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Meet our Columnists
Challenges of Electrical Test
Testing Todd By: Todd Kolmodin
In our arena today, we can solve pitch and density with flying probe machines, and volume with our grid testers, but the catalyst that is in the mix is that pesky soldermask! Here's why I bring up that necessary process as a problem for electrical test.
Tighter Scrutiny Needed for PCB Cleaning Agents
Zulki's PCB Nuggets By: Zulki Khan
PCB cleanliness on the assembly floor is now getting more attention, due to tiny residues and contaminants being left on assemblies after new, advanced assembly processes. Cleaning methodologies, testing, analysis, and special chemistries are being taken to a new level to assure customers of ultraclean boards to avoid costly latent issues.
Millennials in Manufacturing: Hiring, Training and Retaining Millennials
Millennials in Manufacturing By: Davina McDonnell
Shelly Phelps is the human resource manager at Saline Lectronics, where she manages recruitment strategies, disciplinary actions, and employee relations. In this interview, she discusses the greatest challenges when dealing with millennials, and how she thinks management and training should evolve for a more effective onboarding of this new generation of manufacturing workforce.
Electromagnetic Fields, Part 2: How They Impact Propagation Speed
Brooks' Bits By: Douglas Brooks, PhD.
In Part 1, Doug Brooks suggested that thinking in terms of what the electromagnetic field looks like around our traces might offer significant insight into how circuits might be performing. In this column, he makes similar observations about signal propagation speed.
Trouble in Your Tank: Looking at PTH Voids
Trouble in Your Tank By: Michael Carano
Several columns have been published in this space describing the origins of voids in the plated through-hole. However, not all voiding is caused by or has its genesis in the electroless copper (PTH metalization) process.
Fact or Myth: Do 80% of M&A Deals Fail?
Punching Out! By: Tom Kastner
We are often asked by business owners if the commonly quoted figure is true that 80% of mergers fail to meet expectations after closing. There is a fair amount of research on large ($1 billion+), public deals that suggests that the 80% post-closing failure rate may be true.
Accelerating the SI Learning Curve - Bogatin's SI Academy
Bert's Practical Design Notes By: Bert Simonovich
Columnist Bert Simonovich writes, "Last year, Dr. Eric Bogatin, the 'Signal Integrity Evangelist,' announced the end of his famous signal integrity classes. At the time I remember thinking to myself, 'What's next for Eric?' If you know Eric, like I do, you realize that the end of one phase of his career usually means the start of the next one. And now we know what that is."
The Key to Increasing Quality - Bribe Your Employees
Bob and Me By: Dan Beaulieu and Bob Tarzwell
Back in the 1990s when Bob owned a board shop in Canada, the company was going through a bad stretch, as board shops sometimes will. Yields were way down and they were losing a lot of boards for stupid reasons, many having to do with carelessness and apathy. Bob tried yelling and screaming, but, not being a naturally gifted yeller and screamer, Bob proved ineffective at this method. So he knew he had to try something new.
Let’s Talk Testing: Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick…Right?
Let's Talk Testing By: Keith Sellers
Who knew that a phrase from a decades-old popular board game could have some relevance in today’s ever-changing world? In the game of Clue, simply put, evidence is collected and then used to solve a mystery. In my world, testing is performed to gather data/results (evidence) and then this information is used to determine the root cause of some issue that is under investigation (solving the mystery).
Karl's Tech Talk By: Karl Dietz
Lucent looked at the development of optical backplanes in the early 2000s, but financial problems interfered. But there remained continued interest and work on optical backplanes. In this column, Karl Dietz talks about the technical issues in integrating optoelectronics in backplanes, and the continued work in the segment.
Indium and Gallium: Playing Important Roles in LED Lighting and the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics
From One Engineer to Another By: Indium Bloggers
An important element of US energy independence is the reduction of energy use for lighting. While, in its day, the incandescent light was one of the greatest inventions of all time, it is extremely energy inefficient.
