Article Highlights
Tech 2 Tech: KYZEN’s Short Technical Sessions a Big Hit
01/20/2021 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
2021: The Year of X = Xc – 1
01/08/2021 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
Meet Cooler Cao: SMT007 Columnist
01/06/2021 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
This Month in SMT007 Magazine: The Skilled Worker
01/05/2021 | Leo Lambert, EPTAC
Tales from a Trailblazer: An Interview with Christine Davis
01/05/2021 | Steve Williams, The Right Approach Consulting LLC

Latest Articles

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Katie Carl

"We have a wide range of kids. All of them have some sort of interest in technology, which is why they wanted to come in general," said Katie Carl, a high school teacher escorting a group of kids at IPC APEX EXPO. "It’s neat when they start seeing how these technologies are created because a lot of them have seen robotics or have done a tiny bit of soldering with little circuits, but when they can see how those things are built and created in the industry, it makes it more applicable for them."

Congratulations to Steve Pudles! IPC Hall of Fame 2020 Inductee

With over 32 years spent working with IPC, Steve Pudles was elected to the IPC’s Hall of Fame this year. Patty Goldman spoke with Steve about how he first became involved as well as his time in the organization, including his work with the EMS Management Council.

Watch Coatings Uncoated Webinar, Part 6 Now: Field Failures, Silicon vs. Sulfur

The sixth episode of the popular webinar series, "Coatings Uncoated," is now available to view. Based on an interesting case study concerning a telecommunications giant experiencing a high degree of field failures, coatings specialist Phil Kinner explains the mechanism behind the failures and why the silicone option proved unsuccessful. Part six of this micro webinar series concludes with a full explanation of the successful solution.

Solder Paste Printing From the Stencil’s Perspective

Jeff Schake of ASM Assembly Systems discusses the complications surrounding printing and solder paste that he sees from his perspective as a stencil expert.

Will Moisture Management Expand to the U.S. Market?

Rich Heimsch, Super Dry director, chats with Nolan Johnson about the growing demand for moisture management in North America versus its earlier adoption in Europe, and how moisture management fits into Industry 4.0 and the smart factory.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Joel Scutchfield

"Based on traffic and attendance, we have had a great week. We had 40+ more scans than what we did last year at this point, and we’re waiting for the final tally today," said Joel Scutchfield, Koh Young's director of sales for the Americas.

IPC Government Relations: Focus on Supply Chain Resiliency

During IPC APEX EXPO, Editor Nolan Johnson sat down with Chris Mitchell, VP of global government affairs, to discuss IPC’s latest initiative with industry intelligence programs. As Chris explains, some of these efforts are focused on improving the DoD’s supply chain. This includes moving the DoD from leaded to lead-free components to help avoid millions of dollars in rework. He also discusses the team’s drive to unite with partners around the world and create a truly global organization.

Solder in PCBA: Can’t Live Without It... or Can We?

For most of its historical use in electronics, the solder alloy of choice was tin-lead, either an Sn60/Pb40 alloy or the Sn63/ Pb37 eutectic version of the tin-lead alloy. These two alloys were the workhorses of the industry. They were both well understood in terms of their processing and reliability—that is, until the advent of lead-free, a well-meaning but ill-conceived and poorly executed conversion, forced on the industry by the European Union in 2006.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Dr. Martin Anselm

"The biggest challenge I’ve encountered a number of different times is the migration to much larger packaging," said Dr. Martin Anselm, director of CEMA Lab. "Devices are getting much larger, and with the thousands of I/O of solder joints, and they are not just single-die, multi-chip modules in different forms or 2.5D technologies.

Catching up With Flexible Circuit Technologies

Dan Beaulieu catches up with Troy Koopman, president and co-founder of Flexible Circuit Technologies (FCT), and Carey Burkett, the company’s VP of business development. FCT is a full-service flex and rigid-flex supplier.


IPC: Automotive Electronics Segment Exploding

Electronics are increasingly being used in the design of new vehicles, driving IPC activities in standards development to help the industry adapt to building electronics better for the automotive industry. At IPC APEX EXPO 2020 we saw an increase in automotive content throughout the show which also provided opportunities for automotive OEMs and Tier1 suppliers to network.

Manncorp: An SMT One-Stop Shop

In this interview, Joe Fjelstad speaks with Ed Stone, sales manager of Manncorp. Ed details the operations at Manncorp’s two locations in San Diego and Philadelphia, including production of LEDs for Manncorp’s daughter companies. As Ed says, describing the steady traffic at his booth, “We have something that everyone at the show needs.”

