Article Highlights
RTW SMTAI: KIC's MB Allen on Smart Factory, CFX
11/14/2018 | Real Time with...SMTAI
How to Avoid Common Wave Soldering Issues
11/13/2018 | Neil Blundell, Blundell Production Equipment
Green Circuits' Joe O'Neil and Joe Garcia on the Best Kept Secret
11/12/2018 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
Challenges and Opportunities with CFX
11/09/2018 | Stephen Las Marias, I-Connect007
I-Connect007 Survey Sees Bright Prospects for Low-Temperature Soldering
11/07/2018 | Stephen Las Marias, I-Connect007

Latest Articles

VLSI Forecast for Semiconductor Equipment

Semiconductor equipment manufacturers posted a book-to-bill ratio of 1.01 in June, according to VLSI Research. It was the first increase above parity since July 2008. Although bookings and billings remain well below normal levels, business activity is beginning to improve. Back-end suppliers are seeing a considerable pick up in business activity amid soaring utilization rates at the subcontractors.

New Facility Improvement Products: Carts, Conveyors, Gas Control, and More

These new products from Bliss Industries, Matheson Tri-Gas, Terra Universal, Seika, Virtual Industries, and other companies provide component and PCB storage and transportation around the electronics manufacturing facility. Products include chassis carts, MSD storage, barcode labels and readers, stencil frames, and more.

Board-level Thermal Management: 3D Heat Removal

By Paul A. Magill, Ph.D., Nextreme Thermal Solutions - The paradigm driving PCB-level design has always been cost. However, IC-generated heat on these boards has increased in modern designs. Frequently, the heat generated by these die leads to hot spot formation on the circuit boards. As board designs progress, a combination of active and passive and bottom, top, and lateral thermal management is needed.

Selective Soldering Fills a Gap in Design for Manufacturing

By Todd King, E.I. Microcircuits - Design for manufacturability (DfM) is extremely important to today's electronics production. DfM can help EMS providers deliver the best product possible at the lowest production cost. One way to avoid costly hand soldering on intricate mixed-assembly boards is selective soldering.

Getting a Handle on Global Sourcing

By Jorina Fontelera, ThomasNet Industrial Market Trends - Theoretically, sourcing globally for inexpensive materials may seem easy. In practice, though, the process and execution is much more complicated. Companies report that sourcing is now driven by product quality as well as cost, and that Asia is not the main source of materials for U.S. manufacturers.

Testing the Reliability of BGAs

By Ching-Mai Ko, Ming-Kun Chen, Yu-Jung Huang, and Shen-Li Fu, I-Shou University - In BGA socket test, avoiding damage to the solder balls while maintaining a high compression force and a stable contact resistance is key. Contact resistance distribution plays a vital role in device reliability. Socket contact degradation can degrade first test yield and increase retest time. Contact degradation can be used as a contact clean guideline.

Thermal Management: The New Generation of CFD

By Meredith Courtemanche, managing editor - Major design companies have released new thermal management solutions recently, prompting a look at the various technologies that can keep complex electronics functioning properly, regardless of their workload. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations are getting faster and more accurate.

Preventing Board-level Defects with Moisture Control

By Russell McCarten, XDRY Corporation - At test and inspection, defects mean lost revenue through scrap or rework. Defects can occur due the board, component, materials, or other factors. One controllable defect-causing aspect of assembly is moisture.

Revised RoHS Directive, and an Erroneous Name in RoHS 2

By Lev Shapiro, Component Master - The European Commission (EC) proposes several changes to its RoHS Directive. Medical devices and other exempted end products will be affected, product labeling will change, and the character of the RoHS legislation will be reinvented. However, calling this revision "RoHS2" is a misstep, based on the informal but generally accepted RoHS5/6 terminology.

New Products in Component Placement: Pick-and-Place Systems, Heads, and Tooling

Following is a product preview for the new MultiStar pick-and-place head, as well as new placement system SIPLACE SX and software, from SIPLACE Electronics Assembly Systems (SEAS). Also highlighted is the feeder and inspection conveyor package for Manncorp's MC-391 in-line dual-head pick-and-place system.

Identify Lifted Objects using Z-axis Measurement and 3D AOI

One AOI solution constitutes a radical departure from existing vision technology in that it senses and measures the Z-axis height of features, in addition to the X/Y 2D image plane, and combines them.

CFD Thermal Analysis for Improved Reflow

There is an urgent need for PCB design solutions that merge operator expertise on oven behavior with deep knowledge of the PCB’s layout, particularly the copper content and component placement, and their effect on thermal properties.

Testing the Reliability of BGAs

Experimental analysis of failure site conditions for the final testing of BGA packages, focusing on touchdown-times-related worn-out changes in BGA sockets, is presented.

The Basics of Soldering

In this article, I will present a basic overview of soldering for those who are new to the world of soldering and for those who could use a refresher.

Designing in Underfill for PoPs

Package-on-package (PoP) is a recognized technology that is becoming more commonplace in mobile electronics with the increased demand for features like cameras, Bluetooth, FM radio, WLAN and mobile TVs.

Industry View: Green Has to Mean Better

It is easy to point a finger at certain substances and say they are bad and should be eliminated.

So, You Need to Clean? A Defluxing Process Roadmap

Our roadmap consists of several key factors: type of flux, type of assembly, product flow, volume, staff competency, facility restrictions, environmental restrictions, and budget.

Upcoming Webinars on Advanced Packages: BGAs, BTCs

KIC's Brian O'Leary will present "How to Profile BGAs," a 30-minute webinar on designing reflow profiles for the components, on June 26. SMTA will host two webinar tutorials on design and assembly of BGAs and BTCs with SMT Editorial Advisory Board member Ray Prasad, on July 7 and July 14.

Thermal Management Issues Resolved by Optimizing Airflow in Chassis

By Chris Heard, Amphenol - This case study examines a leading-edge chassis design from the thermal management perspective. Through increasingly detailed simulation environments, the system designer was able to optimize airflow, verify the design's feasibility, and circumvent possible thermal problems as the design progressed.

Troubleshooting Solder Bridging: Causes and Recommendations

Compiled by Cookson Electronics - Bridges, defects where excess or misprinted solder creates an undesired connection, can be caused by problems at various points in the assembly process. This article examines root causes and solutions at stencil manufacture, screen print, component placement, reflow, PCB manufacture, and solder paste.

