Article Highlights
Rambus Driving a CXL Memory Option
06/30/2022 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
Master the Art of Communication With Manufacturers
06/30/2022 | Kyle Burk, KBJ Engineering
Altimade Puts Designers and Manufacturers Together
06/24/2022 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
The Survey Said: Why Don’t You Know Your Fabricator?
06/23/2022 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Producing Diverse Designs in Concert With Manufacturing
06/16/2022 | Scott Miller, FreedomCAD Services
Design :: Suppliers

Latest Articles

Rambus Driving a CXL Memory Option

In this interview with Arjun Bangre, director of product for high-speed interface IPs for PCI Express and CXL at Rambus, the discussion revolves around new developments in CXL, PCI Express, and interoperable IP solutions that Rambus has developed.

Ventec’s Book on Thermal Management: The Summer Sequel You’ve Been Waiting For

I-Connect007 is excited to announce the release of the second title in Ventec’s series on thermal management, "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates, Volume 2." This second volume covers the latest developments in the field of thermal management, particularly in insulated metal substrates, using state-of-the-art products as examples, and focusing on specific solutions and enhanced properties of IMS.

Altimade Puts Designers and Manufacturers Together

Despite all of the talk about the need for communication between designers and manufacturers, many PCB designers still do not talk with their manufacturers for a variety of reasons. Altium and MacroFab aim to change this dynamic. In this interview, Ted Pawela, chief ecosystem officer of Altium and head of Altium’s Nexar Business Unit, and MacroFab CEO Misha Govshteyn, discuss the new Altimade manufacturing service that Altium is introducing in partnership with MacroFab. Ted and Misha provide an overview of the Altimade process, how it links designers to fabricators, assembly providers, and component distributors, and they explain how it could pave the way for true design with manufacturing, or DWM.

Passionate People Can Do Fantastic Things

Electrical engineer Marshall Massengill is the first to admit that he has a pretty sweet gig. Marshall serves as a mentor for the Zebracorns, a robotics team based at a STEM-oriented high school in North Carolina. And he’s not just a mentor: He’s also a graduate of North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, and a former member of one of the earliest robotics teams organized by FIRST. We recently spoke with Marshall about his work with the FIRST robotics team, and what it’s like teaching PCB design to juniors and seniors in high school.

Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… High Performance Materials,' Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of 'The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… High Performance Materials' explores the varieties of woven glass fabrics and their components, and why spread glass is in such high demand for high-speed digital PCB designs. Download this book for a clearer picture of what to know when selecting which material that is most desirable for upcoming products, and obtain a solid knowledge base for making material selection decisions.

Altium Focusing on Educating Designers of Today and Tomorrow

We recently spoke with Rea Callender, Altium’s vice president of education, and Zach Peterson, founder of Northwest Engineering Solutions and a technical consultant for Altium’s educational programs. They discussed Altium’s curriculum—what drives the content development, the goals of their programs, and why there’s never been a better time to continue your PCB design education.

Pulsonix Collision Avoidance to Bring Mechanical Capabilities Into ECAD

The I-Connect Editorial Team recently spoke with Bob Williams, managing director of Pulsonix. He discussed some of the new features in the upcoming version of the Pulsonix PCB design tool, Version 12, including collision avoidance and other 3D options that allow certain MCAD functions within the ECAD environment.

A Textbook Look: Signal Integrity and Impedance

Believing that I knew a bit about signal integrity and controlled impedance, I was pleased to take the opportunity to connect with an educational webinar that I hoped would extend my knowledge. In the event I was surprised at how little I actually knew, and the webinar was an excellent learning opportunity. The webinar was introduced and expertly moderated by Anna Brockman of Phoenix Contact in Germany.

Designing PCBs With Additive Traces

Advances in technology have been clear to see within the component packaging industry, as the ball grid array (BGA) package sizes reduce from 1.0 mm pitch to 0.8 mm, 0.4 mm, and even beyond. However, while these improvements have occurred with component packages, it has become increasingly more difficult to break out and route the dense circuitry associated with these parts. Currently, the high-density interconnect (HDI) method typically used for the breakout of such parts has been to create the smallest possible subtractive-etched traces with microvias to allow for connections and escapes on the innerlayers of your PCB.