One World, One Industry: Meet IPC’s Vice President of Global Government Relations, Chris Mitchell
One World, One Industry By: John Mitchell
In this new role, Chris will work closely with IPC’s Government Relations Steering Committee and its government relations team based in Washington, D.C. Chris will represent IPC and the electronics manufacturing industry before key policymakers globally and identify issues and other opportunities where IPC can demonstrate its leadership in government relations and public policy.
Best Practices 101, Part 5: Process Capability
The Right Approach By: Steve Williams
Not every process is a good candidate for statistical control, and that in these instances, alternate process control methods may be required. Steven Williams talks about continuous improvement when it comes to process capability.
CES 2015: A Retrospective
Fein-Lines By: Dan Feinberg
Columnist Dan Feinberg believes that this was the most interesting CES in many years, perhaps ever. "Yes, there were the expected hundreds of smartphone cases and battery chargers and cables galore. But there were also strong indications of formerly embryonic trends becoming actual mainstream technology."
The Proper Position to Take on Voids in Solder Joints
Jumping Off the Bandwagon By: Tom Borkes
The number of variables involved in void creation is daunting and not as well understood as you might think, notwithstanding the hundreds of technical papers written on the subject. The void acceptance criterion is ill defined and strongly tied to void locations, volume and size.
RF Power Capabilities of High-Frequency PCBs
Lightning Speed Laminates By: John Coonrod
I often hear this question: “How much RF power can be applied to a high-frequency PCB?” My answer sometimes surprises engineers. I tell them that they can put as much RF power into the PCB as they want, with the assumption that the PCB does not exceed its maximum operating temperature (MOT). MOT refers to the maximum temperature to which a circuit can be exposed without degradation of critical properties.
The Sales Cycle: Social Media - It's Nothing New...or Is It?
The Sales Cycle By: Barry Matties
It's not whether or not social media is good, bad, or here to stay; it's about focusing on your community and delivering your message. Social media is nothing new; it's been around for thousands of years. The difference now is that new outlets allow any person to have an immediate voice and be relevant.
PCBs are MSDs
More Than Just Dry Air By: Richard Heimsch
There were no published standards for storage and moisture protection for printed boards until 2010, and their proper handling is still often overlooked. But with the correct storage control and the use of suitable drying methods, considerable manufacturing advantages can be gained; PCBs will remain solderable for a much longer time and damage during reflow due to moisture can be eliminated.
It’s Only Common Sense: The Good Old Days
It's Only Common Sense By: Dan Beaulieu
Remember when it was fun? Yes, the good old days always seem whole lot better than they probably really were, at least in the rear-view mirror. But, looking back from these too-serious times we live in today, they probably were a lot better than we even remember.
Beyond Design: A Review of HyperLynx DRC
Beyond Design By: Barry Olney
There is an old saying, “You get what you pay for.” Does this mean that you should not expect too much from free software? After all, free software usually comes at a price: the results might be inaccurate, the software might be time-consuming to set up and use, and the tool might overlook issues that require a revision to mitigate. But HyperLynx DRC is the exception to the rule.
The Pulse: The Rough Road to Revelation
The Pulse By: Martyn Gaudion
Several years ago, an unsuspecting French yachtsman moored his yacht to the railings of the local harbour. For a very nervous full tide cycle, he awaited to see if the cleats would pull out of the glass fiber hull. Fortunately, the glass held. A yachtsman at high tide isn’t too worried about whether the seabed is rough or smooth, but at low tide, the concern about a sandy or rocky seabed is altogether different. With PCBs, the move to low-loss laminates exposes a similar situation.
Ladle on Manufacturing: What’s New?
Ladle on Manufacturing By: Marc Ladle
When it comes to PCB processing, it is not often that you are able to come up with something completely new. There may be some notable exceptions, but often a new process is more honestly an adaptation of a similar process, perhaps from another industry segment or a different application.
