Article Highlights
Catching up With Niche Electronics
10/09/2019 | Dan Beaulieu, D.B. Management Group
Real Time with... SMTAI 2019 Video Interviews
10/09/2019 | Real Time with...SMTAI
SMTAI 2019: Happy Holden’s On-the-Scene Report
10/03/2019 | Happy Holden, I-Connect007
Real Time with… SMTAI 2019 Slideshow
10/02/2019 | Real Time with...SMTAI
Combating ESD: The Silent Assassin in Electronics Manufacturing
09/20/2019 | Neil Sharp, JJS Manufacturing
SMT :: Assembly

Latest Articles

Catching up With Niche Electronics

Niche Electronics President Frank Bowman speaks with Dan Beaulieu about his company, their services, how they help their customers, and their plans for the future.

SMTAI 2019: Michael Ford on IPC-CFX and the Effects of Industry 4.0

Michael Ford, senior director of emerging industry strategy at Aegis Software, and Nolan Johnson discuss some of the long-term, global effects of Industry 4.0 and life beyond IPC-CFX.

SMTAI 2019: Nir Benson Discusses Mentor's Challenges and Solutions

Nir Benson, business development manager at Mentor, a Siemens Business, talks with Andy Shaughnessy about his work to integrate the two companies' solutions, some of the challenges he sees, and his efforts to optimize their cloud-based systems.

SMTAI 2019: Happy Holden’s On-the-Scene Report

Last week concluded the 2019 SMTAI conference in Rosemont, Illinois. Overall, I think the show was successful and covered all aspects of SMT processes.

Real Time with… SMTAI 2019 Slideshow

The SMTA International 2019 Conference and Exhibition closed last week on a high note. For those who were not able to attend the event, held at Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, the slideshow contains a selection of photos from the exhibition show floor as well as the conference.

SMTAI 2019: Technical Sessions Overview and 2020 Preview

Karlie Severinson, SMTA events and administrative manager, gives Nolan Johnson an overview of the SMTAI 2019 technical sessions and plans for next year's event.

IPC Panel on Bottom-terminated Components

During the IPC Summer Meetings in Raleigh, North Carolina, I sat down with Tom Rovere, a materials and process engineer at Lockheed Martin in Owego, New York. We explored a panel discussion on bottom-terminated components (BTCs) that Tom participated in as well as the challenges and issues related to BTCs and the important role that designers play in that process.

Real Time with... SMTAI 2019 Videos Now Live

The SMTA International 2019 Conference and Exhibition is underway, and I-Connect007 is in Rosemont, Illinois, bringing you complete coverage of this annual event. If you couldn't make it to the show, be sure to catch our video interviews with the movers and shakers of the electronics industry. We’ve updated our video presentation for a better experience for our users, check it out!

Standards Through Time: Changing to Stay the Same

The use of standards has, ultimately, propelled civilization forward. As the electronics manufacturing industry works to create, revise, update, and restructure standards, it helps to take a moment to review how standards, and the process of creating them, have occurred throughout history.

Combating ESD: The Silent Assassin in Electronics Manufacturing

ESD is a constant but invisible force within electronics manufacturing that can have a powerfully detrimental impact on production yield, product and product reliability, and company profitability. And as the circuitry within electronic devices continues to get faster, smaller, and more sophisticated, their sensitivity to the effects of ESD is only likely to increase.


The Long Road to a New Standard

Graham Naisbitt, chairman and CEO of Gen3 Systems, has spent decades leading cleanliness testing standards in a number of different standards organizations like IPC, IEC, and ISO around an assortment of testing methods, such as CAF, SIR, and even introducing a new standard this year for his own testing method—process ionic contamination testing (PICT). Naisbitt breaks down his long involvement with standards and where they stand currently.

The Convergence: IPC Merging CFX With IPC-2581

Gary Carter of XPLM and Michael Ford of Aegis Software are heading a group tasked with combining the IPC-2581 standard, now referred to as Digital Product Model Exchange (DPMX), with IPC’s Connected Factory Exchange (CFX). In this interview, they discuss the benefits that can be expected when these standards are fully merged for both PCB designers and process engineers on the manufacturing floor.

How Digitalization Is Transforming the Electronics Manufacturing Industry

The rise of the "digital" supply network—such as the cloud, big data, 3D printing, augmented reality, or the internet of things (IoT)—promises to address issues such as increasing global competition, rising consumer expectations, and the increasingly complex patterns of consumer demand, by providing a greater level of transparency, innovation, and resiliency. And there is a growing belief among business strategists that the more digitalized our manufacturing supply chains can become, the greater our efficiency will be.

Comparing Soldering Results of ENIG and EPIG Post-steam Exposure

Electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG) is now a well-regarded finish used to enhance and preserve the solderability of copper circuits. Electroless palladium immersion gold (EPIG), meanwhile, is a new surface finish also for enhancing and preserving solderability—but with the advantage of eliminating electroless nickel from the deposit layer. This feature has become increasingly important with the increasing use of high-frequency PCB designs whereby nickel’s magnetic properties are detrimental.

Selecting the Proper Flex Coverlayer Material

Coverlayers are polymer materials used to cover and protect the copper traces of the flex circuit product. There are a number of different options available for protecting the circuits, and they serve different design requirements in terms of cost, performance, and flexural endurance optimization. When specifying the choice, it is critical to call out not just the type of coverlayer material but also the thickness requirement. This can be very important in certain types of constructions, especially when a flex circuit will experience dynamic flexing during use.

eSMART Factory Conference 2019, Day 2

Happy Holden continues his report on the the eSMART Factory Conference Dearborn, Michigan, with highlights from the event's second day, which includes a keynote from Brian Toleno titled "Augmented Reality: Next-Generation Computing for Front-Line Workers."

Meet Our Newest Columnists From NCAB Group

Meet our newest I-Connect007 columnists from NCAB Group! Alifiya Arastu, Jeff Beauchamp, Ruben Contreras, and Harry Kennedy are field application engineers from NCAB Group's technical team. In their columns, they will explore fresh PCB concepts, including medical and telecommunications applications, topics related to RoHS, and much more.

Automated Conformal Coating of CCAs Using Polyurethane

The development of an automated circuit card assembly (CCA) conformal coating process using a low-outgassing polyurethane material was essential for meeting the increase in customer demand from 3,000 to 60,000 units per year.

Conformal Coating Processes and Trends

The I-Connect007 editorial team spoke with one of Nordson ASYMTEK’s conformal coating experts, Camille Sybert, to discuss where the coating industry is trending and, with the rise of Industry 4.0 and automation, how it is much less about providing the right applicator and more about addressing the entire conformal coating process.

Dispensing EMI Shielding Materials: An Alternative to Sputtering

Shielding electronic systems against EMI has become a hot topic. Technological advancements toward 5G standards, wireless charging of mobile electronics, in-package antenna integration, and SiP adoption are driving the need to apply more effective EMI shielding and isolation to component packages and larger modules. For conformal shielding, EMI shielding materials for exterior package surfaces have mostly been applied with a PVD process of sputtering, leveraging front-end packaging technologies to back-end packaging applications.


Whizz Systems on Competing in Silicon Valley

Whizz Systems is an EMS provider located in Silicon Valley that has managed to survive and thrive through many of the industry ups and downs of the past two decades. President Muhammad Irfan discusses the company's assembly and design services, as well as trends he’s seeing from the industry in the Valley. He also details how choosing the right type of customer has led Whizz to see sustained success in one of the most difficult and expensive areas for an assembly shop to survive.

Nano Dimension Details New DragonFly LDM

Dan Feinberg talks with Nano Dimension CEO Amit Dror about the new DragonFly LDM 3D printer technology announced by the Israeli company on July 24, 2019, aimed at increasing machine uptime and moving forward from prototyping to higher production volumes.

The Role of Parylene Conformal Coatings in Next-gen Electronics

Designers and manufacturers of electronics are under pressure to make packages smaller, lighter, and more environmentally friendly, while ensuring that their new technologies perform reliably in their operating environments. This article takes a closer look at Parylene conformal coatings and the role they can play in helping manufacturers address current and future challenges in the electronics industry.

Development of Flexible Hybrid Electronics

This article will present a hybrid manufacturing process to manufacture FHE systems with a two-layer interconnect structure utilizing screen printing of silver conductive ink, filled microvias to connect ink traces at the different layers, and use of the traditional reflow process to attach the semiconductor chips to the printed substrates.

Seven Key Steps to Selecting a New EMS Partner

Choosing to outsource your electronics manufacturing to an EMS provider requires careful planning and consideration. And even once you’ve made your decision, there may still be things that test you or that don’t go quite to plan. An experienced EMS partner has been there before; they understand the challenges, and they’ll be able to support you through the process to ensure you achieve your goals.

Conformal Coating Selection: Conventional vs. Two-part

As assemblies become more densely populated, and housing/casing designs become more permeable to save weight, the use of conformal coatings is essential to protect the assembly from its operating environment and ensure acceptable reliability for the application intended, especially when operating in hostile environments.

Which Matters Most: Unit Cost or Total Cost of Supply?

The primary objective for any OEM is to design, manufacture, and deliver high-quality products in the most cost-effective way possible. When demand patterns change, or there is an increase in competition, it can be easy to rely on the calculation of unit cost to relieve the price pressure. But, as many manufacturers are discovering, choosing to base their outsourcing decisions purely on unit cost may not always reap the expected benefits in the long term.

Advancement of SPI Tools to Support Industry 4.0 and Package Scaling

This paper evaluates the current state of inline SPI tools from multiple vendors for solder paste measurement accuracy and capability. It discusses a measurement capability analysis that was carried out against a golden metrology tool across a range of volume deposits, and highlights the results from the study.

Conformal Coatings

While conformal coatings may have been something of an afterthought at the front of the design process, that can no longer be the case. Conformal coatings are now a critical part of any board assembly that might be subjected to challenging conditions. But coatings can also contribute to increased mean time between failure in any conditions, even environmentally controlled environments.

Words of Advice: Making Life Easier for Fabrication and Assembly

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What steps do you take to make the job easier for your fabrication and assembly providers? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.


Outsourcing Electronics Manufacturing: Key to Growth?

Deciding to outsource part or all of your electronics manufacturing operations could provide the means to increase production capacity and improve your sales lead times. But before you choose to hand over responsibility to an EMS provider, it’s important to take stock not just of the tangible benefits but also of the potential risks.

