Latest Articles

A New Dimension in Solder Paste Inspection

Vi Technology CEO Francois Amblard introduces a solder paste inspection system where innovative, intelligent, and intuitive technology make a complex, three-dimensional image capture and display operation completely user-friendly.

TOF SIMS Analysis for SnxOy Determination on Lead-Free HASL PCBs

A lead-free HASL circuit board presented the authors with several wetting issues. A variety of analyses were performed, but TOF SIMS provided the most valuable insights. Jose María Servín Olivares and Cynthia Gomez Aceves explain.

Use Your Website to Prove Your Industry Leadership

Saying you are an industry leader means nothing. Prove it.

Production Automation Revolution: Are We Nearly There Yet?

How great would it be to take a product blueprint and simply command the production facility to "make it for me now!" Will we ever get to the stage where the production operation has the ability to reply and say, "Sure, I'll figure out how to do that and have it to you within the hour?" We may be closer than we think.

Indium Corporation's SACM Explained

Tim Jensen, product manager – PCB Assembly Materials, explains the effect of adding trace quantities of manganese to low-silver SAC alloys to provide the optimal balance of drop-test versus thermal cycling and cost versus reliability, which characterizes Indium Corporation's SACM solder paste.

AIM Compares Lead-free Alloys

Since RoHS went into effect, many users have been confused about the pros and cons of the various SAC flavors. Karl Seeling, vice president of technology for AIM, discusses his SMTAI 2013 presentation, which compares a variety of lead-free alloys.

Nordson ASYMTEK Intros New Precision Dispensing System

Roberta Foster-Smith, global marketing communications manager for Nordson, discusses the latest dispensing technology at ASYMTEK, the Spectrum II. She also provides updates on Nordson's other subsidiary companies.

Pushing the Limits of Lead-Free Soldering

The formulation of lead-free solder alloys is an ongoing process and the challenge extends beyond the solders themselves to joint design, flux formulations, component design and materials, PCB design and materials, component and board finishes, and process equipment. Nihon Superior's Tetsuro Nishimura investigates.

The Origin of the Graping Defect

Indium's Tim Jensen, global product manager, and Dr. Ron Lasky, senior technolgist and I-Connect007 guest editor, discuss the origin of the graping defect as well as several potential solutions on the show floor at SMTAI 2013.

The Ultimate Social Media Marketing Mistake

PCB manufacturers make quite a few mistakes in social media: Wrong message, wrong social network, bizarre posting frequency, and more. But even done wrong--horribly, horribly wrong--nothing is worse than quitting.

Super Dry: Bleeding-edge Moisture Management

One byproduct of the EU's RoHS legislation has been an increased focus on moisture management--especially by European companies. Director Rich Heimsch explains how Super Dry leverages its knowledge of moisture control to help meet the needs of bleeding-edge customers.

The Power of Urgency and Intention: Hiring in EMS

Why do so many EMS companies do such a poor job when attracting talent? Leveraging your strengths as an EMS company should help you, not hurt you, when attracting great employees.

The Evolution of ICT: What's Driving Today's Innovations

ICT systems have evolved greatly since their introduction three decades ago. In fact, the newest ICT systems might be termed "electrical test controllers" because some now support in-circuit, boundary scan, PLD programming, cluster and functional testing techniques.

Nordson Creates Test and Inspection Group

Keith Bryant, marketing director for Nordson, explains to Editor Andy Shaughnessy why his company is merging two of its subsidiaries--Dage and YESTECH--to form a new test and inspection group. Bryant also relates how the new unit will better serve its customers.

ZESTRON Keeps an "Eye" on Bath Concentration

Sal Sparacino, marketing manager, and Umut Tosun, application technology manager for ZESTRON, presented a paper on the company's new Eye technology recently at SMTAI. The pair explain to Editor Andy Shaughnessy how the product helps measure and control cleaning bath concentration.

Head-in-Pillow Versus Non-wet Open Defects

Indium's Tim Jensen, global product manager, and Dr. Ron Lasky, senior technolgist, discuss the difference between head-in-pillow and non-wet opens--which are often confused--and present several solutions.

Focus and Clarity: Match Your LinkedIn Profile to Your LinkedIn Goals

Figure out who your audience is, what they want to know, and write your profile for them.

Aqueous Cleans Up With Batch Cleaning Process

For years, batch cleaning was the butt of jokes, but environmental and budgetary concerns have lead to batch eclipsing the in-line cleaning process. Aqueous CEO Mike Konrad explains how the batch cleaning equipment they sold in 2012 saved millions of gallons of water, and he discusses the company's popular cleaning workshops.

The 10 Deadly Sins of Electronics Manufacturing

Jim Hall, principal of ITM Consulting, discusses his recent SMTA International workshop which focused on the 10 deadly sins he's found while auditing manufacturers. Lust,'s all there!

IPC Launches J-Std-004 Validation Service

The association has developed a new validation service to determine if fluxes conform to J Standard 004. IPC's Vice President of Standards & Tech Dave Torp joins Guest Editor Dr. Ron Lasky to discuss the importance of this accomplishment.

The 10 Deadly Sins of Electronics Manufacturing

Jim Hall, principal of ITM Consulting, discusses his recent SMTA International workshop which focused on the 10 deadly sins he's found while auditing manufacturers. Lust,'s all there!

Lasky: Medical RoHS Exemption Ends in 2014

The European Union's medical exemption for RoHS ends in July 2014. But Dr. Ron Lasky of Indium Corporation informs Editor Andy Shaughnessy about his recommendation for a high-reliability lead-free solder, SACM, which includes manganese.

Understand Your Customers Problems Before Using Social Media

To successfully use social media in your company's sales and marketing mix, you must really understand your customers' problems and be able to help them with those problems.

Ensuring Supply Chain Reliability and Integrity

It's become standard procedure for companies to claim a worldwide reach. But with operations in Canada, Silicon Valley, China, Hong Kong, and Mexico, EMS provider SMTC Corporation is truly a global enterprise. Corporate Value Engineering Manager Brian Morrison and VP of Account Management Frank Gerber discuss the company's strategies to ensure that the devices entering their supply chain meet high-reliability standards.

Lead-free Solder Alloy Update from Dr. Ning-Cheng Lee

Dr. Ning-Cheng Lee, vice president of technology, joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss the papers he's presenting at SMTA International 2013. Each will focus on lead-free solder alloys, but with different operating temperatures.

Combining Electronics and Mechanical Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is expected to transform both electronics and mechanical manufacturing over the next couple decades. Right now, they're considered distinct fields, but that may eventually change.

Eight Reasons to Join a LinkedIn Group

Columnist Bruce Johnston belongs to several alumni groups for schools, organizations, and companies he's been involved with over the years. These groups are invaluable for networking--it is always easier to reach out to someone with whom you have a shared experience.

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Tin Whiskers - Phenomena and Observations

Tin whisker reflects its coined name. It has long been recognized to be associated with electroplated tin coating and most likely occurs with pure tin. Its appearance resembles whiskers. However, whiskers can also form in a wide range of shapes and sizes, such as fibrous filament-like spiral, nodule, column, and mound.

Viscom MD on New Inspection System & Business "In China"

As pioneers in the AOI and inspection industry, Viscom continues to deliver new products such as the 3088Q machine, launched during NEPCON South China 2013, which serves a slightly more cost-sensitive consumer. Managing Director Norbert Meuser discusses his company's commitment to technology and sustainability, and that business in China isn't necessarily "in China" anymore.

Brittle Failure in Lead-free BGA Solder Joints

The increasing complexity of electronic assemblies, coupled with the transition to higher-temperature lead-free soldering, has given rise to another case of brittle interfacial failures induced by double reflow. This article describes and characterizes electrically intermittent, brittle interfacial solder joint failures in a lead-free BGA subjected to two reflow cycles.

Turbocharge Your Sales with Content Marketing

A friend of columnist Bruce Johnston recently received an invitation to quote on a board from a defense contractor in the mid-Atlantic area. When asked why the company had selected them, the contractor said his team had read all articles, posts, and other content the manufacturer had on its website. The contractor was impressed by the PCB company.

A Look at In-Circuit Test

Teradyne Marketing Product Manager Alan Albee joins Editor Ray Rasmussen to discuss the challenges facing in-circuit test, the automation of the testing process, and solutions on the drawing board to support the future of test.

The Art of Failure: A Study in PCB Failure Analysis: the Intermittent Connection

Over the course of a failure analyst's career, he will be exposed to an extensive and varied array of devices. No matter the technology--whether they be nanoscopic silicon sensors with moving parts so small as to defy belief or massive circuit assemblies comprised of thousands of discrete components and integrated circuits--no device is completely immune to failure.

Improving Reliability Through HALT and HASS Testing

HALT and HASS technology use a combination of accelerated stresses to expose product flaws early in the design and manufacturing stages (often at board level), improving product reliability and customer confidence. Author Mark R. Chrusciel explains how and why companies are succeeding with HALT and HASS.

Making Yourself Recruiter-worthy on LinkedIn

Last fall, the percentage of companies using LinkedIn to find new employees was in the high 80s. It's now well over 90%. Today, columnist Bruce Johnston addresses what companies look for on a LinkedIn profile.

AIM: Insight into 77 Years of Service

Since 1936, AIM of Montreal Canada has survived and thrived. Editor Marcy LaRont speaks with President Rick Black and gains insight into how the company has managed such longevity: Ever forward thinking--technologically, environmentally, and globally.

Tablets and Smart Phones Make Nordon's Year

"It doesn't matter if it's in Southern California or Southern China--it's all the same to us," says Joe Strockunas, group vice president for Nordson. With an ever-increasing demand for smart phones and tablets, he tells Editor Marcy LaRont the company is having a good year and China is right at the heart of it all.

Thin Palladium Layers: An Effective Cost-saving Strategy

As the price of gold continues to rise, palladium becomes more attractive for product developers worried about their bottom line. Palladium provides a highly-active catalyst surface for chemical reactions and the majority of its applications are found in the automotive and electronics industries. Other uses include hydrogen reserve and medical engineering.

The Return of Metcal

Paul Wood of OK International joins Editor Marcy LaRont to discuss how small soldering hand tools are where the growth is for the foreseeable future. He also talks about coming full circle with Metcal tools, as his company decides to rebrand that part of the business back under the original Metcal name.

