Latest Articles

Competitive Differentiation: The Battle for Customer Perception, Part II

By Ted Turner, CoGen Marketing - Part II of this two-part series discussing competitive differentiation focuses on competitive comparisons and how to take action with this information.

Facility Tour: NBS Design

SMT visited NBS Design’s new Santa Clara, Calif., facility, touring the EMS provider’s assembly lines and inspection systems, soon to include the first Agilent ×6000 on the West Coast.

Design to Manufacturing ? Bridging the Gap

All PCB design systems have some method of producing manufacturing data at the end of the design process, but the fact is that three problems still exist when it comes to developing an electronic product efficiently.

X-ray Inspection of Harsh-environment Electronics

In X-ray inspection of harsh-environment electronics, there usually are materials involved that are not easily X-rayed.

Oven Profiling Aids Contract Wins

In the highly competitive automotive electronics contract manufacturing market, full-service EMS providers constantly are challenged to improve processes and add traceability measures to their assembly processes.

Legitimate Legislation? From Lead to Halogen

Just when the industry thought it had a little breathing room, there are rumblings of yet another push to eliminate certain substances ? namely halogen ? from soldering materials.

STEP 9: Root Cause Analysis in Test-and-Inspection

Integrating automated root cause analysis during PCB assembly, based on inspection data, provides an effective way to boost profit margins.

Can Nondestructive Techniques Identify BGA Defects?

The industry needs nondestructive techniques to identify BGA opens and cracks. Currently, X-ray and TDR are most widely used.

Competitive Differentiation: The Battle for Customer Perception, Part I

By Ted Turner, CoGen Marketing This two part series will discuss competitive differentiation — why it's important, market segmentation, competitive comparisons, and how to take action to win business. Competitive differentiation is the life blood of every company. All too often, competitive differentiation slides into complacency as the company and its products mature, leaving the company vulnerable to competitive attack.

Focus on the Present, Plan for the Future

By Ajit Utagikar, Core Capital ESG - For the past decade or so, we have seen vigorous consolidation in the SMT world driven by mergers and acquisitions. At the same time, electronics companies have shifted to the outsourcing model, where the components and products are manufactured by subcontractors. The drive is for SMT companies to transform themselves, increase volumes, and recession-proof their portfolios through diversification.

From the Show: SMT's Packaging Panel at IPC Midwest

SMT editor-in-chief Gail Flower chaired a panel comprising equipment supplier, laboratory, EMS provider, and consultant voices at IPC Midwest in Schaumburg, Ill. David Geiger, Flextronics International; Jacques Coderre, Unovis Solutions; Vern Solberg, STI ? Madison; and Gene Dunn, Panasonic Factory Solutions of America spoke about emerging packaging technologies. We gathered some key points to share with our online audience.

The Role of Carts and Carriers in Lean Manufacturing

By Bob Douglas, Inovaxe - Little has been done in the way of integrating lean manufacturing techniques to the management and presentation of inventory. Electronic component inventory control has to be integrated into a total lean manufacturing philosophy in today's competitive environment to save time and reduce costs.

Surface Mount Components Show Their Hidden Benefits

By Craig Hunter, Vishay - Surface mount components usually are marketed with their most apparent benefits in view. But a look at some recently introduced surface mount components, both passive and semiconductor devices, shows some benefits enabled by this technology that are nearly as important without being quite so obvious.

New Products of September

Following are some of the new testing, component handling and parts, defluxing, photovoltaics manufacturing, soldermasking, cleaning, X-ray inspection, and printing products on the SMT assembly market. These products are introduced by Agilent, Virtual Industries, Stackpole Electroncs, Scapa, Manncorp, and more.

Inside ACI: RoHS and Lead-free Update

The American Competitiveness Institute (ACI) hosted a day with Ron Lasky, Ph.D., Indium, as a free workshop focusing on critical areas of lead-free assembly. Indium Corporation and SMT co-sponsored this educational program, which reviewed recent activity in RoHS, especially as related to medical exemptions.

Combating Component Obsolescence — A Visit to Rochester Electronics

"In a perfect world." This is a phrase uttered by many a project leader or product designer compiling a bill of materials (BOM) for a new product or modified design. In the real world, something like 70% of the components specified for a long-design-cycle assembly will be obsolesced by the time the assembly hits the manufacturing floor. We visited one components supplier, Rochester Electronics, to see how they keep phased-out components at the ready in an imperfect world.

Design, Fabrication, Assembly — What Changes for Harsh-environment Electronics?

By Zulki Khan, NexLogic Technologies Inc. - Manufacturing harsh environment electronics takes into consideration a number of key aspects dealing with PCB design layout, fabrication, and assembly. The EMS provider that goes beyond an OEM's minimum engineering requirements and implements additional safety ensures that the board and end product maintain high performance and optimum reliability, regardless of environment, terrain, or temperature conditions.

IPC Insights
We Need to Talk. And So Do Our Machines

By Dieter Bergman, IPC - IPC is an organization that serves the electronics industry in many ways, but when people think of IPC, one word probably comes to mind: standards. The work of developing standards involves thousands of people, and only a few of them are IPC staff members. Most of the work is done by engineers and managers from the approximately 2,700 member companies, people who offer their time and expertise to enable the industry to function more efficiently and effectively.

From the Editor: IPC Midwest Covers Package to Board

A tradeshow like IPC Midwest conference & exhibition at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel in Schaumburg, Ill., is a wonderful excuse to eat hot dogs with celery salt and wear a Cubbies cap with pride. Beyond the location, this year really means much more to me. For one thing, we set up the A-Line to view SMT assembly in action, and I'll chair "Emerging Advanced Packages: Stacked, 3D, CSP, Embedded — Surviving the Board Assembly Process."

SMT Hosts EMS Panel at IPC Midwest

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — SMT managing editor Meredith Courtemanche will host a panel Wednesday, September 24, at IPC Midwest in Schaumburg, Ill. The panel, "A-Line and EMS Trends," tracks the journey of electronic products from product development, through project launch, manufacturing, and customer service with program management.

Monetizing the Investment in Your Company

By Gary A. Tanel, Associate Equity - For the private business owner, selling the business represents that single most significant wealth accumulation transaction of their life. Take the time to do it right. One of the critical elements in assessing value is comprehending the direction of the industry. Understand the significance of the unique characteristics of your business.

New Products in SMT

Following are the upgrades, replacement parts, new cleaning materials, thermal interface products, board handling systems, sockets, assembly lines, and other next-generation products from Manncorp, Aries, Essemtec, Zestron, Novatec, and more.

Process Control and Visual Management for Lead-free Hand and Wave Soldering

By Scott Mazur, Benchmark Electronics - Manufacturing facilities continue to produce leaded and lead-free assemblies, given the various RoHS exemptions. Facilities that manufacture a variety of products using both alloys require controls and identification of specific lead-free processes and equipment. These are critical, given the past use of leaded solders in every electronics manufacturing facility and the potential legal and financial consequences of shipping noncompliant material.

Intelligent GPS on the Autobahn

By Bjorn Dahle, KIC - Last year, I prepared myself thoroughly for driving in Germany. Everything worked beautifully until I was stuck on the Autobahn due to roadwork. This year, the GPS system in my rental car was receiving real-time traffic updates constantly, enabling it to navigate around congested areas. This is the perfect analogy for a modern thermal profiler and real-time process management system.

From the Editor: Celebrating U.S. Labor

Labor Day is one of those strange holidays that evolved without a concrete birthday or significant historical event as a kick-off point, and even the U.S. Department of Labor is unsure about exactly who started the holiday. The celebration of the strength and capabilities of American labor began in New York City in 1882. Now, 126 years after that first demonstration, we should have a look at how the American electronics manufacturer is faring.

Review: BGA Breakouts & Routing

BGA Breakouts & Routing, Effective Design Methods for Very Large BGAs, by Charles Pfeil, engineering director of Mentor Graphics’ Systems Design Division, tackles demonstrating design technology on a written page with abundant illustrations.

Annual Pick-and-Place Round-up

Each year, SMT surveys vendors and users of pick-and-place equipment to understand where the market is headed and what innovations to expect in the near future.

Manage Multiple Signals with HDI

New circuit board designs require signal paths that can handle multi-GHz signals and dense wiring due to high I/O count, as well as wide lines for RF or high-speed digital signals and narrower lines for digital signals.

Intelligent Feeders = Innovative Setups

Fast and precisely functioning feeders enable modern SMT manufacturers to handle tremendous throughput.

STEP 8: Fluid Flow Mechanics

This study was designed to investigate the impact of mechanical versus chemical energy contributions during the removal of contamination under 1- to 2-mil-standoff components.

Contract SMT and Microelectronics Assembly in One

Modern manufacturers have to deal with both SMT and Micro-E services because assemblies require mixed interconnect technologies.

The A-Line: A Standard Day

The IPC Midwest A-Line live production line will feature a jet printer, a pick-and-place machine, and a reflow oven.

A-Line Stencil-free Solder Printing

The MY500 jet printer will provide the A-Line with solder paste printing that involves a cassette rather than stencils, with several benefits.

Component Placement on A-Line

The FX-1R high-speed modular mounter suits the A-Line because it accurately and efficiently places a range of components, with specialized axes controls.

A-Line Heats up Reflow

The Senju nitrogen reflow (SNR) series ovens use high-power, high-efficiency heating methods to minimize ΔT on the most complex board assemblies, while reducing the waste of expensive nitrogen.

A-Line Coordination at IPC Midwest

There are some differences between coordinating a line of different machines from various suppliers, and running one’s own manufacturing line staffed by one’s own personnel.

People of Electronics Assembly

Following are the new hires, promotions, and personnel announcements from industry suppliers and PCB assemblers, from FINETECH, Indium, and Krayden to Endicott Interconnect, Prototron Circuits, Canadian Circuits, and others.

Mixed-system RF Design: Problems and Solutions

By Per Viklund, Mentor Graphics and How-SiangYap, Agilent - RF design used to be performed on a specialized RF design system with loose integration to design tools for other technologies. In recent years, we have seen a trend shift in system design towards advanced multi-technology systems having an extreme function-to-area ratio. RF, analog, and ultra-high-speed digital share board space as a single integrated system.