Practical Implementation of Assembly Processes for Low Melting Point Solder Pastes (Part 2)

In the last three to five years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the use of low melting point alloys for SMT applications. Typically, the compositions are around the eutectic bismuth-tin alloy, perhaps with additions of other elements to increase the robustness of certain alloy properties. Now, there are several new products on the market and numerous ongoing reliability projects in industry consortia.

The Four Things You Need to Know About Test

The electronics manufacturing process can often be extremely complex, and the costs associated with product recalls can be astronomical. A robust approach to test is key to ensuring the quality of your product and the satisfaction of your end user.

Approaches to Overcome Nodules and Scratches on Wire-Bondable Plating on PCBs

Initially adopted internal specifications for acceptance of printed circuit boards (PCBs) used for wire bonding was that there were no nodules or scratches allowed on the wirebond pads when inspected under 20X magnification. This paper details if wire bonding could be successfully performed over nodules and scratches and if there was a dimensional threshold where wire bonding could be successful.

Practical Implementation of Assembly Processes for Low Melting Point Solder Pastes (Part 1)

Since 2006 and the implementation of the RoHS directive, the interest in bismuth-tin solder alloys—whose melting point around 140°C is very desirable because it allows for the use of lower temperature laminate materials and reduces thermal stress on sensitive components—has only increased as the industry has searched for Pb-free alternatives to the chosen standard, SAC305, which melts at considerably higher temperatures than the incumbent tin-lead alloys.

Surface Treatment Enabling Low-Temperature Soldering to Aluminum

An increasingly popular method to meet the need for lower cost circuitry is the use of aluminum on polyester (Al-PET) substrates. This material is gaining popularity and has found wide use in RFID tags, low-cost LED lighting, and other single-layer circuits. However, both aluminum and PET have their own constraints and require special processing to make finished circuits.

Dissecting the IPC Regional Survey on PCB Technology Trends

Sharon Starr, Denny Fritz, and Mike Carano talk about the global 2018 IPC Technology Trends Report released early this year—the size of the survey, how it was conducted, the general findings, and regional differences. They also shared their takeaways and regional insights, and the industry outlook over the next five to 10 years.

Size Matters: The Effects of Solder Powder Size on Solder Paste Performance

Solder powder size is a popular topic in the electronics industry due to the continuing trend of miniaturization of electronics. And the question commonly asked is, "When should we switch from Type 3 to a smaller solder powder?" Read more to find out.

Low-Temperature SMT Solder Evaluation

Until recently, the use of Sn/Bi-based SMT solder materials has been investigated with negative consequences for high strain rate (drop-shock) applications; thus, these alloys have been avoided. Recent advances in alloy 'doping' have opened the door to revisit Sn/Bi alloys as a possible alternative to SAC-305 for many applications.

Cavity Board SMT Assembly Challenges (Part 2)

This article describes the details of a study of assembling SiP BGA packages into a cavity. It points out the challenges involved in the board cavity design and assembly of components in a cavity. The authors discussed the board design challenge of having a cavity and defining the proper depth of the cavity to accommodate the board fabricator, the product design, and the SMT assembly.


Clean vs. No-clean Solder Process

Although IPC suggests clear guidelines, agreeing on the cleanliness (or otherwise) of a PCB assembly can often be a subjective and even contentious subject within the electronics manufacturing industry. If you’ve chosen to outsource your assemblies, how do you decide what to specify to your EMS partner? Find out here.

Smart Manufacturing Roadmap: Data Flow Considerations for the Electronics Manufacturing Industry

The 2019 iNEMI Roadmap features a new chapter on smart manufacturing. The chapter identifies key technology gaps and needs and offers recommendations to guide the electronics manufacturing industry in realizing the benefits of smart manufacturing. This article is based on information excerpted from the chapter.

Digitalization: Key to the Future of Electronics Manufacturing?

Electronics manufacturers have long relied on automation to streamline their production processes. The concept of the smart factory takes this one step further with artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, analytics, big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) promising an even greater level of autonomy, agility, and connectivity.

Cavity Board SMT Assembly Challenges (Part 1)

The concept behind Component-in-Cavity (CiC) is straightforward. If the tallest component(s) on the motherboard can be placed into a recession created in the motherboard, their thickness relative to the components on the surface of the PCB will thus effectively be reduced. While this concept may be straightforward, its implementation is not. That implementation is the focus of this paper. Read on.

Here's What You Need When Outsourcing Box Build Assembly

Box build, or top-level assembly, can be less well-defined. A box build can mean many things—from a PCBA in a small enclosure to a large cabinet full of wires or a complex fully integrated electromechanical system with electronics and pneumatics. Here's what you will need to consider to get an accurate quote and help the build process go smoothly with your EMS partner.

Data: Key to Automating Right the First Time

Michael Ford, senior director of emerging industry strategy, reflects on his first two years with Aegis Software Corporation and looks to the future of the data-driven manufacturing environment. Michael shares how the CFX and data collection model can play an important role in the streamlining processes, including Industry 4.0 and the supply chain.

The Effectiveness of 75% IPA/25% DI Extraction Solution on No-clean Flux Residues

The continuous challenge in the electronics industry is to keep up with the demand for smaller, faster, and more reliable electronics. When it comes to cleaning, this rapid development of manufacturing and reliability challenges is juxtaposed with the slow pace of new test method development.

Laserssel Brings High-speed Soldering to New Application Areas

In this interview with I-Connect007, Denis Barbini, general manager of Laserssel, talks about the company's new laser-selective reflow solution aimed at reducing a typical reflow oven’s 10-minute cycle down to just 10 seconds as well as the overall benefits manufacturers could see from streamlining this process.

4 Key Considerations When Auditing a New EMS Partner

Choosing whether (or not) to outsource your electronics manufacturing is likely to bring with it a multitude of questions—and some understandable doubts. Outsourcing is a critical decision—and it’s one that will rely on thorough research, close examination and the asking of some tough questions. This article summarizes four key areas that you'll want to scrutinize as you embark on your supplier selection process.

PCB Fabricators’ Tech Capabilities Exceed OEMs’ Needs in Many Areas

Some interesting differences showed up in the board property data reported by the OEMs and PCB fabricators that participated in IPC’s PCB Technology Trends 2018 study.


Synergy Between Smart Manufacturing and the Secure Supply Chain (Part 2)

With the trend of shortening lead-times within the material ordering process, and the frequency with which urgent orders for materials from the grey market are made, there is increased opportunity for the ingress of counterfeit materials. The situation is made far worse when a genuine shortage of materials in the supply chain occurs. The consequences of not being able to eliminate the risk of defects getting through into the market will be disastrous for individuals as well as for the company brand image, not to mention the associated costs of recovery. It is only a matter of time, unless something very significant changes.

Smart Factory Transitions Are Attainable—With a Plan

In a white paper, Zac Elliott, technical marketing engineer at Mentor, a Siemens company, outlines a structured organization for smart factory implementation. While there can be one set of challenges to overcome when building a smart factory on a greenfield site, firms restricted to pre-existing facilities face a different set of hurdles. In this interview, Elliott discusses how things have proceeded since the paper was published, and talks about strategies for smaller firms and brownfield companies.

Streamlining, but Streamlining What?

Electronics continue to grow in application areas, capabilities, and complexities. With such growth in the raw number of circuit boards being produced globally, the pressure is on to build more faster with higher quality and greater reliability. But this isn't new. What is new is the thinking and problem-solving that will need to happen at the manufacturing floor level to deliver on this coming need.

The GraftWorx Fluid Management Patch Story

The GraftWorx vision is to connect patients to clinicians with clinical data that will have a meaningful impact on their care. Its first application is to monitor patients with end-stage renal disease or kidney failure using a wearable device called the SmartPatch that records numerous clinical cardiovascular metrics. This article details how GraftWorx was designed, fabricated, and assembled.

Synergy Between Smart Manufacturing and the Secure Supply Chain (Part 1)

As MRP and ERP functions follow computing trends and start to migrate into the cloud, a fundamental question is being raised as to whether these are still the right tools to use in today’s modern Industry 4.0 driven factory, or whether these need to evolve, be enhanced, or even replaced in order to meet the more extreme requirements of operational flexibility, as well as cope with volatile material availability in the market.

Collaboratively Creating Wearable Medical Products

Patty Goldman, Barry Matties, and Happy Holden recently spoke with David Moody and Rich Clemente of Lenthor Engineering along with Anthony Flattery and Amit Rushi—their customers at GraftWorx. They discussed a recent project and how they worked together to solve a difficult problem by designing a rigidized flex circuit for their product.

4 Ways Electronics Manufacturers are Growing Their Businesses in 2019

At a time when many manufacturers are struggling to remain profitable, and with the uncertainty of the Brexit negotiations still looming large, finding new ways to nurture and grow your electronics manufacturing business has never been more crucial. Yet, despite the current challenges, some EMS providers are bucking the trend with reports of sustained growth. Here is their secret.

Whizz Systems on Knowing Your Strengths and Building Customer Relationships

Located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Whizz Systems Inc. provides electronics product design, development and manufacturing services. Muhammed Irfan, president of the company, speaks with Nolan Johnson about knowing your strengths, engaging start-ups, and building strong customer relationships through education and preparation.

Green Circuits' Three Tips to Be a Well-prepared Customer

Nolan Johnson speaks with Joe Garcia, VP of sales and marketing at Green Circuits, about how they can help on both the front and back end of the process, their hidden gem—design services—as well as three tips to be a well-prepared customer.

Communication and Information: Two Keys to Success

Nolan Johnson and Duane Benson, an I-Connect007 columnist and a representative from Milwaukee Electronics, discuss how assemblers can help their customers through submitting and maintaining accurate information, and engaging in open communication early and often about the highly important bill of materials.


From DataED’s NPI Center to the Manufacturing Floor

The I-Connecct007 team recently spoke with a team of technologists and managers at Data Electronic Devices (DataED). Jeff Hamlett, director of sales and marketing; Lori Giglio, general manager at the NPI Engineering Center; Vic Giglio, president and CEO; and Ron Sprizza, VP of quality for DataED, provided an overview of the importance of company culture and making your customers the first priority.

Five Key Components of an NPI Report

An NPI report is an opportunity for your contract manufacturer to highlight any outstanding issues that will need to be addressed for future builds. The information that your EMS partner provides can play a pivotal role in ensuring that they continue to deliver your products on time, within budget, and to the highest quality standards.

Incoming CEO Steve Pudles on the Acquisition of Zentech

Nolan Johnson talks to Steve Pudles about the recent acquisition of Zentech Manufacturing Inc. by BlackBern Partners LLC and Zentech management. Steve, also an investor in Zentech, steps in as the incoming CEO of the new organization and discusses the deal, his new role, changes to management, and the company's plans post-sale.