Going Offline for More Flexibility, Quality

P. Kay Metal has long been a trusted name in the solder business. The company's MS2 product has continued to provide great benefits for customer operations and quality. But with an eye for continuously adding value, PK's exciting new machine allows for offline solder dross reclamation, providing even greater benefit and cost savings.

Sigmatron Reports Strongest Earnings Since 2010

"The first quarter of fiscal 2014 was an excellent quarter for the company, with fully diluted earnings per share the strongest since the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010," says Gary R. Fairhead, president, CEO, and chairman of the board. "During the quarter we saw improved performance from the two plants we acquired in 2013 and steady performance from our other operations."

Evaluation of Molded Flip-chip BGA Package for 28nm FPGA Applications

This paper describes the process used in selecting and qualifying the molded flip-chip BGA for cost effective, high-performance 28nm FPGA devices. A collaborative approach in partnership with the assembly manufacturer was employed to develop customer collateral that includes handling, reflow/rework, and heatsink attach guidelines for the molded flip-chip BGA package.

Fix Your Mindset: Social Media is Like One Big Party

Social media allows you to find interesting people and introduce yourself to them. If there's a key person you wish to speak with at a prospective company there is nothing stopping you from finding that person on social media and introducing yourself to them right now.

Kyzen Earns Best Paper Award at NEPCON South China

Part of the SMTA China 2013 Technology Conference sponsored by SMTA China South, Kyzen's presentation was given by Jason Chan, Asia technology manager, who discussed the fact that stencil printing capabilities are becoming more important as the range of component sizes assembled on a single board increases.

Dage's EFD Business Celebrates 50 Years

After 50 years, nothing is slowing down in Dage's Electronics Fluid Dispensing (EFD) business. As they celebrate their milestone anniversary, Bradley Davis, President - China, discusses how far his company has come and the innovation that keeps it thriving. Davis assures there is still much growth to be done in China.

Profiled Squeegee Blade Rewrites the Rules for Angle of Attack

This paper from authors Ricky Bennett, Rich Lieske, and Corey Beech presents the revolutionary performance of the profiled squeegee blade--recently developed to create a virtual multi-angle of attack for unsurpassed process control for all types of stencil printing processes.

Aegis' Paul Price on New FactoryLogix and Hiring Plans

Aegis is having a great year, and FactoryLogix is a huge part of that. Global Vice President of Sales Paul Price sits down with Editor Marcy Laront at NEPCON South China 2013 to discuss his company's new FactoryLogix product and hiring plans.

Taking the LED Pick-and-Place Challenge

For solid-state lighting products to be successful, not only are the best and brightest LEDs on the market required, but the knowledge and support to handle these components in a high-speed, accurate manufacturing process resulting in high yields, low defect rates, and no damages to LEDs is critical.

There's Only One Reason to Use Social Media: Increasing Sales

Most vendors have problems meeting people on LinkedIn because they forget that these are real people looking for real solutions and help with their problems--not just walking, breathing purchase orders.

Death to Electrical Noise!

Removing electrical noise from power lines is imperative to prevent equipment faults on the manufacturing floor, in the lab, or anywhere clean power is required. Vladimir Kraz, president of OnFilter, identifies the problems accociated with dirty power and electrical over-stress and discribes his company's power filtering solutions.

Reworking Thermally Massive Assemblies

Air-Vac Director of Marketing and Sales Brian Czaplicki joins Guest Editor Kelly Dack to describe his company's award-winning rework machine that limits copper dissolution in through-holes during the rework phase.

Beating the Heat: A Review of Thermal Management Challenges

Over the last few years, a number of '90s-era solutions have been brought down off the shelf, dusted off, and pressed into service to once again get the heat out of electronic devices and systems. A wide range of solutions have since been developed operating on various principles.

Advanced Through-Hole Rework of Thermally Challenging Components/Assemblies: An Evolutionary Process, Part 1

The conversion of high-end server and network applications to lead-free is being hastened by government regulations and the limited availability of tin-lead components. The successful transition of low-end and mid-range server applications to lead free has come largely through wave solder process optimization and the use of alternate lead-free alloys for mini-pot rework.

Solder Paste Stencil Manufacturing Methods and Their Impact on Precision and Accuracy

The authors of this paper discuss various parameters that influence stencil positional accuracy, including different lasers systems, various metals and processes, temperature variations, and the effect of mounting a stencil in a frame. Total effects are shown with measurement results from a number of stencils made according to today's practices using available laser systems and processes.

DEK's Stencil Printing Solution Evolution

DEK's future technologist, Clive Ashmore, provides an overview of the evolution of stencil printing from just a year ago and describes what it means to provide value-added technology solutions.

Seven LinkedIn Changes and What They Mean to You

Along with other recent updates to LinkedIn--a new overall look and feel, overhauls to the Search function and to LinkedIn today--last week I opened my Who’s Viewed Your Profile page to find it had been a beneficiary (victim?) of the review and refresh trend.

Nam Tai Reports 64% Jump in 2Q Sales

Nam Tai Electronics has reported net sales of $167.9 million, excluding the discontinued LCMs for tablets business of $30.7 million, in the second quarter ended 30 June 2013, up 64.1% over the same period last year. Gross profit in 2Q2013 was $15.7 million, an increase of 2.7%, compared to $15.3 million in the second quarter of last year.

The Art of Failure: Device Failure Analysis - PCB Delayering

Since PCB delayering is a technique for failure analysis, it is important to recognize the types of defects it is best for uncovering. Cracked or otherwise damaged traces are perfect candidates, since the delayering process not only reveals the crack in the trace, but also allows complete access to nodes on both sides of the crack.

PARMI's Jeff Mogensen on Screen Printing Trends

Guest Editor Allen Jergens discusses the up-and-down trends of the industry with PARMI's General Manager Jeff Mogensen and, more specifically, how to improve the screen printing process in the upcoming year.

Applications of Low-temperature Tin-bismuth and Tin-bismuth-silver Lead-free Alloy Solder Pastes

For assembly of heat-sensitive components and boards, lower-temperature lead-free solder alloys should be looked at as an alternative to high-temperature SnAgCu solder. This type of assembly also requires a temperature hierarchy for different soldering operations on the board. These issues, and more, are investigated by authors from Koki and Christopher Associates.

How Manufacturers Botch Social Media...and What They Can Do About It

There's a reason your company is around after all this time and it isn't because you charged the lowest prices. Social media is a tool that can help you showcase your industry leadership and the reasons why your customers keep coming back to you.

Advances in Materials Jetting

The jetting of materials such as adhesives and solder paste has significant advantages over dispensing. Dan Ashley, market specialist at Nordson ASYMTEK, discusses these advantages and shares information about a new jetting nozzle featuring improved throughput and ROI advantages.

10 Reasons to Hire a 16 Year Old to Run Your Social Media Campaign

You will have no problems overcoming cynical attitudes with a young kid in charge of your social media. Everything in the business world is new to them--a first time experience.

Replacing Automated Test Equipment

The life span of automated test equipment typically does not exceed one or two decades. Sooner or later, no matter how well serviced and reliable the equipment, it will need to be replaced. All aspects of the process should be analyzed: Characteristics, the migration of test programs, test fixtures, and overall short- and long-term considerations.

Latest AOI Trends for the Electronics Industry

Guest Editor Mark Thompson speaks with Paul Groome, vice president of sales for Digitaltest GmbH, about in-circuit testers, automated optical inspection (AOI) systems, data collection, and the latest trends in the industry.

A Novel Glass Substrate for Pure Glass PCBs

Guest Editor Bob Neves talks with CEO Jeb Flemming of 3D Glass Solutions about a new glass ceramic-based substrate for electronics. This substrate mitigates RF issues, allows extremely high densities, and uses conventional wet-etch technologies to produce vias en masse.

Four Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

Good content on social media is never about the company, it is always about the prospective customer and their world, their job, and their problems.

Electrolube Marks 10 Years in China

Directors and senior staff from Electrolube will gather in China July 18, 2013 to celebrate the company's 10-year anniversary since opening its state-of-the-art facility in Beijing. Guests will join the company's principal staff from across the globe to show appreciation to customers and industry experts for supporting the company's development over the last decade.

A High-Speed Jetted Soldering Solution

MYDATA's Gustaf Martensson, innovation field expert, R&D, reveals his company's high-speed jetting solution for solder paste dispensing, which provides a way to "jet" solder paste onto boards and features advantages in challenging board designs, pin-in-paste, and component add-ons.

Advanced Through-Hole Rework of Thermally Challenging Components/Assemblies: An Evolutionary Process, Part 2

The conversion of high-end server and network applications to lead-free is being hastened by government regulations and the limited availability of tin-lead components. The successful transition of low-end and mid-range server applications to lead-free has come largely through wave solder process optimization and the use of alternate lead-free alloys for mini-pot rework.

Evolutionary Solutions: Lean In

How do manufacturers identify waste and eliminate it from manufacturing processes? And how do they do this on an ongoing basis to ensure that waste does not creep back into their workplace? The answer is to adopt philosophies and systems that are proven to work. Karla Osorno explains.

Contract Manufacturing in the High-reliability Market

Jon Hanson, sales and marketing manager at Computrol, joins Technical Editor Pete Starkey to discuss manufacturing trends in the U.S. high-reliability sector. With many demanding customers in the medical and military and aerospace industries, Hanson says, in his line of work, great relationships are key.

I-Connect007 EMS Asia Week: Business Picking Up

Across Asia, EMS firms are seeing brisk business this year. Wistron aims to create a medical business division and has also landed orders for two entry-level models from BlackBerry, according to reports. Pegatron expects a 10% growth in 2Q13 shipments while Netronix plans to dominate the e-book reader market.

Jabil: Q3 Revenue Increase; Finalizes Acquisition of Nypro

"We are pleased with our progress on the diversification of our business and the positive benefits it affords the company," said CEO, Mark T. Mondello. "We expect this diversification to continue during our fourth fiscal quarter as we finalize our acquisition of Nypro, which is expected to close on the 1st of July."

A Focus on Reliability and the Environment

Dr. Mark Currie, global product manager at Henkel, explains his company's focus on bringing high reliability to new solder alloys. He tells Guest Editor Dan Feinberg about a new alloy adding traditional leaded solder reliability to new lead-free solders.

Your Company Website: From Necessary Evil to Money Maker

Many companies need an extreme website re-think. The website is the hub of a company's social media and a website is where a company can generate sales leads. Bruce Johnston offers four simple tasks that will change your website from an afterthought to a lead-generating, money-making machine.

