Latest Articles

Koh Young Opens New North American Facility

Koh Young America recently opened its new corporate headquarters for the Americas outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I attended the open house and spoke with Joel Scutchfield, director of sales for the Americas, about the state-of-the-art facility and the benefits of relocating to the East Coast.

So Many Standards Committees, So Little Time

During the IPC Summer Meetings and Panelpalooza in Raleigh, North Carolina, I met with Leo Lambert, vice president and director of technology at EPTAC. We discussed IPC’s recent efforts to revamp the way standards are developed and interpreted as well as changes to training and education committees and a variety of methods for eliminating errors and duplicated comments when revising standards.

Juan Arango on Koh Young’s New U.S. Headquarters

At a recent open house, Managing Director Juan Arango talks about his role in the company’s transition from their Arizona facility to a new headquarters located outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Juan details many of the benefits customers can expect, including brand new spaces dedicated to customer demos as well as training.

Meet Zulki Khan, SMT007 Columnist

Meet Zulki Khan, one of our newest SMT007 columnists! Khan’s columns address new frontiers in upcoming manufacturing techniques, including challenges in the marriage of SMT and microelectronics manufacturing and the critical aspects involved.

Discover the Benefits of a Technology Center

Nico Fahrner, application engineer at Rehm Thermal Systems, talks with Barry Matties about the benefits prospective customers get from being able to fully test their systems in-line at Rehm’s technology centers before purchasing.

Is Your EMS Partner Up to Speed With WEEE 'Open Scope?'

E-waste encompasses a myriad of "unseen" metals, semi-metals, and chemical compounds that are found inside circuit boards, wires, and electrical connections. If not handled correctly, chemicals—such as cadmium, barium, lithium, lead, mercury, and beryllium—can present a significant health risk through direct contact, the inhalation of toxic fumes, or the build-up of toxins in water, soil, and food products.

Breaking the Stereotype: Millennials in Manufacturing

Goodwinds Composites is a company that I have watched grow from a small distributor serving the hobby industry to a full-fledged manufacturer serving many industries. Leland Holeman and his sister, Amelia Cook have worked together for the past 12 years to transform this company into a healthy business.

SMTAI 2019: To the Moon and Beyond

W. Michael Hawes, D.Sc., gave a great keynote at SMTAI 2019 titled, “To the Moon! Orion's Next Giant Leap Into Deep Space.” Dr. Mike Hawes is currently the VP for human space exploration and the Orion Program manager for Lockheed Martin. Barry Matties spoke with him afterward to discuss the technology innovations that empower the next-generation spacecraft to take astronauts to explore farther than humankind has ever ventured.

SMTAI 2019: Carmichael Gugliotti Discusses His First SMTAI Paper

Carmichael Gugliotti, process specialist at MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions, discusses his first STMAI paper presentation with Andy Shaughnessy. Gugliotti's paper focuses on periodic pulse plating of mid-aspect ratio PCBs.

SMTAI 2019: SAFI-Tech's No-Heat SAC305—A Possible Gamechanger

Ian Tevis is CTO and founder of SAFI-Tech, a startup focusing on SMT solutions. He explains how he founded SAFI-Tech right after college and details the benefits of the company's first product, No-Heat SAC305.


SMTAI 2019: MIRTEC's Newest Product Introduced at SMTAI

Brian D'Amico, MIRTEC president, updates Nolan Johnson on the healthy business environment on the show floor and the company's new product that was introduced at SMTAI. D'Amico also shares his view on industry challenges providing connectivity for smart factory productivity.

IPC Electronics Materials Forum 2019

IPC will be holding its Electronics Materials Forum 2019 from November 5–7, 2019, in Bloomington, Minnesota. The Electronics Materials Forum is a new technical conference focused on developments in materials and processes associated with advanced electronics assembly and manufacturing.

SMTAI 2019: KIC's New, Smart Factory Products

MB Allen, manager of applications and sales for KIC, and Karl Pfluke, regional sales manager, update Nolan Johnson on their new product announcement from earlier this year. They also address the company's ongoing work on smart factory products.

Chuck Bauer: SMTAI 2019 Founder's Award Recipient

At the recent SMTAI conference and exhibition, Chuck Bauer, Ph.D., senior managing director at TechLead Corporation, received the Founder's Award, a prestigious award given to a member who has made exceptional contributions to the industry and provided ongoing support and service to the SMTA.

SMTAI 2019: Chris Bastecki on Low-temperature Solder Challenges and Products

Chris Bastecki, director of global PCB assembly at Indium Corporation, discussed challenges of low-temperature solder and the company's new product, Durafuse LT, which provides novel properties and reliability.

SMTAI 2019: Company Updates and Future J-STD-001 Changes

Nolan Johnson speaks with Graham Naisbitt, chairman and CEO of Gen3 Systems, and Andy Naisbitt, operations director, about how they just signed an agreement with a new distributor. Graham also discussed upcoming J-STD-001 changes and Gen3's shift to a more consultative customer model.

SMTA Additive Electronics Conference: Industry Trends

Mainstream PCB manufacturing is often limited to 50-75 microns (mm) line and space. But the electronics industry is evolving quickly. Propelled by the demand for more sophisticated electronics, PCB design is being tasked with finer lines, thinner materials, and smaller via sizes.

SMTAI 2019: Creative Electron's Mobile X-ray Van and LED-specialized Equipment

Nolan Johnson and CEO Bill Cardoso discuss Creative Electron's new equipment that specializes in LED applications and the company's X-ray van—the "mobile trade show" and demo platform.

ODB++: Transforming Ideas Into Products

The ODB format originated with the objective of delivering on this need. The format was originally introduced for use by PCB fabricators, eliminating the need for a collection of CAM files in multiple formats—such as Gerber, Excellon, IPC-356, or even IPC-350, which was an early attempt to simplify this process. The key to the success of ODB was that it obtained industry acceptance.

Catching up With Niche Electronics

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


Real Time with... SMTAI 2019 Video Interviews

The SMTA International Conference and Exhibition 2019, which took place September 22–26, 2019, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, concluded successfully. For those of you who were not able to make it to the show, catch our video interviews with the movers and shakers of the electronics industry. We've updated our video presentation for a better experience for our users, so check it out!

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

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

SMTAI 2019: Juan Arango Discusses Koh Young America's New Headquarters

Andy Shaughnessy speaks with Juan Arango, managing director of Koh Young America, about their new corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, which is located near most of their U.S. customer base.

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

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

SMTAI 2019: Kristen Mattson on the SMTAI Vacuum Reflow Systems Demo

Kristen Mattson, marketing principal at BTU International Inc., and Nolan Johnson discuss the vacuum reflow demo that's running on the show floor and the program with the American Competitiveness Institute where they have PYRAMAX vacuum reflow systems available for customer process evaluation.