Smart Design Data Is Essential for Industry 4.0 Manufacturing

Almost all of the conversation regarding Industry 4.0 is centered on the manufacturing floor, which is where the effect of the initiative is most felt initially. Little attention is given to the starting data for manufacturing—the data that comes from design. However, you can’t have smart manufacturing if your process begins with dumb data. As Pink Floyd said, “You can’t have your pudding if you don’t eat your meat!”

Five Key Questions Your EMS Partner Should Be Asking in the Supplier Selection Process

As we've continued to observe the impact of the ongoing global electronics components shortage, any challenge to the supply chain has the potential to cause major disruption. Whether you currently manage your own end-to-end electronics manufacturing, or you have opted to outsource to an EMS provider, there are five essential issues (and potential risks) to bear in mind when assessing the value and reliability of any proposed new supplier.

Impact of Stencil Foil Type on Solder Paste Transfer Efficiency for Laser-cut SMT Stencils (Part 2)

In the first part of this two-part article, Greg Smith talks about a study wherein a test vehicle was created to show transfer efficiency over a wide array of area ratios. Part 2 discusses the results of the experiment, including discussions of the different SEM results featuring the paste transfer efficiencies of each material, to better understand how the aperture wall surface smoothness compares to SMT stencil performance.

Catching up With Darrel Yarbrough of YES

Yarbrough Electronic Sales (YES) is one of the fastest growing contract manufacturers in the Southwest. As people get to know them better, they are becoming the go-to company in their area. In this interview, long-time industry veteran Darrel Yarbrough, owner of YES, provides a background about the company, its capabilities, and his outlook for the industry.

The Perfect Job

After all the days and weeks invested into developing the schematic, the PCB design, poring over the data sheets and online libraries for component parts, and running the calculations for mechanical clearances inside the enclosure, you—designers—are ready to be done. You're ready for the next design challenge—not for a week or so perfecting the bill of materials and the design notes. And there's the rub. Find out why.

Ralf Wagenfuehr on Developing Rehm Thermal Systems' RDS Semico Oven

Ralf Wagenfuehr, plant manager of Rehm Thermal Systems, describes Rehm's new oven—the RDS Semico—and gives an in-depth analysis about how it was designed specifically with the semiconductor industry in mind. Ralf also discusses the semiconductor industry as a whole and outlines the company’s desire to gain market share in Taiwan and Korea in the upcoming year.

How Electronics Manufacturers Can Reduce Their Environmental Impact

With OEMs demanding ever greater value for money from their suppliers, EMS providers can find themselves facing increasing pressure on every front. To remain competitive, there's a growing recognition of the need to continually improve, adapt, and evolve the manufacturing process.


Impact of Stencil Foil Type on Solder Paste Transfer Efficiency for Laser-cut SMT Stencils (Part 1)

As innovation and demand continue to drive miniaturization in electronics, manufacturers face the constant challenge of assembling smaller and smaller components with repeatable processes and high yields. Stencil printing is the first step in the PWB assembly process, and improvements to the SMT stencil can significantly improve yields, especially for more challenging miniaturized products.

Eileen Hibbler and Jason Emes on Improving the West Penn SMTA Chapter

At the recent West Penn SMTA Expo, Eileen Hibbler, a chapter support specialist at SMTA, and Jason Emes, the current president of the West Penn SMTA Chapter, discuss ways to improve meeting attendance and develop a new slate of chapter officers.

Preparing to Enter the Workforce With PCB Design Experience

Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Alex Burt, a computer engineering student at George Fox University, at a well-attended college career fair on the GFU campus in Newberg, Oregon. In the interview, Alex discusses his PCB classwork, challenges of design, and how it has impacted his internship experience as he prepares to enter the workforce upon graduation in the spring semester of 2019.

Tips & Tricks: Water Contamination and Flux Expiry

Solder joints that form properly are not expected to exhibit reduced reliability. However, a higher number of defects created tends to lead to a higher chance that defective connections escape detection through inspection and functional testing, and that’s not a risk to be taken lightly.

A Working Definition of Automation

Automation in a working context means more than just automatic machinery. Machinery implies mechanization. Automation also means the system information directs and controls people, materials, and machines. This concept is also known as systemization. Therefore, automation is made up of two components: mechanization (material flow) and systemization (information flow). Find out more.

Tips & Tricks: Humidity Level for Electronics Assembly

Low relative humidity (RH) can allow for higher static charges to build on objects. It can also affect solder pastes, especially OR-class pastes, and this can reduce print performance and stencil life. Read on to find out what level of RH you need for your assembly facility.

Which IPC-A-610 Class is Best for Your PCBA?

For many EMS providers, IPC-A-610 is the agreed standard to define what's acceptable and what's not in the world of PCBA production. As an OEM, it's important that you're clear on the basic principles that separate those classes so that you have a clear and realistic expectation of what the results are going to be.

WPC's Standardized Cordless Power Solutions

Phoebe Francis, a Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) representative who works as a senior manager in the Dallas offices for Golin, a PR firm, provides a rundown on WPC and what it means for printed circuit manufacturing.

Bill Cardoso Discusses Creative Electron’s Inspection Strategy

At PCB West in Santa Clara, California, Dr. Bill Cardoso of Creative Electron held a class on advanced packaging and X-ray inspection strategy. Guest Editor Tim Haag and Publisher Barry Matties met with Bill to further discuss his class and the importance of turning inspection data into information.

Tips & Tricks: Wave Solder Bridging

Wave solder bridging is the most difficult defect to troubleshoot because it has a number of potential causes. The key is to understand the role of flux during wave contact—thus reducing the surface tension of the solder to reduce the tendency to bridge between pins as the board leaves the wave.


Octane Open Concept Solution: Innovative Analytics and Floor-control Software

Octane Open Concept targets the contract manufacturer and is well along in the development process for a pair of software tools designed to optimize assembly and testing results tracking on the manufacturing floor. In an interview, CEO Craig Reiselt discusses the company and the products and opportunities in front of Octane.

Automation on Full Display at Recent China Exhibitions

With the rising cost of labor in China, the growing demand for automation has never been stronger. At the recent productronica China 2019, and accompanying shows, one hall was packed full of automation technology. This video gives you a glimpse into what was on display… and the new workforce.

Nano Dimension Offers Update on Dragonfly 3D Printer a Year After Launch

The Nano Dimension Dragonfly 3D printer arrived in much fanfare a little over a year ago. The company has been selling them to customers around the world, many of whom are using them to print antennas, sensors, and PCBs. At AltiumLive in Munich, I asked Product Manager Robert Even to discuss what they’ve learned in the year since the Dragonfly debuted, and some potential uses for 3D printing technology.

No Rest for the Weary: Supply Chain Pressures Are Here to Stay!

As we leave 2018 behind, it should be noted that the challenges faced by all consumers of electronic components in our industry this year have stretched teams both physically and mentally. We will continue to see pressures across the supply chain through 2019 and beyond, so there is no rest for the weary.

Jennie Hwang: Get Ready for Disruptive Technologies

At IPC APEX EXPO 2019, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang, a columnist, author, and all-around an expert in PCB assembly, discusses some of the changes she has seen since joining the industry, and disruptive technologies that technologists we are going to have to face in the near future. Are you ready for the future?

Smart Factories: A Shift in Thinking

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

IPC Validation Services: New Programs and Updates

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

Four Hidden Materials Handling Costs Every OEM Should Know

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

Automation and the Smart Factory: Introduction to Industry 4.0

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

2019 IPC EMS Management Meeting Wrap-up

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


Industry Outlook from IPC's Sharon Starr

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

What Do You Know About Automation?

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

What Drives Your Optimism?

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

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

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

Nate Ramanathan on Choosing a Prototype Partner and Production Supplier

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

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

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

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

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

Todd Westerhoff Discusses His New Position and Much More

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

Advice to OEM System Designers

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

Two Full CFX Demo Lines at IPC APEX EXPO 2019

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


Stephanie Martin: Component Supply Challenges from the Catbird Seat

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

How Inspection Improved the Manufacturing Process

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

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

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Making Components Count

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Manncorp Highlights Custom SMT Lines

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

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

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

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

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

Award-winning Koh Young Process Optimizer

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

Dan Schoenfelder: Searching for Parts in Real Time

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

Improving the Efficiency of Your PCBA Production

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


Flex Circuit Supply Chain Challenges

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

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

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Enabling Complete Automation for Customers

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

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

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

Super Dry Storage Options to Manage Intermetallic Growth

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

Supply Chain in Crisis

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

Critical Process Issues

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: ASM Updates Mid-Level Machines

ASM CEO Americas Jeffery L. Timms and Technica President and CEO Frank Medina give Nolan Johnson a product update on ASM's mid-speed machines—EbySIPLACE and EbyDEK. By bringing key features from ASM's high-end products to their new mid-level models, ASM's new machines are gaining attention Timms and Medina discuss the how and why.

IPC APEX EXPO 2019 Day Two: Do You Hear That Buzz?

On the IPC APEX EXPO show floor Wednesday, the energy and action peaked with control software and interconnected machine communication continuing to be the buzz at the show.

Happy Anniversary, Gerber Format: Looking Ahead to Digital Innovation

This year, we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the introduction of the Gerber machine language format. We can thank H. Joseph Gerber, the man who took manual PCB design to the next level with the automated photoplotter, for giving us this format in 1964. Gerber immigrated to the United States in 1940 with his mother following the death of his father during the Holocaust. Gerber started Gerber Scientific Instrument Company in 1948 to commercialize his first patented invention—the variable scale.


Electrolube Overcomes Secondary Cure Issues with New UV-cured Conformal Coatings

Electrolube Managing Director Ron Jakeman and Marketing Manager Julia Vorley speak with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about the successful outcome of the international collaboration between the company's R&D teams in the UK and China, which resulted in a brand-new range of solvent-free UV-cured conformal coatings about to be launched at the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO 2019.

STEM: The Future of Our Industry

Facing a growing shortage of talented labor with which to fill the employment positions in America, IPC is working to help solve this problem. Colette Buscemi, senior director of IPC’s education programs, is encouraging IPC members to better engage pre-college and post-secondary college students at the local level. Barry Matties spoke with Colette about the educational programs IPC has put in place to invest in future generations, including the STEM program at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO.

