Article Highlights
Working with Customers: A Consultant's Perspective
02/19/2018 | Stephen Las Marias, I-Connect007
Start Your IPC APEX EXPO Show Experience Here
02/16/2018 | I-Connect007
Why the Right Preparation is Crucial for Your NPI
02/15/2018 | Neil Sharp, JJS Manufacturing
Improving SMT Yield and Reducing Defects: A Rauland Case Study
02/14/2018 | Edward Hughes, Aculon
Growing with the Customer
02/13/2018 | Stephen Las Marias, I-Connect007
SMT :: Assembly

Latest Articles

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.

Tips & Tricks: Assembly Panelization

Thoughtful PCB array and panel design can reduce line stoppage, improve changeover time and reduce material scrap. Fiducial location and design are good aids to prevent mistakes, but may still result in line stoppage. If you have fiducial recognition issues, making the shape of the mask opening different than the fiducial feature may help the vision system discern the target feature easier.

Is UK Manufacturing Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The new fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is driving the transformation of manufacturing across the world, encompassing breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things and 3D printing. And according to the World Economic Forum's Klaus Schwab, when compared with previous industrial revolutions, the fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace.

PCB Pad Repair Techniques

There are a variety of reasons behind pads getting "lifted" completely or partially from the laminate of a PCB. Per the just revised IPC-A-610 Revision G, a defect for all three classes occurs when the land is lifted up one or more pad thicknesses. Lifted pads can occur when a device has been improperly removed or there is a manufacturing defect in the board construction. In any case, as with any repair, the ultimate decision on the ability to repair the pad lies with the customer.

Focus on the New

It seems like it wasn't too long ago when I was writing about the optimism of the electronics manufacturing and assembly industry going into 2017. Now, here we are again at the beginning of the new year, looking at new trends, disruptive technologies, and emerging markets for 2018. I am also proud to announce our new branding as well as our fresh, new look.

Why You Want Your EMS Partner to Be Annoying and Boring

Outsourcing part or all of your manufacturing to an electronics manufacturing service (EMS) provider can be daunting. Handing over some of the control of your business can be a scary prospect.

14 Lessons in Diagnostic Instrument Development

With over 40 years of global leadership in the design, development and manufacture of life-saving medical technology, ITL Group offers invaluable experience and industry insight into what influences the success or failure of a product. Here are 14 lessons from ITL’s many years in diagnostic instrument development.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Columns of 2017

Another year is over in the SMT industry. 2017 saw a myriad of hot topics, including Industry 4.0, the millennials’ entry into the manufacturing space, and alternative solder materials, to name a few. Without further ado, here are the Top 10 columns from SMT007 over the past year.

What Does Digital Twinning Mean for Manufacturing?

Industry 4.0 brings with it new forms of artificial intelligence that organizations can leverage to improve and streamline their processes. Machine intelligence is driving industrial connectivity and possibilities for optimized productivity and in turn, substantial savings.


Top 10 Most-Read SMT Articles of 2017

Every year, we like to take a look back at the most popular SMT news and articles. These are the top 10 most-read SMT articles from the past year.

Top Reasons for Investing in New Equipment

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

Evaluation of Stencil Technology for Miniaturization

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

Koh Young Europe Ready for Next Year, and Beyond

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

The Year of IoT Digitalization

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

Solder Printing Process Inputs Impacting Distribution of Paste Volume

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

Tips & Tricks: Generating Stencil Tooling

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

Improving Solder Paste Printing

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

9 Ways to Keep Up with Changes in Manufacturing Technology

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

Two Questions to Ask Yourself with PCB Continuous Strips of Parts

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


Equipment Matters in Solder Paste Printing

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

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

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

What Matters Most is Communication

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

DFx on High-Density Assemblies

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

Is Your EMS Provider The One for You?

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

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

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

How to Ensure Good Service from Your EMS Partner

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

Optimal Electronics Sets Sight on Growth

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

Solder Preforms 101: Ask the Expert

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

HDI Considerations: Interview with ACDi's Garret Maxson

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


5 Simple Elements to Guarantee Outsourcing Success

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

Dealing with Vias-in-Pad

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

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

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

Reliability of ENEPIG by Sequential Thermal Cycling and Aging

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

Creating the Perfect Solder Joint

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

Cleaning Trends: The Challenges of Miniaturization and Proximity

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

Soldering Tip: Key to Good Solder Joints

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

Achieving the Perfect Solder Joint: The Many Perspectives on Soldering

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

Surprising European EMS Market Numbers

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

Should I Involve My EMS Partner in DFM?

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


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

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

Test Solutions Your EMS Partner Should Offer

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

Counterfeit: A Quality Conundrum

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

Rework and Reball Challenges for Wafer Level Packages

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

Eight Factors a CEM Should Know About its Suppliers

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

Three Reasons to Use PCB Panel Routing Techniques

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

BTC and SMT Rework Challenges

In the assembly of bottom terminated components (BTC), the formation of voids has become a serious problem in many applications. In the SMT process, the reliability of solder joints becomes more of a concern, as less and less solder is allowed for each joint. The presence of voids can deteriorate the joint strength and eventually lead to joint failure.

RTW SMTAI: How Automation and Government Support Can Help Reshoring Drive

Alex Malek, vice president of sales and service for North America of SAKI, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about how automation and government investment can help bring back manufacturing jobs from overseas.

Is Hybrid Technology Gaining Momentum?

Over the past 20 years, ceramic hybrids have changed more and more to a backyard living in the European electronics industry, mainly driven by price pressure, specifically from the automotive electronics industry.

The Root Causes & Solutions for Warped PC Boards

There are two primary types of causes of board warping: process related at the fab or assembly shop, and layout related issues. If it's warped before assembly, it's between fab and layout. If it's flat before assembly and warped after, it's most likely between layout and assembly. That said, sometimes a fab problem won't show up until a pass through the reflow oven at your assembly partner.


Sensible Design: Thermal Management—The Heat is On

Thermal management materials are designed to prolong equipment life and reduce incidences of failure. They also maintain equipment performance parameters and reduce energy consumption by reducing operating temperatures, and minimising the risk of damage to surrounding components. Indirectly, they maintain brand reputation, as the reliability of the equipment will be very dependent upon the effectiveness of the thermal management technique used.

Drying Boards after Rework Cleaning—To Do or Not to Do?

In cases where water soluble fluxes are being used in the rework process, in cases where the components need to have flux residues washed off, or in cases where the board needs to be cleaned with water for subsequent conformal coating touchup, proper drying and perhaps even bake out procedures need to be performed.

Rework and Reliability: Less is More!

Circuit boards are not always perfect after reflow or wave soldering. Scrapping boards with one or two defects is expensive, so rework happens. A good concept for rework is less is more, especially less flux. Use as little rework flux as possible, as in the old Brylcreem ads, "Just a little dab'll do ya."

Does My Outsourcing Project Fit with the EMS Provider's Strategy?

Once a decision has been made to outsource your electronics manufacturing, the next step is to find a suitable partner. This article highlights some of the questions, checks and balances a good EMS company will carry out before deciding to quote or partner with an OEM. Hopefully, by providing this insight, you will be better placed to find the right supplier for your outsourcing project.

A Look Into PCBA Rework and Repair

Despite the many technology advances in the SMT process, there will always be a need for rework and repair of PCB assemblies. Most especially as the industry trend continues towards finer pitch and spacing, smaller and smaller components, and increasing high-reliability requirements from customers.

Should You Entrust Your EMS Provider With Your Supply Chain?

Managing your supply chain can be time consuming and expensive and, more importantly, it can distract you away from other key activities such as sales, marketing and product design. As an OEM, however, it's unlikely that your supply chain is a 'core' activity, that is, something that adds real value to your customers. So, what are your options?

Improving the Rework Process

An optimized SMT assembly process typically provides a yield of nearly 100%. Technology advancements—from the solder paste printing process, SPI, and parts placement, to reflow and wave soldering and AOI—have pushed the efficiency and accuracy of these steps in the SMT process such that a board assembly should be perfect at the end of the line. Still, EMS providers continually face the need to rework and repair PCBAs even after dialing in the perfect set-up.

House of Cards

With challenges like Industry 4.0 turning the manufacturing world upside down, we see solutions that are being quite brutally put together, through acquisition or partnership, which are expected to be perceived as being the solutions of tomorrow.

NEPCON South China 2017 Opens Today

NEPCON South China 2017, being held in conjunction with the Shenzhen Circuit Sourcing 2017 and Automotive World China, opens its doors today at the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center to showcase nearly 600 companies catering to the electronics manufacturing industry. This year’s event, the largest ever in the show's 30-year history, features 45,000 square meters of exhibition space.

Your 6-Point Guide to Finding the Right EMS Provider

If you have already outsourced part or all of your electronics manufacturing operation, then you'll already have a good understanding of what's expected. But, if you're looking to move EMS providers, then chances are something didn't go according to plan the first time. To avoid making the same mistake twice, or if you are considering outsourcing for the very first time, here are six points we recommend you consider to help find the right assembly partner for you.


Sourcing PCBA: Can Your EMS Supplier Do More?

You're in the market for some PCB assemblies for your new product and you need to find the right supplier. You've looked online, gotten recommendations from friends, and the choices are dizzying. Should you look domestically or overseas? What do you do now? Sourcing PCBA doesn't have to be difficult, but there are questions you need to answer.

Empowering the Workforce Through Training: An Investment Return

Electronics manufacturers should take training seriously at all levels. To remain viable and competitive, it’s vital that they keep up with the latest technologies and practices in the electronics field. Perhaps more importantly, investment in employees keeps them engaged and excited in the performance of their daily work. Learning new methods and being exposed to new ideas is pivotal to personal growth.