Watch and Learn: Not All Acrylics Are Created Equally

How can additional data, including test results, ensure a greater understanding of the most suitable coating for your application? The fifth episode of the popular webinar series, "Coatings Uncoated," is now available to view. Author of "The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to Conformal Coatings for Harsh Environments" and topic expert Phil Kinner from Electrolube shares highly focused educational information on conformal coating and encapsulation.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020: The I-Connect007 Photo Gallery

If you couldn’t make it to IPC APEX EXPO 2020 in San Diego, don’t worry. I-Connect007 was there to cover it all. From “A Night of Happy-ness” through tear-down, our reporters were on hand to document the entire week.

LPKF on Stencils and Depaneling

Stephan Schmidt and Mirela Orlowski of LPKF Laser & Electronics North America discuss laser technology in cutting stencils and depaneling circuit boards as a factor in shrinking component sizes and why few people in the industry realize how much of an impact the stencil can have on the manufacturing line.

iNEMI: Emerging Technologies Driving Rapid Industry Development

During IPC APEX EXPO, Editor Joe Fjelstad spoke with Grace O'Malley, iNEMI's VP of technical and project operations, about the well-attended roadmap sessions and other iNEMI meetings taking place at the show. Topics covered included emerging applications and how these technologies are driving industry development across the board, and at a fast pace.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: John Mitchell Discusses the Show's Evolution

During IPC APEX EXPO, Technology Editor Dan Feinberg spoke with John Mitchell, CEO and president of IPC, about the event’s evolution from a strictly PCB show into a miniature Consumer Electronics Show, including new ideas and prototypes. They also discussed several new IPC initiatives, including IPC Design.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Show Week Time-lapse Video

It was a busy week at IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego, and I-Connect007 was there to cover it all. From set-up to tear down, I-Connect007 captured a four-day time-lapse video of the show floor. We’d like to thank our good friends at MacDermid Alpha for letting us set up our camera in their booth.

Phil Carmichael: IPC Asia Continues Solid Growth

Phil Carmichael, IPC president of Asia Pacific, talks with Barry Matties at the HKPCA show during the first week of December 2019 about the continued growth and increased engagement by Asian member companies with IPC, with over 320 members in standards committees now working on the development of the next-generation standards.

True or False: CFX Edition

Since the release of IPC-2591—Connected Factory Exchange (CFX), Version 1.0—there has been a lot of buzz regarding CFX within the industry from all segments. Still, with all of the buzz, there are also some misconceptions floating around the industry regarding CFX. David Bergman takes some of those statements, using feedback from Subcommittee members, and plays a little game of “True or False: CFX Edition.”


IPC APEX EXPO 2020: Day 2 Review

Wednesday at IPC APEX EXPO drew a fairly steady stream of attendees to the show floor. Exhibitors we spoke with said the visitors were ready to spend some money. Almost everyone said their company was having a good quarter and experiencing slow but consistent growth year over year.

AT&S: Working With Designers on a Global Level

Barry Matties recently took a tour of AT&S’s Austrian factory, which is developing new circuit design strategies surrounding embedded and active components. Gerald Weis discusses the company’s focus on serving and educating PCB designers around the world, as well as their plans to embrace the latest technology and Industry 4.0 processes going forward.

I-007e Micro Webinars Releases Part 4 in ‘Coatings Uncoated!’ Series

What is creepage, and how does it impact clearance? Can conformal coatings reduce creepage? The fourth episode of the popular webinar series, Coatings Uncoated, is now available to view. Author of The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to Conformal Coatings for Harsh Environments and topic expert Phil Kinner from Electrolube shares highly focused educational information on conformal coating and encapsulation.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020: Day 1 Review

2020 was a special anniversary year for IPC APEX EXPO: “Celebrating 20 years of excellence in electronics” was the tagline. Pete Starkey provides a review of the Day 1 activities on the show floor and beyond.

‘A Night of Happy-ness’ and 2020 Good for the Industry Awards

The Horton Grand Hotel in San Diego was the site of “A Night of Happy-ness” on the evening of Monday, February 3, 2020. I-Connect007 transformed the Regal Ballroom into a cozy lecture hall with two key objectives: to award the I-Connect007 Good for the Industry awards, and to celebrate the life, achievements, and personality that is industry pioneer Happy Holden.

Market Insights From Epoch International’s President

Epoch International is an EMS company specializing in front-end engineering. Barry Matties speaks with Epoch President Foad Ghalili at productronica 2019 about the company’s ability to maintain little employee turnover, challenges they’re facing, and expected growth in the U.S. market.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Dawns on San Diego

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 launched on Tuesday, February 4, and I-Connect007 started its exclusive coverage.