SMT Analyst Reports and News

eKNOWtion acquired the "Quarterly Forum for Electronics Manufacturing Outsourcing and Supply Chain" from TFI; Research and Markets put out its "Rigid PCBs and Laminates Report;" Electronic Trend Publications reports on the global EMS market.

Website Upgrades

Whether adding features, streamlining search, or making online ordering available, companies supplying EMS providers and OEMs are updating and upgrading their Websites.

Protecting Brand Reputation

By Carsten Barth, Elcoteq - At this time of economic downturn and with reduced consumer confidence, the equity of a brand can be one critical factor in ensuring that sales and margins are maintained while lesser brands get squeezed. Brand equity can be a function of many things — image, price, innovation, tradition. At the end of the day, they all boil down to reputation.

From the Show: SMTAI News

Exhibits opened today at SMTA International (SMTAI) in Orlando, Fla. While the dubious weather dominated a lot of the booth chatter, many attendees braved the storms to absorbed rich technical content in the sessions and at the exhibit hall. Following is a gathering of news and impressions from materials suppliers, distributors, equipment manufacturers, and the Association itself.

Shrink the iPhone: Miniaturizing Passive Packages

By Jim Stratigos, Jacket Micro Devices - Apple's recently introduced 3G iPhone is a marvel of engineering from just about any perspective; compact, feature rich, cool touch screen, and a plethora of wireless functions. It's also an indication of how far the electronics industry has yet to achieve in terms of miniaturization of complex analog circuits.

SMTAI Product Preview

Following are the new product demonstrations and happenings that will be taking place at SMTAI, August 17 to 21, 2008, in Orlando, Fla. Equipment and material suppliers will be showcasing screen printers, lead-free solder pastes, soldering systems, test-and-inspection equipment, pick-and-place systems and chip shooters, adhesives, and more.

Selective Soldering:
Cost-effective Replacement for Production Hand Soldering

By Alan Cable, A.C.E. Production Technologies - Selective soldering is an automated, robust method of soldering individual components that could not be hand soldered, and a way to automate individual component soldering processes that could not be wave soldered properly in pallets or assembled with solder fountains. Selective soldering has become an integral part of most PCB assembly lines.

New SMT Assembly Products

AVX launched a fused tantalum capacitor; XDry introduced a line of dry cabinets; Cookson released a package-on-package (PoP) solder paste; Techspray debuted an acrylic conformal coating; FocalSpot launched a desktop AOI system; and FCT announced a new water-soluble solder paste.

Photovoltaics in the Realm of Energy

By Jennie S. Hwang, Ph.D. - This first of ten parts column on photovoltaics explores the big picture of this renewable energy source, and particularly how these energy areas are connected closely to the electronics industry and SMT manufacturing.

Indium Promotes Technical Engineers and Manager

Indium Corporation promoted three individuals at its headquarters in Clinton, N.Y. Eric Bastow and Mario Scalzo will be senior technical support engineers for the solder materials supplier; Tom Pearson will take the inside sales manager position.

Computed Tomography (CT) for Reverse Engineering

By Jon Dupree, YXLON International - Reverse engineering is a powerful tool for generating a CAD model from the data of a physical part that lacks documentation or has changed from the original design. The range of uses includes analyzing a sample to determine how it works, identifying potential patent infringement, etc. The non-destructive reverse engineering process involves measuring an object without taking it apart and then reconstructing it as a 3D model.

SMTAI Product Showcase

Summer Reading: Hedy Lamarr's CDMA Story

August is recognized internationally as a month to relax and appreciate summer. For a great combination of electronics industry history and entertainment, pick up Spread Spectrum: Hedy Lamarr and the Mobile Phone, chronicling movie star Hedy Lamarr and musician George Antheil's collaboration on a 1942 patent for mobile communications in naval weaponry. The technology became the basis of a computer chip synchronization technology, "frequency hopping," or CDMA.

Rework Challenges, Rework Solutions

By William E. Coleman, Ph.D., Photo Stencil - Although the goal of every process is zero defects, the reality is that rework-and-repair is necessary sometimes, especially given the cost of scrapping high-dollar assemblies. A variety of tools and methods are available for reworking defective PCBAs, even those with dense layouts and fine-pitch components.

Counterfeit Detection

As electronic devices and components become more expensive and obsolete, it is an unfortunate reality that users are ripe for exploitation by unscrupulous dealers in counterfeit components.

Innovation – Design Focus Redefined

The introduction of a new device can turn the industry on its head. That device technology shift has arrived in the form of programmable devices such as high-capacity FPGAs.

Improve Solder Scavenging of Large Area-array Sites

When an area array component is removed for repair, there typically is an excess of solder remaining on the board, which must be removed.

STEP 7: Flux Chemistry for Lead-free SMT

SAC alloys have a higher melting point and exhibit poor wettability compared to tin/lead eutectic alloys.

3D Stacked Packages: Which Way to Go?

Presented by gail flower and meredith courtemancheSMT will host a panel on 3D stacked packages on August 20 in the Cancun Room at SMTA International in Orlando, Fla.

SMTAI 2008 Products

The Agilent Medalist sj5000 AOI solution for post- and pre-reflow and 2D paste inspection uses a linear gantry developed with Anorad, a division of Rockwell Automation.

Mastering Mixed Assembly Processing

Surface mount has been the prevalent assembly technology for the last 10 to 15 years.

Double-sided Lead-free Rework

Reworking lead-free assemblies requires care to prevent higher temperatures from damaging components and solder joints around the site, including the underside of the board.

New Components and Related Products

Lumex launched SMT LEDs with thru-hole features and capabilities; FDK expanded its Sensei isolated DC/DC converters with eighth brick converters; Mill-Max added mini USB receptacles; Virtual Industries released a small-parts tip to handle components as small as 100 µm; AVX Corporation developed a series of secure lock ZIF connectors; Pickering Interfaces added to its range of PXI switch solutions with the SPST power relay module; Crystek Corporation released a 500-MHz VCSO.

PCB News

Hereaus launched a line of fast-setting, one-component conductive adhesives for component attachment on flex circuits; CMK will manufacture build-up circuit boards in Thailand; and IPC released the June book-to-bill ratios for North American flex and rigid PCB production.

Featured Products

WACKER SILICONES introduced UV-active silicones; Virtual Industries Inc. released the TV-1000 vacuum tweezer; Tyco Electronics launched the high-performance interconnect (HPI) connector with locking feature; and Creative Materials announced a series of single-component epoxy die-attach adhesives.

From the Editor:
Looking for Hope at SEMICON

In a slowing economy, everyone looks for signs of hope for a strong future. Funding for R&D often takes a backseat to the basic needs of a company to conduct commerce and basically stay in business by doing the same things in the same way. The real threat is that fear itself will force us into stagnation. And status quo is the true enemy. This was my message at the Advanced Packaging Awards (APAs), presented to innovators in the packaging market at SEMICON West.

Electronics Industry Reports Publications released "Worldwide PC Market: 1Q08 Review;" IDTechEx detailed the printed electronics market; and Frost & Sullivan examines the role medical device manufacturing plays in EMS product portfolios.

From the Show: Happenings at SEMICON West

SEMICON West, taking place this week in San Francisco, gathers industry experts, analysts, suppliers across the industry, and semiconductor and packaging manufacturers together to discuss the state of the industry, future opportunities and challenges, and advances in technology.


From printer manufacturers to EMS providers, distributors, and industry associations, the news includes promotions, awards, new contracts, and global expansion.

Dispensing Solder Paste at High Speed with Piezoelectric Drive Technology

Electronics Industry Association News

IMEC and Qualcomm collaborate on 3D packaging technologies; IPC meets internationally to discuss urgent trends; iNEMI releases recommendations for lead-free alloy alternatives.

Solder Dross Recycling: A Case Study

By Simon Norman, EVS International - The world price of solder is at an all-time high, so reducing solder consumption — therefore reducing incurred costs — should be at the top of every electronics manufacturer's priorities list. On average, EMS companies throw away 75% of their solder as dross. One company worked with their equipment supplier to automate the solder dross recovery process in-house.

EMS Product Roundup

PROMATION released a sorting system for AOI, and also developed a thermal probe conveyor for electronics assemblers; NOVACAP launched a series of component arrays combining multiple ceramic components into an SMD; YESTech announced an advanced automated inspection for various defects detection.

From the Editor:
Tradeshow Participation Anticipation

Time seems to be speeding up lately, as I can't help but spend a lot of time looking ahead. What's down the road? SEMICON West is just around the bend, then SMTA International next month, and IPC Midwest in September. We at the magazine have unique opportunities to participate in each of these major shows.

The Environmental Cost of Green

By Michael Konrad, Aqueous Technologies Corporation - Being involved in the electronics assembly industry for more than 23 years, specifically in the field of defluxing and cleanliness testing, I have seen my share of environmental regulations. Today, governments have focused their attention on effluent discharge, a byproduct of defluxing.

How Does Cleaning Affect Conformal Coating?

By Sini Aleksic Ph.D.; Helmut Schweigart, Ph.D.; and Harald Wack, Ph.D., Zestron - Providing electronic assemblies with protective coatings is an important and necessary measure to ensure their reliability. To ensure optimum adhesion of the protective coating, it is important to provide the highest cleanliness of the assemblies before coating. Perform analysis beyond traditional cleanliness tests.

July Featured Products

Following are the new components, software packages, thermal interface materials, and production accessories for electronics manufacturing from Blue Thunder, Laird, AVX, Aegis, and more.

Reports: China, Screen Printer, and Flex Circuit Markets

Henderson Ventures studies inflation and electronics production in China; Research and Markets reviews demand for screen printers globally, and the analyst firm also reports on the global flexible circuit market.

VJ Electronix Hosts Educational Open House

The theme of VJ Electronix’s open house in Littleton, Mass., was the power of knowledge.

Intelligent Autorouting Solution

Moving away from settings–based autorouting, the Dragon Routing Platform combines intelligence and a methodology–driven approach.

Advancements in Solder Paste Dispensing

Traditional technologies for solder paste dispensing have limitations that can impact throughput and yield.

