Happy Holden: ECWC15 Virtual Event a Success

Reading time ( words)

This is the first ECWC (Electronic Circuits World Convention) that I have not attended in person since 1978. To refresh your memory, these are held every three years on a rotating basis.

I always look forward to these events, not just because they include some of the best presentations you will hear, but also because they bring all my old friends together one more time. For the last three, however, I have been just one of only a dozen or so Americans to attend. This illustrates how much the electronics manufacturing arena has changed.


The HKPCA hosted this year’s conference and they kept up the fine tradition of collecting outstanding keynotes, nearly 60 technical presentations and myriad poster papers. HKPCA was also kind enough to provide English slides and translations. It is still possible to sign up and view the presentations. I have listened to 20 of the presentations, and hope to attend even more in the coming days as they are all worth watching.

I was honored to be selected as one of the keynote presenters and my presentation will be made available here at I-Connect007. We will write up others during 2021. Now that Pete Starkey has reported on the Day 2 keynote, I will report on the three keynotes from Day 1.

Happy_ECWC_Picture2_Naka.jpgDr. Hayao Nakahara
Leading off was an expert we all know, Dr. Hayao Nakahara of N.T. Information Ltd. Naka, as he is known, is in his 80s now, but still involved in our industry so he was the perfect choice to open this event. His topic was “Brief History of PCB and Technology Trends.”

Naka’s brief history starts with Dr. Paul Eisler, who is credited with inventing the first printed wiring board in 1936.  But the technology did not become noted until it was secretly used to make proximity fuses for anti-aircraft shells during WWII. Then it grew slowly until the transistor was invented in the early ‘50s. Naka continued to detail the early milestones for the industry, most notably at Photocircuits in 1951. Naka worked for Photocircuits from 1965 to 1990. Photocircuits pioneered a lot of PCB technology, specifically PTH processes and additive circuits. They were the first to use palladium plating instead of gold for automotive applications as well as the first photoplotters for artwork. Naka highlighted the move to dry film photoresist, NC drilling, acid copper plating and alkaline etchants, followed by the development of microvias with laser drilling in the 1980s. First used by Hewlett-Packard for its “Finstrate” HDI boards, it was then used by Siemens for its large mainframe computers. Later, in the 1990s, IBM in Yasu, Japan started using the Ciba-Geigy photoimageable solder mask as a photo-dielectric, known as the SLC process. He ended his history report with TH wave soldering being replaced with SMT assemblies.

Once he introduced HDI processes, it further morphed into Japanese HDI processes such as ALIVH-PALUP-FACT/EV-MSF/VIL-bBit-Neo/Manhattan, and more, eventually becoming denser as SLP and IC packaging where the geometries began shrinking to require direct imaging for exposure and MSAP processes for traces and spacings.  All of this allowed substrates to be created for Apple’s iPhones 10 to 12. It was a fun walk down memory lane, as I was around to see most of these changes.

Happy_ECWC_Picture2_Happy.jpgHappy Holden
As the second keynote speaker I talked about the new VeCS: Vertical Conductive Structures. Hopefully, you have heard of this relatively new PCB technology from NextGIn’s Joan Tourné, which we’ve covered in PCB007 Magazine. If not, then this 40-minute talk summarizes the technology, its process advantages and applications as well as design rules, SI performance and reliability.

James Tam

The last keynote of the morning was “Adaptive PCB Design for Automotive” by James Tam of Bosch. This was a very informative presentation about Bosch, its businesses, and the future of transportation.

Bosch is a lot larger than I imagined, at 77.7 billion Euros annually and 398,150 employees worldwide. These all report into four business units:

  1. Energy/Buildings
  2. Mobility Solutions
  3. Industrial Products
  4. Consumer Goods

Mobility was the focus of this presentation. Technology trends for the future of mobility was the most interesting. In degree of automation:

  • ACC/lane keeping support
  • Traffic jam assist
  • Automated parking
  • Highway assist
  • Highway pilot
  • Urban automated taxi/travel

These are the requirements for PCBs to support their activity:

  • Cost
  • Better materials: > 160°C operation, CAF resistance to 2000 hrs.
  • Higher currents: > 300 amps; ~6 to 12 oz coppers; integrated cooling; higher voltages, 1000V to 5KV
  • Density: 75/75-micron T/S; 75-micron microvias; impedance control; freq. up to 77 GHz, 3-n-3 HDI stackups
  • Semi-flex; via-in-pad; heat sink coins and pastes
  • Reliability: Higher operating temperature for life 125°C to 140°C for passengers, 160°C for trucks

James ended the session with a recap of Apple’s substrate roadmap, from the original 2007 iPhone through the iPhone X, noting that none of the suppliers were from China. For China to survive in this arena, mainland Chinese fabricators need to meet these design parameters and catch up with Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean PCB fabricators because the automotive industry is on the same roadmap. 



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