Upcoming IPC APEX EXPO Offers Sessions on 5G

Dave Hoover of TTM discusses the Sessions @ the Intersection set for IPC APEX EXPO 2020—specifically, the two-part session he will host around the topic of 5G and materials.

IPC Solder Stencil Task Group—Inviting OEM Input to IPC APEX EXPO Meeting

Jeff Schake of ASM Assembly Systems is chairman of IPC’s Solder Stencil Task Group. In this conversation with Nolan Johnson and Barry Matties, Jeff discusses what they will be meeting about at the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO.

Residual/Free TBBPA in FR-4

Sergei Levchik describes how testing has shown that FR-4 printed circuit boards do not contain free or residual tetrabromobisohenol-A (TBBPA).


Risk Mitigation: An Essential Guide

Risk mitigation in the global supply chain is nothing new to many industries. What is new, however, is the exponential rise in potential risks and the reality that those are risks that simply cannot be predicted. What are some factors for a winning strategy that might not immediately come to mind? Here are a few essential recommendations to the global PCB industry that might significantly lower the risk impact on a company’s productivity, time to market, and financial success.

I-007e Micro Webinars Releases Part 3 in ‘Coatings Uncoated!’ Series

Have you ever wondered about the process of corrosion and the formation of tin whiskers? The third episode of the popular webinar series, "Coatings Uncoated," is now available to view. Author of "The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to Conformal Coatings for Harsh Environments" and topic expert Phil Kinner from Electrolube shares highly focused educational information on conformal coating and encapsulation.

EIPC Winter Conference: Business, Technology, and Community

Managing Editor Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Kristen Smit-Westerberg about the upcoming EIPC Winter Conference, February 13−14, 2020, in Rotterdam.

CES: The Main Halls

CES 2020 is now over, and the next round of shows is underway (NAMM is also over now, IPC APEX EXPO is next week, followed by AWE and others). CES displayed electronics related to gaming, monitors, computers, smartwatches, TVs, vehicles, cellphones, etc. However, the effect on the industry and the way we live will be felt until the next CES. The largest and most influential participants are usually found at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Fresh Thinking on the Logistics of Laminate Distribution

Mark Goodwin, COO of Europe and the Americas for Ventec International Group, sits down with Barry Matties to explain his approach to supply chain management, efficient distribution, and maintaining definitive product identity at every stage.

Flexibility Is Key to Direct Imaging Success

Brendan F. Hogan, managing director of MivaTek, explains that while each industry has its own set of requirements and difficulties, the lines between semiconductor and PCB markets are blurring, demanding more flexibility from equipment suppliers.

IPC APEX EXPO Technical Session Preview

Brook Sandy-Smith, IPC technical conference program manager, previews the technical side of IPC APEX EXPO 2020, which includes the customary technical sessions, but also some new wrinkles like the fundamentals program and “sessions @ the intersection” to encourage more interaction.

The IPC Education Foundation’s New Column

The IPC Education Foundation’s new column with I-Connect007 will feature Charlene Gunter du Plessis, Aaron Birney, and Corey Lynn. These IPC Education Foundation members will share updates on programs and activities here. Find out more about the authors below and read "Foundations of the Future" in the SMT007 Week Newsletter.

IPC Validation Services: What to Expect at IPC APEX EXPO 2020

IPC’s Randy Cherry previews what to expect from IPC APEX EXPO 2020, including a full line on display demonstrating CFX/Hermes, further development of the Validation Services program, as well as testimonials from member companies that have been participating in IPC’s new trusted supplier program to the Department of Defense (DoD).

IPC APEX EXPO Technical Conference, Featuring Fundamentals and the Intersection

IPC's Brook Sandy-Smith brings us a preview of the Technical Conference at IPC APEX EXPO 2020. In addition to the Sessions @ the Intersection and the Technical Conference, the Fundamentals Program is new at IPC APEX EXPO 2020. The program provides curated content for industry newcomers and anyone interested in a broader view through the many facets of electronics manufacturing. Attendees will learn important concepts, terminology, and background as preparation for the detailed content on new studies and technologies presented at the technical conference.


Streamlining Inspection and Verification

Barry Matties speaks with Vladi Kaplan, VP of marketing for CIMS, about the company’s newest verification station, the benefits operators will see from its colorized real-time video, and how it makes verification much faster and much more efficient for companies pushing 100% inspection.