IPA-Water (75/25): Ineffective for Cleanliness Test with Modern Contaminations

Harald Wack, Ph.D., ZESTRON America - Numerous test methods are used to determine cleanliness. IPA water has poor solvency, and limits ionic contamination and ion chromatography testing. To quantify contamination, one has to remove all residues (ionic and non-ionic) from around and under the components. The modern, alternative mix that replaces IPA-water has to be able to fully solubilize all remaining residues on assemblies, even lead-free, after cleaning.

New Products: Placement Systems, Feeders, and Carriers

Following are the new pick-and-place machines, substrate handlers, components, and feeders for SMT and through hole component placement from Juki, Bliss Industries, Leader Tech, Assembleon, Panasonic Factory Solutions of America, Siemens, and MYDATA.

SMT Components Toughen Up for Rugged Applications

By Craig Hunter, Vishay Intertechnology - It's not surprising that surface mount technology is continually branching out into new applications. Even a few years ago, however, not everyone could have anticipated the extent to which SMT components have penetrated some of the more rugged applications for electronics. Manufacturers are using novel approaches to upgrade device capability and provide higher performance and higher reliability for these more demanding environments.

Upcoming Tradeshows: Attend, Present, Network

SMTAI, IPC Midwest, APEX 2010, and Pan Pac will host exciting technical conferences as well as special events. SMTAI celebrates the 25th anniversary of the SMTA; IPC Midwest is expanding its free forums, and APEX and Pan Pac 2010 are recruiting presenters.

ESD Risks and Management in SMT Manufacturing: Part II

Overcoming Bead Probe Contact Challenges
Part I: Bead Probe Compression

By Michael Farrell Sr., Agilent Technologies and Brian Crisp and Ken Snyder, Everett Charles Technologies - Test access on modern PCB assemblies is a major challenge. Bead probe technology resolves many of the issues test engineers face. This two-part article provides best practice recommendations for bead probe implementation, PCB design for test (DfT), and product selection.

Problems and Promises of BTCs: Bottom Termination Components

Ray Prasad, Ray Prasad Consultancy Group - What are bottom termination components (BTCs)? You may not know the term BTC, but expect to hear about them. IPC coined the term BTC for industry-descriptive package names such as QFN, DFN, SON, LGA, MLP, etc. They are similar to BGAs, which also have hidden terminations. Differences abound, as they do not have balls but just metalized terminations or pads under the package.

New Products for Cleaning Stencils, PCBs, and Labs

These are the new cleaning materials, wipes, and equipment used to remove flux residues from reflowed boards, solder paste from stencils, contaminants from the manufacturing area, and other unwanted materials from electronics assemblies and associated tooling.

A Guide to Infrared (IR) Rework on BGAs

By Roger Gibbs, PDR - BGAs, now mainstream for manufacturers seeking better device functionality and quality, present some problems for rework-and-repair processes. Infrared soldering/desoldering technology is safer, more repeatable, and easier to operate than prior technologies for reworking BGAs.

Thermal Profiling: Sensitive Component Degradation

By Paul Austen, ECD - Solder joints that pass inspection can hide functional degradation of temperature-sensitive devices during the soldering process. From circuit design on, users must account for the thermal sensitivity of passive devices as well as active ones. When factored into the design, and thermal behavior characterized in the NPI phases of the project, the effort is simplified in manufacturing to verification that the thermal profile is met.

ESD Risks and Management in SMT Manufacturing: Part I

By Vladimir Kraz, 3M - Sensitivity to electrostatic discharge (ESD) and electrical overstress (EOS) is becoming increasingly important in PCB assembly (PCBA) manufacturing. This first article in a two-part series discusses the occurrences of ESD exposure in the assembly process. These include PCB loading, component handling, soldering, and operator interventions.

BPA Releases Semiconductor and PCB Industry Forecasts

The analyst firm finds that minor improvements in demand were seen by semiconductor manufacturers; output by many Asian and European PCB fabricators declined by more than 40% in the first quarter. North America is in a slower decline. BPA predicts a U-shaped downturn.

Photovoltaic Module Assembly Using SMT Materials and Processes

By Karl Pfluke, Indium - EMS providers specializing in SMT are seeking to diversify and fill capacity. Photovoltaic module assembly is a popular choice. PV cell stringing in solar module assembly is achieved using many common SMT materials and processes. Solders, fluxes, and reflow technologies produce electrical interconnects in a-Si and c-Si photovoltaic assembly technology.

SMTA Toolbox
Avoiding Counterfeit Electronics: The Role of Component Manufacturers, OEMs, and CEMs

By Lev Shapiro, Component Master Counterfeit electronics have rapidly become a serious issue for electronics manufacturers. Supply chain management is crucial to counterfeit prevention. Collaboration with parts makers can help identify counterfeits. End-of-life electronics disposal also can prevent reuse. This article covers the statistics on counterfeits, detection and prevention, and the global supply market.

PCB Designer's Notebook: Overcoming Imaging Challenges for High-density Circuits

By Vern Solberg Designers often face increasing product functionality without the luxury of increasing board size. One option is implementation of a higher-density circuit interconnect solution. Laser direct imaging (LDI) efficiently transfers the circuit pattern directly onto a photoresist-coated panel, eliminating traditional photo tools. Benefits include time and costs savings, quality, and better registration than traditional contact printing fabrication methods.

BOM Products: Components, Circuits, and Associated Services

Following are the bill of materials (BOM) products recently released by component manufacturers, PCB suppliers, connector companies, and other industry suppliers, including Wall Industries, Vishay, Hirose, Premo, Aimtec, and Screaming Circuits.

Large-area Flexible Electronics Promise High-Volume, Low-Cost Production

By Daniel Gamota, iNEMI - The term large-area flexible electronics encompasses a wide array of devices and applications manufactured on flexible substrates. These products can be fabricated using a full range of materials and processes. One of the most compelling aspects of large-area flexible electronics is that they can be produced using high-volume, low-cost, and R2R processes. This article touches on functional inks, processing platforms, and in-line characterization tools.

Step 5: Adhesives/Epoxies & Dispensing

Derrick Moyer, Steve Ratner, John McMaster, , Martin Lopez, and Frank Murch, Heraeus Materials Technology LLC. In modern electronics assembly, wave soldering continues to prosper, and innovations in adhesives and dispensers continue to advance the state of SMT. Adhesives manufacturing, packaging, and dispensing methods each affect the quality and effectiveness of this step.

New Products in Soldering

These are the new solder ovens, reflow profilers, hand rework tools, dross management chemistries, solder alloys, and other products, including a white paper with solder paste deposition information, developed to improve the soldering process in electronics manufacturing.