Electronics Design and Manufacturing in Laymen's Terms

Explaining electronics in a few words is nearly impossible. Controlled management of electrical currents or voltage is virtually always the foundation. The execution usually entails assembly of electronic components, which together are to ensure the requested functionality.

Surface Tension and Load-Carrying Capacities of Solder

Manufacturers rely heavily on the load-carrying capacity of molten solder millions of times a day. An in-depth knowledge of surface tension values makes it possible to confirm which components are compatible with an upside-down soldering process. This article reveals the processes, and results, used to determine the surface tension values of various solders.

Minimizing Voiding in QFN Packages Using Solder Preforms

QFNs can be a challenge to assemble, but the addition of a solder preform can reduce the problem by increasing the solder volume of the joint--all without adding flux volume. This paper will quantify the preform requirements and process adjustments needed to use preforms in a standard SMT process and offer experimental data showing void reduction using preforms.

SACM: Better Drop Test Performance by Indium

Indium's Global Product Manager Tim Jensen joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discusses SACM, a solder alloy that features better drop shock resistance than SAC105 and thermal cycle performance that's similar to SAC305.

How Many LinkedIn Connections Should You Have?

Bruce Johnston explains the pros and cons of having a large LinkedIn network compared to a smaller one.

Rehm's Thermal Systems: Not Just Hot Air

Chief Customer Officer Michael Hanke of Rehm Thermal Systems points out the challenges of conventional reflow ovens and explains how convection plus condensation features deliver superior performance to Rehm's global customer base.

Proper Documentation Demands Dummy-Proof Instructions

Why is proper documentation such a big deal? At the beginning of a project, a wide difference in meanings may exist between the OEM customer and manufacturing provider in virtually all aspects of PCB design, fabrication, and assembly. As columnist Zulki Khan explains, clear and specific documentation can remove all doubt.

Inclusion Voiding in Gull Wing Solder Joints

While solder voiding in BGA solder joints has been extensively investigated and characterized, solder voiding phenomena in other SMT soldering configurations and their reliability impact have not been as clearly identified. Authors from IBM define and examine voids encountered in gull wing solder joint geometries.

Get 37 Pieces of Social Media Content from One Story

How on earth can you find enough content to satisfy your followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+? Bruce Johnston says it's easier than you might think.

Trainers See Encouraging Trend

Sharon Montana-Beard, vice president of sales and operations for Blackfox, sees encouraging signs of growth in demand for the specialist training and certification services her organization provides.

DEK Solar Celebrates New Suzhou Technology Centre

Designed to support the advanced solar development efforts of its customers, as well as DEK Solar technology and process innovation, the new facility is equipped with three solar cell metallization lines, metrology analysis tools for cell testing, and a highly-talented team of process development engineers, sales professionals, and service experts.

Process Preparation Updated in Valor MSS

Mark Laing, product marketing manager for the Valor Division of Mentor Graphics, details the updated process preparation features in the Valor MSS suite. The newest updates can help companies save serious time and money by combining a variety of disparate tasks.

Reshoring America: Is it a Myth?

Mike Carano, OMG Electronic Chemicals; Yash Sutariya, Saturn Flex Systems; and Roland Valentini, Gardien Group sit down to discuss several pivotal questions concerning reshoring in the U.S. and share their strong opinions on the possibility of manufacturing returning this country.

Evolutionary Solutions: Why Reshore?

Bringing manufacturing, and jobs, back to the U.S. significantly impacts the nation's economic future and many industry leaders are taking on this initiative for the benefit of the nation. No matter which side of the fence you're on, there is benefit to considering important factors to ensure end-customer services and cost management.

TechSpray Provides a "Green" Clean

Kevin Pawlowski, senior product manager at Techspray, joins Guest Editor Joe Fjelstad to describe products and services that enable the environmentally-friendly cleaning of PCB assemblies. Pawlowski also introduces a new fast-curing, temporary, and easily removable soldermask for blocking solder from board features which are desirably left unfilled.

The Importance of Thermal Management in Assembly

KIC President Bjorn Dahle joins Guest Editor Stuart Hayton to discuss the innovative solutions his company has brought to the assembly process, with at energy savings of at least 15%.

Comprehensive Stencil Solutions from Photo Stencil

Photo Stencil's Vice President of Sales and Marketing Rachel Miller-Short discusses her company's new Smart-Release™ nanolayer stencil coating with Guest Editor Kelly Dack. She also explains various stencil types and how to decide which type of stencil is best for the job at hand.

Conformal Coating Material Challenges in Electronics Processing

Conformal coating materials generally do not cause problems when applied correctly and no compatibility issues exist. In fact, most coatings do a great job of protecting a PCB if the rules are followed. The difficulties come when the coating is expected to work beyond its boundaries or we fail to understand application techniques and their limitations.

Social Media: Three Resulting Trends in B2B Purchasing

Social media is great for sales people, but smart customers are figuring out how to use it too. This week, Bruce Johnston explains three ways that social media is putting tools in the customer’s tool belt.

Stadium's Inskip Reflects on a Century of Innovation

The Stadium Group of the 21st Century has come a long way from its origins and with recent strategic purchases it has become a leading provider of integrated electronic technologies to the global electronics market.

AdoptSMT's Hofmann on Europe's Expanding Equipment After-market

Guest Editor Dick Crowe joins Erhard Hofmann, managing director at AdoptSMT Europe GmbH, to learn more about the distribution of after-market parts and consumables, along with pre-owned equipment, in Europe and the Americas.

Aegis Focuses on Chinese Market with FactoryLogix Release

Aegis' Karsten Schluter, managing director, Asia, presents FactoryLogix, a software system designed to meet customers' needs, at NEPCON China 2013. Combined with diplan, it's a great way to enhance the company's service and products.

Digicom: A Contract Manufacturer with a Unique Twist

Mo Ohady, general manager of Digicom Electronics, joins Guest Editor Judy Warner to discuss his company's new facility and its unique abilities and services offered to the academic community.

JOT Automation Sees Rise in China's Mobile Sector

Jot Automation, in 12 years of doing business in the region, is starting to see a rise in automation in China as operator wages rise. General Manager Matti Leirimaa explains what the industry can expect from his company, especially in the mobile sector, in the next year.

The Essential Pioneers' Survival Guide: The Opportunity to be Agile

Since beginning life as MRP technology in the 1970s, the traditional distribution chain has become an antique. The world has evolved with Internet technology replacing traditional points of sale. Many electronic products have also become fashionable. Such changes have completely altered the demand patterns that MRP and ERP logic were designed to manage.

Environmental Testing Drives High-Reliability Electronics

Robert Nelson, VP and GM for Cincinnati Sub-Zero (CSZ), talks about the importance of environmental testing in the manufacture and development of high-reliability electronic products. Not just for OEMs, environmental testing helps manufacturers dial in their processes and gain a competitive advantage.

Want Customers Calling You? Smart Salespeople Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn should be part of your sales strategy--it's the place where customers and prospective customers go to exchange ideas and discuss problems. Salespeople who really understand how to use LinkedIn have potential customers cold calling them.

AdoptSMT on Adapting to Chinese Suppliers

Erhard Hofmann, managing director at AdoptSMT Europe GmbH, chats about the type of business his company conducts in China, mainly the buying and reselling of spare parts and equipment. Hofmann also discusses the biggest benefits and differences he finds when doing business in Asia versus Europe.

The Way Forward for PC, Tablet Markets

PCs, tablets and smartphones are vying for market share. Experts from Intel, Microsoft, and Lenovo will address business and technical issues at IPC ESTC later this month.

WKK's El-Abd Demonstrates Waterproof Electronics Coating

WKK President and Executive Director Hamed El-Abd demonstrates to Guest Editor David Yang a new waterproof coating that can protect electronic devices--even when left for hours submerged in water and even alcohol.

In Pursuit of the Perfect Cover Tape

A high-performing cover tape must strike a balance between adhesion strength and smooth de-taping. The adhesive must be strong enough to prevent delamination and the minimum risk of components spilling out of the carrier. On the other hand, it must be removed easily enough to minimize vibration-induced chip mis-picks.

Stencil Printing of Small Apertures

Dr. William Coleman examines stencil technologies and aperture wall coatings to determine how these parameters influence paste transfer for miniature devices with area ratios less than the standard recommended lower limit of 0.5. A matrix of print tests are utilized to compare paste transfer and measure the effectiveness of the different stencil configurations.

Low Surface Energy Coatings Rewrite Area Ratio Rules

The need for denser and more compact devices is intensifying--a fact well known to the SMT industry. The authors of this paper focus on the relevant attributes affecting the properties of solder paste release and introduce the effects of surface free energy with respect to key elements making up the stencil printing process.

11 Steps to Writing Sales-boosting Content

Content is the heart of any social media program; content in all it’s forms--posts, papers, status updates, webinars, and videos--is a showcase for a company's knowledge of the industry and the problems customers face.

TFI: How Small EMS Companies Benefit from "Green"

Owners of small electronics manufacturers are already courageous, providing big-company manufacturing quality with minimal equipment and personnel. So when Tier IV contract manufacturers whose success owes, in part, to their sustainability initiatives, they are double heroes in TFI's book.

SMT Trends & Technologies: Miniaturization Little by Little

When will the miniaturization trend end? Perhaps the end will come when we can no longer see the components. On one hand, ICs are squeezing more patterns into a nanometer--something that we certainly can't see; on the other, surface-mounted components are becoming smaller and smaller.

Package-under-Package: A 2D Option with 3D Benefits

The 3D interconnection of electronic devices continues to hold sway over the minds and imaginations of electronic product developers. It offers a means for addressing the challenge presented by the electronic industry's desire to pack more function in to the same, or lesser, amount of space.

John Perrotta on High-Mix Placement Capabilities

John Perrotta, vice president of Europlacer, North America, describes to Guest Editor Kelly Dack how his company's machinery offers a wide range of unique placement solutions ranging from 01005 component specs to massive, four-inch challenges.

B2B Companies Using Social Media Make More Money

This week, Bruce Johnston takes a look at research results and trends that show the positive impact social media use is having for many companies. He says, "If your company doesn't use social media, don't read this week--you'll just get depressed."

Air Products Unveils Electron Activation Process

Dr. Christine Dong, lead research scientist at Air Products, describes a novel electron activation technology, which obviates the need for the use of flux during the assembly of fine-pitch wafer-level and flip-chip devices, and the new class of 2.5D interposer solutions on the rise.

