Article Highlights
Implementing a Capacity Planning Tool
09/22/2017 | David Prunier, MC Assembly
RTW SMTAI: MIRTEC on Staying Ahead of the Curve
09/21/2017 | Real Time with...SMTAI
RTW SMTAI: Gary Tanel Discusses How SMTA Helps the Industry Evolve
09/20/2017 | Real Time with...SMTAI
Drying Boards after Rework Cleaning—To Do or Not to Do?
09/19/2017 | Bob Wettermann, BEST Inc.
What's Up in Scandinavia's EMS Industry?
09/18/2017 | Dieter G. Weiss, Weiss Engineering
SMT :: Assembly

Latest Articles

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, Launch.It 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.


The Road Less Traveled (Part 3): Why Process Controls and Pride Matter

In the last piece of this three-part article series, Zentech Manufacturing Inc.'s Judy Warner writes about the importance of SMT process controls and pride of ownership, and how having them as part of the company culture can lead to manufacturing and service excellence and success.

Selecting a Wave Soldering System, Part 3

In my last column, we discussed the attributes of the various types of wave solder systems, the most common through-hole assembly system for small- to mid-volume operations. In this chapter, we will dive a little deeper and address board handling techniques; in particular, the three common methods of running boards in wave soldering.

The Road Less Traveled (Part 2): Why Equipment Matters

In Part 1 of this article series, Zentech's Judy Warner shared the first of three legitimate differentiators to consider when selecting a contract manufacturing partner: the differentiating power of certifications and training. In Part 2, she writes about the importance of continually investing in the best equipment.

The Road Less Traveled (Part 1): Contract Manufacturing Differentiators

The word "differentiator" is tossed around a lot these days in the electronics industry—especially within the contract manufacturing (CM) community. When evaluating a new potential CM partner, decision makers frequently ask: "What would you say differentiates your organization from other contract manufacturers?" This article talks about three powerful and very real difference-makers that would set a CM apart from the competition.

Medical Electronics: Risks and Opportunities for Electronics Manufacturers

Brian Morrison, director for value engineering & technology at SMTC Corp., discusses the manufacturing challenges facing electronics manufacturing service providers when it comes to medical electronics, the impact that the medical market had on the electronics manufacturing industry, and the increasing need for risk management, design control and traceability in the sector.

Doug Pauls Explains Ion Chromatography

Doug Pauls, principal materials and process engineer at Rockwell Collins and chair of the IPC Cleaning and Coating Committee, drew upon his 25 years' experience in the use of ion chromatography for electronics assembly improvement to discuss ROSE techniques, how ion chromatography can be used to determine electronic cleanliness, what specifications exist and how they were derived, and how ion chromatography can be used for process troubleshooting and optimization.

Vapor Phase Technology is a Viable Solution, but Carries a Learning Curve

Vapor phase reflow solder technology is a technology that has come of age in an era where its efficiency in reflowing densely packed printed circuit board assemblies is highly valued, since the vapor blanket immersion process ensures perfect wetting and void-free, high-quality solder joints. The challenge is properly sizing the machine to likely workloads and optimizing the necessary profiles. The end result is improved quality, better line flexibility and lower energy consumption.

The Jefferson Project: Educating the Next Generation in Applied Manufacturing Sciences (Pt. 1)

Tom Borkes, founder of The Jefferson Project and the forthcoming Jefferson Institute of Technology, sat down with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman during the recent SMTAI and provided his well-researched plan to bring manufacturing to engineering undergraduate students by bringing students to manufacturing, through a hands-on, real world learning experience.

What You Need to Know About Dispensing

In an interview with I-Connect007, Garrett Wong, technical product manager at Nordson ASYMTEK, discusses the latest innovations in dispensing technology as well as important considerations when it comes to reliability, quality and speed.

Medical EMS: Opportunities Abound

Megatrends such as the increasingly ageing population and growing demand in emerging economies worldwide bode well for the medical electronics assembly industry. However, challenges such as margin pressures, compliance costs and risks, supply chain instability, and new product introduction headaches are hindering a more aggressive prognosis of the industry. But, with innovation, medical manufacturers can churn out more.


Lost in the System: How Traceability can Solve the Problem of Counterfeit Materials

The word "counterfeit" encompasses a wide range of activities that are happening continuously in an "underground” SMT supply chain. In this article, Michael Ford of Mentor Graphics Valor Division investigates why this is so, and highlights how the SMT industry can eliminate counterfeit components in the supply chain.