EPTE Newsletter: JPCA SHOW 2018
EPTE Newsletter By: Dominique Numakura
One of the largest exhibitions for the printed circuit industry was held June 6–8 at Tokyo Big Sight in Japan. The three-day show is held in Tokyo every June and attracts a worldwide audience. This year, related events at the show included JIEP 2018, JISSO PROTEC 2018, Total Organic Expo 2018, WIRE Japan Show 2018 and Smart Sensing 2018.
Solving a True DAM Problem
Solving DAM Problems By: Gray McQuarrie
It's one thing to be a consultant where you don't have to really do anything, but quite another to be accountable to solve a truly difficult problem. Anybody who has been on the firing line of a tough problem knows the feeling of vulnerability that results. Will I fail? And if I do fail, will I survive or be crushed?
Conversations with...Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc.
From the Archives By: Various Authors
I-Connect007 editor Richard Ayes recently interviewed Rafael Nestor Mantaring, vice president for design and development at Philippines-based EMS firm Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc. (IMI), who discusses the benefits and impact of printed electronics for the electronics manufacturing industry and the current challenges the technology faces.
Mr. Laminate Tells All: IPC-4101 Validation Services—The QPL Lives Again
Mr. Laminate Tells All By: Doug Sober
When the electronics industry transitioned from the military standard MIL-S-13949 to the industry standard IPC-4101 in 1997, the electronics supply chain lost something fundamental: the Qualified Products List (QPL) for all the laminate and prepreg materials.
The Shaughnessy Report: Got Flex?
The Shaughnessy Report By: Andy Shaughnessy
Welcome to the first issue of Flex007 Magazine. This new quarterly magazine is dedicated to flex system designers, electrical engineers, flex PCB designers, and anyone responsible for integrating flex into their products at the OEM/ CEM level.
The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 4
SMT Perspectives and Prospects By: Dr. Jennie Hwang
Dr. Jennie Hwang's column series continues in Part 4, which addresses two pivotal questions: Why SAC is not able to be a universal interconnecting material for electronic circuits, and why a quaternary alloy system offers a more wholesome approach.
All About Flex: Terms and Conditions
All About Flex By: Dave Becker
An issue that is frequently addressed by many of us in the printed circuit industry, and by others in the world of contract fabrication and assembly, is dealing with the “Terms and Conditions” in a purchase agreement or contract.
Sensible Design: My Top Coating Queries
Sensible Design By: Phil Kinner
This is my first of many columns for 2018, and I have decided to share some top trending queries that concern many different applications and areas. LEDs are always a hot topic, as are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and harsh environment concerns.
CircuitData: A New Open Standard for PCB Fab Data Exchange
The European Angle By: Pete Starkey
An enormous amount of information is needed to precisely and unambiguously define all of the fabrication details for a PCB and ensure that it is manufactured, tested, qualified and delivered exactly as the customer specified. Widely reported recently has been the development of a new open standard for exchanging printed circuit fabrication data by an independent international task group with members from the entire supply chain. Initiated by Norway-based Elmatica, the CircuitData standard is designed to enhance your Gerber, ODB++ and IPC-2581 files, and not replace them.
Getting Connected with Social Media: Can You 'Game' the LinkedIn Publishing Algorithm?
Getting Connected with Social Media By: Bruce Johnston
Dear readers, this is my last column. After five years, 256 columns and 150,000 words on sales and social media, I am hanging up the keyboard. Why? Well, when I first started this column, I had a lot of relationships in the PCB industry, and this figured to be where work would come from for me. And it did—for a while.
Flex Talk: E-Textiles—the Wild Frontier
Flex Talk By: Tara Dunn
How many hours is your car sitting idle outside in your driveway or a parking lot? What if your car was used for solar harvesting—converting heat to energy? What about biometric sensors in automotives: skin sensors for preventing DUI, posture identification to monitor driver fatigue, monitoring exposure to hazardous materials in a load for truck drivers.