IPC APEX EXPO 2019 to Demo Operating CFX Line

A year on from their first demonstration, IPC’s Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) now nears the release of version 1.0 at this year’s upcoming IPC APEX EXPO. The I-Connect007 team spoke with CFX specialists Michael Ford and Dave Bergman about how far the program has come from the first initial public demo all the way through now becoming a published standard, and what users can expect from the demonstrations planned for the 2019 show.

The Future of the Customer Experience in Mobility

Based on the protocol stack that starts with 5G, moves up to AI, and continues to layer integrations and user interfaces and experiences on top of those lower-level technologies, how does this all apply to the current mobile experience? A panel on the future of mobility with representatives from several major companies covered this and more at CES.

Solder Paste Selection/Qualification

In a recent SMT007 survey, we asked the following question: " What are your challenges when it comes to solder paste selection/qualification?" Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

Shopping at IPC APEX EXPO: Evolutionary or Revolutionary Products?

As you're finalizing your shopping list, take a second to consider this: Are you in the market for products that are evolutionary or revolutionary? And what do those terms even mean for someone looking for new DFM software or a new pick-and-place machine?

Executive Forum at IPC APEX EXPO 2019 Focuses on Advancing Automotive Electronics

Senior-level executives from across the global electronics supply chain will gather to discuss opportunities and challenges facing the rapidly changing automotive electronics industry. With five expert speakers and a powerful keynote from GreenSource VP Alex Stepinski, registration will fill fast.

Who’s the Best of the Best in Hand Soldering?

IPC APEX EXPO 2019 will include the new IPC World Championship Hand Soldering and Rework Competition on the expo floor on January 29 and 30. Twelve competitors from Britain, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand will compete for the crown and the title of the first-ever IPC World Hand Soldering and Rework Champion.

Most Important Feedback

In our recent I-Connect007 survey, we asked the following question: “What is the most important feedback that you receive after your board is manufactured?” Here are just a few of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT Interviews of 2018

We continue our top 10 lists, this time with the most-read SMT interviews in 2018. Topping the list is an interview with Joe O’Neil and Matthew Becker of Power Design Services (PDS), along with Ted Park of Green Circuits, who announced their merger last year.


Words of Advice

In our recent designer survey, we asked the following question: “What advice would you give an OEM system designer?” Here’s what our EMS experts said.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Columns of 2018

Each year, we compile the lists of most-read news, articles and columns. Here are the top 10 most-read SMT007 columns from the past year.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Articles of 2018

Every year, we like to take a look back at the most popular SMT007 news, articles, interviews, and columns. These are the top 10 most-read SMT007 articles from the past year. Check them out.

What Electronics Manufacturers Need to Know About RoHS 3 Compliance

On July 22, 2019, the latest incarnation of RoHS will come into full effect across the European Union. So, what’s changed? And what exactly are the implications for UK electronics manufacturers? This article provides a recap of what RoHS is, why it matters, and the steps that OEMs will need to take to ensure compliance.

Best Advice for Increasing Productivity

We recently asked the industry what their best advice is for increasing productivity. Here are just a few of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.

A Look at Medical Electronics Design and Assembly Challenges

We recently spoke with Dr. Despina Moschou, lecturer at the University of Bath, as well as Kaspars Fricbergs, VP of global quality, and Tom Reilly, director of marketing and sales operations, of EMS firm Vexos Corp., to learn more about the challenges and opportunities in medical electronics design and assembly, as well as the relevant regulatory and supply chain issues.

Randy Burcham Discusses New Techniques for BOM, Daughterboards

During AltiumLive, I spoke with IOTA Engineering's Randy Burcham, who taught several classes during the event. He explained his methodology for filtering BOM data as well as his new approach to working with daughterboards and how he was up and running on Altium tools after only three days.

SMT Electrolytic Capacitor Solder Joint Criteria and Integrity Investigation

The body configuration of SMT electrolytic capacitors results in the solder joints being only partially visible for optical inspection purposes. Therefore, the use of adequate reflow soldering processes is critical for producing solder joints that are acceptable for their end-product use environment.

Challenges in Flex Circuit Assembly

In a recent I-Connect007 survey on flex circuits, we asked the following question: What are some of the challenges that you face utilizing flex circuits? Here are just a few of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.

Defense Speak Interpreted: PERM—Pb-free Electronics Risk Management

In this column, we explore PERM—the Pb-free Electronics Risk Management Consortium. No, the group members do not all have curly hair! The name was chosen around 2008 by a group of engineers from aerospace, defense, and harsh environment (ADHE) organizations.


Internet of Body: The Next Big Thing for Medical

Titu Botos, Ph.D., the VP of engineering at NeuronicWorks, discusses with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson the next big thing to come after the Internet of Things (IoT)—the Internet of Body (IoB), which could include implantables and ingestible medical devices to monitor your body better.

How to Avoid Supply Chain Disruption this Chinese New Year

To avoid any negative impact on deliveries or lead-times during the Chinese New Year, the best tactic is to start planning early. And while there's no need to panic buy, you'll definitely want to think ahead when communicating with your PCB suppliers.

Mentor Discusses New DFT, DFM, and Design Verification Tools

At electronica 2018, John McMillan, digital marketing program manager-Electronic Board Systems, and Mark Laing, business development manager-Valor Division of Mentor, a Siemens business, discuss new tools for PCB design verification, as well as design for manufacturing (DFM) and design for testing (DFT).

Greatest Challenges in Soldering

In a recent SMT007 survey, we asked the following question: "What are your greatest challenges when it comes to soldering?" Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

3D Printing and Medical Electronics: A Disruptive Beneficial Technology

We are seeing significant advances and increased uses for 3D manufacturing in medicine—many more than 3D-printed and conductive circuits on device structural components. There is enough movement in this area that 3D additive fabrication in medicine—including but not limited to 3D-printed circuits—has become its own topic, and one that we will be watching and continuing to cover.

What is ESD and Why Should We Worry About It?

The realities of ESD, how static charges are generated, how they can be transferred to electronic components and the damage they can do, and what practical controls are required to protect components, assemblies and equipment from damage—these topics were explored and clearly explained in a webinar presented by SMTA Europe Technical Committee members Dr. Jeremy Smallwood of Electrostatic Solutions and Charles Cawthorne of MBDA.

Is This a Golden Age for Medical Devices?

Just as the telecommunications golden age launched 30 years ago—which led to wireless phones, electronic data terminals, and technology that allows us to watch our favorite shows on our own time and not the TV stations' schedule—it seems that medical device technology is gearing up to do something similar. The Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of the Body (IoB), and printed electronics technologies are emerging, and they're converging with medical devices in a big way.

Electrolube on Managing Thermal Interfaces and Conformal Coatings

Electrolube's Jade Bridges, global technical support manager, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about how to manage thermal interfaces for maximum heat transfer efficiency. She also provides an update on conformal coatings.

Solving the UK Manufacturing Productivity Puzzle

Since the financial crisis of 2008, manufacturing has seen an undeniable slump. Latest industry statistics paint a pretty compelling picture—where once the UK manufacturing sector was hot on the heels of its international counterparts, it now lags behind with average annual growth of less than 1% a year since the advent of the financial crisis. This article looks at five issues that could help to inform our decisions and boost performance within the sector.

Understanding the Benefits of CFX

In an interview with SMT007 Magazine, David Fenton, group customer support manager for Blakell Europlacer, discusses the technical challenges and the impact of the IPC Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) initiative on the PCB assembly industry, and what manufacturers can expect from this electronics assembly connectivity standard.


I-Connect007 Research

In a recent I-Connect007 survey on flex circuits, we asked the following question: What are the major drivers causing you to utilize flex circuits? Here are just a few of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.

Tempo Automation's Open House Raises the Curtain in San Francisco

Based in San Francisco, Tempo Automation specializes in rapid PCB assembly and on low volume production for a wide range of board complexities. It recently held an open house at its brand-new facility in the South of Market (SoMa) district—which is normally restricted under customer non-disclosure agreements as well as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regulations—to customers, vendors, local designers, and government officials.

U.S. Career Opportunities with Electrolube

In a recent interview, Julia Vorley, group marketing manager for Electrolube, discusses a career opportunity Electrolube is seeking in the U.S. Read on to hear what they’re looking for in a technical account manager.

Training: One of The Best Investments You Can Make

Dan Patten, general manager at BEST Inc., speaks with I-Connect007's Barry Matties about the drivers behind the recent uptick in training from U.S. companies—from contract-driven training for certification levels to newfound demands from quality departments—and why reinvesting in the workforce is beneficial to all parties involved.

How Effective is Your Induction Process?

This article looks at eight ways manufacturers can ensure their induction process passes the 'so what' test. And more importantly, addresses all of the questions and concerns a new starter might have during their first couple of days.

A Look at Our Readers’ Manufacturing Challenges

In a recent SMT007 survey, we asked the following question: "What are your greatest challenges when it comes to soldering?" Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

Solder Paste Jetting: An Integral Approach

Solder paste jetting is a technique that differs greatly from traditional solder paste deposition methods. In this article, solder paste jetting is compared with the other solder paste deposition methods—solder paste dispensing and solder paste printing and solder paste jetting—and highlights why it is becoming a viable option and how it increases the flexibility of a single production system.

Christine Pearsall on Tempo Automation and PCB West

Christine Pearsall, senior director of marketing for Tempo Automation, discusses with Consulting Technical Editor Tim Haag what services Tempo Automation provides, what attracts engineers and designers most to the company, and what events they plan to attend in the upcoming year.

Managing Cyber-Threats Within Electronics Manufacturing

The rise of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) has brought with it digital interconnectivity that offers unprecedented opportunities for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). But with that openness there also comes risk—the threat of the loss of data, the theft of capital or intellectual property, and the disruption of access to systems or operational technology—all of which can impede businesses and impact on trade.

Investigation on the Assembly Process for m03015 and a Brief Look at m0201 Components

Components continue to shrink in the SMT world, and the next evolution of passive components includes m03015 (009005) and m0201 (008004). The m03015 and the m0201 components will see primary adoption in products that require further miniaturization, which would be SiPs. These modules would then be assembled into products through attachment, another assembly, or via other interconnect methods. This article explores the development of an assembly process (SMT only) for the m03015 component.


How to Avoid Common Wave Soldering Issues

Wave soldering involves using waves of molten solder that act as glue to attach electrical components to the PCB. While this process is expedient and efficient in producing high-quality products, it sometimes experiences glitches that can be prevented or corrected. This article explores some of the main issues and how to remedy them.

4 Questions OEMs Typically Ask When Outsourcing

The decision to transfer your electronics manufacturing to an EMS company is a complex process, with the potential to impact your business, your staff, your customers and your suppliers in a multitude of ways. This article highlights four questions OEMs typically ask prospective contract manufacturing partners when they first start engaging with them—and our take on the answers.