Valtronic Highlights Vital Components in Medical Electronics Manufacturing

Jay Wimer, executive vice president of the Valtronic Group, and president and CEO of Valtronic USA, discusses the impact of the medical market on the electronics manufacturing industry, the challenges facing medical electronics manufacturers and technology providers, and how the trends happening in the medical electronics segment are driving innovation in electronics manufacturing.

Top 10 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Medical EMS Company

Once the decision has been made to use an EMS company, selecting the right one involves several steps. Although most EMS companies perform the same basic services, every EMS company is different. In this article, Mo Ohady and David Estes of Digicom Electronics write the 10 key factors to consider when selecting your medical EMS company.

Why Medtech Manufacturers Should Automate Fluid Dispensing Operations

The fluids used to manufacture medical devices applications must be dispensed according to scientific principles—especially as devices shrink, parts are closer together, and substrates become more fragile and more prone to contamination. This article discusses how fluids can be dispensed most precisely, reliably, and repeatedly to help manufacturers save materials, time, labor, and resources.

Medical Electronics: Manufacturing Vitals

With the rapidly growing aging population, rising healthcare costs and increasing health awareness, opportunities abound in consumer medical devices, diagnostics, imaging, and instrumentation. However, the medical electronics industry is not without its own set of challenges. The January 2016 issue of SMT Magazine highlights the manufacturing challenges and opportunities in this growing sector.

Nordson EFD Discusses Dispensing Technologies, Solder Reliability and Innovation

Philippe Mysson, business development manager for solder paste at Nordson EFD, discusses a host of solder-related issues, including reliability, the benefits of solder paste dispensing systems, challenges facing their customers and how Nordson EFD is helping to address those issues, and finally, latest trends driving innovation in solder alloys.

Selecting a Wave Soldering System, Part 2

In his last column, Robert Voigt introduced the various types of through-hole soldering techniques, which include: manual, dip, drag, wave, and selective. In the continuation of his new article series, he talks about wave soldering—the most common and efficient form of through-hole soldering available—and the steps in selecting a wave system depending on your needs.

No Time for a Board Spin? Selective Solder Mask Removal

Outside of re-spinning the board and starting over, there are several processes that can selectively remove solder mask in a controlled and consistent fashion. Some are better controlled than others and include mechanical abrasion, chemical etching, and micro and laser ablation. This article discusses different methods for solder mask removal and their benefits and drawbacks.

EMS Providers: Maintaining Competitiveness and Seeking Significance

The EMS industry faces myriad difficulties. A new report by analyst firm New Venture Research notes that the global EMS industry is anticipated to grow a mere 6.4% CAGR from US$336 billion in 2014 to US$458 billion in 2019. In this article, Frederick Blancas writes about how EMS firms can maintain their competitiveness and find opportunities in the current economic environment.

2015’s Most Read SMT Articles

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


Pete’s Top Ten SMT Articles for 2015

Every year, our technical editor and industry veteran Pete Starkey picks his choose of the 10 best SMT technical articles for the year. Check them out.

iNEMI: Leading the Way to Successful Electronics Manufacturing

iNEMI CEO Bill Bader talks about the consortium’s goals and mission, its collaborative projects, as well as its roadmap for the electronics manufacturing industry. Bader also highlights iNEMI’s milestones in line with the major trends that have happened in the electronics industry, including the transition to lead-free, addressing tin whisker growth, and the move towards HFR-free PCB materials.

Alpha Talks Challenges of Solder Recycling

Jason Fullerton, customer technical support engineer with Alpha, talked with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about his presentation on recycling solder and why doing this in-house is not a good idea. He also discussed about the new, smaller particle solder pastes and about Alpha’s recycling program that is really beneficial to their customers.

The Key to Understanding Industry 4.0: Show, Don’t Tell!

At the recent productronica event in Germany, Mentor Graphics set up a racecar track in their booth. In an interview with I-Connect007, Michael Ford, senior marketing development manager at Mentor's Valor Division, explains why it's a perfect analogy for understanding Industry 4.0.

SMART Group: The Guiding Influence in the Electronics Industry

Founded in 1984, the SMART Group promotes advanced manufacturing technologies and helps companies cope with the challenges of surface mount technology. In an interview with I-Connect007, Keith Bryant, chairman of SMART Group, discusses the association, its activities, and how it is supporting the electronics manufacturing and SMT industries.

Honeywell Paper Investigates Avionics Vibration Durability

Dr. Joseph Juarez, principal mechanical engineer at Honeywell International, discusses with I-Connect007's Andy Shaughnessy his SMTA paper, which addresses avionics vibration durability between tin-lead and lead-free solder, the years of testing he conducted, the importance of doing a good soldering job, and some of the surprising findings of his research.