New Distribution Agreements for Equipment, Materials, and More

Suppliers are adding distributors from New England to Shenzhen. Check out this list of new and expanded distributor agreements for the most up-to-date supply chain information from Data I/O, A.C.E., Balver Zinn, Nextreme, IMS, Essemtec, Koh Young, and more.

Quality Assurance: Planning is Valuable

By Zulki Khan, NexLogic Technologies Inc. - There are two ways to perform quality assurance (QA). One is to move a PCB through design, fabrication, and assembly focusing on expediting the project, but leaving QA at the end of the process. Time is definitely saved by placing QA as an afterthought, but too much of the process is left questionable.

Determining and Influencing Your Marketing Status

By Ted T Turner, CoGen Marketing Inc. - Marketing creates preference and awareness for your company and products. These generate leads. Marketing has four key responsibilities: generate products and services, generate demand for these products and services, generate orders, and generate loyalty. Evaluating the status of each of these four responsibilities as a dashboard can direct your marketing resources.

New Product Roundup: Test and Inspection

New Products: Board and Component Handling

Manufacturing and Reliability Challenges With QFNs: Part II

By Craig Hillman and Cheryl Tulkoff, DfR Solutions - One of the fastest growing package types in the electronics industry today is the QFN, also known as a bottom-termination SMT component. While the advantages of QFNs are well documented, concerns arise with manufacturability, compatibility with other OEM processes, and reliability. In Part I, we covered DfM and introducing QFNs. In this section, we'll cover reliability of QFN components.

New Reports: Connector Tech; Mass-market, Auto, and I&I Sectors; EMS Shares Publications, Henderson Ventures, and Reportlinker share up-to-date analysis and data on various electronics assembly products and end-use sectors, as well as a vendor market-share report on EMS providers. Reports include: Evolving High-speed Mezzanine Connectors, World Electronic Industry Mass-market and Automotive Products, I&I Production to Fall 10%, and Worldwide Electronics Manufacturing Services Vendor Shares.

TFI Blog: Overreacting to Economic Downturn?

By Kathleen Geraghty, TFI Quarterly Forum - Here is a priority topic for almost everyone (even optimists). Following TFI's recent webinar, "Managing through the Downturn," we had an exchange with participants about signs indicating that a company is overreacting in a downturn-economic environment. We also talked about best practices that can be leveraged to overcome these adverse overreactions.

Printing Resolves Solar Cell Manufacturing Challenges

Solar cell makers must improve cell efficiency for more power/sq.m. of surface area and increase productivity without correspondingly higher investment.

Sensitive Component Degradation

Read the full technical article online! Visit and search by the article title or author name to finish reading this feature.

Competing with Tier I EMS: Software for Lean

Many EMS providers are implementing lean manufacturing to help achieve performance goals and also improve competitive advantages, customer responsiveness, and quality.

Cleaning Equipment and Materials Trends

SMT talked to suppliers and users about problems, trends, regulations, training, cost control and ongoing research regarding cleaning materials and equipment.

A Guide to Infrared (IR) Rework on BGAs

Read the full technical article online! Visit now and search “A Guide to Infrared (IR) Rework on BGAs” to finish reading this feature.

Building a Robust High-mix Manufacturing Process

EMS providers have many preferred business models. High mix, variable demand production has become increasingly popular.

17th Annual SMT VISION Awards

SMT VISION Awards recognize products that display innovation, solve an industry challenge, save money, promote environmental friendliness, and otherwise enhance electronics manufacturing.

Fixed SMT Stencils: Sewing Technology for Stencil Mounting

By T. Sasson, Suron A.C.A Ltd. - Many SMT assemblers use both fixed-frame and universal SMT stencils in the paste printing process. Conventional methods for adhering stencil to frame can introduce hazardous materials, offset errors, time waste, and other negative impacts to flexibility and line productivity. One process borrows technology from sewing to attach stencils onto frames without adhesives.


The SMT/Hybrid/Packaging tradeshow and conference takes place May 5 through 7 in Nuremburg, Germany. The show encompasses back-end semiconductor packaging and test, PCB assembly, and various end-market sectors. In addition to the exhibits, 14 tutorials, and full-day technical conference, an EMS comparison service, job fair, and vendor forum are resources for attendees. Following are some of the highlights to take place on the show floor at SMT/HYBRID/PACKAGING.

Latest Reports: Mobile Handsets, European Electronics, and Tech Financials Publications released the European Electronic Market Forecast; iSuppli examines the outsourcing trend in mobile handsets, while ABI Research tracks 2009 cell phone shipments from major OEMs; and Reuters reports on Apple, Google, IBM, Intel, and Microsoft beating expectations in the financial markets.

Lead-free Solder Update

By Mitch Holtzer, Cookson Electronics - SAC alloys became the industry-standard lead-free solders after RoHS went into effect. Technical and economic factors are reducing the silver content in SAC compositions, with disadvantages like slower wetting speeds, and advantages like minimized BGA voids. Solder choices are influenced by the desired results, cost, BOM, and other factors.

Tech Still Down: Inventory, Consumer Spending to Blame

By Jim McGregor, In-Stat - After a disastrous Q'04 to end 2008, it would seem that the high-tech industry had nowhere to go but up. However, the release of Q'01 results from several market leaders has revealed that up wasn't a direction we were headed. An inventory surplus affects semiconductor through PC companies, and consumer spending is still the critical driver for electronics demand.

Zero Mistakes: Inspecting Complex Automotive Electronics

By Gene Fujita, Omron Electronics - Auto manufacturers demand that the incoming electronics boards have zero defects. Many Tier 1 suppliers inspect boards for defects in printing, placement, and reflow, but cannot easily inspect odd forms. The most reliable AOI used directed light to simulate 3D views, and new algorithms are increasing automation for odd forms.

Avoiding Mistakes in SMT Manufacturing Via MOS

Jason Spera, Aegis Software - Quality management in electronics assembly often means data collection, repair and test management, and mining the results of these activities. To improve quality, avoid mistakes that result in nonconformances, maximizing yield and minimizing waste. A total quality system should provide controls to eliminate as many mistakes as possible, as well as capture and analyze those nonconformances that do arise. Control and visibility are required.

New Products in Dispensing, Printing, and Dispensable Materials

Following are the new solder-dispensing print heads, jet dispensers, dispense valves, curing technologies, materials mixers, and various materials such as conductive inks and epoxy adhesive/sealants.

Stencil Controls

By William E. Coleman, Ph.D., Photo Stencil - It is generally stated that over 70% of defects in surface mount assembly are related to the printing process. There are many factors involved with print, including the printer, squeegee blades, solder paste, printer set-up, and the stencil. All of these factors have a major influence, but I will confine this discussion to an analysis of stencil controls.

