Workflow Challenges in Fabrication

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Q&A with Paul Cooke

The job of the PCB designer is becoming more complicated every day. Designers are now acting as what amounts to project managers for the PCB, and they must be familiar with the many trade-offs that happen during manufacturing, many of which they can control during the design cycle.

Paul Cooke, the senior director of business development for Ventec International Group, is presenting a class at IPC APEX EXPO 2023 that looks at workflow challenges in fabrication, and the myriad drivers that can affect yield, reliability, and cost. Here he discusses the details of this Professional Development course, what he hopes attendees will take away, and why designers and design engineers would benefit from this class.

Q: Paul, tell us a little about the Professional Development Course on process flow and defects you are teaching at the show.

A: I put this course together to give designers, engineers, etc., a more in-depth look at what happens to their design as it goes through the fabrication process. It looks at how the fabricator adjusts processes to meet the design intent and what happens when it goes wrong; it’s like a [IPC] 2221, 6012, 600, and 9121 course all rolled into one. It shows the complexity of the process and how designs can affect the process flow, yield, quality etc. We talk about reliability, for example, of how something like via size can be affected by aspect ratio, layer count, drill parameters, desmear, and material selection and how they would all interact with each other to affect yield, cost, and reliability.

Q: Why should someone attend your class?

A: It’s for anyone wanting to increase their knowledge of the fabrication process. It is aimed at designers and process engineers at any level. The course is designed to be interactive with a lot of questions and hopefully 30 years of knowledge transfer. Time permitting, we may get to cover some emerging technologies.

Q: This sounds like a great class for PCB designers. What are some of the trade-offs designers should be aware of that can affect yield and reliability?

A: There are many factors affecting yield, reliability, and ultimately cost. We will look at each part of the process, discussing how each can be affected, which attributes of the design have the most impact on yield improvement, and how the fabricator achieves the desired level of release.

Q: What is the most important piece of advice you would give your attendees?

A: Attend the course with a lot of questions and take a lot of notes as we will cover a mountain of information. By the end I hope they have a comprehensive knowledge of the process and learn to always talk to a field application engineer prior to setting out on a new type of design, to eliminate any changes later due to cost, capability, yield, etc.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: I hope they all enjoy the course, and I am always looking for feedback, good or bad, so that I can adapt and improve for future classes.

This article originally appeared in the December 2022 issue of Design007 Magazine.


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