JTAG President: Growth in China Fuels New Products

Peter van den Eijnden, president of JTAG Technologies, a company based in the Netherlands, discusses the many changes he's seen in his 15+ years of doing business in China. The growth in the Chinese domestic market has sparked an expanded need for testing, fueling a line of JTAG products.

Parylene Versus Acrylic Conformal Coatings

Parylene and acrylic resins are both conformal coatings, but the similarities end there. Acrylic conformal coatings can be applied four ways: Via spray, dip, brush, or robotics. Parylene coatings, meanwhile, are applied through a vapor deposition process onto the substrate or material being coated. Sean Horn details these differences and more.

Selecting a Subcontract Conformal Coating House

Subcontracting your conformal coating process isn't difficult if you quality, turnaround time, and price are carefully considered and researched. If all three areas can be achieved successfully with the chosen subcontract coating house you will be happy. If even one factor is ignored, it may be a less pleasant situation.

Skilled Workforce, Quality Equipment Key to Contractor Success

A contract manufacturer can have the best equipment in the world, but the key to quality manufacturing is a highly-skilled team. Lightspeed Manufacturing President Rich "Bro" Breault sits down with Guest Editor Kelly Dack to explain how his company accommodates the manufacturing and repair needs of the industry.

Evolving Technologies in Nanomaterials

Semblant's Senior Vice President of Customer Service Greg Thomas joins Dr. Alan Rae, CEO of NanoMaterials Innovation Center, and John Andresakis, vice president of strategic technology of Oak-Mitsui Technologies, to explore advancements in nanomaterials and how they will impact the industry.

How to Attract Followers Via Social Media

This week, Bruce Johnston offers five guidelines to help attract a following on any social media network.

AREA Consortium Update with Dr. Martin Anselm

Dr. Martin Anselm is manager of Universal Instruments' AREA Consortium, which conducts research into materials, processes, and reliability for its member companies, which now number over 30. He joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss the group's ongoing research and developing trends.

Technology Roadmap Revolves Around Collaboration

IPC Director of Technology Transfer Marc Carter joins Editor Ray Rasmussen to discuss IPC's plans to streamline roadmapping efforts through collaboration and cooperation with industry groups, including iNEMI, ITRS, Prismark LLC, JPCA, JISSO, and TPCA. To join the roadmapping effort, those interested should e-mail Carter at

Sharon Starr on New IPC Research Initiatives

Guest Editor Stuart Hayton sits down with IPC Director of Market Research Sharon Starr to learn more details about the organizations new research initiatives now available by subscription.

Hybrids Present Technical, Business Challenges

Sanmina NPI Manager Brian Nelson explains the issues his company and customers face when dealing with hybrid PCBs manufactured with various laminates. Hybrids are becoming more mainstream, but each new combination of materials is an entirely new entity that must be tested and certified.

Overwhelmed by Social Media? Read This

Social media is like a big party with hundreds of people in attendance. At that party, there may be 100 conversations going on at once, but you can't be involved in all of them; you wouldn't want to be. What you want to do is to find the conversations right for you or to start one of your own.

Zulki's PCB Nuggets: FAI - An Ounce of Prevention, Worth a Pound of Cure

Shrinking PCB real estate, ultra-fine-pitch devices, package-on-package technologies, thinner boards, and the recent adoption of challenging device packaging give the use of first article inspection greater importance.

Traceability Benefits Customer and Manufacturer

Scott Fillebrown, chief executive officer of Texas-based EMS provider ACD, explains the benefits of using a traceability system. The Cogiscan system has helped him identify bad components and potential bottlenecks in his company's processes.

Throughput Versus Wet-Out Area Study for PoP Underfill Dispensing

The use of package-on-package during assembly helps save space on a board, but, to insure reliability, underfill is required. This paper discusses the relationship between the wet-out area of the underfill reservoir and production time for the entire process.

Embracing Transparency: How Flextronics Addresses Social and Environmental Responsibility

Innovation in today's industry continues to be the driving force behind most successful companies. By taking this concept and applying it to corporate social and environmental responsibility, Flextronics has established a foundation for a more sustainable business model.

Manufacturing on the Move Back to the U.S.

Michele Nash-Hoff, president of ElectroFab Sales and author of several books on manufacturing, has been following the offshoring and onshoring of manufacturing jobs for years. She believes many companies simply jumped the gun and moved work to Asia without researching whether or not the move made good business sense.

Legislative & Regulatory Product-Related Environmental Policy Developments to Watch

The many international, federal, and state environmental requirements placed on the electronics industry can make compliance no easy task. Designed to provide a status report of these requirements, former IPC Director of Government Relations Holly Evans details what every manufacturer should know.

U.S. to Ease Restrictions on PCB Exports & Related Technology

With changes coming to restrictions on exports in the industry, Corey Norton, an international trade attorney, outlines updates to ITAR, EAR, the U.S. Munitions List, and more. The goal of these revisions is to create a control list of specific items with real inherent military significance.

IPC's Fern Abrams: Environmental Concerns & Export Issues

Fern Abrams, IPC's director of government relations and environmental policy, joins Guest Editor Dick Crowe to inform viewers about major developments and concerns in conflict materials, environmental issues, and export regulations.

Seven Ways Social Media is Changing Sales

Cold calling is for dinosaurs. Sales people are now make "warm calls." Every prospective customer’s company and the contacts at those companies can be reviewed using Google search, websites, and social media.

The Essential Pioneer's Survival Guide: Breaking Down Management Silos

Every day the silos of management appear to work together on the shop floor, but things are not always harmonious. To understand the reasons why, Michael Ford considers a typical problem that can occur on a dysfunctional shop floor and describes the hazards of the "blame game."

Conformal Coating Inspection: What Do You See?

Dr. Lee Hitchens takes a look at conformal coating standards, what they actually mean, what you can achieve with new automated conformal coating inspection technology, and what must be considered to ensure a reliable inspection process.

Environmentally-Responsible Defluxing

Cleaning is on the rise and today it is possible to improve assembly reliability via cleaning--all while maintaining an environmentally-friendly configuration. Michael Konrad explains how it is possible today to increase assembly reliability through cleaning while maintaining an environmentally-responsible configuration. No longer does one have to exchange one problem for another.

Cleaning Solutions for Manufacturing

In this video interview, industry expert Ed Kanegsberg, vice president of BFK Solutions, joins Guest Editor Dick Crowe of Burkle N.A. to discuss the necessity of cleaning prior to manufacturing.

Zulki's PCB Nuggets: The Intricacies of RF Design & Assembly

RF design in the past was nearly an impossible task for engineers, the know-how and technology were simply nonexistent. Now, with demand for such design growing at an incredible pace and the technology needed readily available, the PCB designer and assembly engineer should fully understand how to deal with RF intricacies.

Material Suppliers' Perspectives on SMT Assembly

Guest Editor Dr. Jennie S. Hwang joins Heraeus' Sales Director Vincenzo Longobardo and his service and distribution partner Frank Medina, president and CEO of Technica USA, to discuss the market dynamics, manufacturing, and technology of assembly materials.

High Reliability and Low Variability Results with Benchtop PCB Cleaning

With the rise of new cleaning standards, some are beginning to question once standard cleaning methods. While there are obvious pros of aerosol cleaning, questions remain as to whether this method can consistently and reliably clean a board. Lindsey Shehan examines the role different variables play in aerosol cleaning and offers guidelines to improve the process.

SMT Trends & Technologies: If You're Going to Do It, Do It Right

The two major causes of defects are poor solder printing, estimated to cause over 50 to 70% of equipment defects, and pick-and-place errors, which cause the rest. Developing a process to detect defects early means an incredible savings opportunity that manufacturers can’t afford to ignore.

Hunter Takes New Approach to IPC APEX EXPO

Hunter Technology President Joe O'Neil has been attending IPC APEX EXPO for years. He tells Editor Andy Shaughnessy that, for 2013, he decided to approach the show differently by sending a variety of staff, including process engineers, and meeting with customers.

Any Mix, Any Volume...Any Questions?

President of Panasonic's Factory Solutions Company of America Faisal Pandit joins Guest Editor Kelly Dack to explain how his company's AM100 SMT any mix/any volume assembly platform expands with any customer.

The Right Oven for the Job

Guest Editor Stuart Hayton joins Peter Tallian, COO of BTU, and Jim Griffin, vice president sales and marketing, and learns that many factors must be considered when purchasing an oven for electronics manufacture. BTU's new addition, the Dynamo, brings a low-cost solution to the market--complementing the company's Pyramax range.

Bob Willis Announces Package-on-Package Book

Internationally renowned and respected electronic soldering technology expert and instructor Bob Willis joins Guest Editor Joe Fjelstad to discuss his work and publications, including his most recent book, "Package on Package (PoP) Assembly Inspection and Quality Control."

Surface Chemistry Improves Printing Efficiency

Aculon, Inc.'s Director of R&D Eric Hanson describes to Technical Editor Pete Starkey how self-assembled monolayer nanotechnology can improve the performance of solder paste stencils.

Modern Cleaning Challenges in Post Reflow Applications

Kyzen CTO Dr. Mike Bixenman discusses modern challenges in post-reflow cleaning/defluxing applications. Low stand-off heights, increased reflow temperatures, and increased assembly densities contribute to the challenges faced when cleaning assemblies. Dr. Bixenman also addresses cleaning standards and challenges associated with a lack of clearly defined standards.

The Impact of Lead-Free on Reliability and Cost

Happy Holden, director of electronics technologies and innovation at GENTEX; Dr. Ron Lasky, senior technologist at Indium; and Ventec USA Technical Manager Bruce MacDonald examine the current state of affairs with lead-free and what it means for the industry, including mission-critical military electronics.

Valor MSS: The Solution for Agility

Michael Ford, marketing development manager for Mentor Graphics, updates us on the Valor MSS suite. He explains to Guest Editor Andy Shaughnessy how this manufacturing system has been growing and evolving to meet the needs of Mentor's customers.

Latest Developments in Conformal Coating from Semblant

Semblant CEO Steve Lowder brings Guest Editor Pete Starkey up to date with the latest developments in conformal coating, with examples of electronics running under water, under alcohol, under margaritas...