Masking of Conformal Coating During Assembly and Rework
Knocking Down the Bone Pile By: Bob Wettermann
Masking of printed circuit boards post rework/repair as well as for initial PCB assembly is often required if the PCB is to be conformal coated. If a board that has conformal coating on it needs to be reworked or repaired, the conformal coating needs to first be removed before the operation of rework or repair can take place. This article centers around the various options for conformal coating masking via a liquid application process.
The Bare (Board) Truth: Refining Output Data Packages for Fabricators
The Bare (Board) Truth By: Mark Thompson
One of the biggest issues PCB fabricators face is the completeness (or incompleteness) of the data output package we receive from customers on a new PCB. In this column, I am going to present what is needed, from a fabricator’s perspective, for a good output package and why.
A Summary of Counterfeit Avoidance: Development & Impact
Kramer on Counterfeits By: Todd Kramer
Although counterfeit components and substandard products get plenty of attention in military, aerospace and medical fields due to their costly impact in human life, it’s important to point out the severe impact substandard parts and assemblies play in everyone’s life. Safeguards are in place to filter counterfeit products, but there remains a great deal of work to fully mitigate this threat.
Laser Pointers: Stepping Up to Laser Processing for Flex, Part 6 — Proper Care and Feeding of Your Equipment
Laser Pointers By: Mike Jennings and Patrick Riechel
Supplementing your production capabilities with flexible circuit laser processing can pay big dividends. It not only enables you to broaden the set of services you can offer your customers, but it also extends your reach into additional markets you might not otherwise be equipped to serve.
Configure to Order: Different by Design
Accelerating Tech – Insights from the Smarter Factory By: Michael Ford
Perhaps in the future, sentient robots looking back at humans today will consider that we were a somewhat random bunch of people as no two of us are the same. Human actions and choices cannot be predicted reliably, worse even than the weather. As with any team however, our ability to rationalize in many different ways in parallel is, in fact, our strength, creating a kind of biological “fuzzy logic.”
Quiet Power: Causal Power Plane Models
Quiet Power By: Istvan Novak
Causal and frequency-dependent models and simulations are important for today’s high-speed signal integrity simulations. But are causal models also necessary for power integrity simulations? When we do signal integrity eye diagram simulations, we define the source signals, so if we use the correct causal models for the passive channel, we will get the correct waveforms and eye reduction due to distortions on the main path and noise contributions from the coupling paths. Istvan Novak explains.
Like it or Not, You're a Role Model
Tim's Takeaways By: Tim Haag
"During the years that I built my skills as a circuit board designer, many people helped shape my character. Some were impulsively brilliant at laying out a board, while others were steady and consistent in their approach to work, dotting every 'i' and crossing every 't.' But they were all patient with me, answering my questions, showing me the ropes, and setting good examples for me to follow," says Columnist Tim Haag.
The Economics of Reducing Cycle Time in PCB Fabrication
Putting It All Together By: Jason Marsh
As circuit board fabricators are constantly pressured for cost reductions, speed is definitely one thing worth paying for in 2015. This article highlights examples of industry practices that successful fabricators in the quick-turn market embrace that can help those companies who want to reduce cycle times in their operations.
Contamination: The Enemy of Electronics
Quest for Reliability By: Eric Camden
Welcome to the first installation of “Quest for Reliability.” The goal behind this column is to use my experience at an independent laboratory for over 18 years to help readers understand PCBA reliability issues, and more importantly, prevent suspect conditions in the first place. The laboratory I work in has served every sector of the electronics industry, from oil and gas equipment designed to function miles below the surface of the earth, to aerospace companies and everywhere in between.
Software Bytes By: Abby Monaco
Improving Stencil Printing Results
The Short Scoop By: Rachel Miller-Short
A myriad of causes can result in poor print performance. The problem may stem from an inferior or worn-out stencil, but the issue may also be caused by an improper aperture design or stencil thickness. Poor print performance might not be caused by the stencil itself, but rather an improper printer set-up, a non-optimal squeegee blade, or the rheology of the solder paste being used.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Tip of the Month—The NIST/SEMATECH e-Handbook of Statistical Methods
Happy’s Essential Skills By: Happy Holden
In the 1990s, the National Bureau of Standards was distributing a popular statistical document, the Handbook 91, written by Mary Natrella of the NBS Statistical Engineering Laboratory. A request by Patrick Spagon of the Statistical Methods Group of SEMATECH to update the NBS Handbook 91, Experimental Statistics, led to the creation of a project team from NIST and SEMATECH to create a new web-based statistical handbook including statistical software.