I-Connect007 Survey Sees Bright Prospects for Low-Temperature Soldering

There has been an increasing amount of discussion on low-temperature soldering, and solder pastes. And why not? There are several advantages of using low temperature solders—from a technical standpoint and economic perspectives. A recent survey by I-Connect007 saw majority, or 67%, of the respondents saying they will consider using low-temperature solders in their assembly process.

Alpha Assembly Solutions on Training, Education, and Low-Temperature Soldering

In this interview, Jason Fullerton of Alpha Assembly Solutions discusses the benefits and challenges of low-temperature soldering. He also highlights the biggest concerns he’s currently seeing in the industry, including young engineers lacking hands-on manufacturing experience and training, voiding and head-in-pillow issues, and low-temperature soldering demands.

Process, Design and Material Factors for Voiding Control for Thermally Demanding Applications

Solder voiding is a common phenomenon across all semiconductor packaging and electronic board assemblies. There are many factors that influence void frequency and size. This article focuses on several process, design and materials selection considerations which control or potentially reduce voiding to meet industry and end-market acceptance criteria.

Low-temperature Solder Paste Process Advantages

This article examines the performance of two low melting point SnBi alloys used in solder paste when assembling BGA components with SAC alloy spheres, and the advantages of a low-temperature process over the regular SAC assembly process. It will also evaluate solder paste capability regarding the process and the performance of a joint formed with a low melting point alloy solder paste and SAC305 spheres, including process advantages and material capabilities.

RTW SMTAI: PalPilot on Adding Value to Design and Assembly

Tim Sullivan, vice president of sales at PalPilot International Corp., speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson about their services, and how they add value to their customers from design to assembly/manufacturing. He also talks about their online platform called FootPrintKu, which help designers when it comes to footprints of their design.

How to Measure Manufacturing Employee Engagement

Disgruntled employees have the ability to sap the lifeblood from your organization. And in some cases, one or two negative views can spread quickly throughout a business like an uncontrollable virus. While it is important to deal with issues the moment they arise, it is also vital to have a system in place to measure views and opinions on a regular basis and with a long-term view.

One-Question Survey, Part 2: What Advice Would You Offer a New Designer?

During AltiumLive 2018, the I-Connect007 editorial team asked some of the attendees to answer one question: What advice would you offer to a brand-new PCB designer? Here are just a few of the replies we received.

Taking an Independent Path: Strategies for Low Risk Sourcing of Components in a Constrained Market

Today, the challenges of a highly stressed supply chain are forcing many OEMs and EMS providers to rethink the way they source components. With parts such as multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) and other low-cost components in chronic shortage with extended lead times for delivery, manufacturers must be able to get these parts on-time at the lowest possible cost without assuming additional risk.


RTW SMTAI: Libra's Rod Howell Discusses Tariffs Issue

Rod Howell, CEO of EMS firm Libra Industries, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson about the ongoing tariffs issue, how it impacts the global electronics manufacturing supply chain, and their strategic response to address the issue.

Real Time with...SMTAI 2018 Coverage Now Available

The I-Connect007 team traveled to Rosemont, Illinois this week to cover the SMTA International 2018 conference and exhibition. Video interviews of key executives and leaders of our industry are now available for viewing. Also check out the photo gallery for snapshots of the exhibition floor and the conference as well as the after-hours festivities.

Do's and Don'ts of Thermal Management Materials

Selecting a thermal management material that is broadly applicable to a particular electronic assembly and its predicted operating conditions is a good starting point; however, as with many of these things, the devil is very much in the details! Find out the key considerations in choosing your materials.

IoT: Driving Change in Manufacturing

In the manufacturing world, the Internet of Things (IoT) can be seen as an element of Industry 4.0. The idea behind it is that factories would evolve to become smarter, to become a lot more flexible—to be able to make the products that customers want, basically at any time that they need.

How CIM and IoT Can Make Your Factory Smart

As business needs challenge the electronics assembly industry to support increased flexibility, lower overhead, and stricter quality standards, the industry is rapidly adopting improvements in automation and analytics to meet the challenge. This article explores the changes in culture between the past, where data was simply sent point to point, and today’s multi-layered IoT technology-based solutions, as well as the effects and opportunities that are here now for the taking.

Tips to Improve Soldering Tip Life and Reduce Cost

Whether in production, or repair and rework, the cost of soldering iron tips can be easily overlooked, but with today’s requirement for higher temperatures in lead-free solder applications, the consumption of tips has dramatically increased. This fact, combined with changes in tip design to meet the higher thermal load requirements, has also resulted in escalating tip costs, making tip care a high priority.

The Smart Robot Revolution is Here

The distance between imagination and reality has reduced considerably. Thanks to advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), data processing, and machine vision, the science fiction writers' vision of smarter robots is becoming a reality. These more intelligent machines are also making a big impact in manufacturing.

The Megadrivers

Henry Ford's innovation in manufacturing—the moving assembly line—helped reduce the time it took to build a car from more than 12 hours to just two hours and 30 minutes. It was a revolutionary advancement in production. Through continuous improvements over decades, the assembly line has become the highly efficient primary mode of manufacturing in a wide range of industries and it has changed the way we live and work forever.

Electronic Components Market Update

Unfortunately, there is still no end in sight to the electronic component shortage, and some lead-times are being quoted with 2019 and even 2020 delivery dates! So if you are working with an EMS provider, it remains vital that you communicate and share forecast information with them. You may also want to start looking at the option of fitting, or designing in, smaller components to your PCB assemblies.

Mexico: A New Hub for Electronics Manufacturing

With its competitive production costs, good logistical access, a skilled and deep talent pool and state-of-the-art technology, Mexico now produces everything from flat-screen televisions to smartphones and other consumer devices employing surface-mount technologies. Here's how Mexico’s strengths in electronics manufacturing services (EMS) evolved, and why more and more electronics manufacturers are moving to the country.


Mark Curtin on Large-Board Stencil Printing and Metal Squeegees

Transition Automation Inc. recently developed a large-area benchtop stencil printer targeted for high-mix low- or medium-volume production. In an interview with I-Connect007, Mark Curtin talks about the new system, and why metal squeegees are the way to go when it comes to solder paste printing.

Should You Send Your PCB Assembler Loose Parts?

Everybody has a few loose PCB components lying around. Sometimes, it's a few chip caps left over from a hand-rework task, or maybe it's a tiny QFN or big old BGA. But, should you send your PCB assembler those loose parts? Read on.

Interview with a High School Robotics Team Mentor

On the floor of the recent Wisconsin SMTA Annual Tech Forum, I-Connect007 Technical Editor Happy Holden sat down with Aaron Denk, representing the local Cedarburg High School’s robotics team.

What SMT Component Shortages Mean for Design and Manufacturing Engineers

Much has been written about the increasing shortages of electronic components such as MLCCs, chip resistors and other semiconductor devices. And the manufacturing industry is now seeing price increases and greatly extended lead times. It seems the situation is likely to get rapidly worse rather than better. What can we do? Read on.

Looking Under the Hood of MLCCs

The multilayer ceramic capacitor (MLCC) is one of the most widely used, and the most highly produced, passive devices in modern electronics manufacturing—with more than a thousand billion devices being produced worldwide every year. This article explores the evolution, applications and current state of the MLCC industry and what this means for electronics manufacturers.

RTW NEPCON South China: Mycronic Discusses Industry 4.0

At the recent NEPCON South China 2018 event in Shenzhen, Clemens Jargon, VP for Global Dispensing and Asia at Mycronic, discusses I-Connect007's Edy Yu the challenges that customers face on their journey towards Industry 4.0, and how Mycronic is addressing these issues. From jet printing to solder paste inspection, to pick-and-place, Jargon talks about their total solutions that aim to help customers take their production to the next level.

Whitepaper: Electronics Cleanliness Testing

This paper investigates and compares the performance of no-clean liquid wave soldering fluxes using a commercially available localized extraction and cleanliness testing system, and surface insulation resistance (SIR) testing. Find out which test is suitable for your processes.

Getting More with Cleaning

The continuing growth of the electronics industry, driven by the rapid expansion of electronics into areas such as automotive and medical, is creating a new mindset with regard to cleaning, mainly due to quality and reliability issues. Read more to find out what our experts have to say when it comes to cleaning challenges in PCBAs and possible solutions.

A New Standard for Standards – From Data to Information

The main challenge we have today with our manufacturing standards is that they are deterministic, such as the 30% maximum void per ball for X-ray inspection of BGAs—which determines if a BGA assembly passes or fails. This article proposes a new perspective on setting pass and fail thresholds in the manufacturing line.

Is Component Testing Using ROSE Practical?

Industry experts are saying that Resistivity of Solvent Extract (ROSE) testing should be retired as a cleanliness or process control test in the PCB assembly industry. This article emphasizes that position by highlighting some work by the authors comparing component cleanliness results from the ROSE against Ion Chromatography (IC) results.


Strengthening the Joint with a Revolutionary New Low-Temp Solder Paste

I-Connect007 Editor Patty Goldman interviews one of Alpha Assembly Solution’s solder process experts, Traian Cucu, who is based at Alpha’s R&D center in New Jersey. Traian, along with Morgana Ribas, have played key roles in the development of Alpha’s innovation new low-temperature solder paste process. He also talks about how this solves many of the defects issues that one would see on a SAC assembly process.

3D Printing: Enabling a New Manufacturing Landscape

At the recent Michigan SMTA Tech Forum, Scott Schwarz, senior sales representative for rapid technology at Fisher Unitech, discusses with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Happy Holden the latest developments in 3D printing, and the advanced applications that have made significant impacts in the automotive manufacturing industry.

Riding Out the Electronic Components Crisis is No Longer an Option

The electronic components shortage is continuing to take its toll on the electronics manufacturing sector. As market demand outstrips manufacturing capacity, the fallout from the components crisis is now predicted to extend well into 2020, and beyond. And it’s a problem which OEMs can no longer hope to simply ride out. Find out what you can do to address this issue.

Practicing Best Practices

Recently, we looked into electronics assembly best practices that help optimize your manufacturing processes. To provide you more insights on this, here's an interview with two assembly experts: Jason Keeping of EMS firm Celestica, and Bob Willis, a renowned EMS consultant and trainer.

Best Practices in Manufacturing: Wave Soldering

Over the years, best practices have evolved and will continue to evolve with the changing environments, company needs and challenges and what may work for one company may not necessarily be best for another. This article offers recommendations to consider in managing your wave soldering process.