Designing Additive and Semi-Additive PCBs

With components getting smaller and electronic devices becoming more compact, we are reaching the physical limits of the typical etched fabrication processes. To address these limits, new additive and semi-additive processes are being developed to fit into the current fabricators’ production lines without too much disruption or extra cost.


I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

It’s been a busy week in this industry, and we have news and articles from the PCB design, fabrication, and assembly communities. The roller coaster ride continues, with whiplash-inducing news from IPC about March North American shipment—they’re up from February but down from the same period a year ago.

AltiumLive 2022: Tips and Tricks for Supply Chain Management

I recently spoke with Paul Ratner, a senior account executive at IHS Markit, about his AltiumLive presentation, which is now available online. Paul discusses some of the takeaways from his presentation, and he offers some advice for technologists who are grappling with long lead times on components, as well as some predictions for the rest of 2022 and beyond.

The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Stackups: The Design within the Design

If you have ever contemplated crosstalk, eye closure, power loss, or a list of other issues defined in this textbook, then you also need to understand what, why, and how stackups can and will impact your circuit’s performance. After all, the stackup is one of the few things that directly touches every single part of your design; therefore, you must set yourself up for the highest probability of success by establishing a strong foundation through a well-designed stackup.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Welcome to April 15, everyone! There are reasons we tend to cover topics in a continuous conversation. First, there are always developments and news in the industry. Second, you dear readers respond to that content by reading it. This week the news items that drew the most reader interest verify that our industry has ongoing interest in government involvement in industry infrastructure, supply chain issues, cybersecurity, and new technologies like additive in fabrication.

Cadence System Design Solutions Guide Available Now

You already have the I-Connect007 book "The System Designer's Guide to... System Analysis", written by Brad Griffin of Cadence Design Systems. Now, download the bonus companion guide, "The Cadence System Design Solutions Guide" for solutions to all your complex system analysis needs. Put Cadence’s expert knowledge into action!

A Definitive Review of New Expert Guide to High-Performance Materials

I am always surprised when a colleague produces a statement about PCB laminates that seems incorrect or out of date. This need not happen today as the specialists at Isola have written an excellent book about high performance materials, now available for download from I-Connect007. Author Michael Gay, a 25-year veteran of laminate manufacturing, meticulously guides readers through the most pertinent questions regarding rigid laminates. This is essential information for everyone, including the experts, because the materials and applications for laminates in printed circuits are constantly changing.

Altium Invests in Future Designers

While at IPC APEX EXPO, I stopped by the Altium booth to visit with Rea Callender, vice president of education at Altium. Rea shared information about the company’s recent design competition for students around the world, as well as a new curriculum that is drawing interest from some unique locations.

AltiumLive 2022 - Vince Mazur’s Supply Chain Advice: Always Have Alternatives

I had the chance to speak with Vince Mazur, a technical marketing engineer at Altium, about his AltiumLive presentation, “Avoiding Supply Chain Issues with Variants and Live Part Choices,” which is now available online. Vince discussed some of the high points of his talk, including the need for designers to pay closer attention to the supply chain than ever before, and to always have an alternative part or two as backup—just in case.

AltiumLive 2022: Dwight Morse Offers a Supply Chain Primer

I recently spoke with Dwight Morse, channel marketing manager for SiliconExpert, about his AltiumLive presentation, “Getting the Information to Create Successful Designs Quickly,” which is available online now. Dwight offers advice to designers who are facing 50-week component lead times, and he discusses some of the trends he sees in the supply chain right now, including a view from the vantage point of the world’s top video game makers, who are having as much trouble finding parts as you are.

AltiumLive 2022: MacroFab Unites Design and Manufacturing in One Domain

I recently spoke with Joey Rodriguez, director of product management for MacroFab, which just announced a major partnership with Altium that brings supply chain information to Altium users much earlier in the design cycle. Joey and I discussed his AltiumLive presentation, now available online, which provides details about MacroFab’s efforts to “left-shift” supply chain information, and the need for designers to think holistically about the supply chain as early as possible in the design cycle.


Strategizing a Design Education Plan With John Watson

Altium’s John Watson is a veteran PCB designer and instructor, as well as a Design007 columnist. He also recently accepted a professorship at Palomar College in San Marcos, California, teaching basic and advanced PCB design. John and I recently discussed his thoughts on setting up a PCB design education strategy, the need to continue your design education for your entire career, and the kind of attitude that makes someone a successful PCB designer.