Designing Wave Flux Chemistries

Lead– and silver–free solder alloys with additives are finding increased acceptance globally and hold promise as a mainstream solution.

STEP 6: Component Placement

For military and aerospace users in particular, there are attractive benefits in embedding.

Modern 2D X–ray Tackles BGA Defects

Effective test methods are needed to identify common BGA defects on double–sided PCB assemblies.

Stencils and the Phonograph Stylus

Remember the phonograph? Back when phonographs were part of every stereo system, a simple rule applied: if the stylus wasn’t top–quality, the musical reproduction wouldn’t be either.

Regarding RoHS: Two Years In

The two-year anniversary of the EU's RoHS legislation is right around the corner, July 1, and much still is left to debate. No surprise then that RoHS, in its regional and global implications, remains a hotly contested, oft-discussed topic in the industry. With exemptions running out and new materials facing the ax, RoHS is just as much "beginning" today as it was in July 2006.

June Featured Products

Following are new components, thermal interface materials, connectors, test systems, software products, and other launches from Agilent, Mill-Max, PROMATION, Aegis, HumiSeal, HALT&HASS Systems, and more.

Hot Topics: Solving an Industry Dilemma with Emerging Technologies

"There are practical limits to both tin/lead and lead-free solder," says Joe Fjelstad, Verdant Electronics, in his argument for solderless assembly, "Dealing with the Lead-free Challenge." Arthur Chait, EoPlex Technologies, says "today's devices demand increasingly complex components, smaller," in his exploration of emerging deposition technologies, "Keeping Pace with Miniaturization."

Don't Leave Succession Planning to Luck

By Gary A. Tanel, Associate Equity - When an entrepreneur starts an EMS company, the last thing on their mind might be how they plan to exit the business. Successful businessmen and investors know, however, that you never get into a business without knowing how to exit. All private business ownership is transitioned one way or the other.

Live from Orlando: Freescale's Technology Forum

On Monday, I arrived in Orlando to attend the Freescale Technology Forum Americas, where the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton Conference Center had been transformed into a Freescale Semiconductor facility for the next four days.

Exhibits Spotlight: NEW

National Electronics Week (NEW) takes place in London this week, with exhibitors from global locales bringing new equipment and processes to the U.K. market. Following are the new cleaning systems, reflow ovens, print platforms, solder materials, and other elements on display at the show.

New Components: Military Through Mobile Phones

AVX expanded its AntennaGuard series; Murata introduced an 0302 capacitor array for dense and miniaturized assemblies; Gowanda Electronics released a military-approved QPL inductor range.

Conformal Coating for Microelectronics: A Primer

By Hector A. Pulido and Gareth De Sanctis, Asymtek - - Conformal coating of an electronic assembly was not always considered at the beginning of a project. Many OEMs and EMS companies will adopt automated and precision conformal coating processes to improve consistency and quality of their products.

SMT/HYBRID/PACKAGING Exhibitor Spotlight

Bigger and more international than ever, SMT/HYBRID/PACKAGING in Nuremberg, Germany, focused on the theme of automotive electronics. Vendors also used the venue for the European launch of products previously introduced to the market at North American and Asian events held earlier in the year.

From the Editor: The Human BOM

I recently read the history of my mother's family. A family history can help you discover that you're one whole composed of many, many pieces. In the electronics industry, we have a good understanding of this concept. Every electronic device is a composition of multitudinous bits and pieces. Design determines a great deal of an assembly's success, hand-in-hand with production.

DAC Showcase

Following are the highlights, new products, and special events taking place at the Design Automation Conference (DAC), June 8 to 13 in Anaheim, Calif. The 45th DAC event hosts design of electronic circuits and systems, EDA, and silicon solutions presentations, along with 250 exhibitors.

Halogen: The Latest Green Initiative

By Laura J. Turbini, Ph.D., Research in Motion - This January, I attended the Intel/IPC Halogen Free Symposium. The meeting drew 240 people representing 140 companies and 13 countries. I had expected that the focus would be on halogen-free laminates, and that I could learn about the latest materials. I was surprised at the breadth of components this "halogen-free initiative" covered.

Using Design for Six Sigma to Develop Surface Mount Materials

By Michael Skrzat, Heraeus Incorporated - While most of the solder paste industry has recently been focused on lead-free products, a unique opportunity arose for a joint development project to create an improved no-clean tin/lead eutectic solder paste with a large automotive manufacturer.

Distributor News

Distributors Sager Electronics and Digi-Key both picked up new product lines this week. Sager Electronics will add Harvatek components to its line card; Digi-Key signed a global distribution agreement for TriQuint Semiconductor.

From the Editor:
Get Ready Because Here They Come: Stacked Packages

The more I travel to cover the latest technologies, the more interconnected each step becomes from the front to the back-end, board assembly, and box build. For instance, I recently attended The ConFab Conference in Lowes Lake, Las Vegas. The title of this high-level event was "Managing the New Economics of Chip Making." I went for the inside information on one of the sessions, "Economic Implications of 3D Circuitry & Advanced Packaging."

Inovar Expands Business Through Customer Partnerships

Inovar Inc., an inthinc company and mid-volume contract electronics assembly provider located in North Logan, Utah, held an open house to announce its expansion to 65,000 sq.

Text to Task: Changing the Human/machine Interface

Pictures are more communicative than words. Examining how this is incorporated in emerging assembly equipment software illustrates how task-based design will enable manufacturing businesses to achieve productivity and ROI improvements.

Laser Soldering: A Turning Point

Selective soldering is seeing a rise in popularity coinciding with an uptick in mixed surface mount and thru-hole assemblies.

Lightning Strikes: ESD and Stencil Wiping

Conventional stencil wiping rolls contain a high percentage of polyester, leaving PCBs exposed to ESD damage.


Loctite 3508 is a one-component epoxy pre-applied to the PCB at the CSP pad corners using a standard dispensing system.

SMT VISION Awards Show Packs the Room

On April 2, 2008, during the APEX conference and exhibition in Las Vegas, the annual SMT VISION Awards ceremony packed the room until attendees overflowed into the hallway.

Implementing Integrated Development Manufacturing

Advancing technologies are compressing design cycles and driving manufacturers to an “integrated development manufacturing” methodology.

Table 1. Flex Circuit Update

"Polyimide" is a generic chemical descriptor that applies to thermoplastic films as well as thermosetting resins. Polyimide films are marketed for FPC use by several manufacturers, including duPont, Kaneka, Ube Chemical. Properties can vary significantly between manufacturers and film types. Table 1. sets forth properties of two polyimide films and Type 1 (higher temperature) LCP.

Choosing the Most Appropriate AOI System:
Clarifying Common Misconceptions

By James Gibson, Landrex Technologies Inc. and Pamela Lipson, Ph.D., Imagen Incorporated - All AOI systems have features and characteristics in common; it's what they don't have in common that can make the difference between choosing the correct one for current and anticipated applications, and making an expensive error. Misconceptions about AOI systems can be costly in many ways. This article examines and debunks some common myths.


SMT/HYBRID/PACKAGING will take place June 3 through 5 in Nuremburg, Germany, highlighting new products and processes on the European electronics assembly stage. This year's show features cleaning processes, pick-and-place systems, reflow ovens and profilers, solder, automated tooling, device programming systems, dummy components, inspection systems, and more.

Flex Circuit Update

By Thomas H. Stearns, Brander International Consultants - In the March 2008 SMT, an article on flex circuits highlighted liquid crystal polymer (LCP) films and the applications where they are preferred. This column offers comments on materials choice and market effects in flexible printed circuitry (FPC) in response to the March report, along with fundamental information about the FPC process.

ESD and Testing Automated Equipment

By Donn Bellmore, Universal Instruments Corporation - Equipment manufacturers constantly are asked what electrostatic voltage levels are present in their equipment during operation. Recently, I have received acceptance criteria and specifications for equipment referencing ANSI/ESD SP10.1-2007, which does not provide a range of acceptability and should not be used for this purpose.

From the Editor: Technology is in the Eye of the Beholder

What is the difference between low-tech and high-tech? Most often, the difference exists in the user, not in the technology. In this way, knowledge marks the line between high- and low-tech. Speakers from the rework and X-ray groups at VJ Electronix took on the role of educators during the company's recent open house.

Industry Academia Partnerships: Sustaining Growth and Competitiveness

By S. Manian Ramkumar, Ph.D., RIT - A well-established and innovatively nurtured industry-academia partnership can be a win/win proposition in many dimensions and help both parties retain their leadership positions. The importance of such partnerships has become apparent in the U.S. in recent years.

Flux Chemistry for Lead-free SMT

By Edward Briggs and Ronald Lasky, Ph.D., Indium Corporation - SAC alloys have a higher melting point and exhibit poor wettability compared to tin/lead eutectic alloys. Flux chemistries are ever evolving to meet this changing environment. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the function of flux chemistry, acknowledging the general ingredients that make up most no-clean materials.

From the Editor: Emerging Markets Are a State of Mind

I'm often aghast at seeing children with cell phones. What is the point of paying an extra phone bill for your toddler? The point for the industry is the genius of diversifying one of the most saturated cellular markets on the globe, by convincing your customer base to get a specialized cell phone for the kids, and another for the grandparents.

May Featured Products

Following are new products introduced to the testing market, pick-and-place innovations, PCB depanelers and other tooling, products in the emerging conformal coating sector, connectors for LCD assemblies, new packaging for sensitive devices, inspection tools for PCB fabricators, and more.

Creative Solutions to Stencil Printing Challenges

By William E. Coleman, Ph.D., Photo Stencil - Too often we think of a stencil as a simple, single-thickness foil with apertures defining positions where solder paste bricks are to be deposited. In today's world of complex PCB and package designs, more versatility is required.

Cleaning Up the SMT Production Environment

By Sheila Hamilton, Teknek - How clean is your SMT production environment? You would be surprised at the levels of contamination present that can impact yields and wastage levels. Before you can control contamination, you must be able to measure it and identify the sources.

From the Editor:
The Lead-free Dilemma

In his book on the modern state of agriculture and eating, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan states that few dominant products on the food market have risen to prominence wholly on their own; federal policies often play a vital role. One could say the same for certain technologies, with the relationship between the EU's RoHS directive and XRF analyzers being the most obvious example.