What to Expect During the First Months of Trading with an EMS Provider

The start of an outsourcing partnership is an exciting time for an OEM, but it's also one that can be daunting. However much you've prepared for that big moment when you hand over responsibility for part or all of your manufacturing operation to your chosen EMS provider, it's still normal to question if you are making the right decision. This article explores five key areas that you and your chosen EMS partner should focus on during the initial months.

Training and Education: Key to Improving Electronics Assembly

For this month's issue of SMT Magazine, we spoke with Luis Ramirez and Dan Prina of EMS firm MC Assembly to discuss the challenges of and strategies in improving the PCB assembly process from an EMS provider’s perspective. We also spoke with Manncorp's Tom Beck and Chris Ellis to get their viewpoints on the subject as an equipment provider.

Cleaning that Matters

James Yeoh, executive director of Zestron Precision Cleaning Sdn Bhd, discusses the challenges in the cleaning industry, and strategies that can help manufacturers address those issues. He also covers the need for continuous education when it comes to cleaning, and how automation can ensure the stability of cleaning systems.

Soldering Fumes in Electronics Manufacturing: Damaging Effects and Solutions for Removal

No matter which soldering process you analyze, all of them have one aspect in common: They produce airborne pollutants, which may have a negative impact on employees, plants and products as well. This article discusses the damaging effects of soldering fumes, and solutions for their removal.

QFN Center Pads on PCBs

Not all QFNs come with an exposed metal pad underneath, but most do, and that can still cause problems with reflow solder. The pad itself isn't the problem, but improper solder paste stencil layer design can be.

Process Step Elimination: Driven by Cost and Efficiency, Enabled by Process and Materials Innovation

Electronics manufacturing has evolved from the early days of hand soldering and wave soldering to the more modern SMT process. But while most modern electronics are produced using the SMT process, there are still some mixed technology applications that need both the SMT process and the wave soldering process. This article looks into the pin-in-paste (PiP) process, which enables the soldering of through-hole components during SMT processing, and eliminates the need for the wave process.

How Much of My Electronics Manufacturing Should I Outsource?

Once you have decided to outsource to an EMS partner, you need to think about how much of your existing operation you plan to relinquish. This article looks at four distinct areas OEMs outsource—procurement, assembly, test and logistics—explores the benefits associated with relinquishing each of these, and highlights a number of questions that must be considered before any final decision is made.

The Need for Assembly Training and Education

While investing in the latest technologies and having a systems-based approach in your assembly processes are important, the key factors that will make you successful in your continuous improvement goal are the skills, training, and education of your workforce. However you look at it, the human factor remains a critical issue when it comes to your overall efficiency.


Counterfeit Electronic Components Identification: A Case Study

Counterfeit electronic components are finding their way into today's defense electronics. The problem gets even more complex when procuring diminishing manufacturing source parts. This article provides a brief introduction to counterfeit prevention and detection standards, particularly as they relate to the aerospace and defense sector.

The Role of Industry Associations in Training and Education

Industry associations, such as the IPC and the SMTA, help advance the electronics manufacturing industry through standardization, training, education, advocacy, and interaction through trade events, exhibitions and symposiums. They help members to become aware of the latest technology developments happening in their industry verticals, and of the market trends shaping the direction of the industry.

Using Lead-Free BGAs in a Tin/Lead Soldering Process

Several electronic market segments, such as those electronics used in harsh environments or that have life/system critical functionality, remain exempt from lead-free material restrictions such as the RoHS legislation. While these market segments can use solder containing lead, it is increasingly difficult to procure advanced components in non-ROHS compliant configurations. This article discusses several aspects of having lead-free BGA components in a tin/lead soldering process.

Thermal Indicator Technology for Aerospace Wire Harness Assemblies

Thermal indicator technology was developed into solder sleeves many years ago and has proven to be an effective means of providing visual indication of a reliable solder joint. This article talks about the two types of thermal indicators used in aerospace applications today, and the many benefits that this type of technology.

Mil/Aero Assembly Success

Davina McDonnell, director of marketing at Michigan-based EMS firm Saline Lectronics, discusses the latest technology and business trends driving the military and aerospace industries, the challenges in these markets—including supply chain issues such as obsolete parts and counterfeit components—and their strategies to stay ahead of the competition.

Field Failure is Not an Option

Audra Gavelis of IEC Electronics Corp. discusses the current challenges in electronics assembly for the military and aerospace markets and the new requirements they are getting from their customers. She also talks about strategies in dealing with component obsolescence and lifecycle issues, and new compliance issues that contract manufacturers are facing.

An Alternative Approach to Vertical Integration in Manufacturing

The days of OEMs owning large vertically integrated manufacturing assets are gone and will probably never return. Oddly, the large vertically integrated manufacturing capability of the OEMs started to be dismantled by the emergence of the EMS companies. Now, some of these same EMS companies are adopting the same, vertically integrated solutions themselves.

Using Paste Flux for Rework

When using a hot air or IR rework system where the reflow cycle is mimicking the original SMT reflow profile, and when using flux for re-attachment, paste flux otherwise known as gel or tacky flux is the correct type of flux to use. Due to its high viscosity and tack properties, paste flux prevents components from being moved during hot-air reflow while being able to remain active for the complete time-temperature period.

Does Your EMS Provider Have an Industry 4.0 Roadmap?

At its simplest level, the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0, is about automation and connectivity. This should lead to faster, more efficient manufacturing--and therefore advantageous pricing. Additionally, it might also mean that products can be made in a different way. For example, new processes might allow late customization or configuration, faster delivery, or enhanced quality.

Today’s Mil/Aero Enemies: Counterfeits, Obsolescence and Failure

The need for high-reliability electronics, components and assemblies that can perform in harsh operating conditions involving extreme temperatures, vibration, and moisture continue to challenge electronics assembly providers catering to the military and aerospace markets. These are on top of current manufacturing issues such as the miniaturization of products, shrinking component sizes, higher density board assemblies, and the obsolescence of electronic components.


EMS Firm Tsukiden Electronics Seeing More Business in Prototypes

At the recent Philippine Semiconductor and Electronics Convention and Exhibition (PSECE) held in Manila, Karen Flordiles, marketing supervisor at EMS firm Tsukiden Electronics Philippines Inc., talks about their customers' changing requirements and their manufacturing challenges. She also discussed new opportunities they are seeing in the EMS sector.

Technology Enabler Highlights Benefits of Having Design Services for an EMS Firm

At the 14th Philippine Semiconductor and Electronics Convention and Exhibition (PSECE) held last week in Manila, Robin Ramiso, design and development manager at Technology Enabler, discusses their activities, and the benefits of having a design services team for an EMS company with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias.

A New Player in the Philippine EMS Industry

There's a new EMS player in town. Come August 2017, Artem Global, a startup EMS firm in the Philippines, will start manufacturing operations, with services ranging from PCB assembly to box build, and even turnkey services. I-Connect007 Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias caught up with Artem Managing Director Art Ledonio at last week's PSECE event in Manila.

How Important DFM is for Your Electronics Assembly Partner

Each OEM will have their own set of criteria when it comes to selecting an appropriate EMS provider. But where does design for manufacture (DFM) support come into play? Is it a priority? Should it be? And what benefits does this service have to offer the OEM? This article explores some of the benefits DFM offers OEMs and how this service can help realize elements of an outsourcing strategy.

Better Together: How HDP User Group Showcases the Industry’s Best Side

HDPUG is a non-profit trade organization comprised of members from top companies in the electronics industry, from materials suppliers and manufacturers, to OEMs and end users. Key activities include collaborating on issues facing multiple industries and bringing people together on projects who might not have met otherwise. Barry Matties met HDPUG’s European representative and project facilitator Alun Morgan at the recent EIPC Summer Conference to learn more about the group and current projects.

Assembly Training and Education

Even if your PCB assembly process is optimized, there is always room for improvement. And no matter how successful your company has been in the past, you just can’t rest on your laurels. It is always in your best interest to strive towards a better operations model. We've created a survey to help us gauge the importance of training and education in your workforce, and the benefits that you get in ensuring that your operators and engineers have the most current knowledge and skill sets.

How to Make a Bad First Impression with an EMS Provider

Like any relationship, starting off on the wrong foot when finding an EMS provider can quickly trip you up and become painful in the long term. Regardless of the 'why', here are some good examples of what not to do when first approaching a potential EMS provider. This way, you can make sure that you don't end up wasting valuable time and effort finding the wrong EMS provider for your business.

AOI Capabilities Study with 03015 Components

More EMS companies are implementing AOI into their SMT lines to minimize repair costs and maintain good process and product quality, especially for new component types. This project focuses on the testing of 03015 components, which is challenging for AOI.

Why You Should Have Formal Business Reviews with Your EMS Provider

Your working relationship with your EMS provider is fundamentally a partnership. Therefore, it's important to ensure that you carve out time to meet with your EMS provider on a frequent basis – even if you are feeling particularly pleased about having handed over responsibility to them.

3D: Towards Better Inspection Capability

For this month's issue of SMT Magazine, we spoke with Mark McMeen, vice president of engineering at STI Electronics, to know more about the inspection challenges and requirements from an EMS provider's standpoint. We also talked with Jean-Marc Peallat, vice president of global sales at Vi TECHNOLOGY, to find out, from a supplier's perspective, how they are looking at these challenges and addressing them through their product development efforts.


Tape and Reel Solder Preforms: A Success Story for the UD00 X86 SECO Board

SECO's latest product innovation, UDOO X86, is a real computer with an integrated Arduino 101 compatible board that is capable of running games and videos in 4K. But while the success of the UDOO X86 is impressive, so is SECO's ability to develop this game-changing product with low-cost technology for mass appeal and affordability.