New From I-007e Micro Webinars: Part 2 in ‘Coatings Uncoated!’ Series

Got five minutes? Watch Phil Kinner's the latest segment, Never Underestimate the Importance of the Application Process, which examines the pivotal role that application plays in the overall success of coating, and presents a great opportunity to grasp the importance of the process.

Foundations of the Future: Get More Engaged in 2020

Since the inception of the IPC Education Foundation in January 2019, the mission remains to create connections between electronics manufacturers and supply chain companies, academia and the emerging workforce. In this debut column, Charlene Gunter du Plessis describes plans for engaging in 2020, including scholarships and more, and the IPC APEX EXPO 2020 STEM Student Outreach event.

IPC APEX EXPO: Sessions @ the Intersection

In this short video, Brook Sandy-Smith, IPC’s technical conference program manager, explains how “the lntersection” will be a new meeting place In between this year's IPC APEX EXPO show floor and the technical conference available to attendees and the free sessions that are open to any registration type.

Visit the Newcomers’ Lounge at IPC APEX EXPO

The Newcomers’ Lounge will open on February 2, will remain open through February 6, and is conveniently located near the technical conference and meetings area, where it will serve as a dedicated resource center for newcomers to get their questions answered and meet other newcomers. Use the lounge to take a break from the hustle and bustle of a busy day, catch up on emails, or grab a quick snack or refreshment.

New From I-007e Micro Webinars: The 5-Minute Webinar Series

I-Connect007 takes the on-demand webinar to a new level. A perfect companion to our I-007 Micro eBook series, these bite-sized webinars are released weekly, exclusively at I-Connect007, and are also available all at once for those who can’t wait for the next installment.

Upgrading to a Digital Line

Ridhi Kantelal of Arch Systems breaks down what fabricators considering bringing in digitalization and upgrading their lines should know, and why they may see the most benefit from focusing on the data engineering aspect rather than the actual retrofitting of their systems.

Meet Two New CID Grads: Kalen Brown and Michael Steffen

At PCB West, I spoke with two newly minted Certified Interconnect Designers: Kalen Brown of EaglePicher and Michael Steffen of Crystal Group. After passing the CID exam, they attended the IPC Designers Council Executive Board Meeting, where the more “seasoned” veterans were very happy to meet them.

CFX Preview at IPC APEX EXPO 2020

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team chats with IPC’s Chris Jorgensen about the advances CFX has made in the past year and where the standard is in the standardization process. Chris also previews the CFX line that will be on display at the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO and shares IPC’s plans on educating and providing support solutions to potential users of CFX to implement it more easily.

The Convergence of 5G and Automotive

Karthik Vijay is head of the applications engineering team for customers in Europe at Indium Corporation. He spoke with Barry Matties about what EMS or assemblers for automotive should consider, as well as how he thinks 5G will affect the marketplace and manufacturing.


Updates on Cleaning Standards and Committees

Graham Naisbitt of Gen3 discusses the changes he's seeing in cleaning, including how the WP-019 white paper has caused a closer look at electrochemical reliability. As a long-time head of committees, Graham also breaks down many of the topics he hopes are addressed at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO.

CES Press Kickoff Presentation

On January 5, Editor Nolan Johnson attended the CES press kickoff presentation “2020 Trends to Watch,” which was hosted by CES Vice President of Research Steve Koenig and CES Director of Research Lesley Rohrbaugh. Koenig and Rohrbaugh set the stage for the week with their presentation, answering the question, “What’s happening in the industry?”

IPC Government Relations Team Offering Education and Fun at IPC APEX EXPO

This year’s IPC APEX EXPO is going to be especially interesting for anyone interested in government policies that affect the electronics industry and what IPC is doing to influence them. Your IPC Government Relations team is preparing a variety of activities to educate and engage you on these issues. IPC's Chris Mitchell discusses some of the highlights attendees will see at IPC APEX EXPO from a Government Relations perspective.

CES 2020: The Intelligence of Things

Show week for CES 2020 starts well ahead of the actual exhibition dates because it is huge. The organizers of CES state that there are more than 4,400 exhibiting companies and nearly three million net square feet of exhibit space. On the floor, you can find 307 of the 2018 Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the week, I-Connect007 Editors Dan Feinberg and Nolan Johnson will bring you some of the most interesting news, products, and announcements from 5G to IoT, semiconductor developments, autonomous vehicle technology, interconnect, fabrication materials, and much more.

