportunities) facing our industry. If you think Dr. Mitchell's assessment would be pessimistic, you'd be wrong. We’re an industry that enjoys and needs to work together, and we’ve been held at bay for too long. "Throughout 2021, at every conference I’ve attended, people are really excited about seeing each other again," said Mitchell. "And since APEX EXPO is one of the premier events for the industry, that is the thing I’m happiest about—getting people back together again, getting them excited."

EMS Leadership Summit Expands Its Reach

Nolan Johnson talks with Tracy Riggan, senior director of solutions, and Mark Wolfe, executive EMS advisor, both at IPC. They discuss details for the EMS Leadership Summit planned for IPC APEX EXPO 2022, how the summit program has changed from years past, and who should attend. Hint: Directors and above, along with any “rising star” managers. "It’s important in those discussions to have a wide breadth of ideas and learnings from different levels and roles of organizations," said Riggan. "We’re expanding that conversation by bringing in younger leaders, maybe those in management positions staged to be the next presidents and vice presidents of their organizations."


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

It hardly feels like the end of 2021, but here we are, looking at a new year and IPC APEX EXPO and AltiumLive coming up in less than two months. If you don’t count days lost during the holidays, it’s more like one month before showtime. Hey, at least we have some live events to attend now. This week, we have some association and trade show news, as well as articles on data management and the diminished role of U.S. chip makers in the global electronics supply chain. We’re almost behind the eight-ball here, folks, and we can’t build chip factories overnight. Let’s get a move on!

Design to Production Flow: DFT and Test Coverage Using Industry 4.0 Principles to Produce Good Products

Achieving design for test (DFT) can be challenging for both design and test groups, as sometimes both expect that the other will be the one to manage DFT. The design and test groups might be in the same organization, or they could be an OEM vs. an EMS company. It works best if both the design and test groups are engaged in the process of DFT and trying to achieve the goal of the best test coverage and lowest rate of field returns.

Nolan’s Notes: Preparing for APEX—The 2022 Edition

As summer was waning, I found myself at the airport with my carry-on, headed to a technical conference for the first time in nearly 20 months. During a normal winter trade show season, I keep a “go bag” packed, ready to just grab on my way to the airport. But after more than a year and a half travel-free, my “go bag” had gone. It had long since been unpacked, the contents folded in with my normal household belongings. Repacking my bag was a treasure hunt; I had to remember all the things I’d found useful on the road (and the ones that seemed to be useful but weren’t). But once I’d brought all my gear together, and boarded the plane, I felt a familiarity settle over me; everything seemed to be back in place again. I suspect that many of you will have a similar experience (both personally and professionally) as you prepare for IPC APEX EXPO in January 2022.

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

If you’re in the United States like I am, and if you celebrated with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, like my family did, then you just might have fallen asleep sitting up in a chair (or in my case, stretched out on the couch) and missed some of the highlights in the news this week. Never fear, I woke up early to bring the top five news items you should know for this week. We have industry bookings and sales news from IPC, some news from the flex sector, an explanation of induction lamination from Happy Holden, and two different takes on “sustainability.”

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

This month—and this year, really—has just flown by. As someone mentioned to me recently, “There are basically only three full work weeks before New Year’s Day.” Yikes. Thanksgiving is next week, which means most of your customers and suppliers will be hard to reach. Unless there’s a problem, that is! In that case, they’ll find you, even if you’re carving a turkey with the kids and grandkids. So, with a short week on the horizon, most of us are in overdrive now, trying to get ahead of the game.

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

Welcome to Friday in mid-November. If you're celebrating Thanksgiving, have you made up your menu and bought the turkey? It will be here before you know it. Around here, we're talking financial news and I've selected my top five financial news items of the week. There was plenty to choose from and my picks this week highlight a few of the most-read financial news pieces from our industry, as well as a couple high-interest technology related pieces. We also released our latest webinar, an 11-part series from the expert at GEN3. Definitely check that one out!

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

It’s merger mania! Yes, there’s been a lot of M&A activity lately in our industry over the past few months. This week was no different when it comes to merger activities. In this week’s selections, we have news about DuPont’s acquisition of Rogers, Nano Dimension’s merger with Essemtec, and NCAB’s acquisition of Elmatica. We also have news from SMTA International, and an interview with Joe Clark of DownStream Technologies about their new flex and rigid-flex technology.

Test Strategies and Pain Points

In this interview with Bert Horner of The Test Connection, Inc., a test engineering service provider, he shares his insights on the trends and challenges for test and inspection. This discussion is centered around common challenges in the industry, and the importance of setting up your test and inspection strategy. Bert states, "The biggest challenge is giving access to the key points and understanding a test strategy prior to the assembly being built."

EPTAC Studying Low-Melt Alloys as In-Person Classes Resume

I recently spoke with Leo Lambert, the VP of Technology for EPTAC, about some research the company is doing into low-melt alloys. We also discussed EPTAC’s continuous growth, as well as some of the lessons learned during the pandemic and their plans moving forward.

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

This week’s top picks, as influenced by readership interest, don’t seem to hold to a particular theme. Previously, I’ve referred to this as a potpourri, and now that I’ve done that once, I can’t really do so again, can I? How about a mixed bag? No, I don’t think so. While the news is certainly a diverse assortment, this just feels too obvious.


Real Time With... SMTAI: Anaya Vardya of American Standard Circuits

Anaya Vardya, president and CEO at American Standard Circuits, speaks with Nolan Johnson ahead of the SMTA International exposition. Vardya shares why American Standard Circuits will be exhibiting at the show, and outlines the topics ASC will be presenting on the show floor.

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

There’s a lot going on in the industry this week, and my top five picks have a little bit of everything.

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

Well, William Shatner finally did the field research for his role as Captain James T. Kirk this week, going sub-orbital on the Blue Origin launch platform. No, I’m not making fun of Shatner’s flight, quite the contrary. He’s the first actor in the entire Star Trek franchise to go into space while still living. And at 90 years old, he’s now the oldest person to make the trip as well!

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

This week we have quite a potpourri for you. Our newest columnist, Kim O’Neil of Prototron Circuits, offers details on setting up your own quality management system (QMS). Emmy-winning tech writer David Pogue will be a keynote at IPC APEX EXPO, which I think is a great move on the part of IPC. We have an article from Brent Fischthal of Koh Young America on the value of investing in the latest AOI equipment, which can save you time and money by eliminating false calls.

Increase Production Yield by Investing in Leading-Edge Equipment

Let us consider automated optical inspection (AOI). AOI technology has been available for decades, but only since the introduction and industry adoption of real 3D measurement has it emerged as a major area of focus to prevent defects and improve production yields in post pre-reflow and post-reflow positions. Yet, many manufacturers are using antiquated 2D or quasi-3D systems that increase false calls and escapes.

Fane Friberg on Capital Expenditure Project Planning

In a recent survey, about 75% of SMT007 readers indicated that their organization uses a capital expenditure plan; about 25% do not have a planning process in place. Based on this information, the I-Connect007 Editorial Team reached out to Fane Friberg to discuss capital expenditure planning and execution.

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

Once again, seemingly like clockwork, the controversy erupts. It’s such a divisive issue, and it seems no one can be undecided in this debate; each of us is expected to take a stand. All of society—including the media—asks, “Which side are you on?”

24 Essential Skills for Engineers: The Story Behind the Book

In this interview with I-Connect007’s own Happy Holden about his newest book, 24 Essential Skills for Engineers, which he wrote over the span of his career, he highlights some particular moments from his time working at HP and as CTO of Foxconn which inspired many of the book’s chapters. Happy explains why he covered engineering skills as well as “soft skills” such as problem-solving and communication—skills which are keys to succeeding as an engineer.

BOM: The Path to Managing Parts

In the magazine this month, we start with some higher-level discussion about BOMs in the 21st century manufacturing world. We look at questions like “Who owns the BOM?” and “What makes up a BOM?” The reality is that BOMs are often oversimplified down to the component parts list when, in fact, a full-fledged BOM includes information on how to put the pieces together in a finished product as well.

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

Every fall, the action in the world of PCB design and manufacturing begins to pick up again. No more out-of-office email replies; summer vacation is over, and it’s time to get back at it. This week’s Top Five is a veritable pastiche of columns, articles, and news from the electronics industry.