Digitalization on the Horizon

In the evolution towards the smart manufacturing paradigm, end-user requirements are set to evolve and become more complex than ever before. But the current scenario will also provide the biggest opportunity to realign one's existing business approach and forge alliances and partnerships with market participants. As manufacturers look to the future, they need to examine how advanced information and communication technologies can boost their value creation.

Low-Temperature Thick Film Pastes Permit Lead-Free Soldering

There has been an increased interest in low-temperature polymer thick film products that perform at the same level as their high-temperature counterparts, including high reliability, strong adhesion, and solderability with lead-free solders. This article talks about a new, easy-to-process polymer thick film paste compatible with a variety of substrates, features low temperature curing, and offers excellent solderability with SAC305 solder.

AIM Solder Talks Innovations to Address Assembly, Reliability Issues

David Suraski, executive vice president at AIM Solder's assembly materials division, sat down with us at productronica 2015 to discuss the latest industry trends and customer challenges facing the solder industry, and innovations that are helping customers address their issues. Suraski also talked about reliability issues, and how the company is addressing them.

Making Connections with Associations

To provide our readers more information about their associations, this month's issue of SMT Magazine features articles and interviews with SMTA, IPC, iNEMI, SMART Group, and VDMA Productronics, to help understand more their activities, goals, and missions, and how they are helping push forward the electronics manufacturing industry.


Quality is Key

Johnny Ho, vice president and plant manager at Sanmina Kunshan, discusses winning a Diamond Award from Echostar, and their QA challenges, process improvements, and success. He also talks about having a tight inspection and testing process to improve quality, and the importance of working closely with the customer to achieve a common goal.

Mentor’s Michael Ford on Lean for Surface Mount Processes

Michael Ford, senior marketing development manager with Mentor Graphics, Valor Division, discusses with I-Connect007's Andy Shaughnessy his paper presentation on lean systems in surface mount processes. He also talks about how the industry is now starting to look at Industry 4.0, and why the industry should stop focusing on the endless optimization processes, which are still important, but consider the optimization from the point of view of the product.

Echostar Talks Impact of Quality Process Collaboration with Partners

Ron Meier, senior quality assurance and manufacturing engineering manager at Echostar, discusses with I-Connect007's Edy Yu the importance of working closely with your OEM partner and the impact of having the same process and quality goals.

Printed Circuit Board Failures – Causes and Cures

PCBs can fail for a multitude of reasons. And the ability to detect and identify failures during assembly and final test is preferable to having to accept the consequences of field returns. This article details Bob Willis' recent webinar, which described failure mechanisms, demonstrated the use of standard test methods and tricks of the trade, and explained how to eliminate many of the common causes of PCB defects.

Considering Temperature Control as a Cleaning Method

A proper thermal profile more effectively complexes no-clean flux residues, mitigating a potential product reliability issue. This article discusses variables impacting solder joint quality, and how accurately controlling the thermal profile of the solder reflow can improve the cleanliness of the electronics assemblies.

Tremol SMD Talks EMS Trends and Industry Outlook

At the recent productronica 2015 event in Munich, Germany, I interviewed Kiril Yanneff, CEO of Bulgaria-based EMS firm Tremol SMD about the electronics manufacturing landscape in east Europe and his outlook for the industry. He also spoke about the significance of automating production lines.

Connecting the Enterprise

The growing Industrial IoT trend is going to further fuel the explosion of data as more devices and systems on the factory floor get connected. To bring this manufacturing data into the enterprise where it can be used to generate value, investments in technology and equipment and a mindset shift are necessary.

Streamlining PCB Assembly and Test NPI with Shared Component Libraries

PCB assembly designs become more complex year-on-year, yet early-stage form/fit compliance verification of all designed-in components to the intended manufacturing processes remains a challenge. This article discusses two engineering processes specifically designed to enable a high degree of production-portability between a product’s design organization and multiple manufacturing facilities and processes.

A Look at the Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 3

The third installation in Jennie Hwang's five-part series on tin whisker phenomena continues the discussion on key processes engaged in tin whisker growth. She discusses the energy of free surface, recrystallization, and the impact of solubility and external temperature on grain growth.

Selecting a Through-Hole Soldering System, Part 1

This new article series discusses through-hole assembly, and why it is still a viable and important technique that requires an understanding of the various soldering systems available. Part 1 outlines the available methods and provides a brief overview of their strengths and weaknesses.


The New Industrial Era

Key transformative technologies such as big data, analytics, and IoT are ushering in a new industrial era, where new technology forces and innovations are changing the dynamics, risks, and success factors for global manufacturing companies. To be successful in this environment, a mindset shift is required when it comes to deciding what to do and how to take your manufacturing operations to the next level.