Engaging STEM Students at IPC APEX EXPO 2020

At this year’s IPC APEX EXPO, you’re likely to see quite a few high school students moving amongst all the normal show activities thanks to the IPC APEX EXPO STEM Outreach Program. Launched two years ago at IPC APEX EXPO 2018, the 2020 version of the STEM Outreach Program will be larger and more immersive than ever before.

What’s the SCOOP: Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year really is an amazing celebration with millions of workers returning to their families for the celebrations. But with the shutdown and mass migration come stress on infrastructure, supply chain and the whole manufacturing and fulfillment ecosystem. I asked a few Industry experts what they thought the key issues are and what advice they’d offer.

What You Need to Know About the Digital Factory

Barry Matties spoke with Oren Manor, director of business development for Mentor, A Siemens Business, during productronica about the many benefits of a digital factory and what’s keeping companies from becoming one. Oren also gives examples of big data analytics along with the move to a lot size of one.

What You Need to Know About a PCB Design Career

Never stop learning. Why? Because the industry never stops changing. Those that continuously stay in that state of learning are the ones who succeed. The old saying “Knowledge is power,” often attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, has never been truer. Fortunately, there is never a lack of things to learn. Don’t ever become apathetic about learning. Make a point of keeping a running list of ideas or subjects that you want to research, and then purposely set aside time in your week strictly to study and learn about these things anywhere you can.

PCB Repair: Thoughtful Best Practices

Barry Matties recently spoke with Curtis Smith of Huntron about the critical factors that somebody needs to understand about the plant maintenance regarding the PCB repair process. The PCB repair process is not just a matter of just getting the equipment anymore but finding the right people with a troubleshooting mindset that can do it. A failed PCB can bring down an entire manufacturing line, and companies need to be able to repair the board and keep their manufacturing going.

How to Become a Certified IPC Trainer

The Blackfox Certified IPC Trainer (CIT) programs are best suited for experienced and skilled electronics technicians, engineers, and supervisors who have the will and passion to teach and train colleagues about the quality standards of IPC. They also provide successful candidates with a credential that confirms their knowledge and understanding of IPC quality systems.


Clean vs. No-clean: A Generational Difference

Tom Forsythe, executive VP of KYZEN, discusses what readers should know about cleaning as reliability expectations continue to increase. He also explains what is driving the new interest in cleaning and why engineers from the no-clean generation may not even realize they need to learn more about cleaning.

MacroFab: Manufacturing Digitized

MacroFab CEO Misha Govshteyn explains how a digital manufacturing platform connected to a network of vetted partner factories can help eliminate a lot of variability from the fabrication process.

UV-curable Materials and Conformal Coatings

Pete Starkey and Phil Kinner, global business and technical director, coatings division, Electrolube, discuss the characteristics and benefits of the company’s new UV-cured conformal coatings. Phil also describes the development of coatings for critical avionics applications and Electrolube’s collaboration with the U.K. National Physical Laboratory to establish a new condensation test.

CyberOptics Sensors: So Good That Their Rivals Use Them

Editor Nolan Johnson and Subodh discuss CyberOptics’ latest precision 3D systems, such as the SQ3000, which offers AOI, SPI and CMM functionalities. The inline CMM system includes top-of-the-line software for metrology grade measurements of critical points. Subodh points out that some of his competitors even utilize CyberOptics sensors in their equipment.

Is Captive Making a Comeback?

Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Altium’s Steve Chalgren, senior VP of business strategy and planning. Steve shared his thoughts about why improved manufacturing and automated EMS equipment, such as robotics, might lead smaller OEMs to become captive shops like the old days. Is captive making a comeback?

Book Summary: The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to…Process Validation

The latest book in I-Connect007’s "The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to…" series is authored by Gen3’s Graham Naisbitt. With his deep background in process validation and standards work, Naisbitt is uniquely qualified to explore achieving acceptable electrochemical reliability using both CAF and SIR testing. This eBook is a perfect present for the holidays.

Utilizing AI in CAD Library Development

Nolan Johnson speaks with Chico Wu of Footprintku, a company using artificial intelligence (AI) to help fill gaps in CAD library development by partnering with design teams on things like addressing resource shortages and automating custom design rulesets while also eliminating other manual steps in the process.

Accurate, Uniform Data With KIC’s Smart Reflow Analyzer

Editor Nolan Johnson and Miles discuss KIC’s newest system, the SRA, a smart reflow analyzer that can provide the customer with information about their machines: Is the airflow adequate? Is there proper heat transfer to the product? Is this data uniform from week to week and month to month? Miles explains how the SRA uses the latest in laser technology to track conveyor speed and heat transfer more accurately than ever.