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

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

SMTAI 2019: Tom Forsythe on Cleaning Challenges and Solutions

Andy Shaughnessy speaks with Tom Forsythe, KYZEN executive VP, about the challenges created by continually increasing densities as well as some of the company's newest cleaning solutions.

Insertion Loss Performance Differences Due to Plated Finish and Circuit Structure

Data will be presented for loss versus frequency for six different plated finishes commonly used in the PCB industry, and opinions will be offered as to why the loss behavior differs for the different plated finishes and for the different circuit configurations. Because the insertion loss of high-frequency circuits also depends on substrate thickness, circuits fabricated on substrates with different thicknesses will be evaluated to analyze the effects of substrate thickness on insertion loss.

Real Time with… SMTAI 2019 Slideshow

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

SMTAI 2019: Lenora Clark Discusses Company Changes and Her New Role

Lenora Clark, director of autonomous driving and safety technology at MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions (and co-organizer for the upcoming SMTA Additive Electronics Conference), and Nolan Johnson discuss her new role, recent company reorganization, and the synergies customers are seeing.


SMTAI 2019: Technical Sessions Overview and 2020 Preview

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

SMTA 2019 International Awards

The SMTA International conference—held September 22–29, 2019, at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois—honored industry members with awards for their contributions to the industry. I-Connect007 has compiled an unofficial list of award recipients. The official list from SMTA will be released shortly, and I-Connect007 will publish it as soon as it is available.

SMTAI 2019: EPTAC Continues Its Expansion

Andy Shaughnessy and Brenda Clunie, VP of operations for EPTAC, discuss the company's current growth plans and how its training facilities serve the needs of OEMs who are bringing in new, younger talent.

IPC Panel on Bottom-terminated Components

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

Leo Lambert on Training the Next Generation of Technologists

I sat down for an interview with Leo Lambert, VP of technical director for EPTAC Corporation, during the IPC Summer Meetings in Raleigh, North Carolina. We discussed the company’s growth, including plans to have training centers across different regions of the country to help cut down on students’ travel times, and why training methods must constantly evolve to remain effective.

SMTAI 2019: Gary Tanel Provides an SMTA Update

SMTA Ambassador Gary Tanel gives Andy Shaughnessy an update on his work with Electronics Alliance and the Dallas chapter of SMTA. He also discusses the JoAnn Stromberg Student Leader Scholarship Award and the Charles Hutchins Educational Grant.

Real Time with... SMTAI 2019 Videos Now Live

If you couldn't make it to SMTAI 2019, be sure to catch I-Connect007’s video interviews with the movers and shakers of the electronics industry. We’ve updated our video presentation for a better experience for our users, so check it out!

Standards Through Time: Changing to Stay the Same

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

Combating ESD: The Silent Assassin in Electronics Manufacturing

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

Additive Electronics Conference Set for October 2019

Tara Dunn, president of Omni PCB and I-Connect007 columnist, and Lenora Clark, director of autonomous driving and safety technology at MacDermid Alpha Automotive, discuss what can be expected from the upcoming Additive Electronics Conference in San Jose, California, the impetus and motivation behind the conference, and who can benefit the most from attending.


Meet Chris Ellis, SMT007 Columnist

Meet Chris Ellis, one of our newest SMT007 columnists! In his columns, Ellis addresses common problems that Manncorp customers have had with the in-house conversion process, and shares solutions that have worked in the past.

Weaving Advocacy into E-Textiles

Electronic textiles (e-textiles) – fabrics that have electronics embedded in them to achieve certain functions – are of growing interest in the electronics manufacturing industry, and thus they are of growing interest to the IPC Government Relations team as well.

The Long Road to a New Standard

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

The Convergence: IPC Merging CFX With IPC-2581

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

To Improve the Standards Process, Get Involved

Jan Pedersen, senior technical advisor at Elmatica, and Ray Prasad, president of Ray Prasad Consultancy Group, spoke with the I-Connect007 team about the current state of PCB standards and where the process might need improvements, including the many difficulties around transparency, slow updates, limitless numbers of variations, and a variety of other topics.

SigmaTron Reports Q1 Financial Results for Fiscal 2020

Revenues increased to $74.0 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2020 from $71.4 million for the same quarter in the prior year.

How Digitalization Is Transforming the Electronics Manufacturing Industry

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

Comparing Soldering Results of ENIG and EPIG Post-steam Exposure

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

Rules or Recommendations?

There are rules, and then there are recommendations. One person's rule might be another person's recommendation and vice versa. That is where standards come into play. What are they? What do they mean? How do they get specified? And what are the impacts on our industry? Read on to find out.

Solder Mask Evolves into a Truly Additive Process

The 5G era is creating quite a bit of work for many PCB engineers as the materials required to keep up with the speed, frequency, and latency requirements need to be defined and qualified. Solder mask, for example, now becomes a truly additive process. Read on to find out how and why.


Selecting the Proper Flex Coverlayer Material

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

PCB Design Training: More Critical Than Ever

I interviewed Gary Ferrari of FTG at the IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore. Gary is a co-founder of the IPC Designers Council and a longtime advocate for PCB design and PCB designers. We discussed the crucial role that PCB designers play in the entire electronics development process, and how IPC and the Designers Council are helping to educate and inform the next generation of designers.

eSMART Factory Conference 2019, Day 2

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

Meet Dr. Bill Cardoso, SMT007 Columnist

Dr. Bill Cardoso started his first company at age 17 in Brazil, selling it a few years later to work for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, where he led research in nuclear physics to build the equipment that discovered the Higgs Boson (and the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics). After 10 years at Fermilab, he moved from Chicago to sunny San Diego to start Creative Electron in his garage in 2008.

eSMART Factory Conference 2019, Day 1

The recent eSMART Factory Conference in June in Dearborn, Michigan, was the second annual conference on the smart factory. SMTA described it as "A technical conference with a focus on electronics manufacturing from software systems/processes to augmented reality and smart inspection." In this article, Happy Holden gives us the highlights of the conference.

Meet Our Newest Columnists From NCAB Group

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

Automated Conformal Coating of CCAs Using Polyurethane

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

IEEE’s 5G Future

Dan Feinberg speaks with Kathy Grise, IEEE Future Directions senior program director, at the AWE conference recently in San Jose, California. In this excerpt, Dan and Kathy discuss the impending impact of 5G technology and related immersive technologies, including autonomous driving, XR, AR, and VR.