Bead Probe Implementation: A No-clean Case Study

By Mike Farrell, Agilent Technologies Inc. and Glen Leinbach, Caber Contacts LLC - - Relying on conventional in-circuit test (ICT) pads could result in test coverage reduction in cases where density and speed requirements are demanding. A major OEM using DDR2 technology encountered this problem, and conducted an experiment with bead probe technology.

Wave Height Monitor

The monitor and control feature for KISS selective soldering equipment can maintain solder wave heights to within ±0.005", targeting soldering operations with small, tight-pitch components in high-volume automated production environments.

Alternatives Replace Older Cleaners

Existing product choices for cleaning lead-free assemblies are being phased out, providing weak results, or are overly expensive.

Essential Electronics Assembly Cleaning

Requirements for high performance and reliability are stronger than ever. To achieve good insulation resistance, cleanliness of electronics assemblies is essential.

Unified EDA Flow for Analog Designs and PCB Implementation

In analog design, designing for simulation and for PCB implementation are two parallel flows.

Asymtek Celebrates 25 Years

Alec Babiarz is one of the co-founders of Asymtek and now serves as president of business development.

REACH Exposed: Stressing Environmental Compliance

This article provides an update on REACH toxicity legislation to date. One of the stark contrasts between REACH and RoHS is the number of substances that must be tracked and evaluated.

STEP 5: Advanced Underfill Technology

Developed to compensate for the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) inconsistencies between the PCB and silicon devices, underfill technology has expanded to deliver shock, drop, and vibration protection for today’s advanced devices.

SMTA Toolbox: Knowledgeable Green Transition Management

The successful conversion of electronics products to comply with green regulations such as RoHS provides a great opportunity for process improvement and efficient and environmentally friendly design and manufacturing.

Part 8: Lead-free Reliability for Harsh Environment Electronics

By Jennie S. Hwang, Ph.D. - - Over the last two years, I have offered a series of seven parts to cover the important aspects of lead-free reliability and its testing and assessment. This article is the eighth part to continue this series with the theme: "Lead-free Reliability for Harsh Environment Electronics" is the ultimate manifestation of back to basics.

Association News

The SMTA China hosted its annual dinner at Nepcon China in Shanghai, with sponsorship from Kyzen and VJ Electronix; in Raleigh, N.C., SMTA hosted a symposium on advanced packaging technologies; and APICS — Association for Operations Management held a professional development meeting with EMS provider Inovar, also announcing a change in headquarters.

From the Editor:
Inovar Expands Business Through Customer Partnerships

Inovar Inc. held an open house to announce its expansion. Inovar's success is based on its ability to provide a full range of services, included materials procurement, thru-hole and SMT PCB assembly, test, and system builds. The company has experienced 1000% growth in the past five years.

Nepcon East Product Showcase

Nepcon East, April 30 through May 1 in Boston, is a regional show with a national feel, thanks in part to the lively show floor, conference sessions and training, and the co-location with OEM New England, Assembly New England, and two related shows. Suppliers will provide technical staff and product demos.

From the Editor:
Earth Day Everyday

Yesterday, I rambled out of bed to look out a back window at the porch below. A Christmas-red cardinal perched on the bird feeder surveying the trees and taking his time during breakfast. "Happy Earth Day to you," I thought, then carried the Earth Day theme with me into work. My hybrid car didn't consume too much gas, but I did carry my lunch in a plastic container inside a plastic bag. I stopped by Starbucks — more plastic. How far have we come with environmental issues?, I wonder.

iNEMI Studies New Initiatives at APEX Meetings

The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) worked on several industry challenges at APEX, preparing for launch in the spring. Among the new projects are: lead-free alloy alternatives, lead-free early failure, boundary scan adoption, and solder paste deposition.

From the Editor:
VISION for the Future

This year's APEX was an intelligent blend of education, business, and entertainment. The VISION celebration was a chance to gather for drinks with the people we work with day in and day out. The business purpose of the VISION Awards is to scrutinize the current electronics assembly market and determine what products will best serve it in the near- and long-term future.

April Product Highlights

Following are new components, dry cabinets, dispensers, conductive materials, stencil cleaners, PCB routers, and more products from Creative Materials, Totech, FDK, Corelis, Dage, Pickering Interfaces, and other suppliers.

The BGA/QFN Repair Process

By William E. Coleman, Ph.D., Photo Stencil - - Repairing a PCB with a defective BGA, micro-BGA, or QFN often is a challenging and tedious task. The conventional method is to remove the defective device, clean the pads on the PCB, then print solder paste on the pads with a mini-stencil. The stencil footprint must be small enough to fit into the area of the removed part. An alternative repair method is to print solder paste directly onto the QFN pads or BGA solder balls.

SMT Hosts Packaging Panel at SMTAI

ORLANDO, Fla. — SMT Magazine will host a panel on 3D stacked packages, August 20, 2008, during SMTA International (SMTAI) in Orlando. The panel, "3D Stacked Packages: Which Way to Go?" will debate the drivers pushing innovative, small, cost-effective 3D IC concepts with through-silicon via (TSV) interconnects. Panelists from the industry, academia, and analyst firms will present and field questions on the topic.

From the Editor:
APEX in a Nutshell

For those of you who didn't make the trip to Last Vegas this year to attend APEX (March 29 through April 3), you really missed out on an important event. Here's what happened during APEX, in a nutshell.

From the Editor
Investing for the Times: Modules Featured at APEX

Suppliers to the EMS/OEM market understand better than most industries how to innovate in ways that best serve their customers. Electronics assemblers are purchasing equipment based on what their needs are today, and what their needs will be in the foreseeable future. Exhibitors at APEX responded to this investment strategy, bringing to market more modular solutions and upgrade options for 2008, spanning the breadth of flying probe testers to pick-and-place systems to printing machines.

SMT Lauds 16th Annual VISION Award Winners

During a ceremony at APEX in Las Vegas, April 2nd, SMT Magazine celebrated winning products in the 16th annual VISION Awards, recognizing innovation and leadership across the electronics assembly supply chain, including advanced materials, sophisticated software, and complex equipment that advance the industry of PCB manufacturing. Winners and finalists were recognized for their contributions to the industry in each award category.

STEP 4: Printing Flexible Substrates

In fast-paced manufacturing, continuous flexible substrates help meet complex challenges of sub-miniature assemblies.

Working with Large, Thick PCBs

The process challenges of lead-free wave soldering for thick, large, and thermally challenging PCBs are discussed, with recommendations.

Simply Modern Aqueous Cleaning

The reason aqueous cleaning has been the technology of choice for the past 10 to 12 years is quite simple: it works.

Review: Find It. Book It. Grow It.

In Find It. Book It. Grow It.: A Robust Process for Account Acquisition in Electronics Manufacturing Services, Susan Mucha explores the account acquisition process of companies in the EMS industry.

Fine-pitch Sockets

Centurian high-performance, ultra-fine-pitch sockets are designed for both through-via and Tessera μPILR packages.

Understanding Conduction Soldering

Manual soldering has been used for electronics assembly processes for over seven decades.

JTAG Brings on Inherent Testability

Advancing boundary scan test techniques, coupled with sophisticated system monitoring capability being built into FPGAs, point to a future of inherently testable assemblies where physical access to specific devices on a board will no longer be required.

High-speed Stamp Soldering

This article examines stamp soldering, a solution that produces consistent high quality by repeatedly applying accurate amounts of molten solder onto a PCB using static volumetric solder stamps.

APEX Product Highlights: From the Show

Following is a select preview of products on display at IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit. The exhibit opens tomorrow, April1, in Las Vegas, and will host new products and technologies through April 3.

Bridging the Macro to Micro Gap

By Arthur Chait, EoPlex Technologies Inc. - - Nanotechnology promises to revolutionize everything — someday. A Google search on "nanotechnology" returns over 12 million citations. While nano gets all the attention, the rest of us have to design and manufacture miniature devices using current technology. One solution is a high-volume forming method derived from print layering, using specialized sets of proprietary materials.

IPC APEX Product Preview

The IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit will take place April 1–3 in Las Vegas. Following are more product previews for the event, including dispense system, squeegee tooling, fluxers, test systems, rework tools, machine updates, microscopes, cleaners, and other materials, equipment, and software for the electronics assembly market.

From the Editor:
Innovation Still Alive and Well in the U.S.

They say that innovation has dwindled down in the U.S., that technology and manufacturing drifted off to lower-cost providers in distant underdeveloped countries. This undeniably has happened in the contract assembly of surface mounted PCBs. It's almost as if the U.S. needs a challenge at times to get us started along another route. For instance, consider the approach we have taken to the standard 63/37 tin/lead solder paste, eutectic at 183°C, and a known entity that works well.

Q&A with a Turnkey EMS Provider

EPE Corporation is a 110-person turnkey EMS provider in Manchester, N.H. They specialize in domestic solutions, with high-mix and low- to medium-volume production runs. In addition to SMT, thru-hole, and BGA placement, the company performs conformal coating and UV inspection, and can incorporate custom parts. Their facility is ISO 9001-2000 certified and IPC-verified for lead-free and leaded processes. SMT spoke with Heather L. Steck-Yeaton, business development manager.

From the Editor:
Valuable Insights

As editors focus on the industry at-large, we often rely on analysts, filtering information down to specifics relating to how readers conduct business and plan for the future. After all, information only becomes a tool when it is packaged in useful and useable formats. Some analysts present a narrow focus; others have a wider scope. Like the youngest bear in Goldie Locks, editors package together analyses to provide the "just right" amount of detail and macro view. Here's what you need to know.

APEX Product Preview

Following are product highlights for IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit, coming up April 1–3 in Las Vegas. SMT will provide continuous APEX coverage for readers in SMT WEEK e-newsletters and print issues leading up to, during, and following the show. These products include new packages, reflow oven controls, paste and glue dispensers, solder dross recovery systems, pick-and-place machines, RoHS screening services, and more.

Software Improves Productivity and Quality for NPI

By Bruce Isbell, Valor Computerized Systems - - There is no disputing the fact that electronics manufacturing is a tough business, especially for EMS/NPI providers. NPI providers face an array of challenges based on the sheer numbers of new product datasets that must be handled, evaluated, and converted into process instructions, compounded by the relentless onslaught of ECNs. These dynamics can shake the operational infrastructure of even the best manufacturers to their core.