BTU Discusses its Next-generation Flux Management System

At productronica 2019, Nolan Johnson spoke with Peter Franklin, managing director of BTU Europe, about BTU’s next-generation solder reflow flux management system—Aqua Scrub. A winner of the show’s Global Technology Award for Soldering, Peter breaks down the specifics of what makes Aqua Scrub such an intriguing technology.

Nolan’s Notes: A Tour of the Industry

As far back as the 1600s, and lasting through the mid-1800s, young, imperial English aristocrats would leave the island to travel “the world;” however, this often simply meant visiting continental Europe on an out-and-back trip, resembling a golf outing, before returning home to settle down to the business of running their family estate and/or the country. This practice was commonly called “the Grand Tour.”


CIMS Galaxy: More Than an Inspection System

Editor Pete Starkey and Vladi discuss the newest CIMS AOI platform, Galaxy, which is more compact and more versatile than the previous Phoenix model. The Galaxy is scalable and can be equipped with more functions and connected to a variety of Industry 4.0 databases. Vladi explains that the Galaxy can be used for everything from inner layer inspection to final inspection, detecting defects down to 1 pixel. The system is available with multiple metrology options as well.

A Walking Tour of Mycronic Equipment at productronica 2019

I-Connect007 pays a visit to the Mycronic booth at productronica 2019 in Munich, and Jeff Leal, product manager for Mysmart, takes us on a walking tour of just one of the lines on display at the show. Jeff takes us through a series of dispensing and conformal coating machines.

Practical Verification of Void Reduction Method for BTC Using Exposed Via-in-pad

The method explored in this article regards the use of exposed via-in-pad. A dedicated test vehicle was designed for two types of QFN components. The main variables accounted for were the component size, number of exposed vias in the thermal pad, via pitch, via size, and solder paste coverage. The responses sought in this experiment include a thermal pad void level and solder wicking down the via barrel with resulting solder protrusion on the opposite side of the PCB.

SEMI Discusses Benefits of SMT-ELS Protocol

Editor Nolan Johnson and Tom Salmon discuss the SMT- ELS protocol, which is being developed collaboratively as a replacement for SMEMA. Salmon overviews the technology involved and industry acceptance so far. He also explains SEMI’s focus on information and control standards, including the newest solution which allows companies to perform switchovers much faster, thanks to the TCP/IP protocol. This platform also works with traditional PLC systems, shrinking development time from one month to several days.

The Future of the World Is Truly in the Hands of Our Youth

At I-Connect007, we are proud to once again sponsor the STEM Outreach Program at the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO 2020. Another way we support our youth is by sharing the stories of young people who are doing amazing things. Dylan Nguyen is a great student, musician, and creative thinker. Recently, he shared with me the details of his school science fair project, “Kite: Powering the Future,” which solved a problem that he faced. Dylan is a leader with a bright future, and the world is lucky to have kids like him.

AltiumLive Frankfurt 2019: Happy Holden Keynote

Nobody left early! Altium had wisely kept Happy Holden’s keynote presentation on “PCB Trends that Will Impact Your Future” until the end of the final day of the AltiumLive 2019 European PCB Design Summit in Frankfurt, Germany. Pete Starkey presents the highlights of Happy's presentation.

Reliability Testing in Automotive and Digital Factories

Barry Matties spoke with Gen3’s Andrew Naisbitt about what readers should know about SIR and CAF testing, what to consider if you’re thinking of bringing it in-house, and how reliability testing fits into automotive and the digital factory.

Indium Discusses New Materials and Plans for 2020

Editor Nolan Johnson sits down with Nash and Mackie to discuss Indium’s focus on creating innovative products for the 5G, automotive, semiconductor, and high-reliability segments. Mackie offers a preview of Indium’s plans for 2020 and beyond, including lead-free drop-in sintering materials that can be dispensed and printed more quickly than ever before.

Mirtec's Approach to Raw Data: The 'Sushi Principle'

Editor Pete Starkey and Brian D’Amico discuss the company’s new Alpha system, designed for the automotive market. D’Amico explains why Mirtec is focusing on providing customers with raw data instead of “cooked” data, what he terms the “sushi principle.” He says that the system is able to pick up tiny defects that would otherwise be filtered away if the system were not using raw data. D’Amico also discusses their use of artificial intelligence, and some of the possible benefits from using AI going forward.

LA/Orange County SMTA Expo and Tech Forum Review

Dan Feinberg recently attended the LA/Orange County SMTA Expo and Tech Forum, which was held in Long Beach, California. He provides an overview of the activities, from the show floor to the presentations.