BOMs and the Supply Chain from an Assembler's Point of View

Duane Benson of Screaming Circuits speaks with Nolan Johnson about issues assemblers encounter with BOMs and part shortages. Duane gives advice on how to avoid some common pitfalls.

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

In some weeks, readership numbers are pretty even, which means I make my picks based on “excellence” or “achievement” of some sort. Other weeks, you readers “go viral” on a few key news items, making the selection process numerically driven. This was one of those weeks. Here, then, are the five most-read news items. Of course, leading the way are our esteemed technical editors, Pete Starkey and Dan Feinberg. These gentlemen are examples of my opening statement, as both enjoy huge popularity with readers precisely because they are so good at reporting on the industry.

Reducing the Cost of Solder Alloys Used in Wave and Selective Soldering Assembly Applications

The continued devaluation of the U.S. dollar and the industrial supply-demand balance between silver has increased the price of silver used in solder alloys. MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions has developed a number of low- and no-silver solder alloys to offset this continued trend in the increase in global silver cost. These alloys are appropriate for most applications, but not all.

BOM Connector: A Ready-Built Solution

Kevin Decker-Weiss of CircuitByte and Mark Laing of Siemens explain how a tool called BOM Connector can improve quoting and manufacturing flow. Mark and Kevin are openly enthusiastic about this topic; this conversation launched immediately into a technical discussion.

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

The kids and grandkids are back in school, and fall is on the way. During this busy week, we published a variety of articles, covering everything from trade shows to mergers. It’s hard to argue with IPC’s plans to require proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test to enter IPC APEX EXPO; you can expect other trade shows to follow suit in the future. We’d hate for a show to become a super-spreader event.

Whizz is Da BOM

In this interview with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team, Whizz President Muhammad Irfan shares his 20-plus years of experience by breaking down the bill of materials process in today’s challenging environment. Irfan describes what that means for his team and suppliers, and how we move forward in a post-pandemic climate.

How to Use Panelization Planning to Save Money and Resources

In this interview, Siemens’ Patrick McGoff speaks with Nolan Johnson about strategies to utilize panelization planning to save money and resources.

A Conversation with Javad EMS

Nolan Johnson speaks with Gary Walker, vice president and co-founder of Javad EMS, about who they are as a company, where they came from, and where they’re going.

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

The past couple weeks have delivered quite a bit of PCB manufacturing industry news, to be sure. If you haven’t already seen this news piece from USPAE, “Electronics Industry Summit With US DoD Spawns More Dialogue, Collaboration,” I’d like to bring it to your attention one more time.

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

This week, we’ve covered a variety of topics in our newsletters and websites. In my Top Five picks, we have quite a mixed bag of industry news and articles. In market reports, there’s good news from the North American PCB side of things, but bad news from the EMS segment, driven by long lead times and material shortages. We also have an article that gets down to the root cause, or causes, of the six-month lead time and price increases.


The EMS/Designer Relationship: Kelly's Story

In a recent discussion with John Vaughan and Kelly Dack, we explored how parts availability information can reverberate back to the design team in unexpected ways. In this part of the interview, Dack details how a parts availability issue can restart the design all the way back with the OEM design team.

Electronics Industry Summit With U.S. DoD Spawns More Dialogue, Collaboration

The U.S. Government, the electronics industry, and academia must continue to step up their joint efforts to address risks and gaps in the defense electronics supply chain.

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

I’m at DesignCon as I start pen this week’s must-reads. It’s good to be back in the convention centers, I have to say. In my last installment, I expressed the anticipation; I can now confirm that taking the pulse of our industry is so much easier when one is nearer the heartbeat.

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

Well, we’re officially in the trade show season. Delta variant or not, Editor Nolan Johnson and I are going to DesignCon next week. I’m flying on Delta, which I think is a harbinger of good luck. I did get flight insurance, though. I’m definitely ready to fly somewhere.

SMTA Membership Voting Results

SMTA Vice President of Membership Rob Boguski speaks to Nolan Johnson about the recent annual voting amongst SMTA membership. Besides filling four SMTA Leadership seats, SMTA put a proposed membership restructuring up for approval. Boguski shares the results of that voting and what it means for the SMTA going forward.

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

This week’s must-reads include: a recently-run interview with Travis Kelly from Isola; IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac discussing economic trends that will touch the industry; new high-speed materials; technique for copper pour from Design007’s recent “Just Ask…” series; and maintaining continuous manufacturing knowledge throughout your enterprise.

Communicating Effectively with EMS Providers

For the past several decades, OEMs have used outside EMS providers to build a multitude of products from PCBAs to complete box and cable assemblies. Communicating effectively is the key to success in getting products from concept to reality. For companies that want to form a good working relationship with EMS providers, there are several steps that should be followed to ensure a successful product build.

Catching Up with the Latest at Datest

Nolan Johnson chats with Datest's Rob Boguski about the latest happenings at the Fremont, California testing and inspection service provider.

Ductility is Your Greatest 'Alloy': Avoiding Drop Shock Failures

The drop shock reliability of solder joints has become a major issue for the electronic industry not only because of the ever-increasing popularity of portable electronics and the widespread use of lead-free solders, but also in ensuring high first-pass yield during handling in a production environment.

Knowledge Continuity in Manufacturing

“Why do we do it that way?” “Because we always have.” Those can be some of the most dreaded words on the manufacturing floor. It means that someone decided at one point to do things a certain way, and you don’t know whether it’s a critical aspect of the assembly process, or just another roadblock to improvement.


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

In the past week, we published quite a bit of news—some good, some not so good. The supply chain is likely to be a challenge for the next year or so. But in this industry, technologists always seem to find a workaround.

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

In this week’s top five: a high profile surprise merger between Autodesk and Altium, which had been in the works, resolved this week; financial news from fabs and assemblers around the globe is reporting strong bookings and sales as the industry bounces back from pandemic-related shutdowns; component demands continue to exert pull pressures on the semiconductor suppliers, keeping the market (overly?) competitive pricewise. The tiles are indeed being stirred. Which pieces will you be dealt?

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

Trade show season is around the corner, and we’re talking about real, in-person trade shows. The virtual shows served their purpose, and we may see more virtual shows in tandem with live events, but I’ll be glad to get back on the show floor and see what’s “really” going on out there. It's great to see IPC’s hand soldering competitions returning to Europe this fall.

SMTA Offers New Membership Structure

SMTA membership is being revamped for Jan 1 2022. This interview detals those changes with SMTA President Martin Anselm and Membership Vice President Rob Boguski.

Cleanliness Behind Many Assembly Challenges

Eric Camden says nobody knows your board like you do, so it’s time for assemblers to start doing their own cleanliness testing and due diligence, and stop relying on outside organizations to determine how clean their boards need to be.

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

This week, Nolan Johnson's top five includes two popular press releases on equipment purchases, plus a case study that details another company’s ROI from new equipment. We also bring you Pete Starkey’s latest EIPC webinar writeup, and a bit of historical controversy from Clyde Coombs.

A Framework for Large-Scale AI-Assisted Quality Inspection Implementation in Manufacturing Using Edge Computing

This paper discusses in detail the challenges in large-scale deployment of AI models for quality inspection operation and introduces a framework for large-scale AI-assisted quality inspection in manufacturing environment using edge computing architecture. The framework focuses on IT architectural decisions to fulfill the OT requirement, including user experience in the quality inspection ecosystem.

Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to... SMT Inspection: Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond, Chapter 5

Reliable AOI methods have become powerful, economical complements to traditional test strategies. AOI can be used successfully as a process monitoring tool for measuring printing, placement, and reflow performance. Yet, a single inspection system has limitations, especially when there is limited or no communication with the balance of the line. In this setup, it simply cannot optimize a printed circuit board assembly process. Equipment suppliers must cooperate to achieve communication for a zero-defect future.

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

It’s summertime here in Atlanta. The masks are gone, and my Hawaiian shirts are back in rotation! It feels like we’re getting back to normal. Speaking of normal, it looks like DesignCon, PCB West, SMTA International, and IPC APEX EXPO are good to go; they’re set to be live, in-person events, just like in the “olden days” of early 2020.