Vapor Degreasing Chemistries to Remove Difficult Lead-Free and No-Clean Fluxes from PCBs

In line with increasing regulations on electronics manufacturing, many changes have been made to the electronics world, and thus the circuit board manufacturing process. Lead-free, no-clean and halide-free flux formulations have introduced new cleaning obstacles, especially on ever-shrinking component sizes. To maintain high cleanliness standards for modern circuitry, new sophisticated cleaning chemistries are required.

RTW NEPCON CHINA: Mycronic Meets High-volume Demand with Solder Jet Printing

Mycronic VP for Global Dispensing and Managing Director Clemens Jargon discusses how the flexibility of solder jet printing helps reduce downtime in the line, thus increasing total line speed and enabling it to keep up with high-volume demand.

Grow Your Own Training Programs

Negative connotations about manufacturing jobs as dirty, repetitive, and boring have plagued the industry for the last 20 years. Manufacturing lacks the sex appeal that jobs in tech use to entice potential employees. Due to the great shortage of skilled workers and the lackluster image of the industry, manufacturing companies have had to re-evaluate and re-design their HR strategies to recruit, hire and train new employees.

The Role of an Account Manager Within an EMS Provider

How do you start to compare EMS providers when it comes to their account management team? Does it really matter what role they play? And how crucial do you believe they are in helping you achieve your outsourcing objectives? This article looks in-depth at some of the common activities an account manager typically carries out on your behalf when you decide to partner with an EMS provider.

Zestron Technical Workshop Tackles Next Generation of Cleaning

Zestron recently held a technical workshop in Alabang, Muntinlupa City in the Philippines to help users address their cleaning challenges amid advancements in semiconductor device packaging.

Mentor Graphics: Connecting the Manufacturing Environment

Oren Manor serves as the director of business development for Mentor Graphics Valor Division. In this interview with SMT Magazine, Manor discusses the latest updates in their OML community, their case study regarding Phoenix Contact’s implementation of their IoT solution in its facilities, and what’s new in ODB++.

Why You Shouldn't Hide Your Supply Chain Issues

From a natural or man-made disaster that is completely out of your control to a breakdown in communication, there are many reasons why an OEM might find themselves faced with a problem in their supply chain. Whatever the reason for the disruption, one thing is certain: if you are planning to work with, or are already working with, an EMS provider, you shouldn't hide your supply chain issues.

Voiding Control at High-Power Die-Attach Preform Soldering

Voiding in the solder joint is a concern for high-reliability and high-performance devices. This paper discusses a study on voiding behavior of large pad high-power devices simulated with Cu coupon to Cu coupon sandwiches. A flux-coated preform was studied in this assembly, with variation in solder alloy type, quantity of solid flux coated on solder preform, Cu coupon pre-oxidation extent, reflow temperature, and pressure exerted onto the sandwich during reflow.

SMTA West Penn Expo: Who Says There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch!

Bill Capen of DRS Technologies, the president of the SMTA West Pennsylvania Chapter, speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about the recent West Penn Expo & Tech Forum. He also talks about the group's upcoming chapter meetings this year, and the latest developments happening in the military segment.


The Benefits of Applying Flux Directly to a Micro BGA

Technology trends continue to drive miniaturization in electronic components. As a result, product designers are often forced into specifying smaller and smaller devices on their bill of materials. Sometimes, miniature devices offer OEMs cost savings, which is seen as a good thing; other times, there is simply no choice.

The Challenge of Filling PCB Assembly Positions

U.S. manufacturers are having a difficult time filling open positions. They cannot find workers with the necessary skills to fill the openings. If we look specifically at the PCB assembly industry, the rhetoric is similar. There are more openings than people to fill them. The discussions reveal that lower wages, lack of skills, and sometimes the reported low unemployment rate in the United States is part of the problem.

Predicting Solder Paste Transfer Efficiency and Print Volume

Being able to predict the transfer efficiency and print volume reproducibility of solder paste are valuable data points for any circuit assembly process. Knowing how many good boards that can be expected from a jar of solder paste is critical for a contract manufacturer working on paper thin margins.

The Complex World of Soldering

Industry veteran Happy Holden and Saline Lectronics Senior Process Engineer Cathy Cox discuss the various challenges and issues that users face in soldering, including the lack of a "one-size-fits-all" approach in the process, and some key factors that the PCB assembly industry should consider when it comes to different applications and markets.

Virtex on Military and Aerospace Requirements

Brad Heath, VirTex CEO, and Upinder Singh, Vice President and General Manager at VirTex MTI, discuss their company's military and aerospace business, and how they are addressing the latest demands and requirements from their customers.

What a Tangled (Soldering) Web We Weave!

Soldering remains one of the most critical processes in the PCB assembly industry. Which is why it is of the utmost importance that the soldering process should be perfect. But soldering is just too complex a process, and further complicating the situation, the requirements and technologies vary between our industry’s market segments. There are just a lot of factors to consider before you put your boards into the reflow and let them run.

Your In-depth Guide to Reducing Electronics Manufacturing Waste

Waste is a common problem within the electronics manufacturing industry. Whether large volumes of faulty smartphones need recalling or small batches of complex PCB assemblies need reworking, waste can be time consuming and costly to rectify. This article discusses principles such as DMAIC, Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing to help you implement strategies to minimize your waste output.

Achieving Successful Flex Circuit Assemblies

In this article, Yousef Heidari, vice president of engineering at EMS firm SigmaTron International, talks about the varying challenges in flex-circuit assembly. Chief among these are the solder paste printing process, especially for designs that have multiple areas with fine-pitch components, as well as the subsequent handling of the assembly before final product integration.

JJS Stresses Need for Baking Prior to Flex Circuit Assembly

From an assembly perspective, baking the flex circuits prior to manufacturing assembly is crucial as they can be susceptible to delamination. In this interview, Russell Poppe, director of technology at JJS Manufacturing explains why, as well as discusses other challenges in flex circuit assembly and strategies to address them.

Fixturing: Key to Accurate Flex Circuit Assembly

Adrian Nishimoto, operation manager at Spectrum Assembly Inc., talks about the critical factors to consider during flex circuit assembly, such as fixturing and accurate thermal profiling. He also mentions why jet printers are suitable for use in assembling flex circuits.


Rework and Repair on Flex Circuits

With this surge in usage of flex, the standards for rework—replacing devices while still meeting the initial specification and functionality—and repair—repairing the physical damage on a flex circuit—of flex circuits has not kept pace.

Strategies for Addressing Flex Circuit Assembly Pain Points

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Steve Fraser, VP of Operations at Firstronic, discusses the key factors that have the greatest impact on the quality of flex circuit assemblies, the challenges they face during assembly, and their strategies to ensure the reliability of the products.

How to Solder SMT Components with Varying Solder Paste Heights

While miniaturized components offer product designers some benefits, such as energy efficiency and the ability to build in greater functionality, mixing "old and new" technology together on the same PCB design can add complexity at the build stage. As a result, it is sometimes necessary to change the way solder paste is applied to the PCB during production.

Supportive Tooling: The Magic Ingredient for Flex Circuit Assembly

Flex circuits have changed the way product development engineers can design and package their electronic products. Flex applications have opened the doors for PCBAs to move out of square, box enclosures and fit into small, tight, even oddly shaped three-dimensional spaces that can withstand harsh vibration and multiple flex uses. While these flex assemblies may perform in the same way a traditional rigid PCBA does, they have their own set of assembly rules and manufacturing nuances.

Miniature Components on PCBs Requires Flexible Cleaning Methods

Smaller, more densely populated circuit boards make the issue of managing faults, quality and product longevity highly challenging. This is why so many companies consider their PCB cleaning as a mission-critical process. If the cleaning is not effective the device simply will not function reliably for the required life of the product.

Navigating the Complex World of Flex Circuit Assembly

We recently conducted a survey on flexible printed circuits to know more about the challenges that designers, fabricators, and assemblers face when dealing with flex circuits. We asked what steps in their processes have the biggest effect on yields; the challenge they face when dealing with flex circuit materials; as well as the factors that have the greatest impact on the quality of their flex circuit design, fabrication and assembly.

Assembly of Flexible Circuits

No matter the method, the assembly of electronic flexible circuits is tedious because of its inherent flexible nature. Therefore, we must give extra attention to the assembly process. This article details some of the key considerations when assembling flexible circuits.

Evaluating a PCB Assembler

When it comes to technology and quality, an SMT assembler's capabilities will be reflected when you go through the key elements in the SMT process. This article provides key points to consider in evaluating a PCB assembler, which allows you to test whether your circuit boards assembled in that factory conform to your required standard.

Electrolube Talks Technologies Targeted at Automotive and LED Applications

Electrolube's Phil Kinner, global head for the conformal coatings business, talks about the trends shaping the company’s product innovation strategies, and their latest solutions and technologies to help address their customers’ greatest challenges.

Should You Use Your CEM Partner's Direct Ship Fulfillment Services?

Gone are the days when OEMs simply outsourced their printed circuit board assemblies to contract electronic manufacturers (CEMs). Today, many CEMs offer a much broader range of services, including an end-to-end outsourcing solution – the end point of which is direct ship fulfillment, whereby the CEM sends fully manufactured and tested products directly to the end customer.


Alpha on New Technologies to Tackle Voiding

Tom Hunsinger, vice president of marketing at Alpha Assembly Solutions, discusses with SMT Magazine how their company is addressing voiding—one of the greatest challenges in soldering. He talks about the latest market development trends that are shaping product innovation strategies at Alpha. Hunsinger also details some of their latest solder technologies, and how they are helping their customers address their soldering challenges.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Ray Prasad Discusses Revised IPC-7530 Reflow Profile Guidelines

IPC Hall of Famer Ray Prasad, chairman of the IPC-7530 committee, provides an overview of the newly revised IPC-7530, which provides users with guidelines on how to successfully profile and characterize PCB assemblies with high levels of efficiency.