AltiumLive Frankfurt 2019: Carl Schattke Keynote

“How many here can remember manually taped artworks?” No more than three hands were raised in an audience of over 230 at the AltiumLive 2019 European PCB Design Summit in Frankfurt, Germany, as IPC Advanced Certified Interconnect Designer Carl Schattke introduced his keynote, entitled “Making and Breaking the Rules.” Schattke had learned PCB layout as his father’s apprentice, hand-taping several hundred PCB designs in the 1970s.

Day 1 Coverage of International Electronics Circuit Exhibition in Shenzhen

The newly named International Electronics Circuit Exhibition, formerly known as the HKPCA Show, kicked off today in Shenzhen, China. This event is now part of a cooperation between the CPCA and HKPCA associations. This is the largest trade show serving the south China region, with 3,537 booths from 621 exhibitors this year.

Supply Chain Update and the Impact of 5G

I caught up with Stephanie Martin, senior VP of global supply at Vexos, to talk about the current landscape of the industry from an EMS perspective. Stephanie describes an ongoing technology shift occurring with the industry’s move to smaller case sizes and why it’s in the customer’s best interest to look at the design cycle and go as small as they can on components.

André Bodegom on European Challenges, Automation, and Automotive

Editor Pete Starkey speaks with André Bodegom, managing director for Adeon Technologies in the Netherlands, about changes he has seen over the years in major industry sectors, challenges in the European market, and other areas of growth.

The Digital Medical Revolution

Zulki Khan, founder and CEO of NexLogic Technologies Inc., offers his unique perspective on manufacturing trends as a PCB turnkey solutions provider based in Silicon Valley. He discusses additional requirements that are now necessary to compete in different industry sectors, most notably medical, which he says is set for a “digital revolution.”

KYZEN on Stencil Cleaning

In this video interview, part of the productronica 2019 coverage, we spoke with Tom Forsythe, executive VP for KYZEN. The discussion revolves around the challenges of stencil cleaning, particularly as aperture sizes continue to decrease. Tom also introduces KYZEN’s E5631 aqueous-based stencil cleaner.

Rehm Thermal Systems’ Three-mode Oven

During productronica 2019, the I-Connect007 Editorial Team met with some of the industry's top executives, managers, and engineers. In this video interview, part of the productronica coverage, the I-Connect007 team speaks with Michael Hanke, Chief Sales Officer for Rehm.

David Meyers on Digital Twin and ‘Cobots’

With over 30+ years in the industry, David Meyers recently took on a new role at Siemens as a global solutions director in the Electronics Industry team of Siemens Digital Industries Software, working on improving communications between CMs and their OEM partners. In a conversation with Nolan Johnson and Happy Holden, David speaks on the digital twin and virtual environment software that should help establish that communication early in the process.

Digi-Key on Adapting to the Changing Industry Landscape, Pt. 1

The I-Connect007 editorial team recently spoke with Chris Beeson, executive vice president of global supplier and new business development at Digi-Key Electronics, about trends and the changing landscape of the industry. Beeson describes how Digi-Key is looking to continue growing its user community as a design service provider while providing greater services for the entire PCB.

Oren Manor on the Siemens-Mentor Integration

In this video interview, part of the productronica coverage, the I-Connect007 team speaks with Oren Manor, director of business development for Siemens, in the Siemens booth. Oren introduces us to the in-booth production equipment that integrates factory automation, motion controls, and MES solutions. He points out that the recent effort to automate SMT lines is now expanding into the areas of final assembly, box build, and manual assembly as well.


EIPC Winter Conference—Speakers and Papers

I recently spoke with Kirsten Smit-Westenberg, executive director of EIPC, who is planning the EIPC winter conference set for February 2020 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Kirsten discusses the conference topics, which are based around the needs of the next-generation electronic devices, and changes in fabrication solutions for PCBs, PCBAs, materials, and technologies.

Koh Young Europe Celebrates 16,000 Installed Systems

During productronica 2019, the I-Connect007 Editorial Team met with some of the industry's top executives, managers, and engineers. In this video interview, Editor Nolan Johnson and Harald Eppinger, managing director at Koh Young Europe, discuss the company’s milestone of 16,000 installed systems, the Zenith Alpha, and market trends in AOI systems.

Maximising Performance and Reliability of Automotive Electronics With Conformal Coatings

While the value of the electronic systems in a modern vehicle typically exceeds 20% of the total vehicle cost, many estimate that this value will exceed 35% within the next five years. With the increased adoption of electronic vehicles and the development of the internet of things (IoT)—which has brought us driverless cars like those being tested by Google in California and BMW on the roads of Bavaria—the future of this industry is starkly different from that of the 1970s when electronic fuel injection systems were first introduced to mainstream production.