ICAPE Group Offers Boots on the Ground Support in Asia

Nolan Johnson speaks with Roger Harts about some of the current complications around manufacturing electronics in China and how ICAPE Group works as a vital supplier partner to OEMs and companies hoping to manufacture in Asia.


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

This week’s can’t miss news items touch all the bases—unlike Pittsburgh Pirates Rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes, who didn’t touch all the bases on Tuesday night’s game, and had his home run revoked.

The Role of 3,000 Committee Members

I believe the committee structure really shines as we are constantly striving to produce the best possible version of the standard and ensure consensus for best practices in each review cycle—currently every three years—for the industry. During the review cycle, users of the standard can submit comments on the document content which are then debated by the committee. The committee has A-Teams and Working Groups that the leaders can delegate to; these groups have members with relevant expertise to review particular areas of the document or individual comments. This gives us a two-fold bonus of having knowledgeable participants provide feedback and frequently passing on information to someone who may not know as much in that area.

Cleaning and Inspection

Today’s non-negotiable requirement is to produce objective evidence. As can be seen from Figure 1, the two tools that have been proven to be up to the task, are SIR followed by PICT. What can also be seen is the plethora of issues that must be addressed.

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

In case you’ve been on the beach with an umbrella drink in your hand, in industry news we saw the soft opening of a new laminate facility and more M&A activity in the PCB fab segment. And we ran some really great content from our contributors, with articles on how to save your company money and how to save yourself time in the design cycle. Plus, Editor Nolan Johnson channels his inner John Updike with his review of one of the most popular manufacturing strategy books ever, three decades after its publication.

A Review of ‘World-Class Manufacturing’

"World Class Manufacturing: The Lessons of Simplicity Applied" by Richard J. Schonberger was published in 1986 as part of the World Class Manufacturing (WCM) vanguard of the time. And yet, a careful read shows that even though many processes have changed, there are fundamental thought patterns that persist in electronics manufacturing.

IPC Committees as an Emerging Engineer

We are extremely fortunate to have some of the industry leaders participating in our committees. We also try to make the documents easier to understand with simple wording, so it’s easier to be translated and used globally.

Why You Should Get Involved in IPC Standards Development

From a business perspective, involvement in IPC standards is incredibly important. Usage of IPC’s globally accepted standards creates a level playing field in the electronics supply chain. The playing field, however, is only as level as the participants who are involved in the development of a standard.

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

Summer is almost upon us. But it doesn’t look like there’s much of a summer vacation afoot for this industry. In the past week, we saw lots of traction with our coverage of everything from M&A activity and the supply chain shortage to challenges facing PCB designers, Spanish language training courses, and designing for semi-additive processes.

IPC: Driving Our Industry for 64 Years

I have participated in many areas of IPC for several years, particularly the Government Relations Committee and the Suppliers Council. Now, there are many IPC committees, and most of them are focused on standards. Many IPC members take part in the committees—after all, electronic design and manufacturing standards is one of the key reasons IPC was founded. The results of the committees’ efforts represent a significant part of the value the IPC has contributed to the industry since it was founded in 1957.

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

Finally, it’s May. The snow has melted, the flowers are beginning to bloom, and summer is just around the corner. We’re slowly getting back to normal after the craziest year I can remember. And our industry is on the move! This week, we bring you a veritable seafood platter of articles and columns about PCB design, fabrication, and assembly.


Process Control in Solder and Reflow

Nolan Johnson speaks with KIC’s Miles Moreau to get his perspective on topics such as wave process inspection (WPI), wave solder, and vacuum reflow, and how they will fit into Industry 4.0 and smart factories.

An Inside Look at the IPC Committee Process

As IPC committee meetings were in full effect at this year’s APEX EXPO, Nolan Johnson and Barry Matties have a discussion with many of IPC’s directors and program managers—Teresa Rowe, Chris Jorgensen, Deb Obitz, John Perry, Andres Ojalill, and Patrick Crawford—to gain a better understanding of how committees work.

PRIDE Industries: A Nonprofit EMS and Staffing Firm Moves Into Mil-aero

PRIDE Industries is a contract manufacturing provider with a twist: The company provides training and coaching for job seekers with disabilities, including service-disabled veterans. If they don’t have openings in their Sacramento facility, they may have a job for you in one of 15 other states.

A Tribute to Dieter Bergman

In 1962, while at Philco Ford, Dieter became the company’s official representative to the IPC. Dieter tag-teamed with his friend and co-worker Gerald Ginsberg on the development of a prolific run of technical publications including a multilayer design standard and the massive binder known as the IPC-D-330 IPC Design Guide. For his standards contributions, Dieter received the IPC President’s Award in 1968, the same year he assumed chairmanship of the IPC Design Committee.

Show & Tell Magazine Now Available on Demand

IPC APEX EXPO 2021 is in the history books now. But as the paperboys used to say in the 1930s, you can still “read all about it” in Real Time With… IPC APEX EXPO 2021 Show & Tell Magazine! It’s all right here in one convenient publication: interviews with award winners, coverage of keynote speeches, show notes from our technical staff, thoughts from IPC Emerging Engineers, and much more

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

This week’s biggest news came in the form of industry briefings—there were a lot of them and the news was universally positive. The news you need to read for this week includes three reports from IPC detailing: the strength and risks in the global economic recovery; a strong EMS book-to-bill ratio; and strong North American PCB sales. Zeroing in on a single company, Apple reported a significant jump in revenue.

Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to… Smart Data, Chapter 2

Companies have been collecting data in large volumes. Highly varied data from manufacturing operations comes in quickly that needs to be validated, and its value prioritized so that it can be turned into something useful—transformed from big data to smart data. The amount of data available has grown exponentially into big data. Twenty years ago, a PCB work order resulted in 100 data records, megabytes of data; today, it is 10 billion records, terabytes of data. The investment in collecting this data and storing it is high. However, without a way to analyze the data, without analytics, it will not result in ROI.

I-Connect007 'Just Ask' Q&A Compilation Available Now

Throughout 2020, we asked you to send us your questions for Happy Holden, John Mitchell, Joe Fjelstad, Tara Dunn, and Heidi Barnes. You all had plenty of questions for these industry experts. The following is a handy compilation of your questions and their answers.

A New Captive PCB Facility in the U.S.

Diane Maceri and Jessi Hall discuss how Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) has been working with Alex Stepinski of GreenSource Fabrication to build their own captive PCB facility in Moscow, Idaho; the thought process behind that decision; and their involvement in the Managers Forum at IPC APEX EXPO 2021.

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

I’m sure it’s just me being hyperaware, but I can’t shake it: Mars is where it’s at right now. Is it just me, or do you get the same feeling from the news? There are the Mars rovers—three generations of them still rolling, now—and a drone helicopter winding up for a maiden flight any day now. But that’s not all. There’s SpaceX’s StarShip, rapid-prototyping its way into a manned flight to Mars. And NASA’s whole “return to the Moon” project is simply a shakedown for the U.S. government contractors’ Mars flight hardware, too.


Top Five Takeaways from IPC APEX EXPO 2021

IPC APEX EXPO 2021, which went all virtual this year, exemplified how the electronics industry has responded to the COVID-19 global pandemic: with resiliency, agility, and an unwavering commitment to build electronics better. APEX EXPO featured great content and robust discussions on topics of critical importance to the global electronics industry. From my vantage point leading IPC’s government relations programs, here are my top five takeaways from this year’s event.

Overcoming Component Selection and Sourcing Challenges

Most PCB designers know precisely how Captain James T. Kirk felt because we often feel the same way when starting a new design. We are launching into something that we ultimately don't know how it will turn out. We don't know the difficulties we'll face or problems we’ll need to fix. While we can control the design process and use our skills to make reasonable decisions, there are often huge hazards awaiting us in the "unknown." One worsening problem for all designers is component procurement.

Highlights on a Rousing Virtual IPC APEX EXPO 2021

What a week that was! I didn’t get to endure the 11-hour flight each way, neither did I need my comfy old shoes, but it certainly was a marathon event. And real-time-plus-six-hours gave me a few late nights, but it was such a meaningful experience, and well worth the effort!