Conformal Coating Processes and Trends

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

Dispensing EMI Shielding Materials: An Alternative to Sputtering

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


Whizz Systems on Competing in Silicon Valley

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

Nano Dimension Details New DragonFly LDM

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

Bill Brooks on Teaching PCB Design at Palomar College

Bill Brooks of Nordson ASYMTEK is a long-time PCB designer and one of the first people to teach PCB design courses in a college setting. He recently spoke with the I-Connect007 editorial team about his history in design and his time as a PCB design instructor, the curriculum he developed and taught, and various techniques that might be enacted today to better educate the designers of tomorrow.

The Role of Parylene Conformal Coatings in Next-gen Electronics

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

Development of Flexible Hybrid Electronics

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

Seven Key Steps to Selecting a New EMS Partner

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

Names to Know: Up and Comers in U.S. Congress

When major news occurs in the U.S. Congress, you usually hear the names of top congressional leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Meet Chris Mitchell, I-Connect007 Columnist

Chris Mitchell is vice president for global government affairs at IPC—Association Connecting Electronics Industries—where he is responsible for development and implementation of the organization’s global advocacy efforts and public policy agenda with a focus on electronics industry business improvement, environment, health and safety, and defense initiatives.

Conformal Coating Selection: Conventional vs. Two-part

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

IEEE's Future Directions Programs Target Reliability

Dan Feinberg speaks with Kathy Grise, IEEE Future Directions senior program director, at the AWE conference recently in San Jose, California. In this excerpt, Dan and Kathy discuss the importance of reliability, blockchain, recruiting younger generations, etc.


Recent Advances in X-ray Technology: SMTA Webinar Recap

Technical Editor Pete Starkey recently attended a webinar on advances in X-ray technology and its applications in the electronics industry, as presented by Keith Bryant, Chair of SMTA Europe, on behalf of SMTA India. Here are the highlights of the webinar.

IPC Reliability Forum Wrap-up With Brook Sandy-Smith

I attended the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore, Maryland. The speakers and panelists focused on a variety of topics, but one issue that kept popping up was the failure of some microvias on military and aerospace PCBs. Fortunately, some smart technologists are focusing on determining the cause of these via failures. I asked Brook Sandy-Smith, IPC’s technical education program manager, to give us a quick wrap-up of this event.

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

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

The Exciting Details Behind IPC’s Pledge to America’s Workers

In the nine months since IPC joined in President Trump’s “Pledge to America’s Workers” and committed to creating 1 million new skilled workforce opportunities over the next five years – a fair question has been asked: Are we taking credit for actions we would have done anyway? Was this motivated by politics?

IPC’s Hand Soldering Competition Program: A Brief History

The history of the IPC Hand Soldering Competition (HSC) grew from the 2010 Scandinavian Electronics Event which saw the first Swedish Championship in hand soldering organized by Lars Wallin IPC Europe, Lars-Gunnar Klag and Krister Park.

Advancement of SPI Tools to Support Industry 4.0 and Package Scaling

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

IPC High-reliability Forum and Microvia Summit Review, Part II

The Microvia Summit on May 16 was a special feature of the 2019 event in Baltimore, since microvia challenges and reliability issues have become of great concern to the PCB manufacturing industry. It provided updates on the work of members of the IPC V-TSL-MVIA Weak Interface Microvia Failures Technology Solutions Subcommittee and opportunities to learn about latest developments in methods to reveal and explain the presence of latent defects, identify causes and cures, and be able to consistently and confidently supply reliable products.

Denny Fritz: The Difference Between Quality and Reliability

I recently spoke with industry veteran (and I-Connect007 columnist) Denny Fritz about the relationship between quality and reliability—two terms that are unequal but often used interchangeably. We also discuss the current state of lead-free solders in the U.S. military and defense market as well as the microvia reliability issues Denny focused on at IPC’s High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore, Maryland.

Conformal Coatings

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

Words of Advice: Making Life Easier for Fabrication and Assembly

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


How Do I Get Smart With IPC CFX? (Part 2)

The introduction of the CFX standard is the critical trigger that enables smart, flexible factory operation in line with business needs. The technology is simple to adopt, which creates a true “plug-and-play” environment on which advanced production AI software technologies can be developed.

Outsourcing Electronics Manufacturing: Key to Growth?

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

How Do I Get Smart With IPC CFX? (Part 1)

Today's assembly factories are seeing the biggest challenge to face the industry in a generation, called by many the next industrial revolution. However, in essence, the challenge is a simple extrapolation of trends that have been occurring and increasing in assembly manufacturing for decades. In Part 1 of this two-part article, Michael Ford writes about the history behind the drive for automation in the SMT assembly industry and where CFX fits in.

IPC High-reliability Forum and Microvia Summit Review, Part I

The IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit covered a broad range of topics related to reliability and provided interactive opportunities to share expert knowledge and experience in determining and understanding the causes of failure and selecting the best design rules, materials, processes, and test methods to maximise product reliability.

I-Connect007 Survey on 5G

In the recent I-Connect007 Survey on 5G, we asked the readers whether or not 5G will improve the reliability of communications. The result? While majority said 5G will improve communications, more than half of that number said it will not.

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

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

Crowded Congressional Calendar Affects Industry Priorities

More than five months remain in 2019, but U.S. congressional leaders are already running out of time as they face a long list of must-pass bills before year’s end. Although some of these bills do not affect the electronics industry, some of them do, and the overall agenda does affect the opportunities and risks we face.

The Four Things You Need to Know About Test

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

A Conversation with Karen McConnell—An Emerging Engineer Program Mentor

IPC’s Emerging Engineer program, launched in 2016, provides early career professionals an opportunity to learn from dedicated industry volunteers who participate in IPC standards development. IPC’s editorial staff had the opportunity to talk with one of those dedicated volunteers, mentor Karen McConnell, Senior Staff Engineer CAD CAM, Northrop Grumman, about why she participates as a mentor in IPC’s Emerging Engineer program.

Optimizing Solder Paste Volume for Low-Temperature Reflow of BGA Packages

In this article, Keith Sweatman explains how the volume of low-melting-point alloy paste—which delivers the optimum proportion of retained ball alloy for a particular reflow temperature—can be determined by reference to the phase diagrams of the ball and paste alloys.


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

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

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

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

Surface Treatment Enabling Low-Temperature Soldering to Aluminum

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

Dissecting the IPC Regional Survey on PCB Technology Trends

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

ICT or Flying Probe: Which Test Is Best for Your Assembly?

In-circuit test (ICT) and flying probe are two of the most popular types of automated test equipment (ATE) used in electronic printed circuit board assembly (PCBA).

Failures and Reliability in Soldering

The definition of failure is "the lack of success in doing or achieving something, especially in relation to a particular activity." If the activity is concerning a soldering process, such a failure can have a downstream impact far beyond the actual solder joint. In this regard, it is first necessary to understand what constitutes a good solder joint because appearance is too often deemed a success.