Design, Manufacturing, and Reliability Challenges With QFNs

By Craig Hillman and Cheryl Tulkoff, DfR Solutions, Inc. - While the advantages of QFNs are well documented, they can be considered as a next-generation technology for non-consumer-sector OEMs. This article is designed to review specific concerns in relation to design and manufacturability by CMs and OEMs and provide possible mitigations or solutions to allow the reliable introduction of QFN components into products.

BOM Products: Components, PCBs, and Associated Tooling

Following are the new connectors, components, PCB materials, and tooling options such as lead trimmers and wire crimpers available to increase assembly density, improve reliability, and deal with challenges such as harsh environments and high frequencies.

Alkalinity, Defluxing, and Materials Compatibility

By Harald Wack, Ph.D., ZESTRON - From solvent replacements to modern chemistries, materials compatibility is the key for cleaned parts to perform better than uncleaned assemblies and better than assemblies cleaned with prior-generation chemistries. Defluxing under low standoff components, non-corrosive cleaning, and other challenges are met by materials compatibility. Now, neutral — neither base nor acidic — product technologies are bringing cleaning chemistries new capabilities.

Step 4: Solder Print: 3D SPI and Process Control

By Jean-Marc Peallat, Vi Technology - Solder paste inspection (SPI) becomes necessary to the SMT line as a process control tool, especially with small components' landing pads, such as the pads for microBGAs and 01005s. This article reviews the available SPI technologies (laser triangulation, Moiré methodology, flying absolute height profilometry), usefulness of SPI on the line, and the cost/benefit equation of adding solder paste inspection post-print.

Setup Parallelization Enables Flexible SMT Production

By Adrian Schärli, Essemtec - Constant changeover is the norm in today's SMT production. In such an assembly environment, the largest costs are accrued by machine set up, set-up change, and product changeover. These costs can be minimized through set-up optimization and parallelization. It is a concept that saves costs and increases productivity. It also puts high demands on personnel, your organization, and placement machines.

Getting Direction at APEX: Roadmaps from IPC and iNEMI

Trade organizations IPC and iNEMI both revealed their industry roadmaps at IPC APEX in Las Vegas this week, structuring the short- and long-term goals of the electronics industry. These include challenges to overcome, new plateaus of technology to achieve, and likely areas of growth or decline in the years to come. Highlights from both roadmaps are reported here.

Pre-show Preview: IPC APEX Expo

These new and legacy products include modular pick-and-place systems, factory-level software, PCB handling trays, and more tooling, equipment, and materials for electronics assembly that will be displayed at the IPC APEX Expo, March 31 through April 2 in Las Vegas.

APEX Product Showcase

Following are more new products to debut at APEX, as well as upgraded and updated equipment and materials that will be displayed at the IPC APEX Expo, March 31 to April 2 in Las Vegas.

Military and Aerospace XRF Verification: Keep the Lead In?

By Scott Mazur, Benchmark Electronics Inc. - Various industries such as military and aerospace sectors continue to be exempt or not covered by RoHS. These industries require leaded assembly, given the risk of growth of tin whiskers and lack of field reliability data for lead-free components and subassemblies. Military and aerospace companies are searching the supply chain for COTS leaded components. Tin whiskers can grow unpredictably, and are mitigated by leaded materials.

New Installations: ACI Adds Selective Soldering, USR Implements Factory Traceability, and More

EMS providers, centers of excellence, OEMs, and others are adding equipment, materials, and software to improve their operations. The American Competitiveness Institute installed an RPS selective soldering system; Ascentech sold solderability testing equipment to Continental Automotive; USR Electronic Systems implemented Valor's vCheck quality management system; Sennheiser New Mexico LLC added a barcode labeling system from PROMATION; Nortec Group approved Zestron's cleaning materials.

New Distributors for Industry Products

Multiple distribution contracts have been signed recently, leading to better service and expanded service ranges for electronics assembly materials and equipment. Following are the new distributors and their territories, serving KIC, L3 Electrodynamics, Taiyo America, RPS Selective Soldering Systems, Indium Corporation, SMH Technologies, and Austin American Technology.

APEX Booth Preview

Following are new and flagship products on display at IPC APEX Expo, March 31 to April 2 in Las Vegas. New solder paste inspection (SPI) systems to factory-floor software to flex circuit coverlay will be demonstrated at the show.

Thermal Profiling: A Practical Approach to Reflow Profiling

By Liyakathali Koorithodi, Indium Corporation - In the lead-free era, thermal profiling has a critical role. We discuss profiling, tools, practical issues, and inspection methods. As the process window narrows, profiling equipment and/or thermocouple errors must be taken into consideration. In addition, the accuracy and method of TC attach will impact critical assemblies.

Step 3: Solder Materials
Melting and Freezing Characteristics of Common Lead-free Alloys

By Ranjit Pandher, Cookson Electronics Assembly Materials - Much work has been reported on the melting and freezing behavior of SAC alloys. Knowing melting and freezing points is only part of the information. A slight change in composition may result in a significant difference in solder performance.

Part 10: Lead-free System Reliability — Power of Metallurgy

By Jennie S. Hwang, Ph.D. - On this global lead-free electronics manufacturing's tenth anniversary (plus and minus a year or so), it is timely to reflect what have progressed and what is on the horizon. If I have to mention one thing that stands out, that is the power of metallurgy. How so?

High-Performance Polymers for Environmentally Friendly Electronic Components

By Edson Ito, Ticona Engineering Polymers - The time is right for green electronics. With higher energy costs, consumer awareness of carbon consumption, e-waste laws, and plans to invest in renewable energy projects, computer and electronic gadget manufacturers are starting to leverage green credentials. Material suppliers are developing new materials to help manufacturers produce eco-friendly system components without hazardous chemicals such as antimony, beryllium, and phthalates.

Top Companies in Printed Electronics

Printed electronics change everything from medical end products to product packaging. Two recent reports from Publications and IDTechEx discuss the companies developing and commercializing printed electronics for consumer products, e-displays, solar cells, and other electronics.

Medical Equipments: Flexible Circuits in Hearing Aids

By Thomas H. Stearns, Brander International Consultants - - Hearing aids were one of the first modern medical electronic devices worn on the patient. These externally mounted devices make use of flex and rigid circuits in highly miniaturized assemblies. Starkey Labs and Sonic Innovations weigh in on this report about flexible PCBs enabling medical advances.