SMT Xtra Discusses Expansion Plans in the US

At the IPC APEX EXPO 2017 event in San Diego, SMT Xtra's Alexandra Stovin, marketing and public relations manager, and Paul Pittman, sales manager for the United States and Canada, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about their company’s expansion plans in the U.S. and the benefits they offer their customers.

How Servitisation Can Enable Manufacturing Sales Growth

OEMs and EMS providers must implement strategies that enable sales growth – and one such strategy is servitisation, which is about putting the needs of your customers first.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Nordson Highlights Improvements in Dispensing and Conformal Coating Systems

Roberta J. Foster-Smith, global marketing communications manager for Nordson ASYMTEK, discusses the continued improvements in Nordson's dispensing and conformal coating equipment, especially when it comes to automation, precision and consistency in delivering ever-finer deposits to meet industry demands and customer needs.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: The Power of Synergies with MacDermid Enthone and Alpha Assembly Solutions

Don Cullen, global director of marketing communications with MacDermid Enthone, and Tom Hunsinger, VP global marketing with Alpha Assembly Solutions explain the structure of MacDermid Performance Solutions, which combines the former MacDermid, Enthone and Alpha Assembly Materials businesses to provide PCB and EMS industries with enhanced innovation and service throughout the supply chain, with unified sales strategies and improved processes.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Manncorp on Having a Solutions-centric Approach

Manncorp father-son team Henry Mann and Kyle Mann talk with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Kelly Dack about providing excellent guidance, service, training and support for companies who may be unsure of the best route to take in selecting the right SMT equipment.

How Can I Compare EMS Providers and Create My Shortlist?

Finding the right EMS provider for your business can be a challenge. And trying to compare EMS suppliers and create a shortlist is hard work. Unfortunately, there is no ultimate cheat sheet to help you find the perfect partner. But here's 15 or so questions that you may ask, in order to start collating meaningful data to be able to starting making informed comparisons between EMS providers you are considering partnering with.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Indium’s Eric Slezak Talks Project 99

Indium Corporation's Eric Slezak talks with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Steve Williams about the launch of their new Project 99 wave solder process flux system. Indium has created an exciting new spin on this technology by using a comic book theme, with "villains" representing common wave solder defects and "superheroes" representing their flux solutions to combat the problems.

Industry 4.0: Nine Key Points Electronics Manufacturers Must Not Ignore

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is nothing if not massive and complicated. There is a huge amount of information out there, some useful and some perhaps less so. But, among the hype, there are a few consistent themes that really must not be ignored by manufacturers wishing to remain competitive in the future.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Electrolube Discusses New Conformal Coating Technologies

Phil Kinner, technical director of the coatings division at Electrolube, discusses with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Dick Crowe the latest trends happening in the coatings industry, and how their solutions help customers enhance the reliability of their electronics assemblies.

Metcal Brings Big Science and High Reliability to Hand Soldering

Recently, Judy Warner visited the Metcal facility in Southern California and meet with Product Support Engineer Robert Roush. They talked about Metcal's patented hand-soldering technology, which promises to bring a new level of science and control to the world of hand-soldering.

Real Time with...IPC: BEST Talks Rework Challenges and Opportunities

Bob Wettermann, president of BEST Inc., talks about the challenges in rework, and how his company is helping their customers address these problems. He also discusses his paper presentation at this week's technical conference.

11 Points to Consider When Buying Selective Soldering Equipment

Although there are clear benefits from investing in a selective soldering equipment, there are also a number of considerations to make prior to purchase. This article looks at 11 points that require further thought, to ensure you select the right piece of selective soldering equipment for your products.

Applying the New IPC Standard for Traceability Makes Compliance and Reporting Easier

IPC has created IPC-1782, a new standard and specification for traceability practices across all levels of electronics manufacturing, and specifically for electronics assembly. With this new standard, companies that are practicing basic levels of traceability can evolve to higher levels, and will be able to clearly define the expectations of what is required for compliance and conformance to customer needs.

What’s Driving the Rapidly Changing Electronics Assembly Industry

Since the EMS landscape has become so competitive, staying on top of new advances in technology and being able to rapidly adapt to changing customer needs, market demands, trends and technological advances is critical. This article highlights some examples of how electronics assembly technology developments have impacted the EMS industry in recent years and will likely continue shaping the industry in the future.

Continuous Improvement in Electronics Manufacturing

With so many variables and "opportunities" to create waste, electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies have an on-going challenge to identify, address and then eliminate inefficient processes. This is where a continuous improvement approach can help.

Achieving Repeatable, Consistent Control over the Selective Soldering Production Process

Selective soldering is a process with more than 100 different parameters that may impact soldering performance. A robust selective soldering process should have a wide process window that is able to handle variations in material quality. In this paper, critical process parameters are discussed as well as methods that can be used to widen the process window.

What to Look for When Auditing an Electronics Manufacturing Facility

Although a large amount of research can be carried out online when selecting an EMS partner, the only real way to satisfy an OEM whether an EMS provider will be a good fit or not is to meet the team and audit their processes. This article lists the approach many OEMs take and highlight some of the key questions they ask.

The Impact of Via and Pad Design on QFN Assembly

Thermal via arrays under QFN components are used to conduct heat away from the device. However, thermal vias can create more voids or result in solder protrusion onto the secondary side. This paper discusses a study on the impact of via size and via design on QFN voiding and solder protrusion.


Effect of Solder Composition, PCB Surface Finish and Solder Joint Volume on Drop-Shock Reliability

Lead free solder joint reliability in drop shock loading has been a recurring issue in mobile and handheld consumer electronics. Changing solder composition may offer an opportunity to improve joint drop reliability. This study focuses on different failure modes in circuit board assemblies as observed based on solder composition, board surface finish, and solder joint volume.

Evaluation of the Use of ENEPIG in Small Solder Joints

When soldering to ENEPIG, all of the palladium is dissolved into the solder joint, and creates a palladium-rich region at the base of the solder joint. The shrinking solder joint sizes due to the ever decreasing size of parts cause the relative size of this palladium-rich microstructure to grow relative to the overall joint thickness. This study evaluates the impact of industry standard Pd thicknesses on thin solder joints through shear testing.

Six Sigma: What is it and How is it Used in Electronics Manufacturing?

Six Sigma is a defined, data-driven methodology aimed at process improvement and consistent output in manufacturing. This article discusses how it is used in electronics manufacturing, and the benefits it offers companies that have implemented it.

A New Organizational Model Using Logic, Cost-Effectiveness and Customer Service, Part 2

In previous articles, Tom Borkes talked extensively about one of the controllable components of labor cost: the counterweight to competing against low labor rates—using automation to reduce labor content. Over the next few months he will drill down into the other controllable component of labor cost: indirect labor.

CES 2017: Disruptive Technologies

Those of you that have read my previous columns covering CES 2017 know that at recent CES shows I have seen many drones, autonomous cars, IoT devices, robots, and many other items ranging from robots who stand in for your doctor to smart trash cans who tell you via Alexa, Google, or soon, Cortana on your own computer, that since you have thrown away two empty milk cartons in the last few days it may be time to order more milk; just say yes and consider it ordered.

Plating and Surface Finish: Assemblers' POV

Joemar Apolinario and Dnichols Dulang of EMS firm Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc. discuss with SMT Magazine the impact of plating and surface finishes on electronics assemblies. They highlight the impact on solderability, the problems with complex components and packages, as well as parameters to consider when it comes to surface finish selection.

How to Choose Your Outsourcing Project Team

When you decide to outsource your manufacturing operation to an EMS provider, you not only have to choose the right partner – you also have to select your in-house outsourcing project team. With so many important decisions to make, it's easy to feel overwhelmed at times. But with the right people in situ, you will be perfectly placed to achieve success. Here's how you should go about assembling your outsourcing project team.

Choosing the Correct Flux—Advantages/Disadvantages

While often overlooked, the flux chosen for the selective soldering process has a great impact on solder joint quality, long term reliability and overall selective soldering performance. This article outlines the critical factors of commonly available selective soldering fluxes and how they impact the soldering quality, reliability and equipment performance.

The Influence of Clean Air on the Value-Added Chain in Electronics Production

A multitude of different processes in modern electronics production—from connection and separation technologies, surface processing such as marking and drilling, the utilisation of fluxes, up to production processes such as soldering, welding and gluing—generate harmful substances that might have extreme health impacts and affect production plants and products.

5 Reasons Why OEMs Outsource to EMS Providers

Why do original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) outsource to electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers? This article provides five reasons why OEMs venture down an outsourcing path, and the benefits they gain along the way.


CES 2017: Press Day, LaunchIt and Showstoppers

Before the show opens, CES provides two days and evenings not open to the general attendees, to enable companies, large and small, an opportunity to present their new offerings to the press. These opportunities range from small meetings with individual members of the trade press to huge events such as those presented by Samsung, Asus, Sony, Intel, Panasonic and others, with literally several hundred in attendance.

Reducing Warpage on BGAs During Rework

This article highlights one of the challenges associated with BGA rework--the effect of device warpage. To address this, Bob Wettermann writes about strategies to reduce device warpage on BGAs to avoid shorts and open circuits post rework.

Editor's Note: Understanding Plating and Surface Finishing

This month’s issue of SMT Magazine focuses on the impact of plating and surface finishing in electronics assembly. True, plating and surface finishing may be more directly significant in PCB fabrication, but surely they are important issues as well when it comes to the assembly side. In fact, according to our recent survey, 82% of the respondents said surface finishing impacts their assembly process.