Driving Down Cost in the Supply Chain

Driving cost out of the supply chain goes beyond reduction of raw material cost. Though many of the manufacturers today concentrate on negotiation with their raw material supplier(s) the hidden cost of internal supply chain goes undetected. To address the cost of the entire supply chain we should not only look at direct material cost but also the cost of internal supply chain. At Epoch we looked at four areas in particular which include: planning/tracking, storage/delivery, inventory management, and supplier relationships.

Technical Conference—Balancing Conventional and Disruptive Technologies

I thought the three keynotes given by IPC President and CEO John Mitchell, Industry Week Editor-in-Chief Travis Hessman, and IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac, were spot on. They all spoke to the fact that the way products are conceived, designed, manufactured, and used is changing rapidly. While the keynotes had different focus areas, I noted an important similarity—they all underscored the need for increased industry collaboration to help bring the factory and supply chain of the future to life.

Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to… Smart Data

Whenever we discuss data, keep in mind that people have been collecting data, verifying it, and translating it into reports for a long time. And if data is collected and processes are changed automatically, people still will be interpreting and verifying the accuracy of the data, creating reports, making recommendations, solving problems, tweaking, improving, and innovating. Whatever data collection system is used, any effort to digitalize needs to engage and empower the production team at the factory. Their role is to attend to the manufacturing process but also to act as the front line of communications and control.

What Makes a Great Supply Chain Manager?

Building a competitive and reliable supply chain is a critical success factor for any manufacturing business. This is especially true today, where we face constant volatility and disruption across global supply chains. In this environment, effective supply chain leadership is more critical than ever. So, what makes a great supply chain manager?

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

The Top 5 is labeled as “editor’s choice,” which is a good thing this week because if I were limited to just posting the five most viewed news items, this week’s list would be full of our own coverage for IPC APEX EXPO. Judging from the metrics, that content has been extremely popular.

Rooting Out an 'Us vs. Them' Mentality: An Interview with Laura Kriska

Earlier this year, I-Connect007 columnist Dan Beaulieu submitted a book review on "The Business of WE: The Proven Three-Step Process for Closing the Gap Between Us and Them in Your Workplace." As a follow up to that review, Dan has interviewed the book's author, Laura Kriska.

IPC Supporting Newcomers in the Industry: Notes from IPC APEX EXPO 2021

With the wrap-up of IPC APEX EXPO 2021, it was extremely gratifying to note the emphasis placed on getting young people involved to combat the “graying out” knowledge losses facing our industry. A part of that emphasis was reflected in the award ceremony on Tuesday, March 9, which featured some people you may have seen mentioned in my “Better to Light a Candle” columns.


Emerging Engineers: Raviteja Boyana

Recent engineering graduate Raviteja Boyana discusses IPC's Emerging Engineer program and the IPC Education Foundation Scholarship, along with his mentorship with Gen3's Graham Naisbitt. Ravi has already found a job in the industry with Maxim Integrated.

IPC CFX Update v1.3

By the time that you read this, version 1.3 of the CFX standard should have been published. There are some very interesting additions in this release, including messages for predictive maintenance and smart energy management. As CFX is an IPC standard, the industry is assured of open content, designed to evolve Industry 4.0 manufacturing for everyone.

PCB Sourcing Using PCQR2

In a global market, it is often difficult to determine the best PCB suppliers for your technology needs, while also achieving the lowest costs for your products. Considering each PCB supplier has their own niche in terms of equipment, process, and performance, uniform test data from the IPC-9151D Process Capability, Quality, and Relative Reliability (PCQR2) Benchmark Test Standard can help find the right source for the board based on its specific technology requirements.

Bringing New Talent To Our Industry

Joe O’Neil, chairman of the IPC Education Foundation, talks about the panel discussion with young engineers and how the education foundation is working to attract new students into our industry. This effort provides resources to educators and helps young engineers advance their careers.

Happy’s Play-by-Play of IPC APEX EXPO

This was the first time IPC had a virtual APEX EXPO. It went well, but I missed seeing everyone. On the other hand, all this material being available for 90 days certainly allows it to fit anyone’s schedule. I spent all week intently listening to the presentations.

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

This week, we have a round-up of stories from around the industry, including a Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO interview with Ventec, an article by Tamara Jovanovic about eliminating “garbage in, garbage out,” a review of an EIPC webinar by Pete Starkey, and news about another trade show going virtual this summer. And last but certainly not least, we bring you our one-minute video salute to all the fantastic people in this industry who we’ve worked with for decades. Enjoy!

I-Connect007 Video: A Salute to The Industry

I-Connect007 has produced this new one-minute video to acknowledge nearly 35 years of sharing your stories. In 1987 we launched our first industry publication and we have been dedicated to covering this industry ever since. We did not start out as publishers: in fact, our background was in printed circuit board fabrication. In 1987 there were still nearly 3,000 PCB shops in North America. At the time, profits were goods, trade events included giant industry parties (remember the extravagant hospitality suites in Anaheim?), and the industry was in a state of change.

Post-Show Interview with IPC President John Mitchell

In this relaxed wrap-up interview, John Mitchell shares his thoughts on this year’s virtual show with Barry Matties. Some of the emerging themes that came up include smart factory implementation and the increased traction for the emerging engineer program.

The Ongoing Need for Tribal Knowledge

IPC Hall of Fame recipients Bob Neves and Don Dupriest led a special event on the first day of IPC APEX EXPO 2021 called “Forgotten Tribal Knowledge with IPC Hall of Fame and Emerging Engineers.” In this interview, Bob discusses the ongoing need to harness tribal knowledge for the benefit of emerging engineers.

New Online Training Programs Enhance Delivery Options

Jahr Turchan, Blackfox's Director of Veteran Services & Advanced Manufacturing Programs, discusses how technical training programs pivoted in 2020 and how customers responded to their training needs throughout the year.


The Laser World is Rapidly Developing

Stephan Schmidt, LPKF president, discusses the LPKF laser 14x20” depaneling system. The company is also introducing automatic handling solutions, helping to fill the gap in automated SMT manufacturing lines.

Balver Zinn Group Mourns Loss of Managing Director Gregor Jost

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

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

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

APEX Panel: Lessons Learned in Times of Crisis

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

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

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

IPC Managers Forum: Packed With Useful Information

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

IPC Releases Free Smart Factory for Electronics Manufacturing Presentation

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

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

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

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

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

IPC APEX EXPO 2021: The Complete Agenda

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


Virtual IPC APEX EXPO Kicks Off Today

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

What Makes a Good Process Engineer?

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

Coming Out Ahead With Smart Processes

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

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

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

Finding Process Improvement Opportunities in Training

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

Predicting a ‘Roaring Twenties’ Innovation Boom

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

Catching Up With Sean McConville, Niche Electronics

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

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

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

Footprints: A Distributor’s Perspective

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

Jered Stoehr Discusses New Leadership Role at Milwaukee Electronics

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


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

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

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

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

Joe Fjelstad's Book Review: The Innovators

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

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

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

Making the Most of a Virtual Event

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

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

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

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

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

IPC’s Alicia Balonek Talks Trade Show News

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

5 Keys to Smart Process Success

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

Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing Webinar Review

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


Your Greatest Competition is Yourself

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

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

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

CES Dispatches: Opening Day at Pepcom

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

CES 2021: Just How Different Will It Be?

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

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

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

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

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

Tales from a Trailblazer: An Interview with Christine Davis

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

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

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

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

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

I-Connect007 Wishes You a Happy New Year

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


Happy Holden Discusses His Favorite Career Moment

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

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

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

Happy’s Essential Skills: Recruiting and Interviewing

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

Happy Holidays from I-Connect007

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

Batteries and Data Centers

The I-Connect007 team met with electrical engineer Mike Mosman, who has spent the majority of his career designing some of the country’s largest data centers. Mike recently sold his engineering company CCG Facilities Integration; he is now the vice president of electrical engineering in mission-critical facilities for Morrison Hershfield, and is still designing leading-edge data centers for large Internet companies. In this discussion, Mike explains how evolving battery technology and a strong demand are playing a key role in this area and others.

Meet Christine Davis, I-Connect007 Columnist

Meet Christine Davis, one of our newest columnists! Christine will share her expertise and lessons learned through her journey as one of the few women in the electronics industry to found and run her own company.