The Impact of Industry Regulations on Your Supply Chain

Changes and updates to existing legislation is an ongoing process, and the introduction of new rules is inevitable. It is vital that your EMS partner is committed to staying up to date and to keeping you informed of how these changes may impact your the manufacturing supply chain.

Use of Lean Manufacturing Principles Enhances Quality and Productivity

Using work-cell-based batch assembly processes will enable EMS firms to provide greater flexibility and responsiveness to their box build customers. Here's an example of why this flexibility is important, and find out how regional EMS providers, often thought of as companies primarily focused on PCBA assembly and cellular box builds, who are skilled in mechanical assembly can easily shift to higher-volume work.

Full Material Declarations: Removing Barriers to Environmental Data Reporting

Full material declaration of product content in electronics and other industries continues to be a challenge for both suppliers and customers alike. This article focuses on requirements for tools that enable rapid and accurate reporting of Class D FMDs that can be used by suppliers primarily in the base of the supply chain.

Demand Forecasting: The Art of Knowing What You Need Before You Need It

Forecasting is a skill born out of experience, intuition, and most of all, knowledge. But what do you need to know when you’re creating an accurate demand forecast? What data is needed? Are there tools you can use? Where do you start? Find out here.

5 Supply Chain Questions to Ask Your Assembly Partner

A key question for any OEM who may be considering outsourcing production is whether to maintain its existing supply chain or to hand those crucial purchasing decisions over to its assembly partner. This article highlights five questions to ask a potential assembly partner before handing over the responsibility for your supply chain management.


Cross Functional Teams Drive Strong Focus on Risk Mitigation and Quality

Having a traditional cross-functional team (CFT) approach, with a much larger CFT group that includes a tactically focused program manager, a strategically focused account director, a buyer, a product engineer, a process engineer, a test engineer, a quality engineer, a production supervisor or lead person, and a customer service representative focused on materials and scheduling, will help EMS firms govern all the necessary outputs associated with each customer.

Best Practices to Achieve Zero Defects

To ensure that a complex electronics build can be completed on time, on budget and with zero defects, here is a list of checks and balances that will help you with adjustments or corrections real time, instead of discovering them at the end of the build or worse, when it's already arrived at the end user.

We Have the Best Practice for That

Most best practices have been developed over time, based on the many different experiences that people encounter in the manufacturing line. And it is important to institute these best practices to make sure that your processes will result in outstanding job at the end of the day.

Strategies for Choosing Solder Paste for Successful Electronics Assembly

One common question from solder customers is, "How do I test and evaluate new solder pastes?" Although that seems like it should be a straightforward question with an easy answer, this could not be further from the truth. This article tells more about this, and how to best select solder pastes for your product.

How Investment in Staff Well-Being Impacts Manufacturing Productivity

As manufacturers seek to address the challenges of increasing efficiency, there's a greater emphasis on the value of high-performance working practices such as Lean manufacturing. But the emphasis on continual quality improvement processes can also have an indirect effect on employee health and well-being. Here's why manufacturers should invest in the well-being of its employees.

Factronix on Cleaning, the Market and More

Stefan Theil, product manager at Factronix, discusses the growing need for cleaning in European electronics manufacturing and the demands he's facing from customers when it comes to finer pitches, automation, and environmental concerns.

How DFA Converts Complexity into Freedom for Medical Device Development

The assembly of medical devices comprising electronic and mechanical components has become an increasing challenge as devices grow more complex, functional and compact, and as they undergo increasingly frequent product refresh cycles. Read on to find assembly techniques that will help manufacturers to deliver highly engineered and integrated products.

IMPACT Washington D.C., 2018 with Juki Automation’s Bill Astle

I-Connect007's Patty Goldman caught up with Juki Automation’s Bill Astle during a luncheon on the last day of IMPACT Washington D.C., 2018. As a first-time attendee, Bill came away feeling like he made the right connections with key members of Congress, and he looks forward to returning to the event in the future.

Evaluating the Impact of Powder Size and Stencils on Solder Paste Transfer Efficiency

Building upon an earlier study that focused on solder paste powder size, room-temperature aging and PCB pad and aperture designs, this study continues to investigate powder mesh size, but also examines stencil surface treatments and stencil foil tension.

Flex Circuit Assembly: Challenges and Strategies for Success

The flexible printed circuit market is on track for growth. But dealing with flex circuits during assembly is very different from rigid PCBs. This article highlights some of the assembly challenges when working with flex circuits, and strategies to address them.


Novel Approach to Void Reduction Using Microflux Coated Solder Preforms

Shrinking QFN package sizes and power requirements are driving new developments in micro-fluxed preform. Learn what factors contribute to an optimal solution.

Addressing Temperature Challenges in Flex Circuit Rework

Zen Lee and Michael Gouldsmith of Thermaltronics discuss the challenges of flex circuit assemblies during the rework process, the power-on-demand feature of smarter hand soldering systems, as well as how Curie Point helps operators avoid temperature overshoots during rework.

I-Connect007 Survey Shows Rising Use of Flex and Rigid-Flex

In our recent survey on flex and rigid-flex circuits, the majority of our respondents indicated an increase in their use of flex and rigid-flex technologies in their designs, indicating a continued shift in flex technology usage. We bring you the survey details here.

Conversation with… Vexos: Doing It Right the First Time

Harry Chan, Deputy GM and VP Manufacturing for EMS firm Vexos Shenzhen, is responsible for all aspects of manufacturing through continuous process improvement, production management, and development of manufacturing talent and teams. In an interview with SMT007 Magazine, he shared the challenges when dealing with flexible circuit assemblies, and strategies and techniques to address them.

Plasmatreat on Atmospheric Pressure Plasma

At the recent SMT Hybrid Packaging 2018 event held in Nuremberg, Germany, I-Connect007's Barry Matties sat down with Nico Coenen, global business development manager of Plasmatreat, for a discussion on Plasmatreat's atmospheric pressure plasma (AP plasma) treatment process and its various applications in the electronics industry.

Overcoming Growth Challenges

Growth is usually seen by manufacturers as a good thing—a sign of success and a result of hard work. But if this growth isn’t planned for, or the manufacturer can’t react in time, growth can cause the same devastating results as if the business was in decline. This article looks at seven common areas that can cause manufacturers a headache when their business is growing, along with solutions to help ease the pain.

Tackling Reliability Challenges in Low-Temperature Soldering

William Yu, senior technical services manager for Alpha Assembly Solutions, recently shared with I-Connect007 the challenges when it comes to the reliability of low-temperature solder pastes, and soldering strategies to overcome these issues.

Nearing Retirement, Juki's Bob Black Reflects on a Long Career

After more than 40 years in the electronics manufacturing industry, Juki's Bob Black is nearing retirement. Bob sat down with Barry Matties at the recent SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg to reflect on his career and talk about the importance of strategic partnerships, even if that means playing nice with your competitors.

ASM Assembly Solutions on CFX

ASM Assembly Solutions was one of the 30+ companies participating in IPC's CFX (Connected Factory Exchange) showcase at the recent SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg, Germany. In this interview, ASM's Thomas Marktscheffel shared his perspective on CFX and its current challenges, and dispelled the notion that CFX might be a cookie-cutter approach to the smart factory.

Reflow Perspectives to Flex Circuit Assemblies

At the recent NEPCON China 2018 event in Shanghai, I spoke with Ralf Wagenfuehr, plant manager at Rehm Thermal Systems, to gain insight into flex circuit assembly, and the challenges of reflow soldering. He also speaks about the need for industry forums focused on soldering flex printed circuits.


Is There an End in Sight to the Electronic Components Crisis?

As new and innovative technology continues to evolve on a daily basis, the need for electronic components has reached unprecedented levels, with passive manufacturers in particular among those struggling to cope with demand. Electronic component shortages are now such an issue that many OEMs are predicting their forecasted growth for 2018-2019 will be thwarted if they are unable to source the parts they need.

Conversation with Miraco… Strategies for Successful Flex Circuit Assembly

Jason Michaud, a 19-year veteran at Miraco Inc., is the company’s new vice president of sales. In an interview with SMT007 Magazine, Jason speaks about the factors driving the increasing utilization of flexible printed circuits, the challenges in flex circuit assembly, and the best practices to address those issues.

Aegis on CFX and Hermes Efforts

The Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) specification is truly revolutionizing the PCB industry. Michael Ford, from Aegis Software, met with I-Connect007's Barry Matties for an interview during the SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg, Germany, to discuss the impact of this collaborative effort, and how it differs from the Hermes Standard.

DFM: Top Ten PCB Concerns

DFM—design for manufacturability—is a critically important but often ignored aspect of the PCB design process that directly impacts product quality and reliability. This article will discuss the top 10 DFM concerns that should be part of any design review process.

Tackling the Challenges in Flex Assembly

Apart from the design and manufacturing of flex printed circuits, a critical challenge that needs attention is assembly. Their flexible nature requires specific strategies for paste printing, chip mounting, soldering—whether reflow, wave, or hand—and rework/repair processes. Which is why the June 2018 issue of SMT007 Magazine looks into the many challenges in flex circuit assembly and highlight some of the strategies, techniques and best practices to help assemblers deal with flex circuit issues.

High School Team's Robotics Entry on Spotlight at Wisconsin Expo & Tech Forum

In May, I took the opportunity to drive around Lake Michigan and visit the SMTA Milwaukee Chapter’s Wisconsin Expo & Tech Forum. Held at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport Hotel, this was a well-organized and attended table-top expo and technical forum, with over 60 exhibitors, and a high school team with their FIRST Robotics entry.

Dave Bergman on IPC and CFX

The recent SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg, Germany, marked the second opportunity for IPC to showcase its new Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) initiative. In this interview, David Bergman, VP for international relations at IPC, tells us more on the overall reception of CFX and the benefits users are seeing thus far. He also provides an update on what’s next for the open source standard.

West Penn SMTA: New Leadership, Same Commitment

SMTA's new chapter president, Jason Emes, a quality engineer with Pennatronics Corporation enthusiastically discussed with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman the latest goings-on with this Keystone State chapter. He also spoke about his plans and initiatives for the SMTA West Penn Chapter.

It’s Time to Retire ROSE Testing

Over the last two to three years, there has been considerable discussion within various IPC committees about the role of the ROSE test in today's assembly environment. The transition from predominantly water wash processes to "no clean" has meant the advent of very different flux compositions. The question has been posed as to whether the ROSE test is still a viable option for evaluating PCB and PCBA cleanliness.