Comparing Conformal Coatings

Conformal coatings are used for a variety of reasons, but which is the better coating? With an in-depth look at the pros and cons of each, Diamond MT's Sean Horn addresses the use of three coatings: Silicone, urethane, and paraxylene. Which is best? Read on to find out.

Aqueous: Never to be Featured on "Dirty Jobs"

If you believe cleaning board assemblies is as easy as loading a dishwasher and pressing the start button, you've got a lot to learn! Mike Konrad, president and CEO of Aqueous Technologies Corporation, discusses how PCB board assemblies are cleaned in ways previously unknown. Have they coined a new "DF" acronym, DFC? Tune in and find out.

Selective Soldering: The Solution for Geospace Technologies

Bryan Steffen, SMT manager & process engineer, faced a challenge: Demand for his company's products was increasing exponentially, yet new products were being introduced. Learn how he increased productivity without sacrificing quality, extending delivery times, or increasing cost.

ApexFA: Automating Solder Paste Placement, Speeding Changeover

William Crist, Apex Factory Automation's national sales manager, joins Guest Editor Susan Mucha on the IPC APEX EXPO show floor to discuss how his company's turnkey SMT placement line solution automates solder paste measurement, speeds changeover, and supports placement of smaller components.

Cleaning Roundtable: Definitions, Best Practices, and Cost

Mike Konrad, Aqueous Technologies; Eric Camden, Foresite; Barbara "The Cleaning Lady" Kanegsberg, BFK Solutions; and Umut Tosun, ZESTRON weigh in on what best cleaning practices entail, the definition of "clean enough," and the cost of cleaning during an energetic roundtable discussion.

SMT Trends & Technologies: You Are Discharged

Hearing the phrase, "You are discharged," is great when leaving the hospital, but for manufacturers the phrase has a completely different meaning. With newer technologies leading to smaller circuits and components, ESD failures have become an even greater concern. Eric Klaver offers tips and solutions to the problem.

Europlacer Responds to BAE Systems' Call for Help

A strong partnership proved its value after the Susquehanna River flooded BAE Systems' Johnson City, New York facility in 2011. Chris Round tells the story of how two companies worked together to overcome a devastating situation.

Dr. Ron Lasky's Lead-Free Check-up Results

It's been six years since the implementation of the lead-free initiative and Dr. Ron Lasky, Indium Corporation's senior technologist, joins Guest Editor Kelly Dack to examine three basic issues that determine the health of the consumer and PCB industry after going lead free.

Choosing Between Turnkey & Consignment Manufacturing

Making the decision to outsource can be difficult for many in the industry. George Henning explains, compares, and evaluates consignment and turnkey manufacturing to help small- to mid-sized companies select the electronics manufacturing outsourcing strategy that best fits their needs.

Global Company, Local Advantage

How do you balance geographic locations of various team members for optimal customer support, performance, and cost efficiency? Daniel Pfeifer, global R&D manager for ESCATEC, has created three distinct groups, split by level of customer interaction and distance to customer, for a customized solution.

Choosing a Low-Cost Alternative to Sac Alloys for PCB Assembly

How much do subtle variations in alloy composition affect the performance and process requirements of PCB assembly? This paper from Brook Sandy and Ron Lasky, Ph.D. compares alternative lead-free alloys to SAC305 to determine if existing processes should be modified.

The Nine Worst Social Media Blunders by PCB Manufacturers in 2012

This week, Bruce Johnston continues with his "low-lites," examples of things some PCB manufacturers are doing that are, just...well, you'll see. He gives out awards for the worst practices in social media in 2012.

Impact of E-commerce on the Component Supply Chain

E-commerce is definitely gaining momentum. Some industry sources state that nearly half of all sales are coming from e-commerce platforms, an indication that the electronics component industry is embracing its future.

Plasma Polymerization: A Versatile and Attractive Process for Conformal Coating

This paper discusses the plasma coating process and the equipment used. The application of this type of coating to electronic assemblies and high-frequency RF applications, and the results of tests to demonstrate the protection offered by these coatings, is also addressed.

What's Really Wrong with Corporate America?

In today's marketplace, a company must provide or add value to acquire a place in the global supply chain of goods and services. Michele Nash-Hoff discusses a book that guides companies in ways to design or redesign their organization for the sake of others. The book is "a guidebook on how a private or public company can achieve its true purpose in the world."

Preventing Lead-free SMT Soldering Defects

The lead-free process differs from a 63/37 process in many ways. A good understanding of these differences when using SAC alloys enables process engineers to incorporate the necessary changes to the process to reduce soldering defects, increase reliability, and maintain production yields.

The Worst PCB Manufacturers According to Social Media

This week, Bruce Johnston has compiled a few "low-lites," examples of things some PCB manufacturers are doing that are, just...well, you'll see. He gives out awards for the worst practices in social media in 2012.

PCB Surface Finish Receives High Marks from HKPC

This article highlights third-party testing conducted on PCB surface finishes for reliability and ability to enhance corrosion protection. Several tests were performed comparing various degrees of harshness, including a standardized test from IPC. One finish outscored them all.

Social Media and Thought Leadership, Part II

As a thought leader in your industry, you give away valuable information in your area of expertise and ask for nothing in return. In doing so, says Bruce Johnston, you wind up getting some amazing things in return.

Inside Flextronics SBS: Serving OEMs Large and Small

Last week, Editor Andy Shaughnessy attended the "Inside Flextronics SBS Manufacturing Forum" at the company's facility in Columbia, South Carolina. The first thing visitors noticed was the lack of PCB assembly. Instead, Flextronics SBS offers NPI solutions for OEMs of all sizes.

Outlook for European Electronics Industry Downgraded on Back of Weakening Economy

The outlook for European electronics production has been revised and experts expect output to decline by 2.9% for the year as a whole to Euro 199.2 billion. Reed Electronics Research's Andrew Fletcher, who has tracked developments in the European and global electronics industry since 1973, delves into the data behind the forecast.

The Year that Was

Paul Blom, executive vice president, operations, at SMTC, details the big EMS trends of 2012. He tells I-Connect007's Richard Ayes how these trends, including environmental compliance, onshoring, and labor issues, will impact the industry in 2013. Blom sees cost and technology transfers and technology deployment as challenges to address.

VOC-free Flux Study: Not All WOAs Are the Same

The purpose of this study from AIM's Karl Seelig is to explain factors relating to the use of a VOC-free flux in the soldering process and their impact on testing and reliability. Additional considerations include wetting and organic solvent characteristics, a flux's collapsing foam head, issues related to corrosivity, shelf life, manufacturability, handling, and storage.

Social Media and Thought Leadership

People want to know what you think; you have an informed opinion. This is how you establish credibility with your audience and it costs you nothing. It shows you are thinking beyond your company's day-to-day needs.

Remaining Competitive in Today's Market

OEMs are required to get new electronics products to market faster all while continuing to improve profit margins. Innovation must occur, with the end game in mind, throughout every step of the process, from design to production to logistics to supply chain management and beyond. Flextronics' Mike McNamara explains how a great EMS provider can help.

How to Select a Conformal Coating Material

Choosing a conformal coating material is a complicated and involved process usually balancing a number of trade-offs and compromises. There's no such thing as a universally applicable conformal coating. Dr. Lee Hitchens offers a list questions to ask yourself and your suppliers to shortlist suitable materials.

GIA: State of the EMS Industry

Although the industry originated in North America, Asia has emerged as the dominant force in the market. Latin America and Eastern Europe represent other strategic locations. Shifting of manufacturing facilities by major firms, from Western Europe and North America to low-cost regions such as Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, is offering lucrative opportunities.

Nano Coating Helps Control Stencil Release

Carmina Lantzsch, manager of technical support for LaserJob GmbH, joins Guest Editor Kelly Dack to describe her company's work in developing a proprietary nano coating that aids the stencil release process.

Out of the Box Manufacturing: A Talk with CEO Budvarson

Dan Beaulieu sits down with Chad Budvarson, founder and CEO of Out of the Box Manufacturing, to get the low down on his company, how it began, and why the company is so special.

Tell Your Statistics to Shut Up: Social Media in 2013

You can, as Charlie Brown famously told Lucy, "tell your statistics to shut up," but that won't make social media go away. With that in mind, Bruce Johnston offers a few social media statistics to chew on as we begin 2013.

Overcoming Challenges & Risk: A Snapshot of the EMS Market in 2012

Research from Frost & Sullivan suggests that the EMS market should continue a transition from specialization in high-volume production in traditional markets to low- to mid-volume manufacturing specialization in niche markets such as industrial, aerospace and defense, and medical.

The Essential Pioneer's Survival Guide: Is Your Brand Worth Protecting?

Customer satisfaction is crucial to a brand and customer complaints can ruin a company's good image in as little as 140 characters on Twitter. Protect your brand by finding defects in the process long before a product reaches the customer.

IMI: Ever on a Note of Hope

For the last two decades, IMI has ridden out gloom-doom-and-boom cycles as well as the next guy, making sure to heed lessons both in good times and in bad. IMI CEO Arthur Tan recounts his experiences riding out difficult times and explains how the company maintains its cautious optimism in the short- and medium-term.

Henkel's Brian Toleno on Enhancing Board Reliability

Director of Global Product Management for Underfills and Encapsulants Dr. Brian Toleno joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discusses his recent underfill work with the goal of enhancing reliability for boards featuring tighter real estate.

SMT Trends & Technologies: Power to the People

The current energy revolution will have a large impact on how power grids are designed and operated. This translates to changes in the manufacture of circuit boards used in the industry. Handling such a wide component range on a single SMD pick-and-place system can cause problems, but Sjef van Gastel helps you learn how to avoid them.

Outlook for the EMS Market: Current Trends and Perspectives

As competition intensifies, EMS providers will be hard pressed to diversify their services portfolio and offer a complete solution package. As a result, an increasing focus will be placed on diversification into design and aftermarket services.

Large Area Electronics: Addressing the Applications Challenge

Professor Martin Goosey reports on The Cambridge Integrated Knowledge Centre's large area electronics event. The event addressed the opportunities and challenges for new, low-temperature manufacturing techniques in photonics and electronics transitioning from the laboratory to the marketplace. Discussions included a PCB design based on FR-4 substrates with optical layers sequentially built onto the bottom layer.