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

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

Low-Temperature SMT Solder Evaluation

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

Cavity Board SMT Assembly Challenges (Part 2)

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

Clean vs. No-clean Solder Process

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


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

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

Reliability vs. Failure

Summer is officially underway here in the Northern Hemisphere, and just like the temperatures, we’re turning up the heat in this issue and getting technical. Enter “Reliability Man,” the hero who must persevere against all the challenges thrown in his path.

Digitalization: Key to the Future of Electronics Manufacturing?

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

Saying Yes to Opportunities: IPC’s Emerging Engineer Program Offers Career Growth for Electronics Industry Newcomers

What makes the IPC Emerging Engineer Program a premier networking and career enriching program? IPC staff spoke to Emerging Engineer Kate Stees, materials and process engineer, Lockheed Martin, about her experience in the program and why she recommends it to other engineers.

Albert Gaines: Design All Comes Down to Documentation

During SMTA Atlanta, I spoke with Albert Gaines of HiGain Design. We discussed Albert’s belief that everything starts with design and that too many engineers and designers focus solely on the final board at the expense of the documentation, which is a designer’s most important product. Do you consider your documentation to be a critical product?

Words of Advice: Making Life Easier for Fabrication and Assembly

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

IPC SummerCom Highlights: A Government Relations Perspective

Last week, IPC hosted SummerCom, our semi-annual standards development committee meetings, in Raleigh, North Carolina. The event brought together thousands of technical experts from around the world to shape the product, manufacturing, and supply-chain standards that guide our industry.

Cavity Board SMT Assembly Challenges (Part 1)

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

3D Optical Inspection Provides ‘Eyes’ for Process Improvements in Industry 4.0

Automated 3D solder paste inspection (SPI) and 3D automated optical inspection (AOI) systems have become an integral part of the printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) process because they help ensure high-quality production. As today’s board complexity is increasing, inspection technology has become even more critical.

AWE 2019: Go XR, Be Awesome

Dan Feinberg attended and covered the recent 2019 Augmented World Expo (AWE) and conference in Santa Clara, California. The event featured the latest developments and technologies in augmented (AR), mixed (MR), virtual (VR), and extended virtual reality (many just call it all XR to make it simple). Here's a wrap-up of the event.


Goepel electronic Solutions, Webinar Series, and Trends

Barry Matties catches up with Matthias Müller to chat about the wide range of test and inspection solutions currently being offered by Goepel electronic as well as the informative webinar series produced by the company to help further educate their customer base and promote technical discussion on a number of topics.

Here's What You Need When Outsourcing Box Build Assembly

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

Data: Key to Automating Right the First Time

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

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

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

What Electronics Companies Need to Know About Environmental Product Requirements

The task of monitoring and complying with environmental, health and safety (EHS) rules that affect electronics companies and their products requires a watchful eye on all levels of government: local, state, national, and international.

Reflow Your Solder and Your Data for Industry 4.0

I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson recently spoke with KIC President and Founder Phil Kazmierowicz and Manager of Applications and Sales MB “Marybeth” Allen as they each transitioned into new roles in the KIC leadership team. The conversation ultimately turned to the current dynamics in the industry, particularly Industry 4.0 and streamlining processes.

IPC’s PCB Tech Trends Study Highlights Issues Impacting Fabricators

The 2018 survey results indicated the need for speed and low loss as critical functions of the materials chosen. This is the digital age, and with the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, etc., the need for low-loss and ultra-low-loss materials continues to grow as a percentage of circuit boards fabricated.

Laserssel Brings High-speed Soldering to New Application Areas

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

4 Key Considerations When Auditing a New EMS Partner

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

Minimizing Voids in Solder Joints

Dr. Hans Bell of Rehm Thermal Systems, Henryk Maschotta of Thales Deutschland GmbH, and Dr. Heinz Wohlrabe of TU Dresden presented the results of their project on reducing void content in the solder joints of land grid arrays (LGAs) at a soldering seminar during the Technology Days of the recent SMTconnect show in Nuremberg.


Words of Advice: Planning a New Design

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What do you think is the most important thing a designer should remember when planning a new PCB design? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

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

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

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

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

Smart Factory Transitions Are Attainable—With a Plan

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

Streamlining, but Streamlining What?

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

The GraftWorx Fluid Management Patch Story

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

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

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

Collaboratively Creating Wearable Medical Products

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

4 Ways Electronics Manufacturers are Growing Their Businesses in 2019

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

Whizz Systems on Knowing Your Strengths and Building Customer Relationships

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


Are Regional Differences in PCB Technology as Great as We Think?

We keep hearing that Asia is all consumer and automotive electronics and North America and Europe are all high reliability/long life. The findings in IPC’s PCB Technology Trends 2018 study show that these regions are not as different as expected, and the differences we do see are interesting.

Co-owner Philip Kazmierowicz on New Role as KIC President

KIC is one of the leaders in reflow and thermal process control and smart oven technologies. On March 25, 2019, KIC announced that Philip Kazmierowicz, company co-owner, would take on the position of president. Nolan Johnson took that opportunity to sit down with Kazmierowicz in his Oregon-based R&D lab to discuss KIC's history and his plans for the future of the company.

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

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

Communication and Information: Two Keys to Success

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

XNC Format: Gerber Takes Data Into the Future

The problem is that so many NC files are of deplorable quality because the NC format was never designed as a data transfer format. It has always been a machine driver and contains all sorts of information that a drilling machine needs, but that is irrelevant and confusing for data exchange.

From DataED’s NPI Center to the Manufacturing Floor

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

Five Key Components of an NPI Report

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

Incoming CEO Steve Pudles on the Acquisition of Zentech

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

The One Thing

The vast majority of the problems that we run into fall to the categories of communication and information. As with the old 'telephone game,' each time information goes from one party to another, the risk of misinterpretation increases. If we are given unclear information from a customer, we may not be able to give the right information to our partner.

Smart Design Data Is Essential for Industry 4.0 Manufacturing

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


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

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

Export Controls in Flux

U.S. export control rules have changed significantly over the last decade, and more changes are expected as policymakers tackle the treatment of new and foundational technologies and respond to geopolitical developments.

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

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

Catching up With Darrel Yarbrough of YES

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

The Perfect Job

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

Zentech's Mission-critical Tips for Program Success

Nolan Johnson and John Vaughan, I-Connect007 columnist and VP of sales and marketing at Zentech Manufacturing, discuss how to make customer programs successful through early communication, complete design packages, and more from a company servicing mission- and life-critical industries, including military, aerospace, and medical.