March Product Highlights

Following are the new product releases from National, AVX, CIT, Adchem, Ansoft, Creative Materials, Zuken, and Devcon. Featuring DC/DC converter components, surface mount switches, polyester film bonding tape, design software, adhesives, and more.

From the Editor:
Reaching for Balance

Yesterday, I left N.H. snow squalls behind eagerly, headed out for sunny Atlanta, where cherry and magnolia blossoms welcomed spring, and the grass was halfway green already — not a bit of snow. Ah, sweet change. On top of increasing temperatures, we were visiting old friends in the industry at Siemens, Viscom, and Assembléon to talk about their plans for the future, see new products, and meet new personnel. What could be better than that?

IDTechEx Provides FPO Update

IDTechEx analyst Peter Harrop examines the printed electronics industry, including flexible electronics, organic and inorganic materials, and production focus in "Printed Electronics Focuses in Dresden." Harrop argues that the printed electronics industry is most well funded, sophisticated, and in demand in Germany, with Dresden being a "magnet" for academic and industry advances. IDTechEx cites these as reasons for bringing its Printed Electronics Europe tradeshow to the city April 8–9.

Selective Laser Soldering: DfM Rules

By Ray Prasad, Ray Prasad Consultancy Group - - All soldering processes have specific DfM requirements. For example, via-in-pad is not desired in reflow to prevent insufficient solder, and the right gap between pads of chip components is necessary. For wave soldering of surface mount components glued to the bottom of the board, it is necessary to align them parallel to the wave. Laser soldering is an option for selectively soldering thru-hole components in a mixed assembly.

Review: Printed Circuits Handbook

The sixth edition of the Printed Circuits Handbook maintains editorial continuity with the five preceding issues, with editor-in-chief Clyde F. Coombs, Jr., continuing to determine content.

APEX Product Preview

The 2008 IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit promises close to 450 exhibitors focused on every aspect of PCB assembly — from designing boards to final test and inspection, rework, and beyond.

Completely Inspecting New Packages

This article addresses questions about the optimal inspection solutions for new packaging technologies.

Flexible Circuits Market: Surging Ahead

The flex circuit market, which was worth $5.7 billion in 2005, is projected to increase to $11.4 billion in 2010, growing at a 13.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

DfE Thrives on Competition

A competition of electronic design for the global environment, Live EDGE invited electronic engineers, students, academics, and others interested in electronic engineering to submit designs for innovative products that use electronic components.

Standardizing Traceability Ratings

To validate and benchmark the entire manufacturing process, assemblers require solutions that provide physical materials and procedural guidelines for determining a factory’s traceability and control capability, and then rating the results in a formalized matrix.

STEP 3: Holistic Lead-free Reliability

When product reliability is paramount, lead-free conversion must start with plan-for-reliability, which comprises design-, material-selection-, and manufacturing-for-reliability.

Cleanliness Testing on the Shop Floor

Previously found only in the lab, cleanliness testers are migrating to the production line as manufacturers realize their potential as a process control tool for lead-free assembly.

New Product Focus: Components

FDK introduced high-performance DC/DC Senpai converters; Murata Electronics North America released its MPD6S022S DC/DC converter; Cynergy3 Components will globally distribute its high-voltage and RF reed relays and level/flow sensors through Digi-Key; IRC released a family of power resistors in standard TO packages; and BI Technologies developed a tight DCR surface mount power inductor.

From the Editor:
What Is It Worth?

Allow me to start our conversation today with some random, seemingly incongruous facts. The U.S. Amish population is an early adopter of solar power as industrial and consumer products. The average American owes about $31,000 per car, in accumulated debt. Union membership in the U.S. is on the rise, even outside of the service and hospitality industry, a trend that hasn't been seen in about 25 years. What, you may ask, do all these things have to do with each other? And why do they matter?

Nepcon China Product Preview

Nepcon China, April 8–11 in Shanghai, will feature about 650 exhibiting companies from global regions. This year, Nepcon China organizers expect about 30% of attendees to be the decision makers from electronics assembly and test companies, along with OEMs, designers, and other buyers from related fields. Exhibitors run the gamut from ESD control to thermal profiling, solder materials, PCB fabricators, and more. Following are product previews from a selection of exhibitors.

Part 1: PCB Designer's Notebook:
Fine-pitch and Die-size Array Packages Design and Assembly

By Vern Solberg - - Chipscale packaging (CSP) is by now generic terminology used to reference an array packaged IC that is the same size or nearly the same size as the die element. The industry has divided CSP into two distinct variations. The fine-pitch array package (FBGA) is a package outline with specifically defined dimensions, while the dimensions of the die-size array package (DSBGA) body conforms to the actual outline of the die element.

From the Editor:
Heraeus Celebrates Success with Open House

Recently, Heraeus Incorporated, CMD, of Conshohocken, Pa., conducted an open house to celebrate the million-dollar renovation and reorganization of their facility. They celebrated 40 years of manufacturing in North America; the most profitable year; expansion globally; ISO 2001:2000 certification; Sony Green Partner certification; a quality control plan; diversification of customer base; a research- and applications-oriented workforce; and an effective production environment.

Association News: Tradeshow Season

SMTA announced its Toronto Academy docket; IPC details environmental concerns at APEX, and looks ahead to IPC Midwest; iNEMI plans forums and presentations at APEX.

BiTS 2008 Workshop Approaches

By Frederick Taber, BiTS Workshop - - MESA, Ariz. — The ninth annual Burn-in and Test Socket Workshop (BiTS 2008) is just around the corner, March 9–12, in Mesa. BiTS is dedicated to providing a forum for burn-in and test socketing, and related fields to participants from around the world. These participants represent end users and suppliers of sockets, boards, burn-in systems, handlers, packages, and other related equipment, materials, and services.

February Featured Products

Following are the latest releases in thermal profiling, solders and fluxes, thermal management, components, digital microscopy, lead-free, and more from SEHO and KIC; IMS; Cobar BV, FCT Solder, and Nihon Superior; MIS; Master Bond; Koki and Christopher Associates; Qtek; and AVX.

Q&A with Brian Duffey, MYDATA

Gail Flower, editor-in-chief, speaks with MYDATA's Brian Duffey about modern pick-and-place, including carts, feeders, and customer needs. Duffey explains the development of high-mix assembly, and what constant changeovers neccessitate from a pick-and-place perspective.

APEX Preview: Focus on Solder

The conference at IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit, March 30 to April 3 in Las Vegas, covers all aspects of electronics assembly: design, printing, placement, rework, etc. This year, several solder suppliers — including Indium Corporation and Cobar Europe BV — will expound upon a central topic of electronics assembly: solder materials and reflow.

APEX Preview: Rework Course

One of the most important areas of electronic assembly, under reuse, recycle, and recall pressures, and tight margins, is rework and repair. In the transition to RoHS compliance, most assemblers find lead-free rework to be the least feasible, most costly step. Moderated by R. Wayne Johnson, Auburn University and Advanced Packaging Editorial Advisory Board member, the "Repair and Rework" technical presentation at APEX, April 1, promises to provide insight into lead-free rework.

The Where and How Issues of SMT

Electronics assembly has caused a real stir in the news lately. Even the location of the plant is important. Nokia announced it would discontinue producing mobile devices in Germany and close its Bochum plant this year, laying off 2,300 employees. Nokia, acknowledged as number one in global phone shipments and market share, didn't find the location to be competitive enough. Previously, Motorola stopped manufacturing mobile phones in Germany.

Protection for Complicated SMD Assemblies

Most common conformal coatings actually can hurt, not protect, delicate and dense PCB assemblies.


LAS VEGAS - IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit will open to an April Fool’s Day keynote titled “Having Fun and Changing the World,” presented by Rodney Brooks, Ph.

Cleaning under Low-standoff Components

The presence of miniaturized chips, combined with other geometric obstacles, has affected cleaning.

Production Mix for Today’s Product Mix

Mixed assembly has a number of meanings depending on where you sit. Some manufacturing engineers view it as the version of mixed technology that has been around for over 40 years - mass-produced G10 boards containing printed resistors mixed with standard plated thru-hole (PTH) components.

Extending Contactor Lifespans

A semiconductor manufacturer needed a contactor to test a high-performance, high-pin-count CPU chip housed in a ceramic LGA package with gold-plated pads.

Why Focus Matters

The communications technology industry and the use of communications devices, like mobile phones, have changed the world in the last decade.

Step 2: Optimized Assembly by Virtual Control

A key element in a total MES solution for the electronics manufacturing industry is complete process engineering control.

From the Editor
Mobile Electronics on Wheels

No product so deftly blends consumer and harsh-environment electronics segments like cars. If you're looking for the major trends in PCB assembly technology, you'll find them in the automotive segment. The tough thing, for designers and assemblers in this market, is that even delicate assemblies need to withstand subzero temperatures, and rapid ramps to cozy warmth when the engine is going. So, if the automotive segment comprises a microcosm of electronics today, how is it doing?

From the Editor
Greening Up

This year will be one worth watching. Looking at RoHS, in 2006 the EU's directive restricting hazardous substances took effect. In 2007, China came in with its version. Korea follows suit this year. "Are we still on this battlefield?" many ask.

Submit for 3D/SiP Advanced Packaging Symposium

The SMTA is extending the deadline for abstract submissions for the 3D/SiP Advanced Packaging Symposium through January 24, 2008. Interested applicants should send a 200–300-word abstract to the conference coordinator, Melissa Serres.

January Featured Products

Following are the new products released to start 2008 in materials, cleaning, rework, sockets, plating technology, selective soldering, dispensing, component feeders, and more. Highlighted are introductions from Henkel, Teknek, PDR, Ironwood, Technic, ACE, I&J Fisnar, IPTE, IMS, and American Hakko Products.

From the Editor: Making Plans

In the early weeks of January, most of us dedicate a lot of time to "digging out" — both literally, as New England continues to welcome snow storms, and figuratively, as we shake off the holidays and forge ahead with the new year. Some people begin to follow New Year's resolutions earnestly, for others it's about getting on task with work, and still others tuck into a fresh semester. For me, getting on track after the holidays meant finding a new home with more room, closer to the office.