Zulki's PCB Nuggets: Critical Aspects of a Thermal Profile

The thermal profile is one of the most important yet constantly changing elements in the assembly process. Unfortunately, a belief still exists in our industry that one size fits all when it comes to the thermal profile. For the sake of our OEMs and their products, we must remember that all thermal profiles are not created equal.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT Columns of 2012

More than a dozen columnists regularly contribute to SMTOnline and SMT Magazine and cover the latest in industry developments, controversies, and events. You've come to rely on their insight and opinions--apparently, you really, really enjoy reading columns from Bruce Johnston! Here's our list of the most-read columns of the past year.

EMS of the Future

The recent growth of the EMS industry is driven by a strong demand for smartphones and notebooks/tablets, as well as recovery of spending for capital equipment in the industrial and transportation sectors, specifically, automotive and semiconductors. Author Randall Sherman dives into details of the recovery and forecasts the years to come.

Before and After Reflow Characterization of FCBGA Voiding

Flextronics and North Star Imaging are working together to correlate current X-ray imaging and cross-section analysis of BGA voiding with high-resolution CT scan imaging. The group hopes to validate void measurements obtained from non-destructive imaging techniques with physically measured void measurements of cross-sectioning and to characterize void properties before and after reflow.

An Inside Look: 6th International Symposium on Tin Whiskers

Professor Martin Goosey, IeMRC Industrial Director, recently attended the symposium hosted by Loughborough University's Henry Ford College in the UK. He gives a detailed breakdown of the many informative presentations given by the best in the industry concerning the formation and prevention of tin whiskers.

SMT Trends & Technologies: Journey to the Center of the PCB

With 01005 components finding their way onto PCBs, what's next? Even smaller components? Passive manufacturers are indeed looking at 0050025 components along with many more possibilities including wafer-level packaging and imprinting into PCBs. For components, the next step is already here: Embedded components.

EMS Role & Future in Design Services: When Strategy is Successful

The EMS market continues to become highly competitive and profit margins are diminishing. As a result, EMS providers have narrowed their sights on building value-add services such as design services. For successful EMS providers, design services can be one of the most rewarding revenue generators and differentiators.

Semblant Aims for European, American Markets

Semblant recently launched two new plasma systems for the European and American markets. Company CEO Steven Lowder joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to provide details about the SPF 1000 and SPF 1500, as well as the company's plans for the future.

Enhancing Switch Performance: Pushing the Boundaries with Contact Lubricants

Contact lubricants can extend the life of switches by more than 300%, enhancing performance in a variety of applications and preventing the need for expensive maintenance. So, how can you ensure correct product selection? Many practical considerations must first be taken into account. Jade Bridges explains.

Effect of Cooling Rate on the Intermetallic Layer in Solder Joints

In this paper the authors report a study of the effect of cooling rates on Cu6Sn5 crystals. Cooling rates from 200°C ranged from 10°C/minute to 100°C/minute and the effect of isothermal ageing at intermediate temperatures was also studied. The extent of the phase transformation after each regime was determined using synchrotron X-ray diffraction.

The Green Challenge

Brian Morrison, engineering manager at SMTC Corporation, notes that a number of manufacturers are still not fully complying with the green regulations primarily due to issues with system management, data integrity, and declaration management.

Green Manufacturing and Resiliency

What is resilience? How does it relate to manufacturing and, in particular, green and sustainable manufacturing? Professor David Dornfeld, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, defines the term and details its importance to the manufacturing supply chain.

ECPE Integrated Power Boards Workshop a Success

While the U.S. was celebrating Thanksgiving, the European Center for Power Electronics (ECPE) hosted a workshop for 80+ participants from Europe and the U.S. on the challenges of designing and implementing high-power circuit assemblies and held in Rsjiwjik, Netherlands. Joe Fjelstad reports.

The Right Stencil for the Job

Bill Kunkle, manager of stencil technology for Metal Etching Technology (MET), joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss the challenges facing his customers and his company's drive to meet those concerns.

The RoHS Recast: Are You Ready?

A new RoHS Directive goes into effect January 2, 2013, and companies have until that date to purge all products of any noncompliant materials. The Recast doesn’t change the original RoHS Directive’s restrictions, but, in fact, significantly enlarges the law’s product scope and completely transforms its compliance requirements. Are you ready?

Facts About HCFC-225 Usage Ban In 2015

The timeline for phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) was created in 1997, per the Montreal Amendment. To meet the 90% total reduction requirement for all HCFCs by 2015, this phase-out is now underway. Techspray's Lindsey Shehan explains.

Tropical Stencil: A Creative Business Model

Bob McGlynn, owner of Tropical Stencil in Jupiter, Florida, explains his company's business model: Part board rep, part stencil provider. McGlynn began as a board rep and continued that work even after he acquired the company.

New Invensas Package: Smaller, Faster, Cheaper

Veteran technologist Vern Solberg, now a consultant with Invensas, a subsidiary of Tessera, joins editor Andy Shaughnessy to discusses a paper he delivered detailing the company's new package technology that is faster, smaller, and cheaper than other options.

Mentor Focuses on Failure Analysis With FMEA

Bernard Sutton, product marketing manager with Mentor Graphics, details the paper he presented on failure mode effects analysis (FMEA) at SMTAI 2012. The paper covers his company' efforts to make failure analysis information available to everyone in the product development chain, from design through final assembly.

Dispensing: A Fluid Situation

Well known for its pick-and-place systems, Essemtec also offers a variety of dispensing solutions. Steve Pollock joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss his company's newest dispenser, which can cut dispensing time by half.

Onshoring and Nearshoring with SigmaTron

Guest Editor Susan Mucha and SigmaTron Vice President of Sales Curtis Campbell discuss his company's SMTAI 2012 paper and the trend for onshoring back to the U.S. and "nearshoring" to Mexico. Campbell explains that SigmaTron's Mexican operations are seeing a steady increase in business.

Boundary-Scan Testing: JTAG GM Peter van den Eijnden Introduces the Latest Tools

Recent hardware and software solutions allowing engineers to harness the boundary-scan already embedded in their existing designs have developed at quite a pace. The technology has pushed further into the development space with low-cost and free debug tools. The technology is now available to even the most modest of electronic engineering departments.

Ionic Cleanliness Testing: Ultimate Process Optimization Tool

If you want to know how robust your product is before it goes into the field, you need to know how clean it is. If it isn’t as clean as it should be, there’s a problem upstream in the manufacturing process that needs correction.

Training Center Built on Government, Industry Teamwork

Chris Mather, director of enterprise development at Lorain County Community College, discusses the school's Richard Desich SMART Commercialization Center for Microsystems. This state-of-the-art assembly facility is available for use by students and private industry, and Mather hopes it will serve as a model for other colleges around the country.

diplan Acquisition Enhances Aegis Technology's Offerings

In addition to the technologies that diplan brings to Aegis's product line, the acquisition also greatly accelerates expansion into Europe and Asia--complementing Aegis' presence in North America, and established presence in the UK, Scandinavia, and Benelux.

Maintaining OSP Coating Integrity During the Cleaning Process

OSP is a reliable surface finish method, but care must be taken during the SMT process to minimize surface thickness degradation, particularly due to reflow and cleaning. The results of this study detail the effect of chemically-assisted cleaning on OSP film thickness.

Cleaning and Contamination With Bob Willis

For years, most didn't worry about cleaning, but that's changed with the increasing component densities. Bob Willis joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss a program on cleaning and contamination he'll be conducting at IPC APEX EXPO 2013.

Printing Up Print Data at Indium

Brook Sandy-Smith is a chemical engineer at Indium, but she's also a writer. She discusses a booklet she's written that presents print data in a user-friendly format for use by engineers. Indium seems to bring out the inner writer in its employees: Just ask bloggers Ron Lasky and Rick Short.

Blackfox Delivers Benefits of Custom Solder Training

"It began with classroom theory, presentations, demonstrations on fasteners and soldering, and then switched to one-on-one training. Employees received feedback on their individual soldering performance," said Dan Watson, Olympus NDT quality engineer, of the five-day, on-site training program performed by Blackfox Training Institute.

EPTAC Takes on Counterfeit Training

Director of Business Development Brian Downes joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to detail his company's collaboration with IDEA. EPTAC will provide the IDEA Counterfeit Mitigation and Inspection Training Course.

Selecting the Right Potting Compound for Your Application

Many questions arise when trying to select an appropriate potting compound. An experienced materials expert can help identify the primary concerns, recommend materials, provide testing of the materials, and offer information on dielectric strength, adhesive characteristics, thermal conductivity, and more, through the testing process.

The Continued Evolution of JTAG Test Solutions

Board test technology is witnessing what could be the most dramatic changes since the introduction of boundary-scan in 1990. While the traditional standard, 1149.1, revolutionized the way PCBs are tested and programmed, new advancements have initiated developments and updates to both the IEEE 1149.x standards and associated proprietary test techniques.

Behind the Scenes in Solder Technology

There's a lot more to solder than the flux and the powder with which most are familiar. Leigh Gesick, president of AMTECH, joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss his company's strategy for meeting customer needs when pushing solder to the limit.

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Can Microstructure Indicate a Good Solder Joint? Part II

How does one examine solder joint microstructure? Is the microstructure important? In her latest column, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues a series that addresses the practical aspects of solder joint microstructure and what it can tell us about solder joint reliability.

Bringing USB to the PXI Test Environment

Very little has been said about combining PXI and USB products in a test system--yet USB is an extremely common interface on consumer and professional products, ubiquitous on many mobile devices. That means that USB may be a native control connection on a device that needs testing--so a test system, ideally, needs the capability of supporting USB for test.

Vapor Phase Soldering Solves Many Challenges

IBL Technologies' CEO Jochen Lipp explains why vapor phase soldering is gaining popularity in both the EMS and OEM communities. In addition to being a lower-temperature reflow solution for lead-free products, the process also minimizes voids and tombstoning and can support BGA repair and selective soldering needs.

Dr. Martin Anselm Provides AREA Consortium Update

Universal Instruments' Dr. Martin Anselm, manager of the AREA Consortium, joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss the group's projects focusing on assembly materials, processes, and reliability, and explains why this data is now more important than ever.

Ron Lasky: The Real Meaning of Productivity

Indium's Dr. Ron Lasky presented a paper at SMTA International 2012 focused on productivity. He explains to Editor Andy Shaughnessy how seemingly small issues can lead to huge losses in productivity and gives examples of assembly providers who've doubled their uptime by making a few simple changes.