EM Modeling: The Impact of Copper Ground Pour on Loss and Impedance

This article briefly introduces the general purposes of copper ground pour on printed circuit boards. Subsequently, the impact of copper ground pour on PCB channel loss in terms of insertion loss and impedance in terms of time domain reflectometry (TDR) is studied with electromagnetic modeling using Mentor HyperLynx.

IPC Asia President Phil Carmichael on China Trends

At the productronica China 2019 show in Shanghai, Barry Matties joined Phil Carmichael, president of IPC Asia, to discuss the continued growth of IPC in Asia, including the increasing emphasis on training. IPC China has grown from hosting two technical conferences five years ago to 32 in the past year. Phil also addresses current trends he’s seeing as well as trade tensions between China and the U.S.

Ralf Wagenfuehr on Developing Rehm Thermal Systems' RDS Semico Oven

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

How Electronics Manufacturers Can Reduce Their Environmental Impact

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


Cadence Design Systems Takes Tensilica to CES Show Floor

While roaming the aisles of CES, I happened across a suite hosted by Cadence Design Systems. It wasn’t a booth—just a quiet presence behind walls with demonstration hardware inside. Vic Markarian, senior group director for worldwide IP licensing and sales, explains why Cadence was at CES.

Rising Stars at Rising Stars

One key takeaway at the IEEE Rising Stars Conference was the pace of the event: fast, high-energy, and whirling—just as you’d expect from young people somewhere in the transition from teenager to adult. If their individual excitement about attending was like a photon of light energy, then over the course of the weekend, those photons aligned and collimated just as they would inside a laser chamber, resulting in a unified power and energy in the conference as everyone fell into phase with each other.

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

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

Lionrock Delivers Bendable, Industrial-grade Battery Tech

David Yeung, co-founder and CEO of Lionrock Batteries, discusses previous projects—including smartwatch straps—and his collaboration with the Nano and Advanced Materials Institute (NAMI) in Hong Kong on wearable, flexible battery technology at CES 2019.

From Participant to Volunteer to Leader: Matt Smith on the IEEE Rising Stars Conference

Matt Smith is one of the volunteer organizers for the IEEE Rising Stars Conference. As if that’s not enough, Matt also is an example of the impact this program can have on a young professional. In this interview, Matt provides an overview of the programs and what the conference strives to create for the attendees.

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

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

Preparing to Enter the Workforce With PCB Design Experience

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

Innovative Battery and Pressure Sensor Technologies

Tracy Liu is the director of R&D of the Nano and Advanced Materials Institute (NAMI) in Hong Kong. In an interview with I-Connect007, Liu talked about NAMI and discussed a number of battery and pressure sensor technologies being developed by the institute for licensing.

Tips & Tricks: Water Contamination and Flux Expiry

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

DSG: Breaking Ground on the Smart Factory Revolution

Mauro Dallora leads the I-Connect007 team through the Dongguan Somacis Graphic (DSG) PCB Co. Ltd. facility in China, lays out the company’s strategy for becoming an Industry 4.0 smart factory, and explains the current ongoing major expansion. Read about various topics in this factory tour and interview.


U.S. Tax Law Boosts Growth, But Uncertainties Loom

Monday, April 15 was the deadline for millions of Americans to file their income tax returns, so this is a good time to review the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) as well as the current tax policy landscape and how these rules are affecting the electronics industry.

A Working Definition of Automation

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

A Young Engineer’s Perspective

Jeffrey Diament, a recent Princeton University graduate and an engineering associate from sensor manufacturer Instrumems, talks about the company’s nanowire sensing platform that can measure velocity, temperature, and humidity. Being his first career job out of college, Diament discusses his experience on the hardware and manufacturing side of things and offers advice to other young professionals.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: IPC Global Government Relations Initiatives and Updates

IPC VP of Global Government Relations Chris Mitchell discusses with Judy Warner the association’s initiatives such as the IPC Workforce Champions, the skills gap analysis, and how IPC plans to advocate for the industry and grow the supply chain in North America and around the world.

Tips & Tricks: Humidity Level for Electronics Assembly

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

Building a Smart Factory Supply Line

I-Connect007 recently toured Victory Giant Technology (VGT) Co. Ltd. in Huizhou, China—one of China’s largest PCB producers. Currently, VGT generates about US$500 million in annual sales, and have plans to reach $1.5 billion in the coming years. Read more to find out VGT's expansion plans and strategies for growth.

IPC Working to Revive Lead-Free R&D in High-Reliability Sectors

Ask yourself the following question: Why is it that the aerospace, defense and high performance (ADHP) electronics sectors remain reliant on lead solders and components even as the commercial sector has largely phased out their use?

IEEE Rising Stars Conference Founder: Empowering Young Professionals

Held each year in Las Vegas on the weekend preceding CES, the IEEE Rising Stars Conference is rapidly establishing itself as a model program for developing leadership, networking, and aptitude in navigating an organizational structure in technical students and young professionals. Michael Andrews, an IEEE Senior Life member, serial entrepreneur, and founder of the IEEE Rising Stars Conference, tells us more.

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

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

Kelly Dack at IPC APEX EXPO: The Attendees Speak!

During IPC APEX EXPO, Guest Editor Kelly Dack and the I-Connect team roamed the show floor, recorders in hand. They asked various attendees for their impressions of the show, and any new tools and technology that may have caught their attention. These are their stories.


WPC's Standardized Cordless Power Solutions

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

Bill Cardoso Discusses Creative Electron’s Inspection Strategy

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

Tips & Tricks: Wave Solder Bridging

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

Brexit Postponed Amid Political Gridlock; Industry Disruptions in Store

The United Kingdom’s effort to leave the European Union, known by the nickname “Brexit,” is bogged down in political uncertainty, which in turn is creating disruptions in the global economy.

Filling the Skills Gap: Strategic Hiring and Succession Planning

While attending the IEEE Rising Stars Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, I had a long and insightful conversation with veteran technical recruiter Terry McNabb. We covered so much information that the interview has been broken into two sections. This section features our discussion on the shortage of mid-career expertise in the workforce and best practices for hiring experienced technical staff.

Industrial Cybersecurity Needs to Be in Front of Regulators

Chris Humphreys, principal at Anfield Group, a cybersecurity firm consulting with numerous industrial and infrastructure clients, discusses cybersecurity, the dynamics of regulation, and the responsibilities that manufacturers have to the greater good above and beyond simply adhering to regulation.

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

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

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Articles for March

Starting this month, we will take a look back at the most popular SMT007 news, articles, interviews, and columns over the past 30 days. For the month of March, these are the top 10 most-read SMT007 articles. Check them out.