Review: BPA’s High–value Flex Report


Dual-port Soldering System

Inside Reflow

Over time, the basic equipment for mass board assembly changes, adapting to various updated practices.

Faster Flying Probe ROI

Flying probe test systems have captured a significant and growing section of the global production test market.

STEP 1: Left Shift the Bottom Line

It’s documented that using DfF techniques for PCB design produces higher yields and lower cost. The real question is how. After taking a brief look at the problem, the “how” steps are enumerated in the left-shift methodology.

From the Fire: EMS Recovery

In December 2005, the team at Fawn Electronics Company received news no one wants to hear: the manufacturing facility had burned down and was a total loss.

EMS News Update

ASTEEL will acquire Flash Electronics, adding U.S.- and Asia-based manufacturing sites; Synchro Corporation added another SMT production line, and created a dedicated lead-free line to serve current and projected needs; and MEC, The Milwaukee Electronics Company, named Hani Malek as GM and national sales and marketing manager.

iSuppli Report: Electronic Manufacturing Capacity Undergoes Global Rebalancing

In the early 2000s, manufacturing capacity abruptly shifted from the high-cost regions of North America and Western Europe to the low-cost nation of mainland China. However, in the second half of the decade, iSuppli Corp. is tracking a new series of evolutionary and strategic steps for electronics contract manufacturers that focuses on other factors beyond labor cost when it comes to selecting a location for production.

Saying Goodbye: An eWaste Story, Part II

Welcome back to the saga of recycling electronics, following the path of my broken laptop to a new computer without, hopefully, generating electronics waste — PCBs, batteries, components, and displays that end up in landfills — in the process. Today, I'm trolling the depths of OEM-centric electronics recycling, and sharing a few tips that came in from readers last week.

RoHS Material Controls and Visual Management

By Scott Mazur, Benchmark Electronics - - With the industry transitioning materials to RoHS compliance, a mixture of leaded and lead-free components, assemblies, and systems prevails in many manufacturing facilities. This reality requires diligence, control, and visual management throughout the manufacturing process. Failure to deploy controls can result in an EU RoHS misconduct. Cross contamination can result from a company running both RoHS and non-RoHS manufacturing lines.

Thru-hole Lead-free Soldering and Rework Concerns

By Ray Prasad, Ray Prasad Consultancy Group - - Despite the industry's switch to SMT from thru-hole for almost three decades now, thru-hole has not disappeared yet, and don't expect it to any time soon. The most common way to solder thru-hole components en masse is by wave soldering. For tin/lead, the wave pot temperature for soldering thru-hole components is generally maintained at 260°C.

Traceability on the Line

Compiled by SMT - - This article looks at ways in which traceability is implemented and maintained during the electronics assembly process from the perspectives of pick-and-place, reflow equipment, and screen printer manufacturers; as well as barcode scanner and software companies.

Saying Goodbye: An eWaste Story

On a recent cross-country trip, my laptop came to the proverbial "end of product life cycle" with an irreparable broken screen. We've been spending quite a bit of time lately on electronics recycling in SMT, and with a non-functioning portable consumer electronic device on my hands, I've decided to "put up or shut up," and navigate the various outlets of electronics recycling available.

How Small is Small?
Looking at Nanoelectronics

By Laura J. Turbini, Ph.D. - - Today, we hear a lot about nanotechnology. What exactly does this mean? One way of looking at "nano" is to consider our size as human beings relative to Planet Earth, which has an equatorial circumference of 40,000 km. Nanotechnology is the science and technology of building devices, such as electronic circuits, from single atoms and molecules. In general, nanomaterials have feature sizes in the range of 1–100 nm in at least one dimension.


Productronica Caps 2007 Show Season in a Small Way


The Reel-to-Reel (R2R) printer targets precision printing onto continuous substrates, such as flex circuits; organic LED substrates; non-conductive materials; and other foils, papers, and composites.


This article represents a collection of viewpoints from industry leaders. 2007 brought tighter economies, adjusting markets, buyers and sellers.

Evaluating Cleaning System Performance

IN SUMMARYThough quantitative tools to assess the performance of electronics assembly equipment and processes abound, the industry lacks a reasonable means for evaluating cleaning systems’ performance.

RoHS Wins Converts Despite Exemptions

In SummaryMedical devices currently are exempt from RoHS. Yet, many medical device manufacturers are requesting RoHS conversion from their EMS providers due to concerns about long-term component availability and reliability.

Intrusive Reflow of Lead-free Solder Paste, Part II

In SummaryIntrusive reflow describes the process of stencil printing solder paste in and around a thru-hole, placing SMT and thru-hole devices, then reflowing the entire assembly as part of the SMT process.

Traceability on the Line

Traceability means many things to different facets of the electronics assembly market.

From the Editor
Back to Business

For me, returning from a long Thanksgiving weekend means plugging back in to the world's news and events. I think we need these little breaks to come back into the hustle-and-bustle world with a refreshed perspective and renewed interest in business, economies, politics, and global happenings. Midway through the week and firmly back in the swing of things, we've grabbed a few headlines from these areas that really caught our attention as electronics-minded editors.

How to Publish in SMT

As an engineering- and manufacturing-focused publication centered on surface mount technology, SMT strives to bring to light important R&D and case studies, materials and equipment advances, and trends and business news in electronics manufacturing. We publish original articles, news releases, product launches, opinion pieces, and event itineraries, and want to give you the chance to participate in our monthly print issues and weekly e-newsletters.

From the Editor
Productronica: Worldwide Electronics Conference Reflects Market

Productronica, the conference that happens only every other year, by all measurements, was an overwhelming success. Approximately 40,000 visitors from around the world travelled to the Neue Messe, a former airport that has served as home to this important meeting for electronics production for many years. After a so-so 2007, 2008 seems to reflect a future that is bright with growing demand. According to most predictions from the show, we can expect healthy growth for electronics production.

QA: More than Meets the Eye

By Jacob Rubin, Proventus Technologies Ltd. - - To the main challenges that the electronics manufacturing industry is facing today belongs the question: how can the industry's conversion-cost roadmap be reduced in the cost per I/O of each assembly over time? An important factor in minimizing this conversion cost is assuring higher quality, thereby delivering higher utilization, shorter product cycle times and reduced cost of test, and lowered instances of repair and scrap.

RoHS: Eighteen Months Later

By Ronald Lasky, Ph.D. - - Eighteen months ago, RoHS went into effect with predictions of imminent economic, logistic, and end-product-reliability disasters hanging in the air. I think it is now insightful to reflect on what has actually occurred.

From the Editor

San Jose is a city that respects and, more importantly, loves technology and electronics. This was evident from the moment I stepped off the plane, with "San Jose Welcomes IMAPS 2007" signs along the baggage claim and taxi bays. The Tech, Museum of Innovation was bustling with people of all ages. In this tech-friendly atmosphere, I was in the right mood to study harsh-environment medical electronics during "Biomedical Materials, Devices, and Packaging."

More Productronica Highlights

Marantz, Juki, Pickering Interfaces, DKN Research, Aegis, Palomar, BTU Europe, Asymtek, Ovation, Kester, Lloyd Doyle, Inovaxe, BPM, EVS, KIC, VJ Electronix, Kyzen, RMD, and Balver Zinn will launch products from aqueous cleaning chemistries to AOI systems, components, XRF analyzers, solder pastes, programmers, and more at Productronica, November 13–16 in Munich, Germany.

Productronica Product Preview

Following are products and services debuting or being demonstrated at Productronica, November 13–16 in Munich, Germany. AOI systems, reflow ovens, probe testers, cleaning solutions, placement systems, and other tools will be introduced by Mydata, Agilent, CyberOptics, Europlacer, Viscom, Essemtec, YESTech, atg Luther & Maelzer, High-Tech Conversions, Smart Sonic, Electrolube, and Finetech.

From the Editor
Local and Niche Conferences Still Draw Crowds

NEPCON East, October 30–31, 2007, at the Boston Convention & Exhibit Center happened at an unlikely time. Exhibitors were beginning to complain about toting around large pieces of equipment and extending their tradeshow budgets. Even worse, the first day of the show occurred just as the Boston Red Sox celebrated their World Series victory. And yet, NEPCON East still drew crowds to the large convention center.

E-waste Management: Coping with End-of-life

By Meredith Courtemanche - Over the coming months, your personal electronic devices — i-This and i-That — will come to the end of their product life cycles and go from i- to e-. E-waste, e-pollution, e-scrap and e-recycling are the buzz words of the electronics industry and international communities looking to reduce impact on the earth at end-of-life. SMT surveyed companies and associations to sort out preparing for an assembly's life after end-of-life.

Elusive BGA Intermittent Connections

By Zulki Khan, NexLogic Technologies, Inc. - - BGA intermittent connections (BICs) can originate from various root causes and produce periodic faulty operation involving BGAs. The worst characteristic about this problem, however, is its elusive nature, which can consume inordinate OEM engineering time and money and delay product launches. At this point, an OEM's top management is forced to intervene to determine causes of delays in its product introduction.

Q&A with a BGA/Electronics Assembler

Lightspeed Manufacturing in Methuen, Mass., opened in 2003, surviving the thin years in electronics manufacturing by relying on BGA services to attract packaging customers as well. As EMS in the U.S. grows healthier, Lightspeed has been able to expand both its SMT and BGA services and capacity. SMT spoke with Rich Breault about the EMS niche developing in the U.S., lead-free and its effect on BGA and electronics assembly business, and how boards will look in the near future.


Cobar, Balver Hope to Exploit MERGER BEnefits

Non-Contact Streaming Technology Enhances Dispensing

The dispensing industry within electronics manufacturing represents a diverse marketplace; different materials can be applied in different ways.

Minimizing Voids in Lead-free Array Packages

Voids in lead-free alloys and their effect on reliability, causes, and classification have been debated extensively.

Intrusive Reflow of Lead-free Solder Paste

There is renewed interest in intrusive reflow of thru-hole components with the advent of lead-free solder processes.

