Article Highlights
How CIM and IoT Can Make Your Factory Smart
10/12/2018 | Zac Elliott, Mentor, A Siemens Business
Tips to Improve Soldering Tip Life and Reduce Cost
10/10/2018 | Thermaltronics
The Smart Robot Revolution is Here
10/10/2018 | Pratik Kirve, Allied Analytics
Indium on Voiding and Auto Electronics Test Standard
10/09/2018 | Stephen Las Marias, I-Connect007
The Megadrivers
10/05/2018 | Stephen Las Marias, I-Connect007
SMT :: Assembly

Latest Articles

IoT: Driving Change in Manufacturing

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

How CIM and IoT Can Make Your Factory Smart

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

Tips to Improve Soldering Tip Life and Reduce Cost

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

The Smart Robot Revolution is Here

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

The Megadrivers

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

Electronic Components Market Update

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

Mexico: A New Hub for Electronics Manufacturing

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

Mark Curtin on Large-Board Stencil Printing and Metal Squeegees

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

Should You Send Your PCB Assembler Loose Parts?

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

Interview with a High School Robotics Team Mentor

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


What SMT Component Shortages Mean for Design and Manufacturing Engineers

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

Looking Under the Hood of MLCCs

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

RTW NEPCON South China: Mycronic Discusses Industry 4.0

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

Whitepaper: Electronics Cleanliness Testing

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

Getting More with Cleaning

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

A New Standard for Standards – From Data to Information

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

Is Component Testing Using ROSE Practical?

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

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

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

3D Printing: Enabling a New Manufacturing Landscape

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

Riding Out the Electronic Components Crisis is No Longer an Option

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


Practicing Best Practices

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

Best Practices in Manufacturing: Wave Soldering

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

The Impact of Industry Regulations on Your Supply Chain

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

Use of Lean Manufacturing Principles Enhances Quality and Productivity

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

Full Material Declarations: Removing Barriers to Environmental Data Reporting

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

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

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

5 Supply Chain Questions to Ask Your Assembly Partner

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

Cross Functional Teams Drive Strong Focus on Risk Mitigation and Quality

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

Best Practices to Achieve Zero Defects

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

We Have the Best Practice for That

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


Strategies for Choosing Solder Paste for Successful Electronics Assembly

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

How Investment in Staff Well-Being Impacts Manufacturing Productivity

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

Factronix on Cleaning, the Market and More

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

How DFA Converts Complexity into Freedom for Medical Device Development

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

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

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

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

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

Flex Circuit Assembly: Challenges and Strategies for Success

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

Novel Approach to Void Reduction Using Microflux Coated Solder Preforms

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

Addressing Temperature Challenges in Flex Circuit Rework

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

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

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


Conversation with… Vexos: Doing It Right the First Time

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

Plasmatreat on Atmospheric Pressure Plasma

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

Overcoming Growth Challenges

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

Tackling Reliability Challenges in Low-Temperature Soldering

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

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

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

ASM Assembly Solutions on CFX

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

Reflow Perspectives to Flex Circuit Assemblies

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

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

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

Conversation with Miraco… Strategies for Successful Flex Circuit Assembly

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

Aegis on CFX and Hermes Efforts

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


DFM: Top Ten PCB Concerns

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

Tackling the Challenges in Flex Assembly

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

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

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

Dave Bergman on IPC and CFX

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

West Penn SMTA: New Leadership, Same Commitment

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

It’s Time to Retire ROSE Testing

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

The Michigan SMTA Expo & Tech Forum 2018: A Review

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

DFT Strategy Needed for 5G Assembly

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

How to Apply for a Graduate Scheme in Manufacturing

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

5G: Testing the Future Impact

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


5G Requires a New Approach to Testing

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

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

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

Why Cleaning Still Matters

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

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

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

The Key to Boosting Numbers of Women in Manufacturing

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

Modeling an SMT Line to Improve Throughput

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

Elements to Consider on BGA Assembly Process Capability

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

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

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

8 Terms Commonly Used When Buying Electronic Components

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

Design and Manufacturing Perspectives from DISH Technology’s Les Beller

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


LPKF Sees Increasing Use of UV Lasers

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

Launching a Manufacturing Career Via an Apprenticeship

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

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

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

3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing in PCBA

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

Combining Strengths Synergistically: PDS and Green Circuits

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

Under the Hood: Solder Joint Reliability

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

How to Secure a Place on an Electronics Manufacturing Graduate Scheme

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

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

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

RTW NEPCON CHINA: Mycronic Discusses Recent Acquisitions

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

System-Driven Approach Ensures Automotive Electronics Assembly Success

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


What's the Scoop? APEX CFX Showcase

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

SMT Renting: A Trend for the Future?