Automation on Full Display at Recent China Exhibitions

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

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

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


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

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

Impact of 5G

In our recent I-Connect007 survey on 5G, we asked the following question: "How do you think 5G will impact the electronics manufacturing industry?" Below are some of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.

Jennie Hwang: Get Ready for Disruptive Technologies

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

Tom Lavoie on Career Planning and Professional Development

In this interview at the IEEE Rising Stars Conference, Tom Lavoie, a former HP D-level executive and now president of Consensia IT Partners and a certified Focal Point business coach, discusses how to help entry-level technical stars get their careers started with a plan, and experienced executives enhance their professional skills.

CPCA Show and productronica China 2019 Review

It was a busy week in China for the electronics industry. With multiple trade shows and conferences going on simultaneously in Shanghai, including the CPCA Show 2019, productronica China, SEMICON China, electronica China, and FPD China, it appears from the crowds that the market is strong in the region.

Smart Factories: A Shift in Thinking

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

SMTA Europe Electronics in Harsh Environments Conference 2019: A Preview

As a prelude to this year's Electronics in Harsh Environments conference, which will be held on April 2–4, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, SMTA Europe chairman Keith Bryant, supported by technical specialist Bob Willis, showcased the challenges and key issues faced by design and process engineers worldwide, in a webinar entitled "Harsh Environment Failures—Causes & Cures."

IPC Validation Services: New Programs and Updates

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

IPC: Trump’s FY2020 Budget Plan Kicks Off U.S. Policy Debates

Within the last week, U.S. President Trump released his $4.7 trillion fiscal 2020 budget plan, kicking off the annual federal budget process. IPC is watching several budget debates that could impact the electronics industry and its supply chain.

Four Hidden Materials Handling Costs Every OEM Should Know

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


Current Megatrends You Pay the Most Attention To

In our recent survey, we asked the following question: "What current megatrends do you pay the most attention to?" Below are some of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Joining Materials with Laser Energy

Kelly Dack and General Manager Denis Barbini discuss Laserssel's laser soldering equipment. Laser soldering is presented as a solution to mitigate the effects of high heat processing on printed board substrates and components by pinpointing energy where it's needed to join the metals. He talks about the challenges that their customers usually face, and how they are helping them address those by optimizing their processes. He also mentioned their device that eliminate any type of warpage.

Automation and the Smart Factory: Introduction to Industry 4.0

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

2019 IPC EMS Management Meeting Wrap-up

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

Industry Outlook from IPC's Sharon Starr

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

Rehm Focuses on International Hiring

Rehm Thermal Systems has been successfully recruiting skilled workers from abroad for some time now.

What Do You Know About Automation?

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

2019 Outlook: IPC Advocacy for Workforce Education and Training

The chronic shortage of skilled workers is the top business challenge facing the electronics industry worldwide. Our skilled workers are aging and retiring faster than we can hire replacements.

Blackfox on IPC Training and Certification and Mexico Expansion

Joel Sainz, sales manager for Blackfox Training Institute in Mexico, speaks with Guest Editor Osvaldo Targon about his company’s IPC training and certification services during IPC APEX EXPO 2019. Sainz also discusses their plans for expanding their reach in Mexico.

What Drives Your Optimism?

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


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

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: iNEMI on Next-generation Soldering

Grace O’Malley, VP of technical operations at iNEMI, and Editor Nolan Johnson discuss the next-generation soldering buzz session workshop hosted by iNEMI at IPC APEX EXPO 2019 and the upcoming bi-annual technology roadmap that will be released this spring.

Nate Ramanathan on Choosing a Prototype Partner and Production Supplier

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

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

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

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

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

Todd Westerhoff Discusses His New Position and Much More

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

Advice to OEM System Designers

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Reducing Voiding in Reflow Soldering

Chris Nash, product manager for PCB assembly solder paste at Indium Corporation, speaks with Kelly Dack and highlights Indium’s take on three important aspects of reliability: thermal, mechanical, and electrical. He talks about challenges of all three aspects, which include solder voiding, and how Indium helps the industry address these issues through its solder paste formulations.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Thermaltronics Discusses New Soldering Robot

Michael Gouldsmith, director of Thermaltronics, speaks with Editor Dan Feinberg about their new TMT-9800S robotic soldering unit. He also talks about an inline robotic soldering system—the next stage of their product development—which is scheduled to be released in the middle of the year.

USMCA Fights Ramps Up; IPC Helps Launch New Coalition

The coalition has a series of daunting and time-pressing tasks ahead of it. The USMCA needs to surmount procedural and political hurdles and be passed this year if we are to avoid the pitfalls of election year politics in the United States.


Accelerating and Disrupting Innovation: The Tesla Story

The time was right for Tesla to bring new thinking into the concept of electric transportation when the company observed the quantum shift in battery technology from lead-acid to lithium-ion that had been driven by developments in portable consumer electronics.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Five-year Standard Committee Collaboration on JS-001

David Hillman from Collins Aerospace and IPC's Teresa Rowe speak with Editor Dan Feinberg about how a seemingly simple question resulted in years of committee work to develop the JS-001 standard on the use of conformal coatings and avoiding tin whiskers.

Two Full CFX Demo Lines at IPC APEX EXPO 2019

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: MIRTEC Discusses Automation, CFX, and Sales Success

MIRTEC President Brian D'Amico speaks with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu about automation, the Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) standard, and their banner year last year. He speaks about Industry 4.0, automating the inspection process, and collecting more data to help refine the manufacturing process.

Stephanie Martin: Component Supply Challenges from the Catbird Seat

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Judy Warner on Altium's Transformative Vision

During IPC APEX EXPO, Guest Editor Kelly Dack sat down for an interview with Judy Warner, Altium's director of community engagement. They discussed Altium's efforts to educate PCB designers, regardless of their CAD tools, and the company's plan to transform the industry by bringing together PCB design and manufacturing.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Industry Leaders: IPC STEM Student Outreach Program

At IPC APEX EXPO 2019, I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman spoke with Colette Buscemi, IPC's senior director for education programs, about the success and expansion of the IPC STEM Student Outreach Program, activities and scholarship opportunities for students through sponsor support—including I-Connect007—and feedback she received on the event.

How Inspection Improved the Manufacturing Process

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Advanced 3D Solder Paste Inspection Technology

Olivier Pirou, managing director of Vi TECHNOLOGY, provides Joe Fjelstad with an overview of the company's advanced 3D solder paste inspection technology, featuring the ability to make corrections in real time. Pirou also talks about their efforts in strengthening their inspection systems.

Trump Administration can Ease EPA Reporting Burden for Electronics Industry

The finish line may be in sight in a decade-long effort to persuade the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to curb unnecessary and duplicative Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reporting requirements that discourage recycling of manufacturing byproducts.