Breaking Down the Long, Complex Sales Cycle in the EMS Industry

The EMS industry is still considered a young industry, with roots based in the early contract manufacturing days of small harness and PCBA shops. This article discusses how the demand creation process has morphed since the EMS industry's birth around 30 or so years ago into what we might consider as typical in the contract electronics manufacturing industry today.

How to Build Up Trust in a Manufacturing Outsourcing Relationship

When you, as an OEM, entrust part or all of your manufacturing operation to an EMS provider, you want to know that this fundamental aspect of your business is in safe and capable hands. It takes time to establish trust. So how can you build it up into a strong and permanent structure? Read on.

The Hunt for the Best Pre-Owned SMT Equipment Supplier

There are many SMT equipment resellers out there, some with many years of experience and others that are merely intermediaries between a company that’s trying to sell their surplus equipment and you. With that in mind, think of what you can afford not only in terms of the cost of equipment, but also regarding installation, training and support.

How to Create the Perfect SMT Reflow Oven Profile

While EMS providers will have their own preference when it comes to machine type and brand, broadly speaking, the process steps they go through to produce PCBAs are the same. However, one step that can make all of the difference when it comes to quality and consistency is reflow. This article details how EMS companies can go about creating the perfect SMT reflow oven profile.

Sales and Marketing in a Digital Transformation Reality

While many of the common sales and marketing best practices apply to the PCB assembly industry, however, deep manufacturing and electronics design expertise is required to truly drive customer interactions from one-off transactions into long and sustaining relationships as the industry goes through rapid change such as the larger involvement of a younger generation in the workforce, and the move to digital transformation and smart manufacturing.

Meeting Current and Future Requirements of the Automotive Industry

Phil Kinner, technical director of Electrolube's Coatings Division, speaks with I-Connect007's Pete Starkey about the role of conformal coatings in various applications of the automotive industry. He talks about thermal shock testing, and provides updates on their collaboration with the National Physical Lab on condensation testing.

EMS Industry Sales and Marketing: Why Strategies Vary Widely

In this article, Susan Mucha of Powell-Mucha Consulting explains why sales and marketing strategies vary widely in the EMS industry. She provides a case study of four EMS firms and their approach to the sales and marketing process.


Disaster Recovery Planning: What to Look for in an EMS Partner

While you're unlikely to encounter a catastrophic event in your electronics manufacturing outsourcing venture, it's nevertheless prudent to ensure that you work with an EMS partner who has the capabilities to deal with such a scenario if it should occur. So what should you look for in an EMS provider's disaster recovery policy, to ensure you're covered?

Rework and Repair Standard Getting Updated

The IPC-7711/21 Rework of Electronic Assemblies/Repair and Modification of Printed Boards and Electronic Assemblies is being “upreved” from version “B” to version “C” and will soon be released to the industry. This article talks about a couple of notable changes that strengthened, modernized and brought together changes from the previous “B” version, which was approved in 2007.

How to Avoid a PCB Supply Shortage During Chinese New Year

The post-Christmas blues are bad enough, but getting caught out by a PCB supply shortage due to the week-long Chinese New Year is likely to cause both you and your EMS partner significant pain. By assessing both your current and future demand, and then working closely with your PCB suppliers, EMS provider and end users, you can take a number of steps to minimize the risk to your business.

Digi ConnectCore 6UL Creates a Big Buzz at electronica

Guy Volckaerts, director for EMEA embedded sales at Digi, speaks with I-Connect007's Judy Warner about Digi’s star-of-the-show at the recent electronica event in Germany—the Digi ConnectCore 6UL—a quick, simple, feature-rich, yet very flexible system-on-module solution for OEMS and developers.

LA/Orange County SMTA Tech Expo a Success

On November 3, I had the pleasure of attending the LA/OC SMTA Tech Expo in Long Beach, California, and meet with chapter President Kathy Palumbo and Vice President Scott Penin, to learn more about this annual event and the chapter’s ongoing activities.

My Product is Too Large and Complex to Outsource to an EMS Provider

A number of projects that struggle to get off the ground over concerns relating to size, shape or complexity can easily be outsourced – providing the project is approached in the right way. This article explains how.

Solder Voiding, Autonomous Autos, and Statistics—So Much to Learn from Dr. Ron

While at the 2016 SMTA International conference and show, I had the lucky opportunity to talk with Indium Corporation’s Dr. Ron Lasky. He gave a great synopsis of the extensive testing done by Indium Corporation’s Chris Nash on solder voids, outlined in a paper co-authored by the two, which was being presented by Ron at the conference.

SMTA Tech Expo Panel Session: It Takes a Village to Discuss Proper Cleaning Solutions

An expert in cleaning processes, Barbara Kanegsberg is known as “The Cleaning Lady.” She moderated the technical session “Ask the Experts: Meeting the Challenges of Effective Cleaning, Defluxing in Southern California.” Here Barbara discusses the myriad of challenges regarding cleaning PCBs (particularly in heavily regulated California) and what transpired during the open forum technical session.

Tin Whisker Mitigation Methodologies: Report from SMART Group, Part 1

Since the introduction of the RoHS legislation in 2006, the threat of tin-whisker-related short circuit failure from pure tin finished components has remained a major concern within the high-reliability electronics manufacturing industry. In this article, Editor Pete Starkey reviews a recent seminar by the SMART Group to discuss tin whisker mitigation methodologies and strategies.

3 Reasons Why Outsourcing to an EMS Provider Can Go Wrong

A true outsourcing partnership should deliver benefits to both the OEM and the EMS provider. However, there are always risks, and sometimes outsourcing can go wrong. This article highlights three reasons why the OEM/EMS provider partnership might turn sour.


The Fine Art of Providing a Single Source for Fab, Assembly

Jay Rupani, president of Precision Technologies, speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about what exactly his company does, what differentiates them and why. He also talks about why having a single source for bare board manufacturing and assembly saves customers time, money and much angst.

The Hidden Costs when Outsourcing your Electronics Manufacturing

There's a lot of truth in the saying, "You get what you pay for" – so it's important not to skimp on price when selecting a partner. Equally, you need to remain competitive. So, when you're comparing quotes from EMS suppliers, how do you find the right fit for you? This article tells you how.

An EMS with a Nimble Global Footprint Makes a Big Splash at electronica

At the recent electronica trade show in Munich, Alwyn Rea, director of business development for non-automotive products at ALL CIRCUITS, a French-based EMS company, speaks with I-Connect007's Judy Warner about his company, their capabilities, and what makes them different from their competitors.

Living Up to Their Name at Alpha Assembly Solutions

At SMTAI in October, I-Connect007's Judy Warner spent some quality time with Alpha Assembly Solutions' Jason Fullerton, to discuss Alpha's innovative new products. Fullerton also discussed a paper he was presenting, which compares two lead-free, silver-free alloys in a selective soldering application.

The Impact of Vias on PCB Assembly

Via technology has been one of the solutions to address the miniaturization and component density challenges in current electronic assemblies. However, vias are not without their own set of challenges. As per our recent survey, these include impedance matching, routing, placement of vias, minimum size limitations, aspect ratio, and the limitations for the PCB manufacturer.

To Bake or Not to Bake: Examining the Impact of Waiving PCB Pre-Baking Prior to Assembly

Moisture plays a critical role in lead-free PCB assembly—and one process that aims to drive moisture out of the PCB is baking. In this article, Yash Sutariya explains the results of his study on the impact of waiving PCB pre-baking prior to assembly. His study includes via integrity, via life impact, via failure, and overall reliability failures.

Electrolube on Addressing Thermal Management Issues in LEDs

At the recent electronica 2016 trade show in Munich, Germany, Jade Bridges, global technical support manager of Electrolube, speaks with I-Connect007’s Pete Starkey about how they are helping customers address the thermal management challenges in electronics assemblies, including LEDs and LED assemblies.

Why Takt Time is Important, and How to Calculate It

A common misconception is that takt time relates to the overall build time, i.e., the number of man-hours put in to building a product. It doesn't; it relates to the time span required to build a product from start to finish to ensure the continual flow of finished products needed to satisfy customer demand.

How to Improve PCB Reliability

Component failure rates have steadily declined over the years to the point where non-component failure sources have become the dominant cause of failures for a PCB. If the reliability of the components is becoming a non-issue, then the only way to improve electronics further—for this article, automotive electronics—is to look at the non-component aspects of the electronics, and a significant one is the PCB.

A Long-term Career Prospect

The next millennial in this series is Alex Johnson, an associate engineer at Saline Lectronics and who has been with the company for over two years. Even though Alex received a lot of negative information about manufacturing throughout his lifetime, his work experience in engineering has directly challenged those preconceived notions.


The Taken-for-granted Via

Vias are so simple, yet they can be so complex at the same time. Designed properly, they complete a circuit. However, a poorly designed via can be a reliability nightmare. The bottom line is that, in many ways, they are the unsung hero to a circuit board, much like an offensive line is to a football team.

Increasing Reliability through Predictive Analysis

At SMTA International 2016, Joe Russeau of Precision Analytical Laboratory discusses with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman the paper he was presented, which was co-authored by Mark Northrup and Tim Estes. The paper presents early data comparing the results of two different analytical test methods to determine how well they correlate with each other as predictors of PC board cleanliness and reliability.

Is Your Manufacturing Facility Now the Weak Link?

If your manufacturing facility is the weakest link in your chain, all of the hard work put in beforehand—design, marketing, sales, purchasing—will have been wasted. This article looks at three signs your manufacturing facility could be dragging the rest of your company down, and highlights how outsourcing to an EMS provider can help.