AltiumLive 2022: Alex Sapp on How to Create a Better BOM

I recently spoke with Alex Sapp, director of API commercial strategy at Octopart, about his AltiumLive presentation, “How Resilient is Your BOM?” In this interview, Alex details the takeaways of his class, and some tips and techniques for creating more reliable BOMs and dealing with the current supply chain uncertainties.

Planning Your Design Education: Keep an Open Mind

Rea Callender is the new vice president of education for Altium. He brings a background in business development and entrepreneurship, along with experience in K-12 education. This seemed like a pretty good combination, so I asked Rea to share his thoughts on the best avenues for design education, as well as strategies for setting up a lifelong PCB design education plan.

RF and Microwave: No Black Magic

I caught up with Ben Jordan after his class on RF and microwave at IPC APEX EXPO. Ben, an electrical engineer, explained how sitting through previous classes on this topic led to him developing his own class. “I wanted to bridge the gap,” he says, “with a class that makes the material approachable and teaches the intuitive nature of fields and waves and how they work in circuit boards.”

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

It’s Friday, and I’ve spent the last few days breaking in my new laptop. It’s a Mac, and it’s been a while since I used one of these. It occurred to me that the last time I used a Mac, there was no email and no internet. I was editor of my college newspaper. I had just voted for Clinton, because that’s what you did in your 20s. We had Apple Classic II monitors with screens the size of a postcard, and we were on the cutting edge of desktop publishing. Students submitted articles on 3.5” loppy disks or on notebook paper, sometimes written in pencil. That’s where I learned to edit, and to do it quickly. We won awards every year. Good times.

AltiumLive 2022: Left-Shifting Modeling and Simulation

Harry Kennedy and Sarmad Khemmoro of Altair recently spoke with Andy Shaughnessy about their AltiumLive presentations, which are now available online. They discuss the need for modeling, simulation, and verification in PCB design, and why these actions should be performed as early in the design process as possible.

Planning Your Design Education Strategy

If you’re a new PCB designer, you might be asking yourself: How do I set up an education and training plan for my career in PCB design? We asked Eric Bogatin to weigh in with his thoughts. Eric has a unique viewpoint: He’s a veteran signal integrity instructor, as well as a professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In this interview, Eric lays out some of his planning strategies and the need for a degree in electrical engineering in the PCB design world.

AltiumLive 2022: No Shortcuts to Disciplined Library Management

I recently met with Altium’s John Watson for a discussion about his AltiumLive presentation on coping with design challenges, particularly in library management. As John explains, with library management, there’s no substitute for sitting down and doing the hard work, particularly during times like these, with a supply chain that is erratic at best. He also discusses his new job at Palomar College, teaching basic and advanced design techniques to students who are often seeking the “easy way out” in PCB design.

AltiumLive 2022: Power and Signal Integrity—Return to Sender

I recently spoke with Heidi Barnes and Stephen Slater, both engineers with Keysight Technologies, about their presentations at this year’s virtual AltiumLive. They discussed ways to avoid signal and power integrity challenges later by following simple board design practices early on, how SI and PI are interconnected, and why the return path must be more than an afterthought in high-speed designs.

Finally! A Book About PCB Stackups

‘The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Stackups: The Design within the Design’ is the latest addition to I-Connect007’s comprehensive, educational library. In this book, brought to readers by Siemens Digital Industries Software and I-007eBooks, author and stackups expert Bill Hargin discusses materials, laminate datasheets, impedance planning, and more. This book provides the reader with a broader understanding of stackup planning and material selection in an effort to comprehend what Hargin calls “the design within the design.”


AltiumLive 2022: Don’t Phone It In - Reducing EMI in Wireless Applications

I recently spoke with Ken Wyatt, founder of Wyatt Technical Services and an expert on signal integrity and EMC. I asked him to discuss his AltiumLive 2022 presentation, which focuses on reducing EMI, particularly in the wireless arena, where self-generated emissions are often a fact of life.