IPC Symposium Focuses on Lean for Assembly Industry

"Understanding the use of lean in an electronics manufacturing environment requires insight into our industry," says Susan Filz, IPC director of industry programs. "We've brought together lean experts from major electronics manufacturing companies to present at this event because they understand the unique challenges, and opportunities, our industry faces."

Firstronic Pushes Program Management

Firstronic is a regional EMS provider that has pioneered automating program management processes through its proprietary software, ProManage. Guest Editor Susan Mucha talks with Firstronic President Rick Herndon about the paper he presented at SMTAI.

Ray Prasad: BGA Standards Update

Ray Prasad is chairman of the IPC-7095 committee, which revises and updates the standard on BGA assembly. The standard needed updating due to technological changes regarding finer-pitch BGA technology. Prasad discusses how to address technical issues related to BGAs, including pad cratering and head-in-pillow defects.

SMT Trends & Technologies: It Pays to be Frugal

Low-energy electronics manufacturing equipment helps maintain production--more production for the same energy--and also saves money. A recent comparison suggests that an average high-volume assembly plant could save nearly half a million dollars a year on energy-related costs alone, and that figure can only rise.

OKI on Business in China, Seminars, and Awards

Paul Wood, OK International's advanced product application manager, presented two papers at NEPCON South China and won the show's Best Presentation Award for his paper on micro BGA rework. Wood chats with Editor Marcy LaRont about the show, business in China, and how great seminars can lead to great equipment sales.

Fundamentals of Reflow Technology: Metallurgy of the Soldering Process, Part III

Mixing pure metals with alloying elements plays an important role in soldering technology, for instance, when lead is added to pure tin. If alloys of various compositions cool while their temperatures are continuously measured, we observe the same behavior as above, except that the temperature does not remain entirely constant. Instead, the speed at which the material cools shows a clear-cut change within a given temperature range.

State-of-the-Art in Laser Cut Stencils

Ahne Oosterhof of LPKF describes to Technical Editor Pete Starkey how laser-cutting techniques and material technology have developed and improved to enable the demands of high-precision solder paste printing to be realized.

Solder Paste Deposits and the Precision of Aperture Sizes

The quality of a stencil may be measured a number of ways: Smoothness of the cut wall, material quality, thickness and thickness uniformity of the material, proper aperture location, and proper aperture size. Here, though the testing of 12 stencils acquired and manufactured using different equipment and methods, the authors show that significant variability exists in aperture size precision between various stencil manufacturing sources.

Change is Coming to the Cleaning Industry…Again!

Cleaning is once again the focus of government regulation. The last big change in cleaning came in 1995 as a result of the Montreal Protocol eliminating the use of chlorofluorocarbon solvents (CFCs) for cleaning everything from PCBs to the aircraft engines.

Fundamentals of Reflow Technology: Metallurgy of the Soldering Process, Part II

When solder melts a change in the state of aggregation takes place. This means that the atoms begin to vibrate so intensely that the crystalline structure disintegrates. The material melts. However, the disintegration of a well-ordered crystalline structure can also be viewed as a greater degree of freedom of movement which must be introduced to the material in the form of energy.

Nordson Dage Experiencing Record Year

Keith Bryant, global sales director for Nordson Dage X-Ray Systems, expounds upon the importance of the South China market, the company's Jade flat-panel machine, and the company's expectations of a record year.

Fundamentals of Reflow Technology: Metallurgy of the Soldering Process

Soldering is a very specific science that must encompass a number of disciplines and demands considerable expertise to master. In its ultimate analysis, the process of soldering is all about the interaction of materials at a molecular, or even atomic, level. Arguably, to understand this fully, you need to be a bit of a scientist.

ZESTRON Targets Sensitive Product Cleaning

With new environmental regulations and the demand for high quality, everything related to the cleaning process is changing. ZESTRON's John Shen explains how customers now request special products sensitive material cleaning.

Why You're Not Seeing Results from Social Media

Exasperation is probably the best word to describe how most managers and executives feel about their social media experimentation so far. This week, Bruce Johnston provides five reasons why your social media plans may not be working.

Xenon's Customized Automation Equipment a Hit

Dr. Hartmut Freitag, managing director for Xenon, introduced his company to the South China market as a first-time exhibitor at NEPCON South China and he plans to be back next year. With a large factory in Shenzhen, this German organization has alliances with local universities to help hire the best talent locally, and the company plans to expand R&D into this area as well.

DfE Online Helps Meet Environmental Regulations

The Surface Mount Technology Association (SMTA) and electronics and technology consultants Technology Forecasters Inc. (TFI), PlesTech, Ltd., and Harvey Stone announce the launch of DfE Online, a breakthrough training and certification program in Design for Environment (DfE).

TCO: From Buzzword to Reality - Six Key Factors to Consider Before "The Offshore Default"

With the U.S. economy hobbled and arguably in a recession, two wars behind us, and politicians in the public's crosshairs, onshoring has been making news. Domestic PCB fabrication revenue has declined 66% and more than half of all N.A. fabricators have closed. Surprisingly, applying a true TCO approach to procurement shows that the benefits of procuring overseas do not always exist.

SMT Trends & Technologies: A Pocket Full of Components

With batch sizes becoming smaller and smaller, much assembly time is wasted by an increased number of setup changes. Time-consuming elements often include loading or unloading feeders, changing feeders and nozzles, tuning and teaching new components, and ramping up. How can such challenges be addressed?

How Clean is Clean?

CEO Michael Konrad of Aqueous Solutions says that cleaning is for everybody. He discusses why the need for higher-reliability products, even in commercial electronics, brought him to China. He also chats about clean versus no-clean flux.

Blackfox, ProSkill to Provide Awareness and Training

The partnership was formed to provide awareness and training in the techniques and practices required to detect and avoid counterfeit components and the costs, legal issues, and risks associated with them to prevent infestation of counterfeit material into the supply chain.

Coenen on the Advantages of Jet Solder Paste Printing

MYDATA's Global Sales Director for Jet Printing, Nico Coenen, joins Editor Ray Rasmussen to discuss the advantages of jet solder paste printing. While not perfect for every application, this technology is gaining more and more acceptance in the industry.

AdoptSMT: Pre-Owned Equipment Big Draw in Down Economy

Erhard Hoffman, managing director of AdoptSMT Group, discusses selling pre-owned SMT equipment to the China market, why his equipment is especially desirable in South China, and plans to expand business with Editor Marcy LaRont.

It's About the Environment...for Better or Worse

Michael Konrad, CEO of Aqueous Technologies Corporation, says "It's not easy being green," but it just makes sense. His essentially non-green, chemical-laden cleaning business produces zero discharge, and it's not the only one. Konrad says that regulation, for better or worse, is a huge driver for making the impossible possible in this industry. He's seen it happen.

Apex Introduces Solder Paste Inspection System to U.S.

Apex Factory Automation Sales and Support Manager William Crist joins Editor Ray Rasmussen on the IPC Midwest show floor to provide an overview of a newly-introduced solder paste inspection system for the U.S. market.

Likelihood of Metal Vapor Arc by Tin Whiskers

For electronic equipment, tin whisker growth can produce unintended electrical shorts resulting in product failure. Under certain conditions, tin whiskers can initiate a metal vapor arc that can have destructive consequences. This study investigates the role of bias voltage, pressure, and whisker geometry on metal vapor arc formation, and presents a metric for whisker arc formation.

An Investigation of Whisker Growth on Tin-Coated Wire and Braid

Whiskers develop in any environment: Ground or vacuum/space, wet or dry, applied power versus no power. The authors analyzed 13 samples of tin-coated wire and braid, manufactured between 1965 and 2009, from five different suppliers, by scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray to evaluate the material composition, size, and density of whiskers.

Aegis In for Something New

Why would a software company ever move into the hardware arena? Jason Spera, CEO of Aegis Software, sits down with Editor Marcy LaRont at NEPCON South China 2012 to discuss his company's InForce line attendant--it's much more than just software. Spera also relates his experiences in Shenzhen.

Games Maker: Bob Willis Gets a "Real" Job

Have you ever wondered what it's like to become an integral part of a global spectacle? Bob Willis, who devoted three weeks to the London 2012 Games says the experience was definitely worth the time and training. He reports: "Being a Games Maker for is completely different from my day job and some may say it's the first real work I have done in years!"

Miller Gives Update on Nordson Yestech's Latest Technology

Don Miller, president of Nordson Yestech, discusses why China is such a robust market for his company. He talks about their latest and greatest technology--something that pairs nicely with several Nordson partner businesses, providing a distinct edge in the marketplace.

Wages & Environmental Regulations Drive Business from South China

The southern region of China has always been important for manufacturing. But these days, South China is sounding more and more like the U.S. WKK President Hamed El-Abd provides his thoughtful perspectives on the current state of business in the region and where it may be going next.

Effects of Tin and Copper Nanotexturization on Tin Whisker Formation

New research from authors at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins in Laurel, Maryland, examines the effect of adding grain refiners during tin electroplating. Particular focus is given to "as-deposited" film morphology and the associated incidence of whiskering.

Tin Whisker Mitigation Process for Surface Mount Components

Ten years after the EU's lead restrictions took place, electronic components with tin-lead finishes are definitely a thing of the past. Author Scott Sentz explores his company’s tin mitigation process which works with both passive and active components.

Effectiveness of Conformal Coatings on Surface Mount Components as Tin Whisker Mitigation

In this study, sets of assembled quad flat packages were conformally coated and evaluated for tin whisker mitigation, as well as the coating coverage. Six coating materials were examined. Whisker growth was examined after specimens were subjected sequential to temperature cyclings, corrosive gases, and temperature and humidity conditions.

Zollner's New Facility to Focus on the Customer

John Burke, General Manager and COO of Zollner's newly-dedicated U.S. operations located in the Silicon Valley, joins Guest Editor Joe Fjelstad to profile the new facility, its capabilities, and near-term plans for growth in service to the company's many U.S.-based customers.

Assembly and Rework of Lead-Free PoP Technology

Lead-free PoP technology is the latest in vertical electronics packaging integration and has become the preferred technology for mobile handheld electronics applications. TT electronics has developed the capability to assemble and rework numerous state-of-the-art packaging technologies, and this article addresses the essential engineering development activities performed to both assemble and rework PoP components.