The Michigan SMTA Expo & Tech Forum 2018: A Review

In May, I had the adventure of driving across Michigan to visit the SMTA Michigan Expo & Tech Forum. This well-organized and attended expo and technical forum featured over 75 exhibitors and two interesting presentations. Read on.


DFT Strategy Needed for 5G Assembly

Mathieu Kury of Asteelflash USA Corp. provides an overview of 5G, the opportunities in the market, and how it will impact the electronics manufacturing industry. He also discusses the key challenges from an EMS standpoint and how to become successful when 5G really arrives.

How to Apply for a Graduate Scheme in Manufacturing

There are a whole host of benefits which make graduate schemes within the UK manufacturing industry a popular career choice. You get paid while you train, you gain invaluable on-the-job experience within your chosen sector, you develop a breadth of new technical and business skills and there’s an opportunity to continue your academic studies while you work.

5G: Testing the Future Impact

The impending arrival of 5G is not without its entourage of challenges that will require a different approach in the electronics manufacturing process. One that is already impacting the electronics manufacturers and assemblers is the testing of the devices. Industry analyst firm Occams Business Research Consulting expects the global 5G network infrastructure market to register a 70% CAGR from 2016 to 2023 and reach up to $28 billion by the end of the forecast period. North America is the leading market for 5G network.

5G Requires a New Approach to Testing

The industry will be deploying 5G at millimeter wave frequencies between 28 and 40GHz, with significantly wider bandwidths than the current instrumentation. And the rules about how you design a test fixture, or conduct testing of those products is changing. In this article, National Instrument's David Hall explains.

Jigar Patel on ZESTRON’s Reliability Solutions for Class 3 Assemblies

At the SMTA West Penn Expo, I had a chance to discuss a paper presented by Jigar Patel, senior application engineer at ZESTRON. Jigar explained some of the cleaning challenges with newer components and how ZESTRON helps optimize cleaning processes for their customers.

Why Cleaning Still Matters

Paco Solis, lead investigator at Foresite Inc., speaks with I-Connect007 about why cleaning is more important now, the common pitfalls and misconceptions in cleaning, and strategies to consider to ensure reliable PCB assemblies.

Conversation with… Keysight: Challenges and Opportunities in Testing 5G

Roger Nichols, 5G program manager at test and measurement provider Keysight Technologies Inc., discusses the opportunities that 5G will enable, the many challenges facing electronics manufacturers when it comes to 5G, and how they are helping the industry address these issues.

The Key to Boosting Numbers of Women in Manufacturing

According to latest figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the split between male and female employees in UK's manufacturing industry is significant—with men accounting for 76% of the total manufacturing workforce and women making up just 24%. So, what exactly is being done to encourage the recruitment, and retention, of more women within the UK manufacturing environment?

Modeling an SMT Line to Improve Throughput

One of the major challenges for an electronics assembly manufacturing engineer is determining how an SMT machine will impact throughput. Typically, an SMT equipment supplier will ask for a few products to simulate the throughput capability of their machine. Unfortunately, if the engineer works in a high-mix, low-volume environment, he may need to know the impact of a new machine on 1,000 or more products.

Elements to Consider on BGA Assembly Process Capability

As a cutting-edge technology applied in SMT assembly, BGA packages have quickly become a significant selection to conform to fine pitch and ultrafine pitch technology, achieving high-density interconnection with a reliable assembly technology provided, which leads to the increasingly more applications of this type of package.


RTW NEPCON China: Armada Discusses Impact of Auto Electrification on PCB Assembly

At the recent NEPCON China 2018, Klaus Schubert, managing director of Armada, speaks about the increasing electrification in cars and how this is impacting the PCB assembly processes, and in particular, the solder paste printing.

8 Terms Commonly Used When Buying Electronic Components

As a buyer of electronic components, I've taken for granted just how many terms are used on a daily basis during the procurement process. Here's a quick guide explaining what some of the more common terms used when buying electronic components actually mean.

Design and Manufacturing Perspectives from DISH Technology’s Les Beller

I recently interviewed Les Beller, a long-time PCB designer who is now a manufacturing engineer for DISH Technology. We discussed his company’s business shift towards 5G and streaming, and the stresses that puts on a design team. He also explains the greatest challenges that he’s facing with HDI and higher frequencies, and the added importance for designers to understand the manufacturing process and DFM tools.

LPKF Sees Increasing Use of UV Lasers

Julian Rose, product manager for the UV and stencil laser machines of LPKF, discusses with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias the challenges in laser stencils and strategies and techniques to address them, and the increasing use of UV lasers.

Launching a Manufacturing Career Via an Apprenticeship

Deciding on the right career path within manufacturing, and the best route to take to make those dreams a reality, can sometimes seem a daunting prospect for young people considering their options. Joining apprenticeships combine the opportunity for on-the-job training with classroom learning, but exactly what you learn depends on the role you're training for.

RTW NEPCON China: Christian Koenen Stencil Technologies Ensure First Pass Yields

At the recent NEPCON China 2018 event in Shanghai, Michael Zahn, development manager for Christian Koenen GmbH, explains how stencil technologies can improve the solder paste printing process and ensure first pass yields.

3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing in PCBA

There are several materials that are available for 3D printing for various engineering uses. Various vendors offer over hundreds of different materials that are either specific to an application or to a specific desired characteristic. For this study, eight materials that are regularly used for engineering applications were evaluated and characterized to determine which can be used in PCB processes.

Combining Strengths Synergistically: PDS and Green Circuits

Power Design Services (PDS) and Green Circuits have just announced their merger. I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties recently sat down with Joe O’Neil and Matthew Becker of PDS, along with Ted Park of Green Circuits, to get the full scoop.

Under the Hood: Solder Joint Reliability

It has been long established that packages using NSMD BGA pads were more resilient than ones with SMD pads to fatigue-induced solder joint cracks. However, NSMD pads in previous investigations on 292MAPBGA and 416PBGA packages failed sooner in AATS testing due to an alternate failure mode: substrate Cu trace cracks. This article looks into the effects of substrate material and package pad design on solder joint reliability of 0.8 mm pitch BGA.

How to Secure a Place on an Electronics Manufacturing Graduate Scheme

The world of EMS is a fast-moving and technologically innovative sector that can offer a wide range of compelling career opportunities for new graduates. For those seeking a route into the electronics manufacturing industry, a graduate scheme can be hugely beneficial in gaining practical, first-hand experience of an EMS business across all its operations.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Michael Ford Speaks About Aegis' Role in CFX

At the recent IPC APEX EXPO 2018 trade show in San Diego, California, Michael Ford, European marketing director, discusses his work with Aegis Software and the reaction of attendees who witnessed the Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) demo.

RTW NEPCON CHINA: Mycronic Discusses Recent Acquisitions

At the recent NEPCON China 2018 event, Thomas Stetter, senior vice president for assembly solutions at Mycronic AB, speaks about the company's recent acquisitions and how it helped the company expand into different areas in the electronics assembly industry.

System-Driven Approach Ensures Automotive Electronics Assembly Success

In an interview with SMT007 Magazine, Mathieu Kury, business development manager at Asteelflash USA Corp., talks about the new challenges and customer requirements when it comes to automotive electronics assembly, trends driving the growth of the market, and where the industry is headed.

What's the Scoop? APEX CFX Showcase

The IPC Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) demo at the recent IPC APEX EXPO 2018 trade show in San Diego, California, is a great example of industry collaboration. The CFX Showcase at APEX had 245,000 CFX website page views; 701,200 CFX messages transmitted; and 664.5 million bytes of data exchanged; and the whole thing was pulled together in a matter of weeks. Here's what the participants in the program have got to say.

SMT Renting: A Trend for the Future?

You may have heard the name Martin Ziehbrunner before: he cofounded the equipment company Essemtec AG in 1992. He left the company in 2013, and soon he'd cofounded another SMT company, but with a twist. SMT Renting specializes in renting SMT equipment with an operational lease, primarily for the European market. In this interview, he explains how his latest company is challenging the normal way of acquiring SMT capital equipment.

Poor Supply Chain Management Will Cost You Money

Supply chain management goes far beyond merely keeping track of all the SKUs currently on sale. It also means tracking the parts going into the products, since those parts are also potentially going to be used for post-sale support if necessary. If you can't trust your components to be legitimate and trustworthy, backed by a solid chain-of-possession, then every aspect of your electronics operation may be in jeopardy.

Industry 4.0 Concerns

The fastest way for manufacturers to achieve growth in a new world of industrial connectivity is to leverage new technologies. A transition to automated data and process management is irrefutable. But, while this heralds smart supply chains that bring enhanced agility, productivity and profitability, many are adopting a "wait and see" approach.

5 Ideas to Enhance the Induction Process in Manufacturing

While most of us work and live in an alternate reality, first impressions still count and your induction process is no different. Here are some ideas to consider implementing within your own manufacturing business when welcoming your new starters.

Investigating Analytical Tools for Testing Cleanliness with Foresite's Eric Camden

At the recent West Penn SMTA Expo, Eric Camden, lead investigator at Foresite Inc., speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about fluxes and analytical tools for testing cleanliness, and how these impact the reliability of the assembled boards.

Succeeding at the Velocity of Technology: An IPC APEX EXPO 2018 Wrap-Up

After many months of planning, IPC APEX EXPO 2018 proved to be a success. From revolutionary advancements displayed on the show floor to expert insights conveyed in technical conference sessions and professional development courses, IPC APEX EXPO provided the learning and connections that helped 4,574 attendees from 43 countries prepare for the future.


Stencil Printing Techniques for Challenging Heterogeneous Assembly Applications

A new generation of near microscopic size SMT chip capacitors has appeared in the market, known as either 0201 or 008004. This article investigates and characterizes the stencil printing process for compatibility with M0201 capacitor assembly. Effects of circuit board quality, stencil thickness, and stencil nano-coating are evaluated against solder paste volume transfer efficiency and raw-volume print distribution.

How to Assess Top Talent when Recruiting for Key Manufacturing Roles

As your business continues to grow and evolve, gaps in talent can start to appear. And while growth is often seen as a sign of success, if you fail to manage growth correctly, it can quickly turn and bite you in a similar way to a business in decline.

Automotive Electronics Still in the Driver’s Seat

The past year was one of the strongest years that the PCB supply chain and the rest of the electronics manufacturing industry in general, has seen. Everyone we talked to at the shows were optimistic that the strong growth in the industry in 2017 will continue through 2018. And most industry players point to one thing when it comes to what’s driving this strong growth—automotive electronics.