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This week’s picks comprise a potpourri of published articles, a hodgepodge of helpful hints, and a brood of business news. Our collection includes several interviews from IPC APEX EXPO; we filmed over 60 of these video interviews that week, all shot with our new anti-COVID protocol. The boom microphones, selected so that we wouldn’t have to attach clip-on mics to each interviewee, gave our booth/studio an air of 60 Minutes. But unlike what we see in most news shows, almost all the news at IPC APEX EXPO was positive as companies emerge from the pandemic with even more innovative software, services, and equipment than before. It’s looking like 2022 is going to be a really good year.

AltiumLive 2022: Stopping Your EMC Problems Before They Start

Todd H. Hubing has been working with EMC for decades. He began as an engineer at IBM, then served as a professor at the EMC lab at the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri Science and Technology), and later moved to Clemson, where he founded the Vehicular Electronics Library. Now, Todd is focusing on his most recent endeavor, LearnEMC. At AltiumLive 2022, Todd shares his thoughts on how to avoid EMC issues before they have a chance to wreak havoc on your board, simply by making smart decisions early in the design process. As he points out in this interview, this is much better than waiting until you have EMC issues later on and possibly redesigning a board until you pass EMC.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

We just wrapped up IPC APEX EXPO 2022, and I think it went better than anyone could have expected. I wasn’t sure the live show would actually take place. With the COVID protocols in California changing daily, no one knew for sure that a live show would even be allowed to open. But here's my picks for the week, both from the show and from the industry.

AltiumLive 2022: Keep Your Boards From Screaming with Eric Bogatin’s EMI Tips

I recently spoke with Eric Bogatin, the “signal integrity evangelist,” about his AltiumLive keynote presentation, “How to Keep Your Boards from Screaming Like a Banshee.” Eric explains how attention to board structures during the early stages of PCB layout can keep EMI from becoming a problem in your design. He also discusses a feature of Altium Designer that some designers may not know about—a 2D field solver that's part of the Simbeor high-end electromagnetic measurement tool, but with a simple GUI that most designers can master right away.

Kelly Dack Teases AltiumLive 2022

AltiumLive 2022 is just around the corner! Editor Nolan Johnson chats with Guest Editor and columnist Kelly Dack, one of the event hosts for AltiumLive Connect 2022. Kelly updates Nolan on the latest about the upcoming AltiumLive virtual conference, what's on the agenda, how it's connected with IPC APEX EXPO, and what attendees can expect to find.

New Book From Isola Highlights Importance of Material Selection

In "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to... High Performance Materials," the latest release from I-007eBooks, readers will learn how to overcome challenges associated with choosing the right material for their specific application. Author Michael Gay of Isola provides a clearer picture of what to know when determining which material is the most desirable for which products. PCB materials and DFM expert Mark Thompson says, “I love this book, particularly the sections on the effects of the glass weave, the history of laminate, and the difference between Dk and effective Dk."

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

We’re driving headlong into 2022, and there’s a lot going on in the world of PCB design, fabrication, and assembly. It’s trade show season now. IPC APEX EXPO starts in less than two weeks, and we’re all getting ready for what is, for many, the first trade show in years. Do you know where you put your business cards after your last show in 2020? I keep half a box of biz cards in my glove compartment; I’m not going to make that mistake again.

High-Voltage PCB Design: Beating Separation Anxiety

In recent surveys, PCB designers named high voltage among the issues causing problems in their designs. That led us to speak with Zuken USA’s Andy Buja, Wilmer Companioni, and Sanu Warrier about the challenges PCB designers and design engineers must confront when working with high-voltage designs. In this conversation, we discuss everything from the nuts and bolts of high-voltage design, such as the need to separate components of a high-voltage board, to the compliance problems companies like Tesla face when installing EV chargers around the world in countries with varying regulations.

Field of Dreams: The Art and Science of Designing with Field Theory

For this issue of Design007 Magazine focusing on the art and science of PCB design, we sought input from Dan Beeker, senior principal engineer of NXP Semiconductors. Dan has spent years teaching designers about the need to focus on the electromagnetic fields around the traces, not the traces themselves, as the late Ralph Morrison advised. We asked Dan to share his thoughts on the art of designing PCBs, and how art and science figure into his views on field theory.


The Art and Science of DFM

"Education is widely available in art, which implies that it is something that can be taught and learned," said Altium's Vince Mazur. "However, I believe there is a limit to what a scientifically focused person can do in art. While anything is possible, one can pursue fluency in art, but they likely would have a difficult time becoming a Picasso or a Rodin. Just as either of these artists could likely learn more about science, they likely would not become an Einstein or a Tesla. But then there are those outliers that have extreme talent in both domains, such as Galileo."