Nam Tai Enjoys 62.8% Sales Growth in Q2

Sales in the second quarter of 2012 were $205.1 million, an increase of 62.8%, as compared to sales of $126.0 million for the same quarter of 2011. Gross profit margin in the second quarter of 2012 was 9.2%, up 3.9% from 5.3% in the second quarter of last year.

Celestica's Q2 Revenue Drops; Acquires D&H Manufacturing

"We are pleased to announce that we have entered into an agreement to acquire D&H Manufacturing Company. This acquisition will strengthen our complex mechanical and systems integration offering, and allows us to provide additional value to our customers in the diversified markets segment of our business," said Craig Muhlhauser, president and CEO.

Board-Level Defects Examined

Dr. Jennie S. Hwang discusses issues related to board-level defects: Pad cratering, conductive anode filament formation, and solderability defects. Dr. Hwang also notes that lead-free assembly has placed significant stress on printed wiring board assemblies and discusses packaging trends such as BTC.

Staying Green When You Clean

Bill Schreiber, president of Smart Sonic, describes challenges involving cleaning pallets and stencils, their proprietary chemistry, and their womb-to-tomb turnkey process for cleaning--all while keeping the environment in mind.

I-Connect007 EMS Asia Week: Great Expectations

EMS makers in Asia have a positive outlook this week, with most expecting June shipments and total sales for the year to hit record highs. Quanta is expected to ship 12 to 15 million tablet PCs to become the largest ODM maker of non-iPad tablet PCs in 2012. Compal Electronics and Wistron are achieving double-digit percentage growth, while V.S. Industry has a posted a 24.4% rise in net profit.

2012 Medical Devices Outlook

The medical semiconductor market has largely followed the same ups and downs as the rest of the semiconductor industry, with total shipments declining slightly in 2011 after spiking in 2010. However, over the next several years, the market is projected to grow, with demand spurred on by a wave of new government-approved ultra-portable and implantable products and booming regional demand.

Manufacturing Process Software Solutions at Mentor

Senior Marketing Development Manager Michael Ford of Mentor Graphics explains his company's new MSS software solution that streamlines and greatly improves the efficiency of the manufacturing process to achieve higher profits. The software is also scalable and suitable for any size company.

A MUST Use System

Graham Naisbitt, managing director of GEN3 Systems UK, joins Guest Editor Mark Thompson to discuss his company's MUST system, which uses force testing for traceability of solder leads. An especially important feature for determining counterfeit parts.

NPI Runs and Volume Production on One Machine?

Volume production lines usually have too high an output to be used as a dedicated NPI line. But, with careful line design, the two can be combined on a single machine. NPI and volume production simultaneously in one machine is only doable with more than one lane. Columnist Eric Klaver explains.

Data & Statistics Generated Can Improve Competitiveness

Company President Leo van de Vall sits down with Guest Editor Dan Feinberg to discusses a new service that uses the statistics and data generated during production to make the customer more competitive in the marketplace.

Is Oven Baking Really the Answer?

Jos Brehler, sales director for Totech Super Dry, joins Editor Pete Starkey to explain how moisture-sensitive device control has become an increasingly serious issue and the low-temperature alternatives to traditional oven baking.

Are There Fake Parts in Everything?

A recent study discovered that 40% of components supplied to the U.S. government were either substandard or fake. Guest Editor Stuart Hayton chats with Sensible Micro President Christopher Torrioni about how the introduction of the NDAA 2012 will help phase out the fakes.

SMTA Seeks Member of Distinction Award Nominations

The Surface Mount Technology Association (SMTA) is accepting nominations for the 2012 SMTA Member of Distinction Awards. The awards honor members who have shown exceptional service to the association and to the industry and are presented each year at SMTA International.

Second Star from the Right and Straight on 'Til Morning

William Shatner’s keynote address was packed with eager attendees at IPC APEX EXPO. A thread of serious environmental consciousness ran throughout Shatner’s performance. As well, many thought-provoking and inspirational questions were asked and answered with wit, insight, and wisdom.

IPC Sets Standards on Strain Gauge Tests

"The revision is about making sure there's a common, accepted practice for measuring manufacturing strain on printed board assemblies due to board flexure," said Intel Corporation's Jagadeesh Radhakrishnan, a co-chair of the task group that developed IPC/JEDEC-9704A.

Rehm, Technica Partner to Expand in the U.S.

Frank Medina of Technica and Michael Hanke of Rehm Thermal Systems talk to I-Connect007 Guest Editor Michael Carano about their partnership, equipment and materials technologies, and strategies for success in an up-and-down market.

Chrys Shea on the Challenges of Lead-Free

Chrys Shea discusses the many challenges lead-free assembly has presented to the industry, including issues from the early days that were not anticipated: Copper dissolution, assembly issues with bottom side terminations and pad cratering. Exciting developments in optical inspection are also discussed.

Rehm Addresses Soldering Issues, Misconceptions

Rehm Thermal Systems' Helmut Öttl, head of application and PM soldering, sits down with Guest Editor Steve Gold on the IPC APEX EXPO show floor to examine the many misconceptions concerning the soldering process.

Maxed Out: Do Not Adjust Your Set

Some of the innovations racing towards us will make you squeal with delight, such as the next-generation 4K2K displays, which will blow today's high-definition displays out of the water. For example, the current high-definition 1080p format presents images that contain 2 megapixels, but the next-generation 4K2K displays will boast 4096 x 2400 pixels (that's 10 megapixels). And there are even wall-size 8K4K displays on the drawing board.

iNEMI Seeks Participation for PCBA Project

The IPC9704 standard was revised February 2012 (now IPC9704A) to encompass the impact of lead-free electronics and to incorporate consistent strain gage placement/measurement techniques to monitor printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) flexure within a manufacturing environment.

Smart Equipment Strategies Optimize Final Test

Semiconductor companies are putting a greater focus on cost structure as sales prices fall and margins are reduced. This segment of the electronics industry is growing fast, but it seems no company is willing to pay the high prices associated with ICs used in production. Barbara Loferer takes a closer look.

From the Show: A Hands-on APEX Session

On the first day of APEX, IPC and three instructors from BEST decided to bring a more pragmatic approach to a PCB repair topic taught in the technical program. Along with 24 participants, the instructors from BEST led a hands-on reballing session. After a lively, highly participative 60-min. question and answer session on the fundamentals of reballing, the reballing process, and its various attributes, participants eagerly began the hands-on session.

Rehm Thermal Systems, Technica Partner in U.S.

Rehm Thermal Systems has entered into a new U.S. distribution agreement with Technica. Chief Customer Officer Michael Hanke discusses his company's new partnership and also delves into the family-owned business's focus on process technology and global manufacturing strategy.

The Future of Solder Materials

Indium Corporation's Dr. Ning-Cheng Lee and Guest Editor Dr. Jennie S. Hwang discuss lead-free solder development and the future requirements of lead-free materials.

Valor Automates Product Planning with New Module

Mentor Graphics' Product Marketing Manager Mark Laing joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to explain why the company's Valor division decided to release the new Product Planning Module. Laing also discusses common production challenges this module addresses.

SMTA Announces Soldering & Reliability Conference Program

The SMTA has announced the program for the 2012 International Conference on Soldering and Reliability. The event will be held during the week of May 15-18 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This conference will be co-located with the SMTA Lead-Free Academy and the SMTA Toronto Expo.

IMI Enjoys 40% Revenue Growth in 2011

"Despite a global economy saddled with Eurozone struggles and U.S. weaknesses, we grew our revenues. IMI remained profitable in spite of a very volatile marketplace," said Arthur Tan, President and CEO. By expanding its global footprint in 2011, IMI has achieved a diversity of marketplaces, serving varied segments of the electronics industry in different parts of the world.

Competing in the Inspection Market

The assembly inspection market is often viewed as a "necessary evil." Yet, the right equipment can help increase yields. Christopher Associates President Matt Holzmann joins Guest Editor Steve Gold on the show floor to explain how value can be added to this very important process.

IEC's Fiscal 1Q12 Revenue Up 18%

W. Barry Gilbert, Chairman of the Board and CEO, stated, "While revenues were up for the entire company, earnings were down significantly from the prior quarter. Key sections of the company continue to perform quite well. We continue to increase our revenue and our organic growth was in line with our estimates at just over 12%."

SMTAI 2011 Best Papers Announced

The SMTA is pleased to announce the Best Papers from SMTA International 2011. As speakers at SMTA International, individuals make contributions to the industry by sharing their research and findings. To reward exceptional achievement, $1,000 awards and plaques are given for the Best of Conference Presentation, Best of Proceedings Paper, and the Best International Paper.

Facing the Challenges of 2012 and Beyond

A diverse group of trends, including the return of manufacturing to the United States, the continued development of clean energy options and mobile communication devices, and the end of exemptions to RoHS chemical restrictions, all bring the potential to affect business in 2012.

Lingering Economic Uncertainties to Spur Declines in ECM

Following a year of expansion in 2011, the global electronics contract manufacturing business is expected to decline slightly in 2012, as continuing economic uncertainty in Europe and the United States constricts growth, according to an IHS iSuppli EMS & ODM Market Brief report from information and analysis provider IHS.

SMTA: 2012 SMT Certification Dates & Locations Released

The SMTA proudly announces upcoming offerings of SMT Certification in Minnesota, Ohio, California, and Florida. The SMTA Certification program is unique as it recognizes and certifies the entire SMT assembly process at an engineering level.

What Can You Rely On?

Companies who rode the sharp increase in demand in 2011 had to adapt to fulfilling their customer's requests quickly, requiring a production ramp-up to meet delivery demands. This was true for both electronics manufacturers and their equipment suppliers. If one supplier could not meet required lead times manufacturers quickly turned to another with more capacity.

There's More to Plasma

Plasma has many more applications in PCB manufacturing than desmearing drilled holes and activating surfaces. Peter Bierhuis, previously President of Nordson March, now newly-appointed President of Nordson Asymtek, discusses a few of these uses with Editor Pete Starkey on the productronica 2011 show floor.

IPC APEX EXPO 2012 Includes Free Process Defect Clinic

Organized by IPC and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the free clinic will be held in the exhibit hall to assist event attendees with assembly and soldering process problems, RoHS compliance issues, solderability concerns, field failures and other process-related issues.

Award-Winning Sensible Micro Ready for Growth

Sensible Micro Corporation President Chris Torrioni speaks with Editor Andy Shaughnessy on the SMTAI show floor to document the component distributor's six-year rise from a small family firm to an award-winning global company.

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