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

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

Executive Forum on Advancing Automotive Electronics

Presented by IPC Hall of Fame Council, the Executive Form on Advancing Automotive Electronics, which aims to provide information on the complete supply chain for automotive electronics, featured 10 presentations on all facets of automotive electronics from materials, fabrication, and reliability testing to market information and future needs.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Making Components Count

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Manncorp Highlights Custom SMT Lines

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: LPKF on Benefits of Laser Depaneling

Laser technology marches on, and marching along with it is LPKF's new line of laser depaneling equipment. Stephan Schmidt, president, talks with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Kelly Dack about the many benefits of using lasers including cleanliness and higher yields through increased array density.

Advice to OEM System Designers

In a recent I-Connect007 survey, we asked the following question: "What advice would you give an OEM system designer?" Here are just a few of replies, slightly edited for clarity.

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

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

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

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Comet Group's Lab One Facility in Silicon Valley

Joe Fjelstad speaks with Ken Burden, senior director of North American field service, and Craig Arcuri, business development, about Comet Group’s Silicon Valley-based Lab One customer center, which is a key resource for a variety of testing and inspection services, and also offers opportunities to collaborate with Comet Group's industry experts.

Award-winning Koh Young Process Optimizer

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


Dan Schoenfelder: Searching for Parts in Real Time

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

Improving the Efficiency of Your PCBA Production

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

A Drone's-eye View of the IPC APEX EXPO Show Floor

If you couldn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego, don't worry. We have full coverage of this annual must-attend event, from the opening ceremony to the close of the final day. To get a sense of the size of this year's show, check out our drone's-eye view of the show floor. Can we name our drone Air007?

TUM Hyperloop Team Learns PCB Design on Way to Setting World Speed Record

At AltiumLive Munich, I met with Tobias Bobrzik, a Technical University of Munich student and member of the TUM Hyperloop team. In 2018, the TUM Hyperloop team’s prototype pod set the world speed record of 290 miles per hour, which lead to their meeting with Musk. Tobias designed some of the PCBs used in that vehicle, so I asked him to tell us more about this experience, and what he hopes to do after graduation.

Flex Circuit Supply Chain Challenges

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

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

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Enabling Complete Automation for Customers

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

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

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

Super Dry Storage Options to Manage Intermetallic Growth

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: New IPC Technical Education Program Manager

Brook Sandy-Smith discusses her new role as IPC technical education program manager, which is also a brand-new IPC position. She further explains the benefits of membership, when a member should contact her, the IPC STEM Outreach Program, and upcoming events.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Zentech on the Fourth Pillar of DoD Acquisitions, and NIST

Steve Williams speaks with John Vaughan, VP of sales and marketing for Zentech, about their dominance in the military/aerospace market sector, the new "fourth pillar of DoD acquisitions," and how companies that do not take the NIST initiative seriously will be quickly left behind.

Supply Chain in Crisis

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

Joe Clark Discusses DownStream’s Updated Tool Lineup and IPC-2581

DownStream Technologies recently revamped their entire product line, from CAM350 through BluePrint-PCB. DownStream co-founder Joseph Clark and Guest Editor Kelly Dack discuss some of these updates, including a new GUI and capabilities such as 3D analysis, as well as news about IPC-2581.

Critical Process Issues

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

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

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: KYZEN Intros New Aquanox Aqueous Cleaner

In an interview with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey, KYZEN Executive VP Thomas M. Forsythe introduces the latest member of the Aquanox family of aqueous cleaners and comments on issues of compatibility, rinsability, and consistency of operation.

IPC APEX EXPO 2019 Show Week Time-lapse Video

From set up to tear down, I-Connect007 captured a 4-day time-lapse video of the show floor from our Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO booth. In addition, this video includes overhead shots of each of our generous premium sponsor's booths.

CES 2019: More Show Floor Favorites

In my final piece covering CES 2019, I will review more automotive technology, updates on 3D printing, and some trending devices such as smartwatches and new computer components for those that either need or just want to have extremely powerful and impressive-looking computers.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: KIC Speaks on Data, Voiding and Traceability

Bjorn Dahle, president of KIC, talks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about how the industry has shifted its focus from the machine to data; the issue on voiding and how manufacturers can address this process challenge; and traceability.

IPC APEX EXPO 2019: It's a Wrap!

The IPC APEX EXPO 2019 show floor closed yesterday with applause. After three days of meetings, networking, and tire kicking, if you will, exhibitors head back to their offices with a list of leads, to-do lists, and stories to share. Meanwhile, attendees now head home with important decisions to make about what they learned and who they want to do business with.


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

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: OK International Soldering Robot Integrates CV Technology

Bryan Gass, vice president at OK International, talks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson about their new soldering robot that integrates their Connection Validation (CV) technology. Launched at the IPC APEX EXPO last year, the CV technology provided the company a springboard to have a good start into 2018, and to achieve growth throughout the year.

Benefits of Jet Printing Solder Pastes

In a recent I-Connect007 survey on jet printing solder pastes, we asked the following question: "What are the major benefits with jet printing solder pastes?" Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: For Elmatica, the Future is All About Data

At this year's IPC APEX EXPO, guest editor Judy Warner sits down with Elmatica CEO Didrik Bech to discuss the company's business model and CircuitData, their award-winning open-source PCB design data language.

Day One, Nothing but Fun: The Show Warms Up

The first official day of the IPC APEX EXPO 2019 was full of excitement, activity and business getting done. From the exuberant crowd at the ribbon cutting ceremony, to the closing moments of day number one, the show floor was bustling. Spirits were high from both attendees and exhibitors, sending the signal that optimism and business strength are still the industry mood.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: MacDermid Alpha Discusses New Materials to Improve Void Issues

Traian Cucu, Ph.D., G.A.T.E Group Leader at MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions, discusses with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson some of the methods to reduce, or eliminate, the solder voiding issue, especially with the continuing trend towards lower-pitch, high-density components.

The Designers Council: A Chapter Primer From the Ground Up

Thinking it might be a way to make new contacts with PCB designers in Orange County, I attended a couple of Designers Council meetings. The chapter president at that time was Paul Fleming, who asked me to be part of his steering committee because he learned that I had spent decades in fabrication. Within a few months, he had gotten a job transfer to Arizona, so he twisted my arm to take over as the chapter president. I agreed, but little did I know that this would become a major turning point in my PCB career.

IPC Conferences Set the Tone for Innovation During IPC APEX EXPO 2019

Monday's docket of sessions at IPC APEX EXPO 2019 presented a wide-ranging array of topics, including the Automotive Executive Forum, the Connected Factory Initiative Workgroup mapping out the future of CFX, the DFX committee celebrating the release of the IPC 2231 Guidelines document, and the Critical Components Traceability Workgroup addressing the creation of a secure supply chain.