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Welcome to Friday in mid-November. If you're celebrating Thanksgiving, have you made up your menu and bought the turkey? It will be here before you know it. Around here, we're talking financial news and I've selected my top five financial news items of the week. There was plenty to choose from and my picks this week highlight a few of the most-read financial news pieces from our industry, as well as a couple high-interest technology related pieces. We also released our latest webinar, an 11-part series from the expert at GEN3. Definitely check that one out!

Polar Instruments: Pandemic and Parts Shortage Lead to More R&D Time

During PCB West, I met with Geoffrey Hazelett, VP of sales for Polar Instruments. He explained how the pandemic actually helped Polar’s R&D in the long run, and why the current parts shortages may offer a similar benefit for OEMs, who can now spend more time in what he calls “forced R&D.”

Excerpt: The System Designer’s Guide to… System Analysis, Chapter 3

The third chapter of this book, "Limitations of Today's Electronic System Design," focuses on the variety of limitations that today’s electronics system designers face as data becomes evermore complex and the industry seeks alternatives past Moore’s law.

Why We Simulate

When Bill Hargin was cutting his teeth in high-speed PCB design some 25 years ago, speeds were slow, layer counts were low, dielectric constants and loss tangents were high, design margins were wide, copper roughness didn’t matter, and glass-weave styles didn’t matter. Dielectrics were called “FR-4” and their properties didn’t matter much. A fast PCI bus operated at just 66 MHz. Times have certainly changed.

Alternatives to Simulation

We are living in an age where the demands on electronic product designs are constantly evolving. The IC technology and operating speeds continue to pose significant challenges for teams as they work to develop their products. The increased transistor switching speeds and less forgiving compliance standards make signal integrity and electro-magnetic compliance more difficult to achieve. The status quo seems to have become, “We expect to fail EMC testing.”

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This week, we bring you a wide swath of news, columns, and articles from the past week. Altium announced a new cloud platform that connects design stakeholders with users of its Altium 365 environment. Cadence Design Systems has acquired a company that develops computational fluid dynamics technology to help expand its system analysis offerings.

IBM Awarded Best Technical Paper at IPC APEX EXPO 2021

Nolan Johnson and Happy Holden speak with Sarah Czaplewski, whose team at IBM won the Best Technical Paper award at this year’s IPC APEX for “Signal Integrity, Reliability, and Cost Evaluation of PCB Interlayer Crosstalk Reduction.”

Bridging the Simulation Tool Divide

Todd Westerhoff of Siemens EDA recently spoke with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team about the divide between users of high-powered enterprise simulation tools and those who need a more practical tool for everyday use, and how Siemens is working to bridge the gap. Todd also shared his views on why so many engineers do not use simulation, as well as advice for engineers just getting started with simulation tools.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

In this week’s roundup, we have news about a new DFM environment from Siemens EDA, a 2D field solver from Avishtech, and a milestone for the IPC-CFX-2591 QPL. We also have a great article by Calumet’s Audra Thurston, who points out the many advantages of a virtual trade show. And in his latest column, Denny Fritz explains why the DoD is now thinking like many U.S. OEMs—worrying about single-source components, for instance—but the stakes are much higher.


Polar Instruments Driven by Customer Demand

Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Geoffrey Hazelett, vice president of sales for Polar Instruments, about the virtual IPC APEX EXPO and the eventual return of live trade shows and conferences. They also discussed some of the company’s newest releases, many of which came about through customer demand.

EIPC Technical Snapshot: 5G and Loss Minimisation

Bringing a specialised technical area into sharp focus, this month’s topic was “5G and the understanding of loss minimisation at the PCB level,” with papers on dielectric material, copper foil, and modelling solutions. The webinar was moderated by EIPC board member Paul Waldner managing director of Multiline International Europa, who admitted that he had managed to get a haircut especially for the occasion!

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

A perennial and yet irregular category on the popular game show Jeopardy is “potpourri.” My dad, as I was growing up, pronounced the word as “pot-poury.” It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that my girlfriend’s mom—who had a penchant for a soupcon of French euphemism in her tête-à-têtes—pronounced the word properly: “po-pu-ree.” Such are the risks of growing up just a bit rural.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

We’re seeing an increase in optimism as more people are vaccinated and states under lockdown begin flipping open their shutters. This positive outlook is spreading, albeit slowly.