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

Poor Supply Chain Management Will Cost You Money

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

Industry 4.0 Concerns

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

5 Ideas to Enhance the Induction Process in Manufacturing

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

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

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

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

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

Stencil Printing Techniques for Challenging Heterogeneous Assembly Applications

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

How to Assess Top Talent when Recruiting for Key Manufacturing Roles

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

Automotive Electronics Still in the Driver’s Seat

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


Why AOI is a Must-have for PCB Assembly

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

Interview with Linda Woody: Dieter Bergman IPC Fellowship Award Recipient

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

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

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

Industry 4.0 Technologies: If Only I Had Known

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

Cleaning with Data

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

5 Techniques Used to Detect Counterfeit Electronic Components

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

Electronics Manufacturing (R)evolution

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

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

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

Manufacturability: Pad Relief and Mask Relationship to Solder Joint Volume

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

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

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


Setting Clear Boundaries with Your EMS Provider

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

Exceeding Customer Expectations

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

The IoT Event of The Decade

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

The Vital Role of Solder Paste Printing in New Product Introduction

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

9 Essentials of an Electronics Contract Manufacturer

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

Working with Customers: A Consultant's Perspective

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

6 Questions to Assess Your Company's IoT Readiness

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

Why the Right Preparation is Crucial for Your NPI

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

Improving SMT Yield and Reducing Defects: A Rauland Case Study

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

Growing with the Customer

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


Designing Electronics for Harsh Conditions

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

Talk to Your Customers

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

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

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

Why You Should Invest In Package Testing

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

Tips & Tricks: Machine Assist Time

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

Should You Be Outsourcing Product Design?

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

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

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

The Importance of Feedback in the Electronics Assembly Supply Chain

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

Working with Your Customers

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

What's Driving Manufacturing Investment in 4IR?

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


Making the Right Equipment Selection

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

Selecting X-Ray Inspection Equipment

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

How Engineering Support Can Affect QC

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

Indium's Karthik Vijay Talks Engineering for Automotive Applications

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

7 Simple Ways to Motivate Your Electronics Manufacturing Staff

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

The Importance of Product Testing for Quality, Reliability and Durability

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

Improving Design, Manufacturing and Assembly Teamwork

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

Tips & Tricks: Assembly Panelization

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

Is UK Manufacturing Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

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

PCB Pad Repair Techniques

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


Focus on the New

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

Why You Want Your EMS Partner to Be Annoying and Boring

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

14 Lessons in Diagnostic Instrument Development

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

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Columns of 2017

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

What Does Digital Twinning Mean for Manufacturing?

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

Top 10 Most-Read SMT Articles of 2017

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

Top Reasons for Investing in New Equipment

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

Evaluation of Stencil Technology for Miniaturization

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

Koh Young Europe Ready for Next Year, and Beyond

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

The Year of IoT Digitalization

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


Solder Printing Process Inputs Impacting Distribution of Paste Volume

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

Tips & Tricks: Generating Stencil Tooling

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

Improving Solder Paste Printing

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

9 Ways to Keep Up with Changes in Manufacturing Technology

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

Two Questions to Ask Yourself with PCB Continuous Strips of Parts

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

Equipment Matters in Solder Paste Printing

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

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

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

What Matters Most is Communication

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

DFx on High-Density Assemblies

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

Is Your EMS Provider The One for You?

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


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

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

How to Ensure Good Service from Your EMS Partner

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

Optimal Electronics Sets Sight on Growth

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

Solder Preforms 101: Ask the Expert

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

HDI Considerations: Interview with ACDi's Garret Maxson

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

5 Simple Elements to Guarantee Outsourcing Success

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

Dealing with Vias-in-Pad

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

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

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

Reliability of ENEPIG by Sequential Thermal Cycling and Aging

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

Creating the Perfect Solder Joint

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


Cleaning Trends: The Challenges of Miniaturization and Proximity

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

Soldering Tip: Key to Good Solder Joints

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

Achieving the Perfect Solder Joint: The Many Perspectives on Soldering

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

Surprising European EMS Market Numbers

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

Should I Involve My EMS Partner in DFM?

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

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

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

Test Solutions Your EMS Partner Should Offer

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

Counterfeit: A Quality Conundrum

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

Rework and Reball Challenges for Wafer Level Packages

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

Eight Factors a CEM Should Know About its Suppliers

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


Three Reasons to Use PCB Panel Routing Techniques

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

BTC and SMT Rework Challenges

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

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

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

Is Hybrid Technology Gaining Momentum?

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

The Root Causes & Solutions for Warped PC Boards

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

Sensible Design: Thermal Management—The Heat is On

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

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

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

Rework and Reliability: Less is More!

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

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

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

A Look Into PCBA Rework and Repair

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


Should You Entrust Your EMS Provider With Your Supply Chain?

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

Improving the Rework Process

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

House of Cards

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

NEPCON South China 2017 Opens Today

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

Your 6-Point Guide to Finding the Right EMS Provider

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

Sourcing PCBA: Can Your EMS Supplier Do More?

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

Empowering the Workforce Through Training: An Investment Return

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

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

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

Training and Education: Key to Improving Electronics Assembly

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

Cleaning that Matters

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


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

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

QFN Center Pads on PCBs

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

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

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

How Much of My Electronics Manufacturing Should I Outsource?