IPC Addresses Critical Industry Skills Gaps With Electronics Workforce Training

Over the past three decades, IPC standards and certification programs have played a critical role in protecting public safety and promoting excellence by ensuring the quality, reliability, and consistency of electronic products. In 2019, IPC worked with its global network of certification centers to certify over 108,000 individuals across 200 countries and 21 languages to seven IPC standards. The ubiquitous adoption of these programs speaks to the strong partnership forged between IPC and the electronics industry.

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

Some years, the middle of December is marked by a distinct lack of news in PCB design, fabrication and assembly. Much of the industry often takes off around this time to get a head start on the holidays, or to squeeze in a much-needed vacation. But 2020 is not one of those years. Most of us aren’t traveling anywhere farther than the refrigerator this year, and everyone seems to still be working, albeit from their home offices. And companies in the PCB community continue to make news.

Dr. John Mitchell on IPC APEX EXPO Going Virtual

On Monday, December 14, 2020, Barry Matties and Dr. John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, discussed last week’s decision to move IPC APEX EXPO to an all-virtual platform. In this interview, Dr. Mitchell confirms that IPC is committed to delivering a cutting-edge experience, including a strong technical program, exhibitor and visitor support, multiple keynotes and a wide variety of online networking events. Matties and Mitchell also analyze the challenges for IPC in hosting the show, as well as some of the unique opportunities that a virtual show presents for IPC and attendee alike.

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

Whenever we discuss data, keep in mind that people have been collecting data, verifying it, and translating it into reports for a long time. And if data is collected and processes are changed automatically, people still will be interpreting and verifying the accuracy of the data, creating reports, making recommendations, solving problems, tweaking, improving, and innovating. Whatever data collection system is used, any effort to digitalize needs to engage and empower the production team at the factory. Their role is to attend to the manufacturing process but also to act as the front line of communications and control.


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

This week’s mainstream news was dominated—well, my personalized online news feed was, at least—by ballistics. SpaceX was in the news daily for lobbing multiple pieces of iron, even as their CEO took his household suborbital, leaving California and touching down in Texas. Pandemic numbers charts continue their skyward trajectory worldwide. The ever-present military tests and technology demonstrations, seemed a bit more commonplace this week as well. Worldwide political news, in general, seemed to follow parabolic curves like an Australian boomerang, veering off in unexpected ways only to suddenly cut a curving path and return.

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

Around the holidays, we often see a slowdown in PCB design and manufacturing news. But this holiday season, there’s been no rest for the newsmakers in our industry! In the last week, our daily and weekly newsletters have been chock-full of breaking news and up-to-the-minute technical information that readers like you rely upon every day.

Siemens and Computrol: Achieving Operational Excellence in Electronics Manufacturing

I-Connect007’s Happy Holden and Nolan Johnson speak with Zac Elliott, technical marketing engineer at Siemens Digital Industries Software, and Farid Anani, VP of operations at Computrol, about how to achieve operational excellence in electronics manufacturing. They start by discussing the dynamic wherein automation projects may initially create islands of automation and the need to eventually connect those islands to achieve even greater operational efficiencies. The discussion then moves to how to make the data smarter and more useful for analysis and optimization.

Catching up With VRI’s Sérgio Rosendal Ribeiro

Dan Beaulieu speaks with Sérgio Rosendal Ribeiro of VRI, a Brazilian PCBA company entering the North American market, who is about to open up a location in Florida. They also discuss the overall business climate in South America.

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

Well, it’s the last Friday in November. On any normal year in the U.S., this would be “Black Friday” because, for many retailers, the kickoff to the holiday season’s shopping spree is the source for most of the operating income for the year. While it remains to be seen how exactly how much traditional in-store and online retailing will rake in, with the varied pandemic lockdowns, it’s clear that readers wanted to get the latest electronics industry sales numbers!

Our Thanksgiving Wish

As we take time to observe this holiday, the I-Connect007 team wishes to offer our thanks to you, our global readers and contributors: designers, fabricators, engineers, assemblers, quality and process control gurus, chemists, physicists, supervisors, managers, entrepreneurs, business owners, standards writers, industry experts, and more. You breathe life into the vital, thriving, world-changing electronics industry. You are the real story.

Part 12 of Siemens’ Digital Twin Webinar Series: MES and Enterprise Systems

I-007e Micro Webinars recently released a free, on-demand series titled “Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing” with Siemens' Jay Gorajia. To conclude the series, in Part 12, Gorajia discusses, “Integrating Valor Solutions as Part of MES and Enterprise Systems."

Mentor’s User2User Conference Focuses on Semiconductor Development

Mentor conducted its annual User2User Conference virtually this year on November 10. In a departure from past U2U conferences, this event was focused primarily on developing semiconductor advances. Happy Holden reports on all the details.

The Heterogeneous Integration Roadmap for Aerospace and Defense

Most people in the semiconductor industry are familiar with the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), which provided guidance for the industry starting in 1991 (as the National Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors). As the benefits of Moore’s Law became more difficult and more expensive to achieve, the organization decided to publish a final version in 2016. The baton was handed to the Heterogeneous Integration Roadmap (HIR), with the realization that heterogeneous integration—assembling different types of devices rather than monolithic fabrication—is an important enabler for continued progress in the semiconductor industry.

PC Technological Advances in 2020

With CES quickly approaching, which is perhaps the largest technology event globally that is also going virtual this year, key component and sub-assembly companies are not waiting to announce their next generation of components. Dan Feinberg details new components and performance advances, as well as why you should consider building your own PC.


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

In my top five picks, we have news about columnist Tara Dunn moving to Averatek to work with their A-SAP additive processes, and an interview with Audrey Sim regarding the “hybrid” model adopted by the HKPCA for its upcoming Electronic Circuits World Convention. We also have a compilation of the questions that readers have asked Joe Fjelstad and news about DownStream Technologies adding support for flex, rigid-flex, and embedded component designs. Finally, we share a review of some of KYZEN’s new training sessions on cleaning electronic assemblies—virtual courses that pack a lot of information into 15-minute snapshots. Knowing how tight everyone’s schedules are now, 15-minute events might be the ticket.

Just Ask Joe Fjelstad: The Exclusive Compilation

We asked for you to send in your questions for Joe Fjelstad, and you took us up on it! We know you all enjoyed reading these questions and answers, so we’ve compiled all of them into one article for easy reference. We hope you enjoy having another bite at the apple. And if you’d like to hear more from Joe, view his column series “Flexible Thinking.”

Part 11 of Siemens’ Digital Twin Webinar Series: Data-Driven Manufacturing

I-007e Micro Webinars recently released a free, on-demand series titled “Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing” with Siemens' Jay Gorajia. In Part 11, Gorajia discusses, “Data-Driven Manufacturing: Making Big Data Into Smart Data.”

The Test Connection’s Bill Horner Remembered

Bill Horner, the founder of The Test Connection Inc. and a well-respected engineer, passed away on September 21, 2020. He was 81 years old.

electronica Virtual 2020: Automotive Conference Keynotes

While not the same as battling with the traffic to catch the early flight to Munich, followed by an S-Bahn into the city and a crowded U-Bahn to the Messe, electronica 2020 went virtual. Pete Starkey details the Automotive Conference—an event he was particularly keen to attend.

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

My last turn to select the top five editor’s picks was just before the triple-threat Halloween holiday (full moon, blue moon, and on a Saturday). Now that it’s my turn again, it falls the mega-superstitious Friday the 13th. You’re not triskaidekaphobic, are you?

Manufacturers Weigh in on Made-in-America Debate

As the U.S. grapples with who will take the helm of the U.S. presidency, electronics manufacturers around the country are grappling with which policies and ideas would promote growth and innovation in the sector. Many agree that a push for “made in America” policies and incentives might be useful. Often, they point to similar initiatives used by other countries, including China and India.

Part 10 of Siemens’ Digital Twin Webinar Series: Inventory Management

I-007e Micro Webinars recently released a free, on-demand series titled “Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing” with Siemens' Jay Gorajia. In Part 10, Gorajia looks at “Inventory Management in the Warehouse and on the Shop Floor.” Material accounts for 80% of PCB assembly costs. If not managed correctly, margins can be cut even further.