Altium Introduces New Subscription Model

Andy Shaughnessy chats with Lawrence Romine about Altium’s new subscription model for their Altium 365 platform. They discuss what this means for existing and future Altium customers, and some of the drivers leading to this development, including evolving use patterns among customers during the pandemic.

Best Practices: Footprint Design and CAD Library Management

The I-Connect team spoke with Altium’s John Watson about the hurdles surrounding footprints and footprint design. John talks about how being proactive and improving the CAD library can better QC processes and help protect against footprint difficulties.

Wild River ISI-56 Platform Accelerates SerDes Testing

I recently spoke with Al Neves, founder and CTO of Wild River Technology, about the release of their new ISI-56 loss modeling platform. Al explains why it was so critical that this tool meets the stringent requirements of the IEEE P370 specification (which he helped develop), and why he believes this is currently the best tool for SerDes testing and characterization.

Seven Tips for Your Next Stackup Design

Rarely do we have the luxury of designing a board just for connectivity. When interconnects are not transparent, we must engineer them to reduce the noise they can generate. This is where design for signal integrity, power integrity and EMC—collectively high-speed digital engineering—are so important. Eric Bogatin offers seven tips for stackup design.

Just Ask Heidi Barnes: The Exclusive Compilation

We asked for your questions for Keysight Technologies' Heidi Barnes, and you took us up on it! We know you all enjoyed reading these questions and answers, so we’ve compiled all of them into one article for easy reference. We hope you enjoy having another bite at the apple.

Just Ask Heidi: Is Power Integrity the Hot Discipline of the Future?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, Eric Camden, John Mitchell, and Tara Dunn in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Heidi Barnes’s turn! eidi has been awarded five patents and a NASA Silver Snoopy award (each Silver Snoopy pin flies on a space mission first), and she was named DesignCon's 2017 Engineer of the Year. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Heidi.”


John Watson Discusses His Favorite Career Moments

As we celebrate the holidays after a tumultuous year, it’s important to remember all of the good things in our lives. In this short video, Altium’s John Watson discusses a few of the moments that really stand out in his career: earning his IPC Certified Interconnect Designer credentials and designing his very first circuit board.

Cadence’s Celsius: Don’t End up Holding the Hot Potato!

I was just thinking about the party game Hot Potato. It reminded me of today’s increasingly competitive marketplace: Accurate thermal analysis must be performed, and any potential issues have to be identified and addressed as early as possible in the design cycle. Otherwise the system will run into problems, market windows will be missed, and someone will be left holding the hot potato. Trust me, you do not want to be that someone.

Cadence’s Clarity: 'I Can See Clearly Now'

Do you recall the song “I Can See Clearly Now”? This catchy tune was first released by Johnny Nash in 1972, which was three years before I started my BSc in Control Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University, Yorkshire, England. I’ve just been looking at the Clarity 3D Transient Solver from Cadence, so the lyrics I’m hearing in my head are, “I can see clearly now the EMI is gone / I can see all EMC obstacles in my way..."

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: Event Wrap-Up With Judy Warner

Andy Shaughnessy and Judy Warner, director of marketing and community engagement for Altium, discuss the recent virtual AltiumLive events and what the company—and the PCB design community—have learned from the uncertain times of 2020.

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: Vince Mazur Previews New Design Rule Features

Altium Technical Marketing Manager Vince Mazur discusses his presentation at the recent AltiumLive, which focused on updates to Altium Designer's approach to creating design rules and constraints. Vince explains that these features will be more intuitive for the user, and the update, which is currently in beta, will be released in the future. The company is shifting from “rule-centric” design rules features to capabilities that are more “design-centric,” with applicable rules for each object available at one click.

Real Time with… Altium Live Europe 2020: Rick Hartley’s Secrets of PCB Optimization

As Lawrence Romine said in his introduction, “There’s that moment when you sit in the crowd and hear Mr. Rick Hartley speak that you know you’ve arrived in PCB design.” With 50 years in the industry focused on circuit and PCB design—and as a specialist in EMI, noise, and signal integrity issues—Rick Hartley was invited to talk about PCB optimization. Pete Starkey provides an overview of the presentation.