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

The Need for Assembly Training and Education

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

Counterfeit Electronic Components Identification: A Case Study

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

The Role of Industry Associations in Training and Education

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

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

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

Thermal Indicator Technology for Aerospace Wire Harness Assemblies

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

Mil/Aero Assembly Success

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


Field Failure is Not an Option

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

An Alternative Approach to Vertical Integration in Manufacturing

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

Using Paste Flux for Rework

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

Does Your EMS Provider Have an Industry 4.0 Roadmap?

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

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

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

EMS Firm Tsukiden Electronics Seeing More Business in Prototypes

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

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

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

A New Player in the Philippine EMS Industry

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

How Important DFM is for Your Electronics Assembly Partner

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

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

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


Assembly Training and Education

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

How to Make a Bad First Impression with an EMS Provider

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

AOI Capabilities Study with 03015 Components

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

Why You Should Have Formal Business Reviews with Your EMS Provider

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

3D: Towards Better Inspection Capability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grow Your Own Training Programs

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

The Role of an Account Manager Within an EMS Provider

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


Zestron Technical Workshop Tackles Next Generation of Cleaning

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

Mentor Graphics: Connecting the Manufacturing Environment

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

Why You Shouldn't Hide Your Supply Chain Issues

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

Voiding Control at High-Power Die-Attach Preform Soldering

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

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

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

The Benefits of Applying Flux Directly to a Micro BGA

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

The Challenge of Filling PCB Assembly Positions

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

Predicting Solder Paste Transfer Efficiency and Print Volume

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

The Complex World of Soldering

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

Virtex on Military and Aerospace Requirements

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


What a Tangled (Soldering) Web We Weave!

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

Your In-depth Guide to Reducing Electronics Manufacturing Waste

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

Achieving Successful Flex Circuit Assemblies

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

JJS Stresses Need for Baking Prior to Flex Circuit Assembly

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

Fixturing: Key to Accurate Flex Circuit Assembly

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

Rework and Repair on Flex Circuits

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

Strategies for Addressing Flex Circuit Assembly Pain Points

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

How to Solder SMT Components with Varying Solder Paste Heights

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

Supportive Tooling: The Magic Ingredient for Flex Circuit Assembly

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

Miniature Components on PCBs Requires Flexible Cleaning Methods

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


Navigating the Complex World of Flex Circuit Assembly

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

Assembly of Flexible Circuits

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

Evaluating a PCB Assembler

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

Electrolube Talks Technologies Targeted at Automotive and LED Applications

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

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

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

Alpha on New Technologies to Tackle Voiding

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

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

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

SMT Xtra Discusses Expansion Plans in the US

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

How Servitisation Can Enable Manufacturing Sales Growth

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

How Can I Compare EMS Providers and Create My Shortlist?

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

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

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

Industry 4.0: Nine Key Points Electronics Manufacturers Must Not Ignore

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Electrolube Discusses New Conformal Coating Technologies

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

Metcal Brings Big Science and High Reliability to Hand Soldering

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

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

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

11 Points to Consider When Buying Selective Soldering Equipment

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

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

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


What’s Driving the Rapidly Changing Electronics Assembly Industry

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

Continuous Improvement in Electronics Manufacturing

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

Achieving Repeatable, Consistent Control over the Selective Soldering Production Process

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

What to Look for When Auditing an Electronics Manufacturing Facility

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

The Impact of Via and Pad Design on QFN Assembly

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

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

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

Evaluation of the Use of ENEPIG in Small Solder Joints

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

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

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

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

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

CES 2017: Disruptive Technologies

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


Plating and Surface Finish: Assemblers' POV

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

How to Choose Your Outsourcing Project Team

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

Choosing the Correct Flux—Advantages/Disadvantages

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

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

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

5 Reasons Why OEMs Outsource to EMS Providers

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

CES 2017: Press Day, LaunchIt and Showstoppers

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

Reducing Warpage on BGAs During Rework

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

Editor's Note: Understanding Plating and Surface Finishing

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

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

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

How to Build Up Trust in a Manufacturing Outsourcing Relationship

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


The Hunt for the Best Pre-Owned SMT Equipment Supplier

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

How to Create the Perfect SMT Reflow Oven Profile

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

Sales and Marketing in a Digital Transformation Reality

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

Meeting Current and Future Requirements of the Automotive Industry

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

EMS Industry Sales and Marketing: Why Strategies Vary Widely

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

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

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

Rework and Repair Standard Getting Updated

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

How to Avoid a PCB Supply Shortage During Chinese New Year

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

Digi ConnectCore 6UL Creates a Big Buzz at electronica

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

LA/Orange County SMTA Tech Expo a Success

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Reasons Why Outsourcing to an EMS Provider Can Go Wrong

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

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

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

The Hidden Costs when Outsourcing your Electronics Manufacturing

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

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

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

Living Up to Their Name at Alpha Assembly Solutions

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

The Impact of Vias on PCB Assembly

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


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