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

This past week, we published a variety of articles, interviews, and columns—and readers definitely made their favorites known. There was good news about hiring and staffing. (In case you were wondering, there are quite a few open positions in this industry right now.) We touched base with a pair of young engineers to get their thoughts on what it’s like for recent grads working in the PCB manufacturing community. We learned about a company’s new program that can help take some of the stress out of NPI. We also launched a new chapter in our “Just Ask” series, this time starring columnist Tara Dunn. And there was sad news that a contract manufacturer’s chairman had just passed away.

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: OSV Project—From Zero to Ventilator PCBs in Record Time

Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Chris Denney, CTO of Worthington Assembly, about his role in the Open Source Ventilator project, which he discussed during a panel at AltiumLive with partners Dugan Karnazes of Velocity Research and Rob Cooke of Calumet Electronics. Chris explains how many of the normal hurdles disappeared once the focus on revenue was removed from the equation, and the ventilator PCBs were designed and manufactured in record time.


Survey Results: ‘Are You Currently Hiring?’

The I-Connect007 research team invited readers to share their thoughts on what's happening with staffing and retention to help prepare for an upcoming issue on this important topic. Here, we delve into the first question, "Are you currently hiring?"

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

Welcome to the Halloween issue of the I-Connect007 Top Five Editor’s Picks! This year’s Halloween lands on a doozy of a day. Astronomers among us will, undoubtedly, already have noticed that not only does the spooky holiday fall on a Saturday night, but it also falls exactly on a full moon—and a Blue Moon, at that! The last time a Halloween Blue Moon occurred in all time zones was in 1941. As if there weren’t enough “ghoulishness” already, 2020 delivers yet another rare occurrence.

Part 8 of Siemens’ Digital Twin Webinar Series: On-Demand Machine Part Data

I-007e Micro Webinars recently released a free, on-demand series titled “Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing” with Siemens' Jay Gorajia. In Part 8, Gorajia addresses, “On-Demand Machine Part Data for PCB Assembly Equipment.”

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

After a crazy year like this, we shouldn’t be surprised that this trade show season is unlike any other. Here’s one of the many “silver linings” of 2020: We actually dodged a bullet earlier this year when COVID-19 hit after most of our industry’s big events had taken place. In this week’s top five, we have an assortment of trade show and conference news items, plus a few examples of technological trends and innovation.

Northrop Grumman: 3D Nanomaterials May Counter Gaps in Additive Supply Chain

The best technology is dead in the water if your domestic supply chain won’t support it. That was just one of the takeaways from Dr. Judy Dickson’s talk during the SMTA Additive Electronics TechXchange. In her presentation, titled “Advanced PWBs: A Collaboration Between Design, Operations, and the Supply Chain,” Dickson, a senior principal systems engineer at Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, laid out the many challenges her department faces in fielding HDI advanced packaging into the next decade. Most of these challenges are related to sourcing the necessary materials in the U.S.

Just Ask Greg: Advice on Purchasing SMT Stencils

We asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, Eric Camden, and John Mitchell in our “Just Ask” series. Now, Greg Smith, an SMT007 columnist, gets a chance to answer a question.

SMTA Additive TechXchange Keynote: An Outlook on Advanced PCB Fab

Organised as a virtual event by Lenora Clark of ESI Automotive and Tara Dunn of Omni PCB, SMTA’s Additive TechXchange addressed additive technology specifically in the context of the electronics industry. Pete Starkey details the keynote presentation, an outlook on advanced printed circuit board fabrication, from Jeff Doubrava, managing partner at Prismark Partners.

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

Trade shows and technical conferences haven’t died; they’ve just moved online. The trade show season continues in virtual full force this week, and event coverage dominates the top five this week. Surprisingly, I don’t see events as this week’s theme. No, this week’s theme is “pundits.” We have Walt Custer’s industry outlook, seven experts on additive electronics, a designers conference keynote, and the IPC’s government relations expert. Don’t get me wrong: These folks are asked to speak to the industry for a good reason. They know their subject matter, and they present it skillfully. This week’s top five picks are worth reading.

Part 6 of Siemens’ Digital Twin Webinar Series: Single CAM Solutions

I-007e Micro Webinars recently released a free, on-demand series titled “Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing” with Siemens' Jay Gorajia. In part 6, Gorajia discusses a “Single CAM Solution for All Process Engineering Tasks.”

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

It’s showtime! This past week, we saw quite a bit of news about virtual trade shows. It’s great to see show managers pivot from live, in-person events to virtual shows with only a few months to make it all happen. How would you like to be a show manager today?


Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: Greg Ziraldo on a New Approach to DFM

Andy Shaughnessy speaks with Greg Ziraldo, senior director of operations at Advanced Assembly, about his AltiumLive panel, "Design With Manufacturing." Greg discusses things that designers and electrical engineers should keep in mind regarding assembly during the design process, as well as a few ideas that he hopes attendees will take away.

Programs for Veterans: A Blackfox Update

At IPC APEX EXPO 2020, I spoke with Al Dill, president and CEO of Blackfox, about the Evolution Foundation, a nonprofit program to assist veterans with training and assistance into civilian tech jobs. Here, we get an update from Dill, Jahr Turchan, director of veteran services and advanced manufacturing programs, and Sharon Montana-Beard, VP and director of sales and operations, on Blackfox’s programs for veterans.

My Experience at SMTAI 2020 Virtual

Denny Fritz shares his experience while attending SMTAI, concentrating on the exhibition portion of the virtual show. He also compliments SMTA on organizing and operating the virtual event.

Real Time with… SMTAI 2020: SMTA Announces Members of Distinction Annual Awards

SMTA recognized exceptional individual and corporate members for their immeasurable contributions to the association since 1994. And while the SMTA International Technical Committee announced the best presentation and paper awards from the 2019 conference on March 18, 2020, recipients were also recognized at SMTAI 2020.

Real Time with...SMTAI 2020: Seika’s Preparation Pays Off

Nolan Johnson and Seika Machinery’s Michelle Ogihara, senior sales and marketing manager, catch up on SMTAI 2020. Michelle shares her team’s generally positive experience in preparing for the exhibition, details the new products on display in the Seika virtual booth, and describes an experience from SMTAI that could have only happened at a virtual event like this.

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

Most all the action this week involved the STMA International Conference and Exposition. I-Connect007’s Real Time with… video interviews generally led the way for views and clicks. In each item, the intent was to make things better in some fashion. Whether it was pivoting on trade show delivery, optimizing the metalization process in the fab, adding more AI to manufacturing capital equipment, unifying and furthering the concept of the digital twin concept, or responding to company growth by upgrading systems with the help the equipment manufacturers, all these news items speak to being adaptable and forward-thinking.

Real Time With… SMTAI 2020: Mixing It Up in the Virtual Marketplace

SMTAI 2020 wrapped up on September 30, 2020, completing its three-day run on a virtual platform. This format was uncharted territory for SMTA, exhibitors, presenters, and attendees alike. It is remarkable—and a credit to the organization in the face of a pandemic—that SMTA chose to jump to a virtual format when it could have been so very easy to simply cancel the event altogether. SMTA showed its commitment to the technical conference participants by ensuring their research would publish as intended, as well as to the sponsors and exhibitors who support the event through underwriting and participation.

Manufacturing Test Strategy Tools: Part 4 of Siemens’ Digital Twin Webinar Series

I-007e Micro Webinars recently released a free, on-demand series titled “Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing” with Siemens' Jay Gorajia. In Part 4, Gorajia discusses “Manufacturing Test Strategy Tools in the Hands of Designers.”

Real Time with... SMTAI 2020: First-Day Wrap-Up

SMTA International 2020 kicked off on Monday morning with attendees and exhibitors mingling and chatting about the latest SMT products and services—virtually, of course. Debbie Carboni, former SMTA VP of Expos, reported that there were “only a few hiccups,” which were addressed quickly and effectively. “This is much better than any other virtual event I have participated in,” she said.

Real Time with...SMTAI 2020: The Test Connection Celebrates 40 Years

Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Bert Horner, VP of engineering support for The Test Connection, about the company’s plans for the upcoming SMTAI virtual show. Bert explains that The Test Connection will address their core competency, engineering, and test services, as well as design tools, such as ASTER Technologies’ DFT analyzer TestWay and the SMH FlashRunner test programmer. He also notes a few of the positive things that the company learned during the COVID-19 lockdown and how the family firm celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.