Studies and Associations Focus on Manufacturing Business Management

Prime Advantage released its first "Group CFO Survey," representing financial executives of U.S.-based manufacturers in more than 25 industries; AMT — The Association for Manufacturing Technology will pursue new leadership following the resignation of president Robert K. Simpson; and IBM's supply chain management study found that managing risk is now as important as faster, better, cheaper in regards to an effective supply chain strategy.

STI Electronics Inc. Opens AL Facility

MADISON, AL – STI Electronics Inc. experienced 32% growth in 2008, expanding into a 54,000-sq.ft. facility with more than half ISO-9000-certified manufacturing space and an expanded laboratory.


For MSDs, the adsorption drying process dries components at speeds competitive with traditional methods, without oxidation problems.

Thermal and Process Sensitivity Beyond ICs

Semiconductor components that go through reflow can be damaged by heat.

The Environmental Impact of Pick-and-place Machines

EMS companies committing to environmental standards have to report and try to minimize their effects.

Creating the Intelligent Factory

In a typical high-mix environment, lean thinking cannot be applied only to the material flow, but also has to include the information flow throughout the factory.

Producing through the Downturn

There is no one sweeping technology trend for the EMS sector. EMS companies can leverage several technologies and trends to deal with present challenges while preparing for the future.

Rework on Small, Leadless Devices

A rework process was developed to simplify rework of leadless devices, which will soon be taking over leaded as well as area-array devices.

Cooling Needs to Start at the Chip Level

By Paul Magill, Ph.D., Nextreme Thermal Solutions - Energy consumption is rampant in the U.S., and theories vary on curtailing its impact. Electronics thermal management can cool electronics from the first level, exponentially improving operating temperatures throughout the server farm.

Building High-volume Electronics in High-labor-cost Regions, For Less

By Gary A. Tanel - Automation is the key to domestic high-volume manufacturing. For many years, we have accepted that high-volume manufacturing is built in low-labor-cost regions of the world and low-volume assembly is performed close to the design center and end user. This seems ironic in that low-volume assembly has higher labor hours per unit than automated high-volume. The difference is in logistics.

Material Compatibility Worldwide

By Harald Wack, Ph.D., ZESTRON - For decades, despite research and trials, chemicals have continued interacting with the cleaned surfaces in question. Cleaning materials are researched and changed based on the root cause of the observed problem. Are there issues with all cleaned parts or only with selected ones? The answer will give you an idea whether the problem is related to chemistry or not.

Optical Interconnects for Silicon Circuit Boards

By Daniel Stevenson, siXis - A silicon circuit board (SiCB) is designed for components interconnection, targeting a higher degree of integration than is practical with current VLSI technology. SiCBs are manufactured using standard silicon electronics fabrication methods. In contrast to traditional PCBs, they use unpackaged integrated circuits (ICs) extensively and feature the finer-pitch signal trace geometries available with photolithographic fabrication.

Improve Time to Market with Freeze Gate Development

By James Scholler, MEC - In compressed product development cycles, traditional checks and balances become insurmountable constraints, driving non-value-added activity. A "freeze gate" lean concept leverages existing resources to meet a tight schedule without adding risk or impairing quality.

February New Products: Soldering Materials, Processes, and Equipment

Following are the selective and wave soldering equipments and tools, new high-reliability lead-free solder alloys and fluxes, and vapor phase reflow technology. Companies presenting new products and processes include Manncorp, Rehm Thermal Systems, Vitronics Soltec, Cookson Electronics, and Nihon Superior.

Micro SMT Connector Combines Old and New Technology

By Mark Leach and Ann Cibelli, Advanced Interconnections Corp. - In this case study, a 1.0-mm-pitch SMT connector is replaced by a new connector with the same footprint that surpassed shock/vibration, thermal shock, cyclic humidity, high-temperature life, and MFG tests. The connector had to be low-profile and lead-free for a telecom application.

New Products: Cleaning Materials, Equipment, Tests, and Processes

Following are the new cleaning products introduced by MicroCare, Aqueous Technologies, Rehm Thermal Systems, and Practical Components. The products range from cleaners to a flux residue management system within reflow ovens to cleanliness and residue evaluation testers, and a stencil cleaning system.

Step-by-Step: Process Control — Eco Lifecycle Assessment and Improvement

By Jim Dills, Green EcoSystems Group In the new green business climate, global manufacturing companies must continually assess and improve their products and processes to retain customers; gain competitive advantage; and comply with environmental legislation like RoHS, REACH, WEEE, and EuP. Eco lifecycle assessment and improvement processes are required for the management of the critical environmental aspects and impacts of product toxicity, waste stream management, and energy use.

Integrated Test and Inspection: Inspection Strategies and X-ray Techniques for Identifying Manufacturing Defects

By David Bernard, Ph.D., Dage Precision Industries, a Nordson Company With PCB assemblies increasing in complexity, test access for ICT and functional test is reduced. Along with AOI, 2D and 3D X-ray is moving beyond hidden-joint inspection into the high-density PCBA inspection area, including ASICs, memory, thru-hole joints, and more. X-ray inspection needs vary with each application, but a combination approach with 2D and 3D systems provides comprehensive coverage.

New Products: Connectors, Programming Scripts, Pastes, and More

Following are recently introduced products from power semiconductor lead-free solder paste to flex-to-PCB connectors, to hot bar or pulse soldering systems, and more.

The Ins and Outs of BGA Reballing

By Zulki Khan, NexLogic Technologies - When high-speed/high-performance BGAs are damaged during assembly, replacement costs can exceed reballing costs. The rework steps associated with BGA reballing are straightforward, yet highly complex.

New Products in SMT Electronics Assembly

Following are the newly released prototyping lines, LXI interfaces, solar cell production tools, feeder/component storage, epoxy materials, XRF testing tools, component handling accessories, and PCB-mount components from around the SMT supply chain.

The State of the EMS Industry

By Sharon Starr, IPC - A recently published study, 2007–2008 Analysis & Forecast for the EMS Industry, from IPC shows that the market for EMS continues to grow, although growth rates are slowing with the current economic downturn. EMS continues to outpace other segments of the electronics industry due to expanded outsourcing.

EMS Business Update

By Susan Mucha, Powell-Mucha Consulting Inc. - Any time the words "global economic downturn" become headlines, the EMS industry will be impacted. Assessing that impact can be difficult, because the EMS industry is a collection of subgroups that cluster around revenue, geographic focus, OEM industry niches, technologies, and services. This article focuses on economic; political-legal; technology; and behavior trends.

Consistent PCB Traceability with Data Matrix Symbols

By Laura Hoffman, Microscan - To improve quality control, traceability, and throughput on their test adapters, an electronic components and modules manufacturer implemented miniature data readers inside inspection systems. These vision systems have to read barcodes and cope with challenges posed by shiny PCB materials, limited space, and zero-defect/high-reliability end-product standards.