Global Political Turmoil Creating Uncertainties for the Industry

From where I sit, representing the interests of electronics manufacturers and related companies around the world, I regret to say that the future of our industry—while bright overall—is fraught with uncertainties, from trade policy disputes to government leadership turnovers and economic and social megatrends. IPC is working with all governments and parties to overcome these uncertainties, but there is a lot to tackle.

AI Cameras Help Park Rangers Stop Poachers

Eric Dinerstein, the director of biodiversity and wildlife solutions at the non-profit organization RESOLVE, discusses the organization’s TrailGuard AI camera—a low-cost, durable, easy-to-use, efficient, and low-power burglar alarm system for Africa’s national parks—that alerts rangers at headquarters in near real-time of intruders and potential poachers coming into the park. With the help of leading companies, Eric explains how the project came to life, including implementing artificial intelligence (AI) and a satellite modem, making it the first of its kind.

Merger and Acquisition Trends

In this interview with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team, Green Circuits’ Joe O’Neil breaks down the current merger and acquisition (M&A) market in the electronics manufacturing space and the industry trends that affect it. Joe also gives his advice on best practices for the negotiating table from both the buyer’s or seller’s perspective.

Requirements of Being a MIL-certified Shop

Barry Matties speaks with American Standard Circuits’ VP of Business Development David Lackey, who has nearly 40 years of experience producing PCBs for the mil/aero market. David talks about what it’s like being a MIL-certified shop and the stringent quality and reporting requirements that it entails.

Words of Advice: The OEM Systems Designer

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What advice would you give an OEM systems designer? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Why Does the PCB Industry Still Use Gerber?

Every so often, I hear technologists ask why so many PCB designers still use Gerber. That is a fair question. Ucamco has over 35 years of experience in developing and supporting cutting-edge software and hardware solutions for the global PCB industry. Our customers—small, medium, and large PCB fabricators—include the electronics industry’s leading companies, and many of them have been with us for over 30 years. We are dedicated to our industry and excellence in everything we do, which includes our custodianship of the Gerber format.

Keith Bryant on Growth in the European Market

Pete Starkey interviews Keith Bryant, chairman of the European division of the Surface Mount Technology Association (SMTA), about his view on the outlook of the industry, including growth in the European electronics manufacturing industry as well as the need for young engineers.


Meet Alfred Macha, SMT007 Columnist

Meet Alfred Macha, one of our SMT007 columnists! Macha’s columns concentrate on process validation, supply chain management, quality management systems, government contracts, FDA regulations, process controls, and more. Alfred Macha brings 20 years of senior leadership roles in quality and operations management working for Sanmina, DDi (now TTM Technologies), Anaren (now TTM Technologies), and HEI Microelectronics.

Explaining the QSFP-DD Data Center Interconnect Standard

According to Cisco’s report, most IP traffic either originates or terminates in data centers. Yet as massive as the flows between centers are becoming, the data managed within those same facilities is going even higher. All of this activity means that “hyperscale” is the word of the future. Roughly one-quarter of all servers installed in 2016 went to hyperscale facilities, but that number will grow to almost one-half by next year.

Meet Ray Prasad, SMT007 Columnist

Meet Ray Prasad, one of our SMT007 columnists! Prasad’s columns explore DFM, manufacturing processes, yield improvement, quality control, IPC standards, and much more.

Design For Excellence: Karen McConnell on Standards

During the IPC Summer Meetings, I spoke with Karen McConnell, senior staff CAD CAM engineer with Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. Karen is a veteran PCB designer as well as an IPC committee chair and mentor. She offered an update on some of the IPC committees she chairs, the need for more mentor programs in this industry, and why you can call something a ham sandwich if you define it correctly in the standard.

The Changing Landscape

SMTAI featured two keynote speakers: Adam Steltzner, a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineer who led the Mars Science Laboratory's Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) Phase for the Curiosity rover and the chief engineer for the Mars 2020 Project; and Dr. Mike Hawes, Lockheed Martin Vice President for Human Space Exploration and Orion Program Manager. The energy at both keynotes was palpable. We’re returning to extra-orbital space with human crews, and the demands of such missions drive innovation.

The Ecosystem of Industry Standards

I-Connect007 reached out to representatives from several industry standards organizations and talked with them about how they participate in the standards process. Along the way, these conversations clarify which group does what, how they all work together as well as clarify and dispel a couple of industry myths.

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.


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