Virtual SMTA International 2020 Opens Today

SMTA International 2020 kicks off today, and I-Connect007 will bring you complete coverage of this brand-new, virtual event through Real Time with… SMTAI 2020. The virtual SMTAI Electronics Exhibition runs through September 30. Throughout the week, we’ll be capturing and featuring video interviews with the industry’s top executives, engineers, and managers. Stay up to date with the latest developments in the SMT community—all without leaving your office.

Real Time with...SMTAI 2020: How to Network Virtually at the Show

Nolan Johnson networks with SMTA’s Tamara Shephard, membership engagement manager, and Karlie Severinson, events and administrative manager. Shephard and Severinson share how SMTAI has built multiple platforms to bring attendees, exhibitors, and presenters together. SMTAI will host networking opportunities on the virtual show floor to connect to exhibitors, multiple servers on Discord to connect technical program participants, live social events hosted on Zoom, and general social media outreach using the hashtag #SMTAI2020.

Real Time with...SMTAI 2020: The Latest in Test and Inspection From MIRTEC

Brian D’Amico, president of MIRTEC, shares an SMTAI 2020 update with Nolan Johnson. They discuss what visitors can expect to find at MIRTEC’s virtual booth, the current business environment for test and inspection equipment, and how the company has adapted their demonstration and evaluation processes to fit in inside current COVID-19 business protocols.

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

In this week’s picks, we bring you news about the upcoming SMTA International 2020, IPC’s plans for the fall, a move for Burkle North America’s headquarters, and advice on how to select the correct CAD tool. And we have the first installment of our newest series: “Just Ask John Mitchell.”

Real Time with...SMTAI 2020: SelecTech - Flooring Solutions That Won’t Give You Static

Tom Ricciardelli, president and CEO of SelecTech, talks about technical flooring solutions with Nolan Johnson. Ricciardelli discusses some of the challenges to keeping a grounding floor working in a facility and brings Johnson up to speed on how the company’s flooring systems can be installed without factory downtime.

Real Time with… SMTAI 2020: Cimetrix’s Universal Translator—Sapience for Industry 4.0

Ranjan Chatterjee—vice president of smart factory solutions for Cimetrix—and Nolan Johnson discuss new developments in the Sapience product. Chatterjee teases some of the new features in Sapience for Industry 4.0 and shares that smart factory implementation is becoming increasingly quick and straightforward with Cimetrix’s approach to automation. Chatterjee also outlines what exhibit visitors can expect to find in the company’s booth.

Just Ask John Mitchell: Advice on Selling Tech in Asia

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, and Eric Camden in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s IPC President and CEO John Mitchell’s turn! A regular PCB007 columnist, John focuses on many of the challenges affecting the global electronics industry supply chain. Over the years, he has served as an engineer, manager, and executive at a variety of companies and organizations. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask John.”

Optimize Your PCB DFM Processes: Part 3 of Siemens’ Digital Twin Webinar Series

I-007e Micro Webinars recently released a free, on-demand series titled “Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing.” Each of the 12 segments can be viewed in about five minutes.

Real Time with...SMTAI 2020: MacDermid Alpha’s Flash Etching Electroplating Paper

I-Connect007’s Nolan Johnson catches up with Sean Fleuriel, a chemist for MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions, and Richard Bellemare, director of electrolytic metalization, to discuss the SMTAI technical paper presented by Fleuriel, titled, “Pit Resistant Acid Copper Electroplating Process for Flash Etching.” Fleuriel and Bellemare highlight the challenges, processes, and conclusions from the paper, as well as which PCB fabricators are most likely to benefit from this new process.

Real Time with...SMTAI 2020: Aegis' Ontology Drives Digital Twin Process

Andy Shaughnessy speaks with Michael Ford, senior director of emerging industry strategy for Aegis Software, about its newest concept—Ontology—which the company will discuss during SMTAI. He also explains how Ontology relates to the company’s existing MES products, as well as how it dovetails with the digital twin process.


Real Time with… SMTAI 2020: SCHUNK Brings New Router to SMTA International

Nolan Johnson connects with SCHUNK Electronic Solutions’ Tom Herndon, regional sales manager, to discuss the company’s upcoming exhibits at SMTAI. Tom shares what visitors to SCHUNK’s booth can expect to find, including a virtual walking tour of the company’s headquarters facility in Germany. Tom also previews SCHUNK’s newest router, ideal as an entry-level router for shops looking to upgrade or automate.

Just Ask John Mitchell: Emerging Engineers and Managers

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, and Eric Camden in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s IPC President and CEO John Mitchell’s turn! Today, John answers this question: Does IPC have an interest in emerging managers, as well as emerging engineers?

Real Time with… SMTAI 2020: Insituware Offers Handheld Process Controls for the Smart Factory

Nolan Johnson speaks with Insituware CEO and Chief Engineer Michael Frederickson. Insituware’s expertise in materials control and measurement brings some innovative new handheld measurement devices to the manufacturing floor. Mike and Nolan discuss how these new devices contribute to accuracy, compliance, and real-time process optimization—all key factors in the smart factory environment. Mike also teases what the company will demonstrate in their virtual booth at SMTAI.

Just Ask John Mitchell: Are IPC’s Positions Dictated by Politics?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, and Eric Camden in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s IPC President and CEO John Mitchell’s turn! A regular PCB007 columnist, John focuses on many of the challenges affecting the global electronics industry supply chain. Over the years, he has served as an engineer, manager, and executive at a variety of companies and organizations. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask John.”

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

Two weeks ago, when it was my turn to pick the top 5, I made a comment about themes. I’m making a stretch here, but this week’s theme is technical education. Three out of the five most popular news items this last week reported on upcoming technical events or publications.

Just Ask Eric: Nano-Coating on Stencils?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden and Joe Fjelstad in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Eric Camden’s turn! A regular SMT007 columnist, Eric is a lead investigator at Foresite Inc., an analytical testing and consulting laboratory. As a reliability expert, Eric has worked with many large OEMs and contract manufacturing companies to optimize their manufacturing processes. Today's question involves the use of nano coatings on stencils.

Real Time with…SMTAI 2020: SMTA International Goes Virtual

Nolan Johnson connected with three SMTA principals—KYZEN’s Debbie Carboni, SMTA’s Ryan Flaherty, and Rockwell’s Greg Vance—to discuss the upcoming 2020 SMTA International (SMTAI) event, the first major electronics manufacturing conference and exhibition to go virtual this year. The panel gives an overview of exhibits, technical conference presentations, and professional networking in this new format. and provides some coaching on how to to get the most from this virtual event.

Real Time with…SMTAI 2020: Koh Young on New Products and the Role of AI

Nolan Johnson speaks with Joel Scutchfield, director of sales for the Americas, about Koh Young's exhibit at SMTAI. Scutchfield outlines all the new products being displayed in the virtual booth and discusses the increased role that the company sees for AI in their products and the smart factory flow.

I-007e Micro Webinars Releases Part 2 in ‘Implementing Digital Twin’ Series

I-007e Micro Webinars recently released a free, on-demand series titled “Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing.” Each of the 12 segments can be viewed in about five minutes.

Just Ask Eric: Selecting the Right Lead-Free Solder for Your Application

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden and Joe Fjelstad in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Eric Camden’s turn! A regular SMT007 columnist, Eric is a lead investigator at Foresite Inc., an analytical testing and consulting laboratory. As a reliability expert, Eric has worked with many large OEMs and contract manufacturing companies to optimize their manufacturing processes and assist with the identification of electronic hardware failures utilizing various analytical techniques. He also specializes in optimizing PCBA processes and identifying hardware failures through analysis. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Eric.”


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

This week, we have a little bit of everything. There’s quite a bit of new technology news, along with an I-Connect007 eBook on thermal design techniques, trade show talk, and an interesting take on trading in capital equipment. We’ve been following the “digital twin” for the past few years, and when Siemens released a webinar on the topic this week, Happy Holden got a sneak peek and wrote a review that turned out to be one of our most popular recent articles.

NVIDIA’s Three Next-Generation GPUs Excite Consumers

Finally, the product release that many had been waiting for. NVIDIA recently announced its next-generation RTX 3000 Series GPUs, and the stated capabilities are amazing. Dan Feinberg has all of the details.

