Article Highlights
ASM Assembly Solutions on CFX
07/16/2018 | Barry Matties, I-Connect007
Is There an End in Sight to the Electronic Components Crisis?
07/12/2018 | Neil Sharp, JJS Manufacturing
Conversation with Miraco… Strategies for Successful Flex Circuit Assembly
07/11/2018 | Stephen Las Marias, I-Connect007
Aegis on CFX and Hermes Efforts
07/10/2018 | Barry Matties, I-Connect007
Tackling the Challenges in Flex Assembly
07/06/2018 | Stephen Las Marias, I-Connect007

Latest Articles

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.

APEX PRODUCT Preview

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-by-Step
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 SMTonline.com

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 – www.endicottinterconnect.com) 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

Electronics.ca 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.

NEWSMAKERS

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.


ADHESIVES/COATINGS/ENCAPSULANTS/UNDERFILLS

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.

Product Showcase: SMT/HYBRID/PACKAGING

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

Flex Circuit Update

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

ESD and Testing Automated Equipment

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

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

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

Industry Academia Partnerships: Sustaining Growth and Competitiveness

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


Flux Chemistry for Lead-free SMT

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

From the Editor: Emerging Markets Are a State of Mind

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

May Featured Products

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

Creative Solutions to Stencil Printing Challenges

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

Cleaning Up the SMT Production Environment

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

From the Editor:
The Lead-free Dilemma

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

Bead Probe Implementation: A No-clean Case Study

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

Wave Height Monitor

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

Alternatives Replace Older Cleaners

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

Essential Electronics Assembly Cleaning

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


Unified EDA Flow for Analog Designs and PCB Implementation

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

Asymtek Celebrates 25 Years

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

REACH Exposed: Stressing Environmental Compliance

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

STEP 5: Advanced Underfill Technology

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

SMTA Toolbox: Knowledgeable Green Transition Management

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

Part 8: Lead-free Reliability for Harsh Environment Electronics

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

Association News

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

From the Editor:
Inovar Expands Business Through Customer Partnerships

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

Nepcon East Product Showcase

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

From the Editor:
Earth Day Everyday

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


iNEMI Studies New Initiatives at APEX Meetings

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

From the Editor:
VISION for the Future

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

April Product Highlights

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

The BGA/QFN Repair Process

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

SMT Hosts Packaging Panel at SMTAI

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

From the Editor:
APEX in a Nutshell

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

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

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

SMT Lauds 16th Annual VISION Award Winners

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

STEP 4: Printing Flexible Substrates

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

Working with Large, Thick PCBs

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


Simply Modern Aqueous Cleaning

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

Review: Find It. Book It. Grow It.

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

Fine-pitch Sockets

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

Understanding Conduction Soldering

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

JTAG Brings on Inherent Testability

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

High-speed Stamp Soldering

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

APEX Product Highlights: From the Show

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

Bridging the Macro to Micro Gap

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

IPC APEX Product Preview

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

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

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


Q&A with a Turnkey EMS Provider

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

From the Editor:
Valuable Insights

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

APEX Product Preview

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

Software Improves Productivity and Quality for NPI

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

March Product Highlights

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

From the Editor:
Reaching for Balance

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

IDTechEx Provides FPO Update

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

Selective Laser Soldering: DfM Rules

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

Review: Printed Circuits Handbook

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

APEX Product Preview

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


Completely Inspecting New Packages

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

Flexible Circuits Market: Surging Ahead

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

DfE Thrives on Competition

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

Standardizing Traceability Ratings

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

STEP 3: Holistic Lead-free Reliability

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

Cleanliness Testing on the Shop Floor

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

New Product Focus: Components

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

From the Editor:
What Is It Worth?

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

Nepcon China Product Preview

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

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

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


From the Editor:
Heraeus Celebrates Success with Open House

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

Association News: Tradeshow Season

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

BiTS 2008 Workshop Approaches

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

February Featured Products

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

Q&A with Brian Duffey, MYDATA

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

APEX Preview: Focus on Solder

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

APEX Preview: Rework Course

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

The Where and How Issues of SMT

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

Protection for Complicated SMD Assemblies

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

APEX EMBODIES INNOVATION IN LAS VEGAS

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


Cleaning under Low-standoff Components

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

Production Mix for Today’s Product Mix

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

Extending Contactor Lifespans

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

Why Focus Matters

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

Step 2: Optimized Assembly by Virtual Control

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

From the Editor
Mobile Electronics on Wheels

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

From the Editor
Greening Up

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

Submit for 3D/SiP Advanced Packaging Symposium

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

January Featured Products

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

From the Editor: Making Plans

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


NEWS ANALYSIS

Review: BPA’s High–value Flex Report

NEW PRODUCTS

Dual-port Soldering System

Inside Reflow

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

Faster Flying Probe ROI

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

STEP 1: Left Shift the Bottom Line

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

From the Fire: EMS Recovery

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

EMS News Update

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

iSuppli Report: Electronic Manufacturing Capacity Undergoes Global Rebalancing

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

Saying Goodbye: An eWaste Story, Part II

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

RoHS Material Controls and Visual Management

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


Thru-hole Lead-free Soldering and Rework Concerns

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

Traceability on the Line

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

Saying Goodbye: An eWaste Story

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

How Small is Small?
Looking at Nanoelectronics

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

NEWS ANALYSIS

Productronica Caps 2007 Show Season in a Small Way

NEWPRODUCTS

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

2008 INDUSTRY FORECAST

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

Evaluating Cleaning System Performance

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

RoHS Wins Converts Despite Exemptions

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

Intrusive Reflow of Lead-free Solder Paste, Part II

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


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