Achieving the Smart Factory Vision

James Liu, director of Standardization and Electronics Manufacturing at the Smart Factory Institute of the China Science and Technology Automation Alliance, talks about helping small- and medium-sized companies transform their production into smart factories. He explains the challenges these companies face, and the need for a free, open interface to connect disparate electronics manufacturing equipment and systems on the factory floor.

How to Successfully Manage the OEM/CEM Partnership

A successful outsourcing initiative is built on trust and communication and both partners—the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and a contract electronics manufacturer (CEM)—need to be clear on what their own roles are, in order to realize the innumerable benefits.

Choosing an EMS Partner

So many times we hear that an EMS company and their potential new customer want to have a partnership where each side can have a very open dialogue of what is going well and what needs improvement. At the end of these discussions, both sides typically leave feeling warm and fuzzy, and ready to hold hands into the sunset. Then, the rubber hits the road and you start dealing with the real world.

How to Evaluate a Used Machine

There are some cases where you can get a good deal on used SMT assembly equipment and save some money over a new machine. This article will help guide you in your search and give you some tips to avoid getting a raw deal or actually spending more than new by the time you get that bargain acquisition in good working order.

Defect Features Detected by Acoustic Emission for Flip-Chip CGA/FCBGA/PBGA/FPBGA Packages and Assemblies

The C-SAM (C-mode scanning acoustic microscopy) is the preferred method for finding "air gaps" such as delamination, cracks, voids, and porosity. This paper presents evaluations performed on various advanced packages/assemblies especially flip-chip die version of ball grid array/column grid array (BGA/CGA) using C-SAM equipment.

Is PCB Assembly Really the Best Entry Point into Outsourcing?

By outsourcing your PCB assembly, you will free up more time and resources to direct your focus elsewhere. However, the PCBA is just one component within your final product; you still have a lot of work to do once your EMS partner has delivered the completed boards to you.

Real Time with… SMTAI: Merger Puts Libra Industries in Driver's Seat

W. Scott Fillebrown, CTO of EMS firm Libra Industries, talks with I-Connect007’s Andy Shaughnessy about Libra’s acquisition of ACD last year, their migration to common platforms and systems, and how their latest equipment installations have helped improved efficiency and throughput in their manufacturing lines.


10 Meaningless Statistics EMS Providers List on their Websites

In an attempt to stand out from other EMS providers, we include a range of statistics on our websites. We assume OEMs find these helpful and use them to make decisions on whether or not we could be the right partner to outsource to. But are they really the key important statistics to feature?

Mitigation of Pure Tin Risk by Tin-Lead SMT Reflow – Results of an Industry Round-Robin

The risk associated with whisker growth from pure tin solderable terminations is fully mitigated when all of the pure tin is dissolved into tin-lead solder during SMT reflow. This article details a round robin study that has been performed by IPC Task group 8-81f, to guide high-reliability end-users on the applicability and limitations of this mitigation strategy.

IPC Certification Program's 'Space Hardware Addendums' Training and Certification

In this article, Sharon Montana-Beard of Blackfox discusses the IPC Certification Program's Space Hardware Addendums training and certification, the topics covered in the training course, and the benefits of the program.

Ionics EMS Talks Industry 4.0, Mil/Aero Opportunities, and Supply Chain

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Dr. Jay Sabido, president and COO of Ionics EMS Inc., discusses a wide range of topics, including Industry 4.0, automation, and the challenges in the military and aerospace industry, including lead-free, counterfeit components, and traceability.

Recycling Substrates and Components in Mil/Aero Assemblies: Secure Metals Recovery

In this article, Mitch Holtzer of Alpha Assembly Solutions writes about reworking defective military and aerospace electronics assemblies, and recovering the value of the substrate and components without compromising the top secret design of the circuit.

Sensible Design: Conformal Coatings - Beware the Boards that ‘Bare’ All!

This month, Phil Kinner departs from his usual format of providing five essential facts about conformal coatings. Instead, he provides an account of a customer’s problem—no company names mentioned, of course—that brought into question the adhesion performance of a coating that they had been using successfully for some time.

Asteelflash on Mil/Aero Challenges, ITAR, and Opportunities

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Albert Yanez, corporate executive VP and president of Asteelflash, Americas, discusses the challenges in the military and aerospace industries, ITAR compliance, and the opportunities in these sectors.

How to Specify a Custom Machine

Let’s say you have an unusual product configuration, a unique space requirement, an unorthodox handling system, or an application totally unrelated to the PCB or SMT assembly business, and you can’t find a standard machine provider that can handle your requirements. What then? This article highlights key points to consider when going the custom machine way for your project.

Is Your Electronics Manufacturing Factory 'Smart'?

Despite the amount of content being produced around big data, Industry 4.0, digital manufacturing, mass customization and various other subjects, a large number of electronics manufacturing companies still don't fully understand this question. This article looks to provide guidance on how you can assess your manufacturing facility without investing huge amounts of time and money upfront.

Being More than a Manufacturer’s Rep

Matt Bonweg, process support specialist at manufacturers' rep firm Murray Percival Company, speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman during the recent SMTA Ohio Expo about the company's history and philosophy, as well as their strategies for success in this industry.


Naprotek: Building a Successful EMS in Silicon Valley with a Woman's Touch

I-Connect007's Judy Warner recently visited Naprotek Inc., an EMS provider in the heart of Silicon Valley. She speaks with CEO Najat Badriyeh and two of her team members – VP of Marketing Liz Davidson, and Director of Business Development Mike Brown – about their company and their plans for the future.

Silicon Valley SMTA Chapter President Kevin McClay on Evolution and Current Status of SMTA

Kevin McClay, president of Silicon Valley SMTA Chapter, speaks with I-Connect007’s Judy Warner on the activities of the SMTA in the Valley, and the challenge of attracting young talent to join the manufacturing engineering industry.

Will The “Internet of Manufacturing” Really Impact Business?

Supporting legacy, new, and future automated processes, as well as the vast number of manual processes in use today, is the key to being able to successfully introduce the Internet of Manufacturing into SMT production.

4 Benefits of Industrial Automation in Electronics Manufacturing

In a nutshell, industrial automation is a step beyond mechanization; it is about using control systems and technology to replace human physical and mental labor in the manufacturing and engineering sector. This article talks about four of the resulting benefits of automation for electronics manufacturers.

Case Study: Flex Smart Factory at Fuyong

This paper discusses Flex's experience with their current project called Smart Factory, which is being implemented at their Fuyong facility in Shenzhen, China. It also highlights some of the benefits they have achieved, including traceability, improved productivity and quality, and minimized defects through process predictability.

The Industry Speaks

In the latest issue of SMT Magazine, we take a pause from covering the latest technology trends, challenges, and solutions in the electronics manufacturing and assembly industry. Instead, we are focusing on our readers—to give a voice to their thoughts on the industry, companies, jobs, interests, and even pain points when it comes to their respective specialties.

Integrated Manufacturing Solutions: an EMS, ODM, CM, and OEM!

Robbin Thompson, VP Business Development at San Diego-based contract manufacturer Integrated Manufacturing Solutions (IMS), speaks with I-Connect007's Barry Matties and Judy Warner about her company's expansion, production capabilities and product lineup, as well as the culture at IMS.

The Benefits of 3D Printing within Contract Electronics Manufacturing

The buzz around 3D printing, or additive manufacturing as it also known, continues to grow day-by-day, and it is regularly hailed as a revolutionary "new" process. This article discusses the basics of 3D printing and the different types of printing processes that exist, along with the benefits these bring to contract electronics manufacturers and the customers they serve.

Nondestructive Inspection of Underfill Layers Stacked up in Ceramics-Organics-Ceramics Packages with SAT

Ceramics packages are being used in the electronics industry to operate the devices in harsh environments. This article reports a study on acoustic imaging technology for nondestructively inspecting underfill layers connecting organic interposers sandwiched between two ceramics substrates.

Event Review: 7th Electronic Materials and Processes for Space Workshop

This year's Electronic Materials and Processes for Space Workshop discussed a wide range of technology issues and developments when it comes to PCB fabrication and assembly for space applications. From addressing reliability issues to dealing with cracks that may form during thermal cycling, to REACH regulations and their impact on space hardware, and tin whisker growths. Barrie Dunn provides the highlights.


3 Common Fears About Outsourcing Your Outbound Logistics

If you are still responsible for shipping finished product to your end users, you may be facing difficulties that are distracting you from your core activities. This article explains how you can overcome the common fears about outsourcing your outbound logistics to an EMS provider.

Moving Beyond Paideia: Learning for Earning

The complexities of our technological world and global marketplace now demand the development of specific, saleable skills as part of the student-customer's educational process--and that the template for teaching these skills must be based in the real world. Tom Borkes explains why in this article.

Bumping of QFNs/LGAs and Other Leadless Devices for More Consistent Rework

Among the greatest challenges leadless devices present are the solder voiding primarily on the ground plane, the inability to clean underneath the devices post rework, and the difficulty in getting similar standoff heights on both the IO and center ground. This article talks about the type of rework methods available to address these issues.

Selecting a Selective Soldering System, Part 5

For the conclusion of his series on selective soldering discussion, Robert Voigt does a quick wrap-up to remind potential buyers about some important considerations that affect the purchase decisions they make.

How to Prevent Solder Bridges During Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Solder bridges occur when solder unintentionally connects one electronic component lead to another. Thankfully, a large number of solder bridges can be easily prevented. And while preventive measures may cost you a small amount of additional time and money, the long term payback can be significant.

The STEM Trap

Post-secondary schools have not been responsive to the changing landscape of the modern electronic product assembly operation—they really can’t, considering the lack of real-world experience of most of the faculty. In this article, Tom Borkes explains why.