Improving Tech Support During a Pandemic

Koh Young’s Quintin Armstrong, senior manager of technical services and applications for the Americas, discusses the work that has been going on at the company around field support, including pre- and post-sales support training, and how those areas have been affected by COVID-19.

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

When compiling my Top Five, I tend to let the reader views guide my choices. Oh, sure, sometimes a news item is significant well beyond the reads it receives; that’s why this is an editor’s picks, not a strict Top Five. Still, readership habits inform my choices. That makes it even more interesting when a week demonstrates a theme so convenient as to seem contrived. Take this week, for example. In this week’s top five, four of the top five are news reports on mil-aero topics. You, dear readers, gobbled up the military and aerospace news this week. The outlier is, as we all would expect, a conference report from our very own Pete Starkey.

Promoting a Circular Economy in Electronics Manufacturing

The sixth international Electronics Goes Green Conference was held as an online virtual. Pete Starkey provides a recap of the event, which provided insight into innovative eco-design and extended reliability from the perspective of iNEMI’s roadmap.

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

This week, we have quite a potpourri for you. There's good news about the PCB market. And as this year continues to surprise us at every turn, companies are discovering the true nature of their leaders. Todd Kolmodin has a great column about bosses and leaders and why the two words are not synonymous. Not to be outdone, columnist Barry Olney found a way to explain the wavelength of electromagnetic energy by using a chocolate bar and a microwave oven. We also have great articles by Sagi Reuven and Pete Starkey.

An EMS Perspective on Inventory Management

Foad Ghalili of Epoch International discusses the inventory management practices the company has in place between its two facilities in Fremont, California, and Dalian, China; and how upgrading to an electronic management system made maintaining a much larger inventory possible.

Real Stories of Applied Advanced Analytics in the Electronics Manufacturing Smart Factory

The smart factory is starting to become a reality, as part of the overarching Industry 4.0 paradigm. With the technology enablers, such as industrial IoT (IIoT) and cloud computing, electronics manufacturing operational technology (OT) are on a converging course with traditional information technology (IT). Beyond the challenges of data acquisition and transformation, the true “proof in the pudding” is in the quick ROI from advanced analytics. We will share examples of successful, profitable implementation of applied machine learning (ML) in the electronics manufacturing line, where measurement science meets data science.

Catching up With VirBELA’s Glenn Sanford

Have you been disappointed by trade shows and conferences being canceled or postponed? Have you wondered how some of these events are going virtual? Dan Beaulieu speaks with Glenn Sanford, chief strategy officer of VirBELA, about the company’s platform and its impact on events.

I-Connect007 Survey on Leadership: More Important Now Than Ever

The I-Connect007 research team recently conducted a survey on leadership, covering everything from leadership qualities to stories and lessons learned from inspirational leaders. Read what respondents from the industry had to share on the topic of leadership.


Just Ask Joe: The Land Warrior Project

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden. Now, it’s Joe Fjelstad’s turn! Inventor, columnist, instructor, and founder of Verdant Electronics, Joe has been involved with rigid PCBs and flexible circuits for decades, and he’s ready to share some of his knowledge with our readers. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Joe.”

Just Ask Joe: Automotive Conformal Coatings

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden. Now, it’s Joe Fjelstad’s turn! Inventor, columnist, instructor, and founder of Verdant Electronics, Joe has been involved with rigid PCBs and flexible circuits for decades, and he’s ready to share some of his knowledge with our readers. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Joe.”

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

This week, the top five is full of progress in technology and financial performance. It’s more evidence that the electronics industry, at its core, continues to thrive.

Got a Question? Just Ask Joe!

A few months ago, we launched our “Just Ask” series with Happy Holden. Many readers took us up on it, sending all manner of questions for happy to answer. Now, Joe Fjelstad—inventor, technologist, author, and Flex007 columnist—is getting in on the action. Here’s your chance to pick Joe’s brain. What’s the one question about this industry that you’ve always wanted to ask Joe?

This Month in PCB007 Magazine: Blue Box—Leading a Cleaning Revolution

Jim Metropoulos, CEO and founder of Blue Box, talks about the innovative foam solution he developed to clean the coils of HVAC systems in large facilities, ranging from casinos and manufacturing plants to some of the top hospitals in the country.

The Pros and Cons of Working Remotely

For this issue of Design007 Magazine, Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy asked Patrick Crawford if IPC had any insight into how the “new normal” of working from home has impacted their members. Here is what the IPC technical staff had to say about the advantages and disadvantages of working remotely, as well as working with IPC volunteers who are new to working from the dining room table.

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

This week’s picks include a little of everything. We have an interview with the founder of Avishtech, a new EDA software company that has a spin on field solvers and stackup tools. We also have an interview with Mike Carano, who discusses the need for mentors. Then, there’s news about partnership between Koh Young and Mentor, and an iNEMI "best practices" guide for disinfecting your facility. Finally, we've compiled all of the "Just Ask Happy" entries into a single document for your viewing pleasure. Happy Friday!

Just Ask Happy: The Exclusive Compilation

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! We loved them so much, and we know that you did too, so we’ve compiled all 21 questions and answers into one document for easy reference.

W. Edwards Deming’s Lost Chapters Recovered

I was cleaning up my bookcase recently and came across a tired, dog-eared set of papers that was Dr. Deming’s initial draft of his book "On The Management of Statistical Techniques for Quality and Productivity," which I received when he came to HP to lecture about quality and productivity on March 11, 1981.

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: 5 Must-Reads for the Week

Nolan Johnson's top 5 picks this week include the SpaceX Dragon splashdown, the Mars 2020 mission’s Ingenuity helicopter—featuring an interview with the carbon fiber company that built the helicopter’s landing gear—and the U.S. Air Force’s efforts to secure space systems with the help of volunteer hackers. Readers also responded to news from IPC and iNEMI, and blockchain turned out to be hugely popular.


This Month in SMT007 Magazine—IBM: Supply Chain Blockchain

IBM’s Michelle Lam and Christophe Begue, along with Nolan Johnson, discuss the basics of blockchain, and how it enables a more secure and traceable supply chain. They also address some of the applications for this technology and what the future holds.

Goodwinds Composites: Putting a Helicopter on Mars

On July 30, 2020, Nolan Johnson spoke with Leland Holeman and Amelia Cook, the owners of Goodwinds Composites. While Goodwinds may be a small business, they still pack a heavy punch in the carbon fiber fabricating business. Case in point, the NASA Perseverance Mars rover mission, which had just launched as we captured this interview, carries a helicopter (named Ingenuity) in its payload and contains custom parts fabricated by Goodwinds.

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

Say what you will about 2020, but it certainly isn’t boring. There’s a lot going on in the PCB world, and there’s something for everyone in this week’s top five picks. And it’s all positive, despite the lingering presence of COVID-19 and its aftereffects.

Just Ask Happy: Monitoring Via Reliability on a Lot-by-Lot Basis

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut by covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. How would you monitor microvia reliability on a lot-by-lot basis?

Just Ask Happy: What Would You Change About the Industry?

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut by covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. What would you change about the industry?

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

This week’s top five is a smattering across the industry. There’s an update on an established vendor and a press release from a startup. Then, we have two columns: one on M&A, and the other on supply chain disruptions. Finally, I highlight an interview from a U.S. food distributor sales manager, shedding light on the similarities of supply chain interruption in all industries. It's quite an assortment, but what they all have in common is that readers found these items compelling.

Just Ask Happy: Manufacturing Issues From a Designer’s Viewpoint

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. Enjoy.

Find the Perfect Employee With D.B. Management Group

If you’re searching for the right person for an open job in the PCB industry, look no further than D.B. Management Group’s recruiting page in each of the I-Connect007 magazines.

Selling in a Post-COVID Environment, Part 2

Nolan Johnson continues his conversation with Penny Cole about how COVID-19 has affected her industry’s distribution channels and supply chain, as well as how she has adapted to the shifting dynamic as a salesperson.

Selling in a Post-COVID Environment, Part 1

Nolan Johnson spoke with Penny Cole of Lotus Foods about how COVID-19 has affected her industry’s distribution channels and supply chain, as well as how she’s adapted to the shifting dynamic as a salesperson.


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