New Year, New Headquarters

In 2009, several electronics manufacturers and supplier to the EMS industry will move into expanded facilities and relocated headquarters. Following are the announcements from Dynatech Technology, Adept Technology, KIC, and STI Electronics.

Defluxing Déjà vu

By Michael Konrad, Aqueous Technologies Corporation - In the face of cutbacks, the cleaning industry, specifically post-reflow defluxing and cleanliness testing equipment, experienced a surge of new business in 2008. The reason lies between two electrical components mounted on a circuit board. It is a small metal crystal called a dendrite.

New Products in Electronics Assembly

Following are products designed to improve selective soldering, ESD control, kitting and box build, hand soldering, boundary scan tests, and other steps in the electronics assembly processes.

Industry Forecasts for 2009

We asked industry suppliers and end users "How can PCB assemblers control costs in these economic times?" and "What will be the most impactful technological advances in 2009?" Following are responses from companies across the supply chain.

New Components, Modules, and Subassemblies: January 2009

Following are the new products, reports, and software tools in the component sector, including power splitters, capacitors, sensors, connectors, varistors, oscillators, and more. Products come from AVX, IMS, Molex, Fox Electronics, EPCOS, and other companies in the component manufacturing industry.

TFI: Streamlining Supply Chain and Logistics

By Jonathan Gilbert, TFI logistics consultant - With all of the recent bad economic news, it's sometimes hard to think of positive effects from all the disruption we're seeing. Tough times bring challenges as well as opportunities. We need to be focused on what's coming up and prepare. For supply chain managers, the current worldwide slowdown presents some unique opportunities.

Part 9: Lead-free System Reliability — Avoid Likely Failures

By Jennie S. Hwang, Ph.D. - In this ninth discourse on the subject of lead-free reliability, let's look at what it takes to maximize system reliability, achieving a product's ultimate performance and reliability. Ultimate reliability can only be achieved by planning for reliability at the outset, followed by sound design, material selection, parts selection, and executing manufacturing for reliability.

Taking Cue from CES, Window-shop Your Work

With Macworld and CES generating a modest amount of excitement in the midst of depressing economic indicators, sorting through the new product releases has become a mixture of electronics news and online shopping. Interesting products all make good use of LEDs, flex circuits, advanced electro-mechanical design, etc. The most hyped new products are the thinnest, most mobile PCs and Macs. And while we're talking hype, let's take a lot at the new crop of green electronics.

Lead-free for High-reliability, High-temperature Applications

By Hector Steen, Ph.D. and Brian Toleno, Ph.D., Henkel Corporation - Though the electronics industry is nearing RoHS's three-year anniversary, several challenges remain with lead-free materials. Automotive and military/aerospace products require a lead-free material that can withstand under-the-hood conditions, offer vibration resistance not commonly associated with traditional SAC alloys, and deliver high-temperature thermal cycling reliability levels beyond those currently available.

STEP 1: Correct-by-Construction Approach for HDI Designs with High-speed Interfaces

By Hemant Shah, Cadence Design Systems Inc. - This article covers how HDI manufacturing rules should be integrated with any PCB design system to enable a correct-by-construction methodology without giving up on high-speed constraints that ensure the board will work with few or no physical prototype iterations.

Selection Criteria for SMT Placement Equipment

By Ray Prasad, Ray Prasad Consultancy Group - Typically, surface mount pick and place equipment, including a full complement of feeders, constitute about 50% of the total capital investment required for a medium-volume surface mount manufacturing line. Since no one type of placement equipment is best for all applications, the effort required in selecting equipment with an appropriate feeder system should constitute a major part of the effort spent in selecting capital equipment.

Halogen-free Guidelines, Databases, and Future Projects

By Scott O'Connell, Ruben Bergman, and Marshall Andrews, HDPUG - The High Density Packaging User Group International (HDPUG) has been evaluating halogen-free material properties and the feasibility of using them in electronic products since information about the first halogen-free materials was introduced some 12 years ago. HDPUG recognized the market need for halogen-free materials in electronic equipment and developed programs to assistant in this transition.

New Products in Electronics Manufacturing: January 2009

Following are the new components, factory automation elements, screen printing tools, thermoelectric power generation kits, dispensing systems, product data management software, test boards, ESD control products, soldering systems, and other products for design, assembly, and test of PCBs released recently.

Double-sided Flying Probe Solves PCB Test Challenges

By Ray Rattey, Texmac Inc. - Flying probe technology has been used to verify bare-board opens and short and as an alternative to in-circuit test (ICT) on populated PCBs for more than 20 years. Test issues caused by complex, dense, or otherwise challenging PCB designs are resolved by double-sided test probe system technology.

Automating Nondestructive Analysis of Underfill in Flip Chips

By Tom Adams, Sonoscan Inc. - Flip chip failure under operating conditions often stems from a root cause in the solder bumps or underfill materials supporting the bumps. Voids, delaminations, and cracks can lead to failures. Individual flip chip inspection can be difficult at production speeds without specialized software tools.

Implementation Challenges for Halogen-free Solder

Concerns about halogen toxicity have brought on reduction/elimination campaigns across the electronics industry, including the soldering materials sector.

Solder Paste Basics: A Round-up

This article asks major suppliers some of the basic questions that every user wants to ask about solder paste.

Industry View: Medical Electronics OEMs: Prepare for Lead-free

The old saying, “It’s never too late,” applies to some Johnny-come-lately medical electronics OEMs that aren’t ready to comply with the EU’s upcoming new RoHS directives.

BBC: Smartphones Drive Mobile Markets

By Mark Ward, technology correspondent, BBC - There is no doubt that 2008 was the year of the smartphone. The last 12 months saw the launch of iconic devices such as the iPhone 3G, Google G1, Blackberry Storm, and Nokia N97. It also saw the emergence of the electronic ecosystems needed to get the most out of such handsets. The popularity of these devices has brought to light several problems that look set to become acute in 2009.

Outlook Dreary for 2009

The outlook for the global electronic equipment industry is dreary, with most of the risk on the downside. The global financial system remains fragile, and is subject to further debilitating shocks. Based on Henderson Ventures' economic forecast, world electronic equipment production is forecast to fall by 2.2% during 2009 after an anemic 1.2% gain in 2008. Moreover, the recovery predicted for 2010 will be less than effervescent. Only a 6.7% increase is now forecast for that year.