Real Time with… AltiumLive Europe 2020: Eric Bogatin’s ‘Unlearning’ Keynote

Pete Starkey admits to not being a Star Wars freak, but he was impressed by Yoda’s iconic wisdom and philosophy and intrigued by his advice that, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” Here, he describes how attending Dr. Eric Bogatin’s keynote at the AltiumLive Europe 2020 Virtual Summit was an enlightening experience.

Brad Griffin Discusses Cadence’s New Transient Solver Technology

Andy Shaughnessy speaks with Brad Griffin, product marketing director for Cadence Design Systems, about their new Clarity 3D Transient Solver, which is designed for system-level EMI simulation. Brad explains how the new solver, based on the company’s matrix technology, can yield results 10 times faster than existing solvers when simulating IC packages, PCBs, and SoIC designs.

Real Time with… AltiumLive Europe: 21st-Century Tools Keynote

Good morning, Europe!” Altium VP of Marketing Lawrence Romine said as he introduced the European edition of Altium’s PCB design conference—established as an annual must-attend event, but for 2020 presented in a virtual format. Pete Starkey brings you the details from AltiumLive Europe's opening keynote on 21st-century tools and what's coming in 2021.

EIPC Technical Snapshot: Automotive Technology

Although current circumstances have forced the postponement of its live conferences, seminars, and workshops, EIPC continues to provide a platform for the exchange and dissemination of the latest knowledge and technical information to the European interconnection and packaging industry. Pete Starkey details how its current series of technical snapshots, delivered in a webinar format, address technology challenges facing the automotive, telecom, and high-speed sectors of the industry.


Real Time with… AltiumLive: Eric Bogatin on Unlearning What You’ve Learned

The second day of the virtual AltiumLive 2020 event got off to a great start with a class by Dr. Eric Bogatin. It was officially titled “You Must Unlearn What You’ve Learned,” but it could have just as easily been called “Designing Interconnect That Sucks Less.”

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: Lawrence Romine on Successful U.S. Event

Andy Shaughnessy and Lawrence Romine, vice president of corporate marketing for Altium, discuss some of the lessons learned from last week's virtual U.S. AltiumLive, as well as what attendees can expect from the European show, which takes place October 20–22, 2020.

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: Happy Holden’s Panel Discussions Review

AltiumLive 2020 was a virtual event, and Happy Holden attended all the keynotes, as well as many other sessions. This article summarizes three panel discussions from Dugan Karnazes, Dr. Eric Bogatin, and Judy Warner, which were all worth the time investment.

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: Jeremy Blum on Engineering and the Supply Chain

During the last day of this year’s AltiumLive event, Dan Feinberg sat in on a very interesting talk by Jeremy Blum, who is the director of engineering for Sharper Tools Inc. Blum’s presentation was entitled “Leveraging Engineering Expertise for Supply Chain Success," and his goal was to convince the audience that taking a more proactive role in supply chain and manufacturing decisions can reduce your time to marker, workload, and product cost.

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: Eli Hughes’ Full-Stack Hardware Engineer Keynote

Nolan Johnson details TZero Co-founder Eli Hughes' keynote presentation titled “Crossing the Chasm: The Road to Becoming a Full-Stack Hardware Engineer,” demonstrating how it takes cross-disciplinary thinking to truly innovate.

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: Steven Sandler’s Simulation Keynote

Steven Sandler, managing director at Picotest, delivered a detailed and informative keynote at AltiumLive 2020 on worst-case fault simulation. Nolan Johnson details how Sandler's presentation detailed the fundamental tenets of worst-case simulation, illustrated with lots of technical examples and anecdotal stories.

Real Time with… SMTAI 2020: Reflections on the Technical Conference

This year’s SMTA International Conference and Exposition went virtual! Pete Starkey explains how the SMTA team did a fine job in difficult circumstances to present an interactive show and technical conference. Here, he highlights four of the papers that particularly caught his interest.

Real Time with… SMTAI 2020: Technical Conference Review

SMTAI 2020, which was converted to a virtual event, took place from September 28–30. I attend every year, but since there was no keynote in the virtual format, I went straight to the technical conference. This event covered a broad range of topics related to everything in assembly. Over 90 technical presentations are available, but this report covers just some of the sessions I attended.