Is Automation the Answer to Cycle Time Reduction?

George Liu, sales manager of Finland-based Cencorp Automation, sat for an interview with I-Connect007 to discuss the benefits of automating the backend process to the overall manufacturing line, and why manufacturers need automated solutions now more than ever.

Process Improvements for Cycle Time Reduction

In an interview with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias, industry veteran Randall Williams, a mechanical automation engineer at B&P Automation, explains the importance of reducing cycle time, key metrics to look for when planning for improvement processes in assembly lines, best practices to consider, and how automation can help electronics manufacturers improve their production.

Cycle Time Reduction with WORK, Part I

Lean, theory of constraints, quick response manufacturing, cross training, and SPC are powerful, tried and true methodologies for process improvement--but they are rooted in high-volume manufacturing environments and don't always play nice in a high-mix, low-volume operation. This article talks about the new WORK manufacturing strategy specifically developed to overcome these shortcomings while capitalizing on their strengths.

Reducing Print Cycle Time

Of the several steps in the SMT process, an effective method of increasing throughput is to reduce the cycle time of the rate-controlling process step. This article will discuss two simple experiments that may lead to increased throughput and increased profitability.

Technologies to Enable Quick-Turn PCB Assemblies

Multi-day lead times for PCB assembly are a thing of the past as a few advanced thinking assemblers have worked hard to remove the time-related road blocks, enabling quick prototype assembly. This article highlights the latest technologies and innovations in PCB assembly that help electronics manufacturers continue their rapid development of new products and get to the market faster.

Value Stream Mapping: Operationalizing Lean Manufacturing

By applying value stream mapping (VSM), EMS providers can have a clearer picture of multiple processes involved in a work flow, identify waste and its sources, identify where change is required, standardize the process, and identify potential problems that could be encountered in the future state. It can also be used as a tool for planning as well as for managing changes.

Surface Mount Technology Association—a New Milestone

With a grand mission, SMTA is an international network of professionals who build skills, share practical experience and develop solutions in electronic assembly technologies, including microsystems, emerging technologies, and related business operations. The organization delivers the right information at the right time to empower the workforce, who collectively advances technology, innovates new products, and serves the global industry.

The Need for Speed

I was recently invited to judge the editor’s choice award at National Instrument’s 2015 NI Engineering Impact Awards—ASEAN Regional Contest, and there was one project that I found relevant to our topic for this month’s issue of SMT Magazine. Developed by Gatepacific Circuits Inc., the project improved the process of dispensing paste compared to the manual process done by human operators, and increased the throughput from 500 units to more than 1,000 units.

Tin Whisker Self-Mitigation in Surface Mount Components Attached with Leaded Solder Alloys

This article provides the findings of a lengthy project of soldering electronic components with pure tin finishes with lead-containing solder for the attachment. The object of the project was to determine the conditions under which sufficient alloying of the pure tin finish by lead in the solder is achieved for the purpose of whisker suppression.


Experience is Key

Sanmina's Bernd Enser, VP of Global Automotive, discusses with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias the impact of the latest development trends in cars today on the automotive electronics assembly space, as well as the qualifications required of an EMS provider to get into an automaker's AVL. He also explains why experience is essential to becoming successful in the automotive electronics space, and offers his outlook for the industry.

Benefits of Paralyne Conformal Coatings in Automotive Applications

Automotive systems have been subjected to increasing computerization, applied to virtually all of the vehicle’s operational technology. Since these assemblies are increasingly situated in demanding end-use environments, selection of appropriate conformal coatings for automotive applications is essential to assure efficient performance.

Kyzen Discusses Cleaning On the Stencil Printer

Thomas Forsythe, executive vice president of Kyzen, talks with I-Connect007's Andy Shaughnessy about the latest trends happening at his company and their focus on green cleaning solutions. He also explained the technical paper they presented at the SMTAI 2015 conference, which tackles cleaning on the stencil printer.

Driving Innovation

Arthur Tan, president and CEO of IMI, discusses with I-Connect007’s Stephen Las Marias the latest developments in his company, some of the trends happening in the automotive electronics space, the challenges he is seeing in Asia, as well as the opportunities for growth. He also touches on some of the latest technologies that will help improve the assembly processes.

The Demands on Automated Fluid Dispensing

In an interview with I-Connect007's Barry Matties, Brad Perkins of Nordson ASYMTEK discusses the current demands on dispensing equipment, and the benefits of investing in a high-end dispenser and coating system. He also talks about their strategies to reduce the process time and cycle time of their equipment.