Most Popular Articles on

Each year, SMT publishes hundreds of tutorials, opinion columns, expert analyses, tech solutions, editorials, and other features on our homepage, in addition to the latest news and new products. Here is a collection, in no particular order, of the most read articles published on our Website in 2008, including solutions for rework, PCB design, tin whiskers, lead-free soldering, the current business environment, and many other challenges and emerging technologies of the SMT industry.

PCB Designer's Notebook: Selecting Halogen-free (HF) Soldermask Materials

By Vern Solberg - There has been considerable discussion and public concern about flame retardants, halogenated flame retardants in particular. Fortunately for the electronics industry, an EU Risk Assessment concluded that brominated retardant TBBPA does not present a risk to human health or the environment when used in PWBs.

Inside EFD's Solder and Dispense Equipment Manufacturing Operations

EFD hosted an open house at its new, larger East Providence, R.I., facility. SMT toured the solder paste development, manufacturing, and testing areas; dispenser manufacturing; shipping; and other operations at the facility.

Letter to the Editor: An Expert Weighs in on Dross

Dross: Waste, Revenue Source, or Just Another Process to Optimize?

Dross is often thought of as waste, a residue that forms on the surface of a metal from oxidation that looks bubbly, filled with metal impurities. This mass of solid impurities floating on molten metal in wave solder machines can be removed from the process, and recycled by shipping to the recycling site of an outsourced processor or in-house using specialized equipment. With lead-free alloys, recycling now has a monetary consideration. There are a lot of companies that provide help with dross.

Successful Electronics Outsourcing: An Old Concept with a New Twist

By Joe Zaccari, Stilwell Baker - In a contracting environment, many OEMs are experiencing significant challenges in outsourcing product manufacturing. Inability to outsource manufacturing efficiently without outsourcing some of the engineering tasks associated with a design has become prevalent. How can an electronics OEM transition designs to volume manufacturing with the least amount of risk?

New Products in December

Following are the new soldering systems, cleaning materials, training resources, software programs, testers, and other electronics manufacturing products introduced by Zestron, STI Electronics, Lumex, AVX, Corelis, and other companies in the electronics manufacturing supply chain.

Turn Environmental Awareness into Gain

By Simon G. Norman, EVS International - The impact mankind has on our planet makes for uncomfortable reading. Changes put in place now will undoubtedly pay our children back tenfold, but what if being environmentally responsible could pay you back in a year, rather than decades? We follow one electronics company's commitment to the environment through the installation of two solder dross recovery systems.

Reducing and Preventing Tin Corrosion Whiskers

By Olaf Kurtz, Ph.D.; Peter Kühlkamp; Jürgen Barthelmes; and Robert Rüther, Atotech Deutschland GmbH - For the connector and IC/leadframe industries, corrosion can occur on metalized components and products, resulting in malfunctions. This article presents the work done on an effective anti-corrosion treatment* that can mitigate corrosion whisker formation effectively. Process benefits to tin solderability are highlighted.

Embedded Packaging Comes of Age

By Risto Tuominen, Imbera Electronics - The demand for improved functionality within smaller spaces in the electronics arena is straining existing semiconductor and SiP packaging technologies. Several novel technology approaches are being developed to increase product miniaturization and performance. During recent years, component embedding inside PCB motherboards and substrates has generated a lot of attention and is seen as one of the most promising technology solutions for future.

Matching Cleaning Process to Solder Paste

Cleaned electronic circuits represent only a small part of the electronic assembly market, as most companies use a no-clean process. In several sectors – aeronautics, medical, automotive – cleanliness and reliability are crucial.

Via Optimization for Speed

As more PCB designs move toward high-speed serial links with pico-second edge rates, any impedance discontinuity in the channel can affect signal quality adversely

2009 Industry Forecast

This article represents a collection of viewpoints from industry leaders, answering both “How can PCB assemblers control costs in these economic times?” and “What will be the most impactful technological advances in 2009?” Lean manufacturing, creativity in business operation and technological development, and the promise of new energy sources are shared goals.

New Components, Connectors, and Subassemblies

Following are the new surface mount and insertion components, as well as off-the-shelf subassemblies, and various connectors available from companies such as Laird, AVX, Amphenol, FDK, and others. The products suit harsh environments, consumer applications, and other target markets.

New Products of SMT Assembly

Following are the new equipment, solder and materials, and software products released for high-changeover, high-reliability, high-mix, and other challenging SMT assembly environments.

Supplier Quality Doesn't Just Happen

By Robert Rowland, RadiSys - Supplier quality management is a critical success factor, especially when commodities are procured globally and manufacturing is outsourced. Selection, qualification and approval, and monitoring require well-defined processes to ensure quality expectations are achieved consistently. Focus on preventive actions rather than waiting for problems to occur.

The Restructuring Supply Chain

The reorganization effort is underway across the supply chain lately, as the home loan collapse snowballed into the credit crunch, then into the global financial crisis. Respondents to our 2009 forecast question, "How can PCB assemblers cut costs in 2009?" pointed to smart management and lean manufacturing. Companies from Camtek to Rockwell Collins announced cost-cutting plans of late.

From the Show: IMAPS 2008

Conferences abound in the electronics industry. After a while, attendees have to choose between local shows where drayage and employee travel times do not require hotel stays and the larger shows where travel and coverage prove costly. Fortunately, IMAPS 2008 had great international participation, good attendance, and excellent presentations. From keynoters to the technologically educational papers, the show was sound. And it was close to home for SMT editors.

New Products Online

We're featuring the debuts of next-generation sockets, dry boxes, thermal profiling software, laser inspection systems, cleanroom wipes, a 10 Gbit/sec. assembly, pick-and-place systems, vacuum tables, and soldering machines.

Names in News

Following are the outreach initiatives, industry recognitions, new hires and promotions, and more announcements from suppliers like Zestron America, Cognex, Allied, Kraydenmex, Fine Line Stencil, The Morey Corp., DEK Solar, Electronic Interconnect Technology, IPC, Balver Zinn, iNEMI, and Seica.

DfM Navigation Tools for PCB Success

By Nolan Johnson, Sunstone Circuits - Of the key decisions that can improve design for manufacture (DfM) and design for yield (DfY), 75% of the impact of those decisions will be made before the design leaves the CAD tool environment. With the realization that designers influence ultimate yield, it makes sense to give designers as much useable information as possible to improve the assembly. The role of DfM/DfY is to provide a feedback loop for the engineering and design team.

The Importance of Global Technical Support

Harald Wack, Ph.D., ZESTRON America - Numerous companies have shifted their main production facilities from service-driven economies to lower wage, developing countries. It is clear that to take advantage of technological advancements, we must continue to use our competitive, educational edge. Customers expect a global mindset with excellent service.