X-ray Choice for SMT Manufacturing:

In an X-ray inspection system purchase, as part of a test-functionality strategy within SMT manufacturing processes, different types of equipment are available from a range of manufacturers.

Step 10: Rework & Repair

Modern PCBs, with higher component density and shrinking component and trace/space dimensions, can be successfully modified, reworked, and repaired even while being processed in today’s lead-free and mixed-alloy rework-and-repair environments.

Printed Electronics in Next-Gen Mobile Phones

By Peter Harrop, Ph.D., IDTechEx - Printed electronics are an emerging $300 billion business of transistors, memory, displays, solar cells, batteries, sensors, lasers, and more printable or potentially printable electronics. End products manufactured in this manner will be foldable, conformal, wide area, low cost, edible, rollable, transparent, and biodegradable, as needed. The printed electronics industry will be pivotal to the future of mobile phones.

From the Editor
A School for Ants?

There's no doubt in anyone's mind that the majority of electronic products are shooting for higher density, more miniaturization, and smaller form factors. In the midst of all this scaling down, the human factor bungles things up. If problems arise, manual rework may be required on such delicate and miniaturized components that they may better fit into a doll's electronics, or, as Ben Stiller ineptly exclaims in the movie Zoolander, in "a school for ants."

NEPCON East Product Preview

Assembly New England/NEPCON East, October 30–31 at the Boston Convention & Exhibit Center in Boston, will host various local and national exhibitors. Following is a spotlight of products and services Juki, Lightspeed, Digitaltest, High-Tech Conversions, Ovation, Aqueous, and more companies will exhibit.

DfT Yields Bottom-line Returns

By Mark Laing, Mentor Graphics Corporation - With advances in modern PCB technology, it has become more challenging to optimize test-and-inspection strategies. Reduced bed-of-nails accessibility places more emphasis on DfT and use of complementary process verification techniques. All PCB manufacturers create defects in their processes; with intelligent implementation of DfT practices, these defects can be caught and addressed in a timely manner.

Datron Celebrates Octoberfest in N.H.
with German Chef Smackdown

By Gail Flower, editor-in-chief - MILFORD, N.H. — Datron, a precision machining company providing tools for depth-controlled trace cutting and milling, tab routing, depanelization, and micro-hole drilling in PCBs, celebrated their "German Engineering" heritage by offering a battle of the German chefs — Bruno Meissner from Giessen and Dieter from Rhein-Main competed at Datron's Customer Appreciation Oktoberfest.

Greener Production: An Interview with Tim Walker, Victrex

When designing and constructing a second polymer manufacturing plant in Lancashire, U.K., Victrex plc made layout, equipment, and structural choices to minimize energy and water consumption, while producing PEEK and PEEK-based polymers cost effectively. SMT spoke with Victrex about its green roadmap. The facility will ramp to eventually boost Victrex's PEEK output by about 50%, and also will benefit Victrex's bottom line through the hallmark reduce/reuse/recycle concept.

Reworking Silicone Conformal Coatings

By Barry Ritchie and Marjorie Dwane, Dow Corning Electronics and Advanced Technologies, Dow Corning Corporation - - Conformal coatings continue to see increased usage and popularity. Silicone coatings are soft, flexible materials that provide moisture resistance, stress relief, and low durometer. Component complexity will determine the most appropriate method for removal. Knowing your removal and repair options upfront and how to choose can save time, money, and frustration.

From the Editor
Birds of a Feather

Its autumn in New England, and geese that spent the summer commingling with local waterfowl and nesting in small groups now congregate en masse to migrate south. The principle is simple — align to reach a shared objective. Nam Tai Electronics decided this week to reorganize its businesses, grouping PCBA, flex, and display manufacturing together under its EMS branch, and shifting a software group into a separate sphere of operation.

A Tale of Two Shows

By Michael L. Martel - - I went out to Assembly Tech Expo and IPC Midwest to see what was going on in the industry. After all, I have somewhat of a vested interest in what's happening; after twenty years in this electronics manufacturing business, it's a lot like being on a sand-spit in the bay with the tide rising. At first it seems like a big place, but after a while the rising water creates a shrinking piece of dry ground; what, if anything, will be left once the tide reaches flood?

IPC Midwest Review

Since I originate from the Midwest, I packed in a visit to relatives and friends on my way to the IPC Midwest Conference and Exhibition, September 22–28. So, with a copy of the Michigan Yooper DVD "Escanaba in da Moonlight" in my briefcase and gifts of fancy jewelry and hand-tied fishing flies tucked in my suitcase, I took the Amtrak train to Union Station and began the business side of things.

ATExpo in Review: Product Spotlight

ATExpo, September 25–27 in Rosemont, Ill., highlighted production equipment and materials, with products from Electrolube, FlexLink Systems, Zierick, IDENTCO, KUKA, and Unovis, among other exhibitors.

Improving SMT Yield with AOI and AXI

By An Qi Zhao; Xin Yong Yu; Li Ming Gong; Zhen (Jane) Feng, Ph.D.; Mark Evans; and Murad Kurwa, Flextronics International Inc. - - As PCB assembly (PCBA) becomes more complex, AOI and AXI systems are more widely used in electronics manufacturing. AXI has good defect detection capabilities, but its TaKT time becomes a concern when compared to other machines on the SMT line. How can these two testing machines be used effectively to test production?

Where Are All the Engineers?

By Gary A. Tanel - - Following my May 2007 column,1 I received many calls confirming the direction of the EMS industry and voicing additional concerns on other trends. Another common theme is the concern regarding manufacturing technology skills being lost in the U.S. This takes the shape of American students losing interest in technical fields and the increased interest by hard-working students in emerging Asian countries.


Following are products from some companies exhibiting at Productronica, November 13-16, 2007, Munich, Germany.

Examining Cost of Ownership Challenges

The most important consideration when purchasing equipment is to examine the challenges the electronics industry faces this year to understand how it affects cost of ownership (COO) decisions.

Low-cost Optical Interconnects in SMT

The main challenge is inexpensively getting light signals on and off an IC chip, planar lightwave circuit (PLC) chip, or photonic integrated circuit (PIC).

Paper Substrates for RFID Tags

The first step to ultra-low-cost paper substrates for RFID tags is to demonstrate conductors on paper substrates from a processing standpoint, and characterize the electrical performance of paper substrates (up to 2 GHz) from a design standpoint.

STEP 9: Test & Inspection

Fast-evolving technology on circuit boards and quick-turn production requirements place new demands on circuit board test strategies and platforms.


First introduced in 1986 by Takaya, fixtureless flying-probe testers have become a mainstay in most electronics manufacturing facilities.

J-STD-609 Standard:
Labeling and Marking for Harmony in a Lead-free and Tin/Lead World

By Lee Wilmot, TTM Technologies; Jasbir Bath, Solectron Corporation; and Jack McCullen, Intel - - After JEDEC and IPC published separate standards for labeling lead-free components and assemblies in 2004 and 2005, the J-STD-609 committee was created to work on a joint standard, "Marking and Labeling of Components, PCBs, and PCBAs to Identify Lead, Lead-free, and Other Attributes" joint standard. The demand for a harmonized standard is high.

CEO Perspectives: Manncorp's Henry Mann

Manncorp distributes and supports a range of SMT equipment, tooling, and consumables. With a main customer base in North America, Manncorp uses Web-based business techniques to remain cost-sensitive and to provide instantaneous data that suits the North American consumer's mindset. SMT spoke with CEO and founder Henry Mann about the American market, the power of internet salesmanship, and integrating personal and electronic support to maintain a customer's equipment.

Vias in SMT Mounting Pads

By Terry Kern, Axiom Electronics - The filling of plated through vias is not an entirely new process, and has been a necessary step to partially filled vias in circuit boards. However, these vias were located outside of SMT pads used for mounting components. Recently, as component density increased and lead pitches became smaller, it became difficult or impossible for designers to find circuit board real estate for connecting SMT mounting pads to discrete conventional vias.

East Meets West at NEPCON/EMT South China 2007

By Simon Lian, Editor-in-Chief, SMT China - Held August 28–31, 2007, in Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center, the largest and most comprehensive international SMT and electronics manufacturing show in China saw more than 19,776 high-quality professional visitors. The show served as an arena for local industry players to learn more about the latest products and technologies on the electronics manufacturing market.

DEK Opens Manufacturing Facility in Shenzhen

By Simon Lian, Editor-in-Chief, SMT China - DEK is reinforcing its commitment to the Asian electronics market by opening a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China. Covering an area of 2,600 square meters and featuring production, office, training, and exhibition facilities, the manufacturing center will initially focus on the production of entry-level and medium-range printer platforms.

Undulating Coils Humanize PCBAs

Collaborative development work between Belgium's University of Ghent and IMEC produced a molded interconnect device (MID) that can stretch up to 100%, while still conducting signals between surface mount devices (SMDs) and other components. SMT spoke with Jan Vanfleteren, researcher, University of Ghent, about the consumer and medical end-products enabled by stretchy PCB assemblies (PCBAs), the assembly process, and the design and materials engineering that led to this.

Don't Miss SMT's RoHS Lead-free Manufacturing Webinar

As more electronics manufacturing firms move into lead-free assembly, practical issues play an ever-growing role in determining how well RoHS compliance can become second nature to those in control. To help manufacturers hone their skills in meeting RoHS regulations, while still maintaining a productive, profitable transition, SMT will host its "RoHS Lead-free Electronics Manufacturing" Webinar on Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. EST.

Three Musketeers of SMT Assembly

A series of three pick-and-place systems — dubbed "The Three Musketeers of SMT Assembly" — is said to cover all applications in mid-range surface mount assembly area.

Measuring the Cost per Cleaned Part

By Harald Wack, Ph.D., ZESTRON - Cleaning processes in the electronics manufacturing industry are driven by two factors: achieving cleanliness requirements and optimizing economic efficiency. The only true method of analyzing a cleaning process is to use a systematic approach that analyzes the process with regard to four criteria: substrate being cleaned, contamination being removed, cleaning agent, and cleaning equipment.

Lead-free Alchemy
The Full Story

By Meredith Courtemanche, SMT - - In the lead-free era, R&D dollars are devoted to understanding metallurgy. This article looks at how much of reliable lead-free assembly comes from process, and how much comes from the fundamental materials involved.