3D Printing in Electronics - A Perspective
Flexible Thinking By: Joe Fjelstad
Knowing the value of a product or technology is key to making the right decision. Appreciating the value of an element of business is evermore important as the rate of change surrounding an industry accelerates. This brings us to one of the current buzz subjects in our industry: 3D printing. Understanding what it is and what its value is to a company and that company's ability to improve its place in the industry is vital.
What is Your Real Output?
SMT Trends & Technologies By: Eric Klaver
Columnist Eric Klaver asks, "How should you define your output? Highest area productivity, lab speed, actual speed, optimum speed, IPC speed, or maximum speed? And is it speed or throughput we should be looking at? Neither is clearly defined, and we all have our rules of thumb."
Designers Notebook: Strategies for High-Density PCBs
Designers Notebook By: Vern Solberg
As hand-held and portable electronic products and their circuit boards continue to shrink in size, the designer is faced with solving the physical differences between traditional printed board fabrication and what’s commonly referred to as HDI processing. The primary driver for HDI is the increased complexity of the more advanced semiconductor package technology. These differences can be greater than one order of magnitude in interconnection density.
True MCAD-ECAD Architecture: A Common-Sense Approach
The Town Crier By: Dan Smith
Despite a lot progress, a true MCAD-ECAD collaborative integrated design process tool environment has never materialized. In the simplest Dr. Phil terminology, EDA vendors still don’t get it. The goal of the following roadmap is to create a complete bi-directional, fully integrated tool within the next five years. By 2020, a true cost-affordable MCAD-ECAD tool needs to be available to every project engineering team.
LED the Sunshine In
SMT Trends & Technologies By: Sjef van Gastel
After a relatively slow start, LED lamps are now becoming affordable, and domestic LED lighting is about to take off. It is expected that by 2020, more than 65 to 70% of all lighting will use LED lamps or LED modules. The manufacturing process for LED lamps is based on SMT, and this month's column explains some of manufacturing's special requirements.
Launch Letters: Myths about Millennials—Workplace Safety Matters
Launch Letters By: Barry Lee Cohen
Today, more than one in three American workers are millennials, and they represent the largest share of the American workforce. As baby boomers increasingly enter the ranks of retirement, companies are embracing the differences of this younger generation to foster a safe workplace, while increasing employee productivity and engagement.
Up, Up, and Away - Reasons for Renewed Optimism in the Mil/Aero PCB Market
Mil/Aero Markets By: John Vaughan
As anyone in the military circuit board business in the last few decades will attest, it has been both extremely challenging (due to the many obstacles) and wonderfully rewarding (because our collective work supports our country and our war fighters). But Columnist John Vaughan says the tide has now turned as PCBs designed specifically for defense systems must now be manufactured in the U.S. and are under full ITAR and USML controls.
If It's My Data, I Can Do What I Want, Right?
The Essential Pioneer's Survival Guide By: Michael Ford
In the light of the new IoT philosophies that are rapidly becoming the expectation, the problem of flexibility versus risk is resolved on the lower level, as IoT establishes the transfer and availability of data everywhere without the need for "hacking" into internal system database structures.
Standard of Excellence: Making Your PCB Fabricator Your PCB Partner
Standard of Excellence By: Team ASC
Are your PCB needs exceeding your vendor base’s capabilities? Do you feel that your suppliers are no longer able to keep up with your PCB needs? Do your designers feel limited by your vendors’ limited capabilities? Are you finding an issue locating alternate sources for PCBs due to the consolidation of the larger shops in our industry? If so, you are not alone.
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