The Sun Rises on IPC APEX EXPO 2019

It's sunrise on Monday in San Diego, and IPC APEX EXPO at the San Diego Convention Center is already abuzz with activity. The exhibition hall setup is on schedule to open for business tomorrow morning, January 29th, 2019.

In the Studio: Real Time with…IPC

It's almost time for IPC APEX EXPO 2019 at the San Diego Convention Center, and that means another Real Time with…IPC video program bringing you interviews with the electronics industry's top movers and shakers, engineers, and managers.


Happy Anniversary, Gerber Format: Looking Ahead to Digital Innovation

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

AltiumLive Munich Draws Designers from Around Europe

I’m finally unpacked after last week’s AltiumLive PCB design summit in Munich. Much like the AltiumLive event I attended in San Diego last October, the conference drew hundreds of PCB designers. This marked the second AltiumLive PCB design summit held in Munich, and Altium seems to have it down to a science. I spoke with designers from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium, just to name a few countries. Many of them were involved in the automotive segment but some were in medical and industrial controls as well. It’s great to be at an event that is full of PCB designers, because designers are few and far between at most PCB industry events.

Most Important Attributes of Customer Service

In a recent I-Connect007 survey, we asked what the most important attributes of customer service are. Understanding and meeting the customer's needs and expectations top the list, followed by quality of service, and on-time delivery.

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

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

Mark Friedman on IPC Membership

Mark Friedman, a member success advocate at IPC, recently spoke with I-Connect007's Barry Matties about the current status of IPC's membership programs, the recent growth they've seen, and some hidden benefits of IPC membership that potential members might not be considering.

STEM: The Future of Our Industry

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

IPC APEX EXPO 2019 to Demo Operating CFX Line

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

The Quest for Perfect Design Data Packages

There’s an ongoing problem in the PCB industry: fabrication shops are receiving incomplete or inadequate design data packages, leaving manufacturers scrambling to fill in the blanks. For a quick-turn prototype shop like Washington-based Prototron, with over 5,000 customers and up to 60% of orders coming from new customers each month, that can add up to a lot of wasted time and effort just in the quoting stage. Dave Ryder, Prototron president, and Mark Thompson, engineering support, delve into this continuing issue and more.

Mentor and Seica Partner for Data Prep and Testing Big Boards

Mark Laing, business development manager of the Valor division at Mentor, a Siemens company, and Luca Corli, director of sales at Seica, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about the partnership between their two companies, which enables efficient data preparation for testing big boards, and accelerates new product introduction (NPI) cycles.

The Future of the Customer Experience in Mobility

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


Solder Paste Selection/Qualification

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

Shopping at IPC APEX EXPO: Evolutionary or Revolutionary Products?

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

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

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

Dispatches from CES 2019: The Future in the Kickoff

Press kickoff briefings at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) are no stranger to big claims and hyperboles. At the “CES 2019 Trends to Watch” presentation on Monday morning, Steve Koenig, Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA’s) VP of market research, made some pretty big claims about what we should expect to see at the show, but those claims don't seem at all to be hyperbolized.

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

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

More Than Inspection: It’s Process Improvement

Barry Matties speaks with Brian D’Amico, president of MIRTEC, about the current state of machine-to-machine communication in the industry, and how the inspection company is interfacing with the different manufacturing languages currently available to gather predictive data and feedback from every inspection step to eliminate future defects.

Most Important Feedback

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

MacDermid Enthone Discusses Consolidation Benefits

At the 2018 electronica exhibition in Munich, Frando van der Pas, director of marketing and sales for MacDermid Enthone—Europe, and Technical Editor Pete Starkey discussed the consolidation benefits and the vision and future of the company.

Welcome to the BIG Show!

This month, we celebrate the impact and reach of the IPC APEX EXPO slated for January 26--31, 2019, in San Diego, California. Have something truly new? It needs to be seen here at IPC APEX EXPO with long-standing products and evolutionary advances from industry stalwarts will grow their installed base here, too. There are other industry shows, but the must-go show for our industry is IPC APEX EXPO.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT Interviews of 2018

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


Susy Webb: The History and Future of the Designers Council

When we started planning this issue on the IPC Designers Council, I knew I’d have to speak with design instructor Susy Webb, a longtime DC member and currently an executive board officer. I asked Susy to discuss how she first got involved with the DC, why designers should join their local chapter, and what the future holds for this group.

Words of Advice

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

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Columns of 2018

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

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Articles of 2018

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

Dock Brown on Succeeding at Failure Analysis

Dock Brown of DfR Solutions gave a keynote speech at SMTAI, “Requirements for Both Cleaning and Coating to Building Medical Hardware.” Barry Matties and Happy Holden sat down with Dock to discuss the current trends he sees in failure analysis, the concept of “rules versus tools,” and how predictive engineering software used early in the design cycle can help predict failures in components and microvias and drive cost down.

What Electronics Manufacturers Need to Know About RoHS 3 Compliance

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

Best Advice for Increasing Productivity

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

A Look at Medical Electronics Design and Assembly Challenges

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

Randy Burcham Discusses New Techniques for BOM, Daughterboards

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

SMT Electrolytic Capacitor Solder Joint Criteria and Integrity Investigation

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


Challenges in Flex Circuit Assembly

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

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

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

Internet of Body: The Next Big Thing for Medical

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

Dr. Traian Cucu Discusses Low-Temperature and Lead-Free Soldering

Dr. Traian Cucu, group leader of the Global Applications and Technologies Expert Group (GATE)—R&D—within Alpha Assembly Solutions, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Happy Holden about low-temperature and lead-free soldering applications, and the many critical advantages that can achieved by moving to a low-temperature process. They talk about the industry's transition to lead-free, the first, second and third generation of adoption of low-temperature alloys.

How to Avoid Supply Chain Disruption this Chinese New Year

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

Mentor Discusses New DFT, DFM, and Design Verification Tools

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

Greatest Challenges in Soldering

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

AOI Programs with a Magic Click

Production runs of 10–1,000 assemblies are everyday life for an EMS provider. But what if important staff are on vacation, and component deliveries are very much delayed? And then the customer is determined to have AOI, but the layout of the assembly is highly customized, making it virtually impossible to use complete library entries. Here's how AOI programs can help you in these scenarios.

Rick Almeida Discusses DownStream's Latest News

At the 2018 electronica exhibition in Munich, Rick Almeida, founder of DownStream Technologies, brings Editor Pete Starkey up to speed with the company’s latest news.

3D Printing and Medical Electronics: A Disruptive Beneficial Technology

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


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