Condensation Testing—A New Approach

While the characterization of coating performance under high humidity conditions is detailed in well accepted IPC and IEC standards, the performance and testing under condensing conditions is not so well developed. This article talks about a new approach that has been developed where the test board is mounted on a substrate whose temperature can be independently controlled without changing the ambient condition.

Divergence in Test Results Using IPC Standard SIR and Ionic Contamination Measurements

This study will compare the results from testing two solder pastes using the IPC-J-STD-004B IPC TM-650 2.6.3.7 surface insulation resistance test and IPC TM-650 2.3.25 in an attempt to investigate the correlation of ROSE methods as predictors of electronic assembly electrical reliability.

Material Effects of Laser Energy When Processing Circuit Board Substrates During Depaneling

Using modern laser systems for the depanelization of circuit boards can create some challenges for the production engineer when it is compared to traditional mechanical singulation methods. Understanding the effects of the laser energy to the substrate material properly is essential in order to take advantage of the technology without creating unintended side effects.

Package-on-Package Warpage Characteristics and Requirements

iNEMI organized the Warpage Characteristics of Organic Packages Project to identify primary factors that can contribute to the warpage performance of selected components during typical SMT processes, to better understand package warpage characteristics across different package types and attributes. This article focuses on the work related to package-on-package.


Understanding How EMS Companies View Capital Investment Decisions

One of the great benefits of outsourcing your manufacturing is that it can largely remove the need to continually invest in expensive capital equipment. But when selecting an EMS partner, it is important to take a realistic view of their equipment list. This article explains why.

A New Dispensing Solder Paste for Laser Soldering Technology

A new solder paste of alloy composition of Sn-3.0Ag-0.5Cu in a dispensing way is developed for the automatic laser soldering processes. This paper presents the results of soldering BGA spheres on circuit boards with minimal voiding and no splash or solder balling issues.

How to Overcome Medical Electronics Manufacturing Challenges

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a medical EMS provider to work with and it is worth taking time to make sure the partner fits your needs. To help you make comparisons between suppliers, this article lists a set of questions to ask to help ensure that the manufacturer you work with has the right experience and expertise for you.

I-Connect Survey: Automation or Reducing Process Steps?

In our recent survey, we asked what is more important: automating a process or eliminating process steps. Interestingly, the results are 50-50: half of our respondents say automating a process is more important, while the remaining 50 percent consider eliminating a process step a key strategy.

5 Myths About Electronics Manufacturing Outsourcing

OEMs have been outsourcing their electronics manufacturing and test for decades, yet a number of myths relating to outsourcing still remain today. In this article, Neil Sharp tackles some of these myths head on so that anyone considering outsourcing to an EMS provider can base their decision on facts and not fiction.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0): Intelligent Manufacturing

The last industrial revolution was driven by striking advances in electronics and information technology having achieved enormous economic prosperity and manufacturing automation. So what is the fourth industrial revolution and what does it encompass? This article talks about the genesis of the term and the vision for Industry 4.0.

Improving Test and Inspection

In our recent survey on PCBA test and inspection challenges, respondents consider the following to be among their biggest problems: probing to narrower traces and pads; testing boards with smaller and finer features and sizes; dry solder and other solder-related issues; finding sublayer defects; dealing with flat, no-lead components; and testing cycle time. This month, we look into different PCBA test and inspection strategies that address the key challenges in today’s electronics manufacturing and assembly environment.

Conversations with STI Electronics' Dave Raby at IPC IMPACT Washington, D.C.

Dave Raby, president and CEO of EMS firm STI Electronics and an eager participant at this year’s IMPACT Washington, D.C. event, speaks with I-Connect007’s Patty Goldman about his expectations at this year’s conference.

Zentech’s Matt Turpin on IMPACT Washington, D.C.’s Benefits

At the recent IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2016 event in Capitol Hill, Matt Turpin, CEO of EMS firm Zentech discusses with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman his expectations on the event, its importance, and how, so far, it has helped the electronics manufacturing industry in the United States.

Sensible Design: Coatings—Five Essentials for Designers

In an ideal world, PCB designs would not have an inherent weak point for corrosion; unfortunately, in the real world, they do. When a weak point is revealed, you are better equipped to deal with it. Often the spacing of components, board finish and distance to ground planes can be optimised for corrosion resistance.


The Reliability Factor in Solder Paste Printing

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Knoll Evangelista of EMS firm EMS Components Assembly Inc. speaks about the solder paste printing challenge, what factors impact the process, and best practices to consider.

Solder Paste Printing: A User’s Perspective

Integrated Micro-Electronics' Joemar Apolinario, Aurelio Bantigue, and Rodney Bebe, discuss the challenges and key considerations to make when dealing with tighter tolerances and finer pitches in line with the continuing miniaturization trend in the electronics manufacturing industry. They also talked about the impact of solder pastes in the printing process, and the criteria for their selection and qualification.

EIPC Summer Conference 2016, Day 1: Strategies to Maintain Profitability in the European PCB Industry

Resplendent in the kilt, EIPC chairman Alun Morgan welcomed a large and enthusiastic gathering of printed circuit professionals from all over Europe and as far afield as the USA, Canada and Russia, to the EIPC Summer Conference 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland's cosmopolitan capital city.

Selecting a Selective Soldering System, Part 3

The previous two articles on selective soldering covered the different applications well-suited to this technology, and the various types of fluxing methods available. In this article, Robert Voigt discusses the common types of soldering technologies available, as well as nitrogen inerting systems.

Pad Defined vs. Mask Defined: Which Method is Optimal?

It seems that there is no universal consensus on a seemingly simple choice used in designing electronic circuits. Should the pads on the PCB be defined by the edge of the solder mask opening (mask defined), or should the solder mask opening fall short of the circuit board interconnect (pad or non-solder mask defined)? In this article, SMT Magazine columnist Mitch Holtzer discusses which among the two methods is optimal.

To Bake or Not to Bake (in Rework)—That is the Question

When performing rework on printed circuit boards, the issue of the moisture having to be baked out of the PCB is often debated. Whether it is localized mini-wave rework, hand-soldering or convection rework, the board, as well as neighboring components, needs to be taken into account in terms of moisture protection during the reflow cycle. This article details the baking requirements during PCB rework.

The Solder Paste Factor in Printing

Mitch Holtzer, Alpha Assembly Solutions’ global director of customer technical support, and expert columnist at SMT Magazine, talks about the challenges that customers face when it comes to solder paste printing, the impact of solder pastes on the printing process, and the variables involved when selecting the type of solder to use for specific applications.

Solder Paste Exploration

From the manufacturers of solder pastes, to equipment makers, all the way to the solder paste inspection guys, and the electronics assemblers who are using their products, I talked to the supply chain to find out what’s going on in the solder paste printing process, what factors impact the process, the challenges, and the best practices to consider to be able to address those challenges and improve efficiencies and yield in the SMT line.

Flexible Circuit Component Assembly… and a Math Lesson

Flexible circuits are often sold in multiple-up panels or arrays to facilitate the assembly of SMT components. Coordination between the desires of the assembly supplier and the fabricator can have a significant effect on costs based on material/panel utilization.

A Preview of the 2016 International Microwave Symposium

The 2016 International Microwave Symposium (IMS) is taking place May 22–27 in San Francisco. I-Connect007's Barry Matties spoke with IMS’s Amanda Scacchitti about the upcoming show, the keynote speakers, and how IMS continues to put an emphasis on STEM education with their own STEM program for kids.


How Far Does It Make Sense to Automate?

There are often many advantages to automating the final assembly process, but how far does it make sense to automate? Is a fully automated process better than a semi-automated, or partially manual process? This article tells you more about the challenges and advantages of automation, and the right approach to adopt based on your operations.

EMS Rules of Automation & ROI

Are smaller EMS companies effectively dependent on manual labor and excluded from the innovation that automation and the computerization of the factory operation can bring? The answer is no because IoT is coming to the rescue. This article explains the cost of automation, how much to invest in automation, and the latest technology developments that will provide you manufacturing flexibility.

Strategies to Reduce Handling Errors in Your Rework Process

In this interview during the recent IPC APEX EXPO in Las Vegas, Donald Naugler, president and general manager of VJ Electronix, discusses rework challenges and strategies to help customers reduce handling errors in their processes. He also talks about automation, and the impact of Industry 4.0 in the electronics assembly industry.

Working Smarter Through a Proprietary Systems Strategy

From an IT perspective, EMS companies have two choices: select off-the-shelf systems and deal with support gaps if the systems don’t provide all the tools needed to manage the business, or buy an off-the-shelf core system and create highly customized solutions to address any support gaps. This article talks about the benefits of having the latter approach.

The Importance of Being Earnest (Educated)

This new column in SMT Magazine, titled "Jumping Off the Bandwagon," is dedicated to the continued development and improvement of the high-tech electronic product assembly industry, and the human component of that industry. For his first article, Tom Borkes talks about issues that, unless addressed, will continue to put product assembly at a disadvantage in high labor rate areas of the world.

To Outsource or Not to Outsource PCB Rework

There is a case to be made that outsourcing certain rework projects makes a lot of sense, especially in large, complex or highly time-sensitive rework projects. However, careful review of the suppliers' knowledge of standards and adherence to processes needs to be taken in to consideration prior to making the outsourcing call.

Cost vs. Cause: What is More Critical to EMS Profitability?

The reality of the market is that each major global EMS player will ask solder paste manufacturers to reduce price, rather than improving first pass yield. But the economics of this market trend are unsustainable. This article explains why achieving first pass yield can be a tremendous driver for maximizing the profitability of an EMS provider.