Why AOI is a Must-have for PCB Assembly

AOI has an invaluable role to play in speeding up the process of PCB production, in ensuring extreme precision to catch even the smallest of defects, and in minimizing the potential for time-consuming and costly reworking.

Interview with Linda Woody: Dieter Bergman IPC Fellowship Award Recipient

The Dieter Bergman IPC Fellowship Award is given to individuals who have fostered a collaborative spirit, made significant contributions to standards development, and have consistently demonstrated a commitment to global standardization efforts and the electronics industry. This year, Linda Woody is one of the two recipients of the award. Here's what she has to say.

Interview with Dave Hillman: IPC’s 2018 Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame Award Winner

A self-described "dinosaur" of the industry, Dave Hillman has been a steady force in all things solder-related at Rockwell Collins for 30 years. And just to keep things fresh, he has spent years mentoring both college-age and younger children. In this interview, I-Connect007’s Patty Goldman gives Hillman a chance to tell his story.

Industry 4.0 Technologies: If Only I Had Known

What is coming in 2018 is not a single master Industry 4.0 solution as people may expect, but rather the opportunity for everyone in the industry to play their part, re-evaluating what can be done in their processes or products to take maximum advantage of the new CFX-fueled Industrial IoT environment.

Cleaning with Data

Tom Forsythe, vice president of KYZEN, spoke to Barry Matties about KYZEN’s new process control monitoring and data service. They discussed the drivers behind these developments, the company's focus on managing data, and how KYZEN plans to support an industry embracing more cleaning and Industry 4.0.

5 Techniques Used to Detect Counterfeit Electronic Components

Although government pressure and private resources have helped minimize the risk of counterfeit components from entering the supply chain, there is still and will most likely continue to be, a prominent threat. So, what can you do to minimize this risk? Read on.

Electronics Manufacturing (R)evolution

2018 is going to be the year of Industry 4.0, where we will see how enabling technologies including sensors, big data, analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT), will transform the electronics manufacturing landscape.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: COMET Technologies Highlights Product Range and New Facility

Craig Arcuri of COMET Technologies details the numerous ways his company's technology is employed to manufacture and inspect a wide range of products, from chips to jet engine turbine blades. He also speaks about Lab One, the company's new technology and application center in Silicon Valley.

Manufacturability: Pad Relief and Mask Relationship to Solder Joint Volume

Electronic assembly thermal management has always been an issue but has become more significant as we pack more power and function into a smaller form factor. In recent years, the growing use of LEDs for illumination on a large scale has presented additional thermal demands.

Your Competitors are Outsourcing Their Manufacturing; Shouldn’t You?

As an OEM, you will be focused on increasing sales and maximizing profits. But you can only sell what you can produce, and manufacturing complex industrial electronic products day in, day out can be a headache. As your sales start to climb, you move closer to hitting your internal capacity limits. Here's how EMS providers can help you become successful in your manufacturing.

Setting Clear Boundaries with Your EMS Provider

A common area for confusion, particularly during the early stages of an outsourcing partnership, relates to 'boundaries', and agreeing who is responsible for what. If clear lines are not discussed and agreed between you and your EMS provider, it can be easy to fall into an assumption trap, and we all know what happens then.

Exceeding Customer Expectations

Aculon Inc. commercializes unique surface coatings leveraging nanotechnology and other surface modification techniques. The company’s original focus was the optical industry, developing treatments of prescription eyewear, sunglasses and other optics.

The IoT Event of The Decade

The IPC APEX EXPO tradeshow at the end of this month is set to rock the manufacturing world in a way that has not been seen for many years. This is not just a tech-fest, it is the introduction of some serious business growth opportunities for manufacturers, machines vendors and solution providers based on the successful implementation of their Industry 4.0 solutions and enhancements.

The Vital Role of Solder Paste Printing in New Product Introduction

The high degree of automation within the SMT methodology offers a variety of advantages, from automatic correction of errors, to simpler and faster assembly, better mechanical performance, increased production rates and reduced labor costs. In this first in a series of articles exploring SMT assembly, we highlight the specific attributes, and the vital importance, of the solder paste printing process for your NPI.

9 Essentials of an Electronics Contract Manufacturer

Differentiating between the best contract electronics manufacturing providers and those that are sub-par can initially seem tricky. In order to help you make the best and most educated decision possible, here are nine essentials to look for when hiring an electronics manufacturing service.

Working with Customers: A Consultant's Perspective

Industry veteran and expert Chrys Shea is in a unique position when it comes to her work for the electronics assembly industry. As president of consulting firm Shea Engineering Services, she helps suppliers test and bring new products to the market, and helps assemblers bring new processes or skills to their assembly lines.

6 Questions to Assess Your Company's IoT Readiness

Small-to-medium sized companies shouldn't assume that Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT or Industrial Internet) is for the 'big boys' only. Innovations coming out of the IIoT have the potential to significantly level the playing field among companies of all sizes.


Why the Right Preparation is Crucial for Your NPI

In today's increasingly competitive manufacturing environment, it's crucial that you are able to produce high quality new products that can be delivered on time, at the volumes required and at the right cost. And the key to ensuring a smooth transition from the initial design through to final manufacture is the implementation of a new product introduction (NPI) process.

Improving SMT Yield and Reducing Defects: A Rauland Case Study

Ever-increasing demand for more complex boards that have higher densities of components means more challenges for SMT assembly operations and yields. Smaller component sizes and more densely packed PCBs lead to more powerful designs in much smaller product packages. These advancements have spurred a new set of challenges in building smaller and more complex assemblies.

Growing with the Customer

Greg Hebson, global director for strategic accounts at EMS firm Vexos Inc., speaks with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias about working closely and growing with customers, as well as ensuring total customer satisfaction.

Designing Electronics for Harsh Conditions

We expect a lot from our products, especially our electronic products. Think about it: cellphones, wearables, medical devices—for some reason we think they should still work after being immersed in liquid, left outdoors in freezing temperatures or dropped on concrete from a standing position.

Talk to Your Customers

Whatever industry we are in, we are a customer and a supplier at the same time. The goal is always 100% customer satisfaction, as dissatisfaction in your customer side will eventually result in problems. For one, according to the results of our survey, the loss of business and reputation can be the consequences of not meeting your customers' needs.

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Your Product Design to an Independent Contractor

Taking on an independent design contractor or sole trader offers an opportunity to inject a fresh perspective, to gain the value of specialist knowledge and to save on staffing costs, training, infrastructure and equipment. Ultimately though, deciding whether to engage an independent contractor in your product design will require weighing up the pros and cons as they apply to your specific project.

Why You Should Invest In Package Testing

Have you ever thought about why you should invest in package testing? Packaged products often take multiple modes of transportation in various conditions before they ever reach the customer. The best way to ensure the product makes it to the customer, intact and in working order, is to test the package before it ever leaves the manufacturing facility.

Tips & Tricks: Machine Assist Time

Assist time is the human intervention required to keep a machine producing during normal operation. It does not include errors, maintenance, setup, and prototyping. There are many reasons for a machine to require assistance. PCB loading, stencil wiping, paste addition, feeder replenishment, and PCBA unloading—some require labor, some can be automated, but all will require some amount of time to complete.

Should You Be Outsourcing Product Design?

While handing over part or all of your manufacturing to a third party can be daunting, it offers a host of benefits. It frees you up to focus on what you do best--whether that's designing, marketing or selling. It reduces your operating costs, and you gain from the range and depth of expertise than an EMS can provide. For OEMs already outsourcing their manufacturing, going to a third party for other services, like product design, could well be the next logical step.

Tempo Automation: Setting the Pace for Low-Volume, Quick-Turn Assembly

Jesse Koenig, co-founder and VP of technology at PCB assembly company Tempo Automation, discusses with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman how they are making electronics development much easier and more seamless for customers.


The Importance of Feedback in the Electronics Assembly Supply Chain

Any customer feedback is a good feedback, whether it is good or bad, because it often pushes the supplier or manufacturer to improve. However, the problem in the electronics assembly supply chain is that customers often do not give feedback, unless it is negative.

Working with Your Customers

Even though you have trusted supplier partners, working closely with them will ensure seamless manufacture and high-quality output. In our recent survey, most of our respondents agree, with more than a third or 40% closely working with at least 50% of their customers.

What's Driving Manufacturing Investment in 4IR?

The use of automation is transforming global manufacturing, with initiatives such as robot technology, big data and 3D printing, providing manufacturers with the ability to create smarter products, more streamlined processes and better solutions for their customers.

Making the Right Equipment Selection

For the January 2018 issue of SMT007 Magazine, we invited Kathy Nargi-Toth, president of Eltek USA, and Matt Turpin, president and CEO of Zentech Manufacturing to a discussion on the decision-making process for new equipment, and the key considerations for choosing the best machine solution for a process.

Selecting X-Ray Inspection Equipment

Automated optical inspection (AOI) is an established, key process control in the SMT industry that greatly increases confidence in the quality of the finished product. But what do you do about devices where you cannot optically see the solder connections? X-ray inspection provides the answer.

How Engineering Support Can Affect QC

Quality processes are part of any reputable contract manufacturer's operation. When working with an electronics contract manufacturer, it is wise to consider a partner that has an experienced engineering team. This article tells more.

Indium's Karthik Vijay Talks Engineering for Automotive Applications

Barry Matties met with Karthik Vijay, Indium Corporation's technical manager for Europe, at last year's productronica, where everything from stencils and laser cutting to flux technology and jetting were discussed. If you want to know about where material technology currently stands in the automotive landscape, you’ll want to read on.

7 Simple Ways to Motivate Your Electronics Manufacturing Staff

Your manufacturing staff are the backbone of your electronics manufacturing organization. They are the ones showing up day in. day out to build products for your customers. So, keeping them motivated and engaged should be a priority, right? But too often during peak production periods, surmounting pressure can lead to staff feeling overworked, demoralized, and underappreciated.

The Importance of Product Testing for Quality, Reliability and Durability

One really vital piece of the product development process is product testing for quality, reliability and durability. You need to find out whether your product will do what it's supposed to do—that's quality. You also need to learn whether it will do what it's supposed to do over and over again, even when conditions aren't ideal—that's reliability and durability.

Improving Design, Manufacturing and Assembly Teamwork

Many electronics manufacturers tend to compartmentalize or "silo" their departments, such as the design team versus assembly-related functions. The relationship between design and manufacturing can too often be disconnected or otherwise poor, which stalls productivity and increases bottom-line costs. By identifying and addressing these gaps, this financial hemorrhage can be reduced, and profitability increased.


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