ELCOSINT - The Future of High Temperature Interconnect

The increasing need for electronic assemblies to endure high-temperature operating conditions in aerospace, automotive, oil and gas drilling, power management and renewable energy applications, whether those conditions involve high ambient temperatures, high cycle temperatures or high junction temperatures, is driving the development of high temperature interconnection technologies.

Technica’s Annual Tech Forum a Success

Co-sponsored by ASM Assembly Systems, with active participation from Koh Young Technology and Rehm Thermal Systems, Technica USA's Annual Technology Forum Event held last July 22–23 in San Jose, California, was again a success. The event featured technical presentations and demonstrations on stencil printing, SPI, SMT placement defects, as well as the challenge in complex boards with 03015 parts up to large components.

Choosing the Right Conformal Coating

Phil Kinner, head of conformal coatings at Electrolube, talks to I-Connect007’s Stephen Las Marias about the impact of increasing electronics in cars on conformal coating requirements. He also highlights the best practices that help automotive electronics makers select the correct conformal coating solution for their applications.

A Case Study on Evaluating Manual and Automated Heat Sink Assembly using FEA and Testing

Proper assembly of components is critical in the manufacturing industry as it affects functionality and reliability. In a heat sink assembly, a detailed manual process is often utilized. This article will illustrate the use of strain gauge testing and finite element analysis (FEA) as a simulation tool to evaluate and optimize the heat sink assembly process by manual and automated methods.

Material Considerations for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Assembly

Added complexity in material selection comes from the ever-increasing array of applications in automotive electronics, and one of the newer applications is the deployment of an array of vision and detection systems for driver assistance, collectively known as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).


Mycronic Jet Printer Technology Addresses Board Challenges

Thomas Bredin, area manager and market support and sales for Mycronic, highlighted the unique characteristics of their jet printer, and how this technology helps customers in maintaining the volume distribution of the solder paste over the pad amid today's trends of high mix of small and big components on the same board.

Automotive EMS: Going Beyond Assembly

The trend toward outsourcing in the automotive industry continues as automotive manufacturers strive to capitalize on the technical expertise and cost effectiveness of the EMS providers. For their part, the automotive EMS players have expanded their role through vertical integration and venture into the realm of non-electronics manufacturing.

The New Face of Automotive Traceability

Depending on the level of detail, accuracy, and timeliness of data capture from areas such as quality management, manufacturing, engineering, and supply chain, traceability can become the ultimate quality-management tool, as well as bring enhanced productivity and reduced operating costs.

Selecting a Reflow Oven, Part 2

In this follow-up to Part 1, Robert Voigt writes about heating technologies such as vapor phase, infrared and convection--including their pros and cons; methods of board transportation such as belt conveyor and pin conveyor; and inerting systems.

What’s Driving Automotive Electronics?

Despite optimistic forecasts surrounding the automotive electronics industry, challenges remain, driven by the high level of complexity of devices and electronics being built into cars and the harsh operating conditions that these products are expected to operate in. Find out how equipment suppliers and automotive OEMs and EMS providers are addressing these issues in the September 2015 issue of SMT Magazine.

Collaboration between OEM and EMS to Combat Head-on-Pillowing Defects (Part 2)

There have been many publications, industry workshops, and symposia that describe process mitigation techniques for minimizing the occurrence of head-on-pillow defects during surface mount assembly. In this article, the authors address the root cause of the HoP defect—specifically the link between HoP defects and component warpage.

How Clean is Clean Enough to Achieve Reliable Electronic Hardware?

This article aims to develop an improved test method to measure the resistance on non-cleaned and cleaned test boards using low residue solder pastes under a series of bottom termination components. Testing the location, flux type, quantity and mobility may provide an improved risk assessment of reliability expectations.

Addressing Quality and Manufacturability Challenges of Mission-Critical Products

Mission-critical military and aerospace PCBAs are based on 100% SMT and optimized for manufacturability from day one of design. But the reality is that many of these products utilize mixed technology. In many cases, these mixed technology designs often violate industry-standard design guidelines, creating manufacturability issues.

Declaring War on Failure in Electronics

Failure, in electronics, while not necessarily desired by either manufacturer or consumer, is expected. This is not to say that the industry has not attempted to improve reliability. In this article, Verdant Electronics' Joseph Fjelstad writes that much is being done in an effort to improve reliability with new solder alloys, new fluxes, new materials, new equipment and process parameters.

Stencils: Why They Still Matter

Eric Weissmann, president and CEO of Photo Stencil, discusses with I-Connect007's Barry Matties some important points about the venerable stencil, the latest in stencil innovation, and the impact stencils, blades, and cleanliness can have on product quality.


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