Best-Practice Process Preparation for PCB Assembly

In this high-pressure environment, process preparation systems need to be able to cope with every aspect and production, all machines and processes, without mistakes and without confusion, to scale the flexibility and responsiveness of the production operation in line with customer and market expectations.

The Launch of a Lifetime: Catching up with Barry Lee Cohen

Dan Beaulieu catches up with industry veteran Barry Lee Cohen to talk about the new company he launched last month—Launch Communications; his vision; and why he took the chance in striking it out on his own.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Mentor Graphics Takes Manufacturing Operations to the Next Level

Dan Hoz, general manager of Mentor Graphics Valor Division, discusses with I-Connect007's Andy Shaughnessy how they are helping electronics manufacturers take their operations to the next level through their Valor IoT Manufacturing solutions. He talks about the OML and the Valor IoT Device, and how these solutions will help the electronics manufacturing industry to move to Industry 4.0.


Selective Soldering: Design, Process Challenges and Practical Solutions

A SMART Group workshop at the Bromsgrove, UK, premises of equipment and process materials distributor APP Electronics, set out to provide the answers, with a programme combining technical presentations, live demonstrations and hands-on sessions, introduced and moderated by Nigel Burtt, senior electronics manufacturing engineer at Renishaw and SMART Technical Committee Chairman.

Supplier Spotlight: Transition Automation

In an interview with I-Connect007, Alden Lewis, vice president of sales at Transition Automation, discusses how they are tackling solder paste printing problems with squeegee technologies.

Selecting a Selective Soldering System, Part 1

So far in this series, we’ve covered stencil printers, pick and place machines, reflow ovens and multiple types of through-hole soldering. In this and the next couple of chapters, we’ll discuss selective soldering machines. It’s useful to start by understanding why and when selective soldering is used.

The Buyer’s Guide to Automation

Back in the 1990s when high-volume production was still enjoyed by most operations, the idea of replacing remaining manual operations with automated processes seemed like a great idea, but the technology at the time did not quite deliver on expectations. Today, the same goals for automation are once again in play; but this time, although technical capabilities have vastly improved, little high-volume is left.

Super Dry Discusses Tower System Developments

Rich Heimsch, director of the Americas for Super Dry-Totech, sits with I-Connect007's Andy Shaughnessy during the recent IPC APEX EXPO in Las Vegas to discuss the latest product developments at his company, as well as opportunities they are looking at.

In a Culture of Continuous Improvement, Processes Continually Improve

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Etratech’s Mike Renneboog, manufacturing manager, and Robert Clarke, process manufacturing engineer, discussed their most significant challenge to improving SMT line productivity and quality, and the lessons they learned along the way.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Saline Lectronics Discusses How Industry 4.0 Can Give CMs the Edge

Jason Sciberras and Davina McDonnell of Saline Lectronics speak with I-Connect007 guest editor Steve Williams about how they embraced Industry 4.0 in their manufacturing line.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Kurtz Ersa Talks Latest Innovations

Ernie Grice of Kurtz Ersa North America speaks with I-Connect007 guest editor Mark Thompson about their latest innovations, including voidless reflow machines, selective soldering machines and rework systems, as well as a new paste printer that incorporates a 3D inspection system.

Taking the Gremlins Out of Your Process

Every step in your assembly line is supposed to be designed to perform optimally for you to have an efficient, reliable, robust and reproducible process. However, and as isolated as they may seem, "gremlins" sometimes appear and mess up the results of a batch. The latest issue of SMT Magazine features strategies that can help you address these issues.

IPC APEX EXPO: Acromag Discusses Newly Launched Electronic Contract Manufacturing Division

Acromag’s David Wolfe and Stacy Moore talk with I-Connect007’s Andy Shaughnessy about the company’s newly launched electronic contract manufacturing division, and the services it will offer to industries including telematics, military, aerospace, and automotive.


IPC APEX EXPO: Rethink Robotics Provides a Glimpse into the Future of Electronics Assembly Industry

Carl Palme, applications product manager at Rethink Robotics, discusses with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias the impact of robotics, and its future, in the electronics assembly industry.

Reflow Oven Changeover in a World of Short Production Runs

When drilling down to the individual machines, you may find that the biggest drag on your productivity is the reflow oven. The use of more effective production planning and scheduling as well as modern data mining software to identify one or a few oven recipes may provide dramatic improvements to line changeover time and, consequently, profits.

The Benefits of a Vertically Integrated Approach to EMS

The combination of vertical integration and investments made in workforce and systems offers a responsive, cost competitive and scalable business model that will help electronics assemblers improve customer satisfaction, improve their margins, and increase their profitability.

A Practical Guide to Managing Material Cost Impact

More SMT lines, faster machines, or new ERP software are not the only, or even the best, answers to achieve business goals in the electronics manufacturing and assembly industry. To win the race for survival, growth and profitability, companies must give the highest priority to the material operation and material handling tools.

Remove Your Shop Floor by Using a CEM

Once OEMs embark on an outsourcing strategy, a number of "shop floor" activities are transferred over to their CEM's manufacturing facility. In this article, Neil Sharp discusses the different areas that OEMs need to relinquish to their CEM in order to be in a position to remove their shop floor completely, so that they can focus on the areas of their business that matter the most.

An Onboarding Process Can Build a Strong Organizational Culture

Designing an onboarding process that aims to make employees feel valued by the company will deliver leading metrics that include compound annual revenue growth rate >50%, gross margin >21%, on-time delivery over 99.6%, and inventory turns between 12–14.

Ensuring Profitability

According to our recent survey, the key challenges impacting profitablility of electronics manufacturers and assemblers are cost, process improvement, changing customer demand, design, training, and Lean manufacturing. The March 2016 issue of SMT Magazine highlights strategies that will help electronics manufacturers address those issues and achieve profitability in their operations.

Changing Role of the Medical Device Contract Manufacturer

The biggest impact that the medical market has had on the electronics manufacturing industry is quality systems due to the regulations of medical devices. In this article, Jay Wimer of Valtronic writes about the challenges in medical electronics manufacturing, innovation drivers, and navigating the regulatory issues for compliance.

3D Assembly Processes: A Look at Today and Tomorrow

One of the ways to increase density of a product is to utilize more of the three-dimensional spaces available. This article explores the evolution of 3D assembly techniques, and takes a glimpse into the future, based on technologies available now, to examine potential assembly methods on the horizon for 3D assemblies.

Overview Miniaturization on Large Form Factor PCBA

Many of the miniaturization technologies were developed for the consumer market, targeted mainly at the smart phone. Many designers in other areas such as medical and telecom are looking at ways to miniaturize the product or increase the functional density. This article explores some of the common miniaturization technologies and their application to larger form factor boards.


3 Areas for Improvement in the Medical Device Industry in 2016

With advancements in research and innovation, the medical device industry continues to push the envelope, saving lives and improving the quality of living for people across the globe. But even with all of the game-changing products that have been recently introduced, there are still many barriers and process inefficiencies that are detrimental to innovation.

Rapid Prototyping is a Fiscal Game Changer

When done right, rapid prototyping can increase an OEM's top-line revenue and extend their product lifecycles by ensuring that their product features at launch are actually the features their customers need.

New Paradigms

While the latest technology innovations bode well for the electronics industry, they also offer many challenges in terms of the way products are being manufactured. The latest issue of SMT Magazine features "what's new" in the electronics assembly industry, and discusses how they are addressing current manufacturing challenges.

Rework Site Printing using Mini Stencils—Plastic Adhesive vs. Metal

Bob Wettermann of Best Inc. provides some details about a soon-to-be-published study that compares the older miniature metal stencil printing process to the more modern plastic film with adhesive approach, and quantifies the differences in performance for the first time.

Challenges and Opportunities for Smaller EMS for Onshoring

The onshoring trend has been speculated and talked about for a few years now, and is certainly a reality with greater opportunities and challenges. In this article, McDonald Technologies' Gary Tanel, who is also a member of SMT Magazine's Editorial Advisory Board, writes about the trends driving companies to increasingly consider onshoring.

EMS: Quo Vadis? (Where are You Going?)

In an industry that is constantly changing, EMS providers have reinvented themselves to stay relevant and fuel profitable growth. In this article, Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc.'s Frederick Blancas talks about five of the many transformation trends happening in the EMS industry, and how they are pushing the industry to continue to evolve, progress and advance.

The Jefferson Project, Part 2: Automation as a Counterweight to Low Labor-Rate Assembly

In Part 1 of this interview, Tom Borkes, founder of The Jefferson Project and the forthcoming Jefferson Institute of Technology, provided his well-researched plan to introduce students to tech manufacturing, as well as discussed the paper he presented at SMTAI. In Part 2, Tom expands on the example set forth in his SMTAI paper, and describes another important tool in reducing labor cost through the reduction of labor content: designing for automation.

Two-Print Stencil Solutions for Flip Chip/SMT Assembly

Mixed technology packages that have both flip chip and surface mount devices on the same substrate are now being assembled in a normal SMT assembly process. In this article, William Coleman of Photo Stencil describes a new process—requires a “two-print stencil” printing procedure and requires two inline stencil printing machines—for mixed technology packages.

New Year Outlook: Electronics Hardware

Industry veteran Dr. Jennie S. Hwang writes about how "smartness," mobility, connectivity and wearability will drive innovation in end markets and electronics manufacturing process and technologies this year. She also mentions new developments that will make footprints on the advanced technology map.

High-Reliability Interconnects for High-Power LED Assembly

New super-high and ultra-high-power LED package designs provide high lumen density that can enable significant system cost reductions through fewer LEDs, smaller PCBs, and smaller heat sink size requirements. This, however, puts significant performance demands on interconnects (solder joints in particular). This article talks about the role of high-reliability interconnects and where they fit in the LED lighting supply chain.


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