Henkel Appoints Todd V.P. of PD&E

(Sept. 4, 2007) Irvine, Calif.— Michael Todd, Ph.D., was promoted to the position of vice president of product development and engineering for semiconductor and assemblies technology at Henkel.

New Products

Following are products from companies exhibiting at SMTA International (SMTAI), October 7-11, 2007, Orlando, Fla.

Reducing Total Cost of Ownership

Many variables comprise total cost of ownership (TCO). To determine TCO for the life cycle of a product, variables such as bill of materials (BOM), time-to-volume (TTV), field return rate (FRR), and end of life and product ramp-down processes (ELPR) matter most, and often get insufficient attention.

Corner and Edge Bond Dispensing for BGAs

The underfill process was designed to improve the reliability of flip-chip packages, specifically the fatigue resistance of C4 interconnect bumps during thermal cycling.

Component Traceability Issues

In addition to the nightmare of managing component-lot traceability from receipt to final assembly, manufacturers also must routinely manage RoHS-compliancy, time- and moisture-sensitive devices (MSDs), and the integration of vendor- or customer-consigned materials into the product.

The Need for More Than Speed

Pick-and-place equipment providers often highlight capabilities such as component-per-hour (CPH) placement metrics, flexibility, and placement accuracy.

Lead-free Alchemy

In lead-free manufacturing, R&D dollars are devoted to understanding metallurgy - how does lead-free solder work; and what changes will make it wet better, or reduce brittle joints? Adjusting reflow profiles, assembling with nitrogen, underfilling and encapsulating, and designing boards with end-use in mind are all important to global electronics assemblers - the lead-free solder alloy that performs as well as or better than tin/lead.

Focus on Expansion and Time-to-Market

Much has happened since I visited JOT Automation - now part of Rohwedder’s Electronic Production Solutions (EPS) - in Tallinn, Estonia.

3D Inspection has Quaint Beginnings

Nestled in the quaint village of Tring in Hertfordshire, England, U.K., is a company that has positioned itself for growth in the electronics manufacturing industry - with roots in industrial inspection equipment.

STEP 8: Cleaning

As the demand for cleaning increases, some essential rules remain the same. For example, do not combine too many different cleaning processes into one machine using the same cleaning product.

Packaging Passives

By Craig Hunter, AVX Corporation - - Many innovations in passives can be traced back to the need for smaller, lighter devices. For capacitors, that has resulted in shrinking case sizes from 1210 down to 0201, and even to 01005s. The need to make passive components thinner, as witnessed by increased sales of newer, thinner MP3 players, adds to this. For passive component manufacturers, this means meeting the requirements of the smallest semiconductor package available.

Black Pad — And Then Some

By Duane Benson, Screaming Circuits - - Reflow-related problems are more common today, especially on larger BGAs. This article examines one less-common, but persistent BGA assembly issue — black pad.

Nepcon South China Product Preview

Nepcon South China, August 28–31 in Shenzhen, will showcase emerging and flagship products for the Asia assembly market. Following are the materials, inspection systems, production equipment, and additional tools being exhibited at the show.

Certifications and Accreditations

Following are the announcements of internationally recognized certifications, government awards, and standards oversight in Europe, the U.S., and China from Elcoteq, P.D. Circuits, and GSPK Circuits.

August Product Preview

Following are the new software systems, reflow technologies, epoxy-cure ovens, handlers, components, and other products launched by Cimmetry Systems, International Manufacturing Services Inc. (IMS), BPM Microsystems, Vitronics Soltec and KIC, Manncorp, Ultrasonic Systems Inc. (USI), OK International, Grieve Corporation, and PROMATION.


Moore’s Law governing chip density is just one of the curves defining the ongoing miniaturization of electronic products.

When 2-D X-ray Isn’t Enough

In the few cases where non-destructive 2-D X-ray inspection is not sufficient enough to detect defects, the standard practice has been to cut out the part of interest, encase it in a plastic cylinder, and grind it down slowly to see the interior using standard optical microscopy.

Changing BGA Solder Ball Metallurgy

In portable devices, such as cell phones, PDAs, DVDs, and MP3 players, stress can cause intermetallic failures, as can impacts common to shipping-and-handling. According to one component manufacturer, customers have received BGA packages with missing solder balls because they had fallen off the BGAs during shipping.

STEP 7: Soldering

The lead-free initiative continues to affect all areas of manufacturing - none more so than the reflow process.

PCB Fab & the Paperless Office

SMT Magazine visits P.D. Circuits, a PCB supply-chain management firm in Hampstead, N.H.

Industry Prospects:
Will Printed Electronics Be Sustainable?

In many ways the end product is only as good as the equipment used to produce it, and market penetration is only as good as the manufacturing infrastructure that supports it. With printed electronics, success will be measured in the precision and throughput achieved by printing equipment. NanoMarkets analysts report that manufacturing capacity at present is negligible, and the standby screen printer will lose market share to high-volume printing methods over the next five years.

Tracking the Flow of Solder Defects

By Zulki Khan, Nexlogic Technologies - - Soldering defects can occur from reflow, wave, or hand soldering. However, the most prone to defects is reflow soldering for SMT. Reflow soldering is more complex compared to other forms of soldering. Reflow soldering requires the development and use of a correct thermal profile.

The Pulse of SMT in North America

By Gail Flower and Michelle M. Boisvert, SMT - - To plan your destination, you must first assess where you are. Therefore, SMT has gathered data on where the surface mount equipment, materials, and EMS/ODM markets are, and where they are headed. High-volume board production is occurring outside of North America. The migration of electronics assembly to areas of low-cost labor continues. North America boasts low-volume/high-mix electronics assembly.

Green Giant — Green China

By Craig Hunter, AVX Corp. - - China has gone green. The giant has seen massive industrial growth and has polluted their air, water, and soil while consuming vast natural resources. In response, they are implementing environmental legislation in an attempt to reduce the effects of pollution caused by rapid industrial development. A 1998 WHO report on air quality concluded that seven of the world's 10 most polluted cities were in China. Enter China's RoHS environmental initiative.

Pick-and-Place: Users & Vendors Speak Out

SMT surveyed EMS providers to learn about their placement needs. Following are their responses.

Process Development of the Stencil Printing Process

The need for more reliable, lighter, and smaller products has increased the use of flip chips (FCs), chip-scale packages (CSPs), microBGAs, and 0201s in applications where reliability is a main concern.

IPC-7351 Revs Forward

PC-7351 represented a major shift in how land patterns were defined and created, and provided the industry with multiple geometries for a given part, enabling designers to select a land pattern that best matched the printed board component density configuration.

Reducing Design Cycle Times

Traditionally, designers are pulled in from other projects to assist with meeting deadlines, usually by adopting shift-work routines or physically splitting the design into multiple pieces.

ANSI/ESD S20.20 Revisions

The ESDA created the original document in 1999 at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to have an industry standard for developing an ESD control program, and has since become a globally recognized standard for the industry.

Automotive EMS in Singapore

Singapore’s EMS and precision-engineering supply base has seen growth in the automotive sector, in terms of both annual volume and product range.

Flux Residue & Selective Soldering

During wave soldering, much of the flux is washed off the PCB during; this is not the case in selective soldering.

New Products

Prototyping Line

American Competitiveness Institute — Technology Sharing

By Michelle M. Boisvert, managing editor - - PHILADELPHIA — The American Competitiveness Institute may be one of the "best-kept secrets" in the surface mount assembly industry — so secret that even some military agencies don't know all that it has to offer. The ACI is a research corporation for the Department of Defense and industry. What many people do not know is its full extent of offerings for CMs and EMS providers, as well as capital equipment manufacturers.

Interview with a Mixed-assembly EMS Provider

Specializing in automated SMT assembly and mixed-technology PCBAs, Innovative Circuits (Corinth, Miss.), performs a range of manufacturing and engineering services. Production varies from small- through medium- and high-volume runs. With two SMT lines and thru-hole capability, Innovative Circuits performs consignment and turnkey manufacturing. SMT spoke with Jim Usery about the EMS provider's operations and screen printing equipment and stencils, fine-pitch, and PCB design.

SAC Solder Paste

SAC3 XM5S is formulated with a synthetic base to withstand higher lead-free soldering temperatures and provide reportedly good wetting and void-free joints. The no-clean paste is designed for stencil printing; it is said to print with good definition and without smearing. The paste reduces the frequency of required stencil wiping.

Paste Volume Inspection Module

The VP3 paste inspection module offers in-line 3-D solder paste inspection, measuring and evaluating paste volume, height, shape, smears, and other characteristics. It incorporates isotropic polychromatic fringe projection technology to illuminate paste deposits and provide reportedly high accuracy at line speeds. The inspection system recognizes systematic and sporadic defects, optimizing printer use.

Economical Lead-free Reflow

Targeting lead-free solder applications, the R-500 reflow oven offers 10 reinforced PID temperature controllers in each of its five upper and lower chambers, allowing precision in reflow profile parameters, along with three thermocouple inputs to monitor component and PCB temperatures.

Associations in the SMT Industry

There are several associations within SMT meant to offer companies a source of information on industry developments; and to give individuals a networking platform and opportunities to further their education or knowledge in the surface mount manufacturing and assembly market. Below are some industry associations, what they do, and how to contact them. Beyond the basics there are working groups, standards committees, and other organizations within the association.

Maintaining Quality through IPC Training & Certification

By Michael Martel - - The impact of IPC "Training and Certification Programs" on the electronics manufacturing industry cannot be overestimated. Hundreds of thousands of people involved in the production of circuit boards and assemblies have benefited from these programs. Major OEMs and EMS companies have become leaders in the program, with impressive results.

The Need for a Stencil Cleaning Handbook

By Bill Schreiber, Smart Sonic Corporation - - During the infancy of SMT, cleaning 50-mil-pitch brass stencils and emulsion wire screens was a straightforward task for the maintenance crew using a CFC solvent vapor degreaser. In 30 years, product changes have been driven by environmental regulations and the "faster, smaller, cheaper" technology syndrome. The only thing for certain is change. The IPC is providing help with Stencil and Misprinted Board Cleaning Handbook, IPC-7526.

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