November New Product Showcase

New products released to the SMT assembly market include pressure-indicating films for adhesive applications, components and off-the-shelf modules, MSD moisture-control cabinets, final assembly components, XRF systems, programming software for automated tools, soldering system controls, automated programmers, rework systems, and test analysis systems.

How to Use Machine Calibration Techniques

Information provided by CeTaQ - Machine calibration can increase the efficiency of a production line, reduce rework, improve manufacturing accuracy, and enable use of more advanced components and board designs. Knowing the many possibilities available for machine calibration is key to maximizing its benefits for your assembly and inspection lines.

The Evolution of Start-ups: Nextreme Meets Its Market

Start-ups face an uphill battle, with strong competition, limited access to resources, and a market that often isn't ready. We spoke with Nextreme's Paul Magill, Ph.D., about Voxtel's addition of Nextreme's thermoelectric cooler into its VDHAX APD receivers. This marks a new phase in our evolution, says Magill, asserting that the market is ready for their thermal management advances.

U.S. Assemblers Growing Businesses

ENDICOTT, N.Y. and WOODRIDGE, Ill. – Endicott Interconnect Technologies Inc. (EI – is looking to add more than 150 professional and full-time manufacturing employees during Q’04 2008.

SIM Card Connectors

The expanded 9162 family of SIM card connectors includes three versions designed to reduce space and provide extra security.

The Silver Debate: Sn/Cu-based Solder Explained

Lead-free solder alloys with micro-additions like nickel and germanium are finding increased acceptance globally, entering the mainstream for high-reliability PCBAs.

Placement Quality Affects Costs

Each of the main SMT assembly processes has quality criteria that help determine the total process DPMO, which determines FPY.

Keeping Your Cool with Thermal Analysis

Thermal issues increase due to the competing requirements of higher complexity, lower cost, and faster time to market.

Making the Switch from Board Fabricator to EMS Provider

Decimated by post-9/11 cutbacks, offshore fabricators, and environmental legislation, one U.S.-based bare-board company decided to transition to a contract PCB assembler.

STEP 10: Rework Silicone Conformal Coatings

Conformal coatings – generally one of the last production processes performed on a PCB – continue to see increased usage and popularity.

Reballing Rework: The Bright New Future

By Kris Roberson, MIT, BEST Inc. - Components are always evolving, which brought us the BGA. Add in RoHS and WEEE, and BGA rework becomes an exciting topic. To rework or install a BGA on a lead-free assembly, reballing is necessary. Here, we look at the history and the why and how of reballing, examining a reballing technique that could increase operator ease and assembly reliability.

Willingness to Take on Big Challenges: REACH and SIN

The EU's REACH requires companies producing in or exporting to the EU to register chemicals they place in the EU market in amounts above one metric ton. EU officials will evaluate whether companies registering these chemicals have demonstrated safe production and use of them. But how will REACH impact U.S. companies?

Moisture Sensitivity Concerns in PCBs for Lead-free Assemblies

By Ray Prasad, Ray Prasad Consultancy Group - During the early stages of lead-free implementation, we were concerned with lead-free alloy selection and reliability issues. Now a new issue has cropped up — PCB delamination and moisture sensitivity and steps necessary to control them.

Analysts on Flexible, Organic, and Printable Electronics

NanoMarkets and IDTechEx both released reports on flexible, printed, and organic electronics (FPOE), including data on dielectric materials for next-generation thin-film, organic, and printable electronics assemblies; applications for these technologies; end products in the market now; and an upcoming printed electronics show.

The Double Edged Sword for Green Initiatives

By Chris Rehl, CIMTEK - The green movement sweeping across companies worldwide may be politically and environmentally correct, but it also is creating some concerns among electronic manufacturers who are at the front line of these initiatives. Product lifecycle and quality control testing can provide the data and the direction to make green initiatives successful.

New Electronics Assembly Products

New products coming into the supply chain range from flexible test platforms to surface mount connectors, selective soldering systems, conductive epoxies, pick-and-place vision systems, and strain gauge simulation. Suppliers include CheckSum, Bliss Industries, CeTaQ, Zierick, Conductive Compounds, RPS Automation, Pickering Interfaces, Epson Toyocom, and APS Novastar.

Changing Times: Where to Find Cleaning Today

By Tom Forsythe - Beginning in the 1990s, soldering technology advances, ever-shortening product lifecycles, the global ban on CFC-113, and other technology advances together brought on the era of no-clean soldering. While cleaning never truly disappeared, significant segments of the industry moved away from cleaning, far away. At the time, they did not need a cleaning process. But those times are changing.

From the Editor: EMS Trends

Cosponsoring the A-Line at IPC Midwest gave me a unique insight into the amount of work that goes into every PCB assembly manufactured. To dig deeper, I chaired a panel of EMS providers on keeping lines running efficiently and keeping OEM customers on track and happy, for product development, NPI, manufacturing, and program management. Concise, efficient, and resourceful. What else would you expect from this industry?

Events around the Industry

Newark will host an online networking and educational event on energy-efficient electronics; SMTA released the final program for Pan Pac 2009; and IPC announced an all-academic poster competition to take place at IPC APEX EXPO.

Association News

IPC released power conversion standard IPC-9592; the ESD Association (ESDA) elected board members and officers for 2009; and SMTA is looking for papers for its 6th annual Medical Electronics Symposium.

Part 3: PCB Designer's Notebook: IC Component Package Evolution and the Impact of Lead-free Soldering

By Vern Solberg - Although the majority of ICs in use today are SO and fine-pitch leaded devices, many new product offerings are furnished without leads. Another shift is the move to lead-free board assembly. Will part numbers of components that are in compliance with RoHS change?

It's What's Inside That Counts: Embedded Components

Recently, PCB fabricator Ibiden Co. Ltd., with more than 12,000 employees and about $4 billion in consolidated annual sales, announced that they would be licensing Finland-based Imbera's embedded packaging technology. We knew that this had to be a solid way to embed components into the PCB. When you think about creating a functionally dense system, the directions seem to be building up — a stacked package — or down — into the board material in an embedded active or passive device.

Solder Charge — An Alternative to BGA

By Herbert Endres, Molex - Traditional techniques of applying solder have become impractical for today's high-density mezzanine connector market. To stay relevant, connector manufacturers have designed new methods for attaching surface mounted connectors. A new solder charge method has proven to provide good fatigue strength and lower applied costs compared to traditional SMT mounting methods.

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.

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