Just Ask John Mitchell: The Exclusive Compilation

We asked for you to send in your questions for IPC President and CEO John Mitchell, and you took us up on it! We know you all enjoyed reading these questions and answers, so we’ve compiled all of them into one article for easy reference. We hope you enjoy having another bite at the apple. And if you’d like to hear more from John Mitchell, view his column series “One World, One Industry.”

Mentor and Z-zero Collaborate on New Stackup Tool

I recently spoke with Max Clark, business unit manager with Mentor, a Siemens Business, and Z-zero founder Bill Hargin about the newly formed partnership that resulted in a new stackup tool that Mentor is now selling worldwide. Fun fact: Hargin used to work for Mentor as part of the HyperLynx team, which now has an interface with Z-planner Enterprise. Talk about coming full circle.


This Month in Design007 Magazine: Dear Designers—Please Include a Sanity Check

We recently asked Rick Almeida, DownStream co-founder, and Technical Sales Manager Ray Fugitt to discuss why so many fabricators are still receiving (and correcting) inaccurate and incomplete data from their customers. And if fabricators and designers are content with this current process, is it really a problem after all?

App Notes: What Are They Good For?

There are several schools of thought regarding IC manufacturers’ app notes. We wanted to find out more about this, so we spoke with Geof Lipman, director of operations for part data at Octopart.com, a component data platform acquired by Altium in 2015. Geof shared his thoughts on app notes, datasheets, and the need for due diligence when utilizing any unfamiliar data.

Book Excerpt: Signal Integrity by Example, Chapter 3

The following is an excerpt from The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Signal Integrity by Example, written by Fadi Deek of Mentor, a Siemens Business. Deek explores how to reach effective design solutions and make strong engineering tradeoffs through analysis techniques, best design principles, and software tools to achieve accurate simulations and measurements.

Dana Korf: What Fabricators Expect From Designers

Andy Shaughnessy and Barry Matties spoke with Dana Korf, former chief PCB technologist for Huawei and currently principal consultant of Korf Consultancy, about the breakdown in communication between manufacturers and designers. Dana discusses exactly what a fabricator expects from a PCB designer, why these expectations are often not met, and the need for designers to make mistakes so that they can learn from them.

Book Excerpt: Thermal Management With Insulated Metal Substrates, Part 2

The following is an excerpt from the second half of Chapter 1 of "The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Thermal Management With Insulated Metal Substrates," written by Ventec International Group’s Didier Mauve and Ian Mayoh. In this free eBook, the authors provide PCB designers with the essential information required to understand the thermal, electrical, and mechanical characteristics of insulated metal substrate laminates.

Book Excerpt: Signal Integrity by Example

Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from "The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Signal Integrity by Example," written by Fadi Deek of Mentor, a Siemens Business. Deek explores how to reach effective design solutions and make strong engineering tradeoffs through analysis techniques, best design principles, and software tools to achieve accurate simulations and measurements.

Book Excerpt: Power Integrity by Example

The following is an excerpt from "The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Power Integrity by Example," written by Fadi Deek of Mentor, a Siemens Business. In this free eBook, Deek addresses problematic issues within electronic transmissions, and presents a variety of simulations and analyses in every chapter.

The iNEMI 2019 Board Assembly Roadmap

iNEMI continues to publish chapters of its 2019 Roadmap and recently presented an overview of its Board Assembly Roadmap Chapter in a webinar prefaced by Grace O’Malley, vice president of global operations. The new chapter is just the latest addition to this global effort from 23 working groups contributing expert input from all aspects of the electronics industry.

Autodesk’s Fusion 360 Merges ECAD, MCAD

Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Autodesk’s Matt Berggren about the company’s Fusion 360 EDA tool and the new capabilities added to the software. Matt explains how Fusion 360 blends ECAD and MCAD functionality in one environment and at an affordable price, and why he believes it will help round out Autodesk's electronic portfolio with end-to-end capabilities.

This Month in Design007 Magazine: What Did You Expect From Me, Anyway?

As engineers, we work in the middle of a (usually long) process chain. It’s sort of like working on an intellectual assembly line—we get requirements and data as input, perform our particular task, and then provide our output as requirements and data to the next person on down the line. It seems easy enough. So, why is it that so many of the requirements we’re supposed to meet and so much of the data we receive is downright bad?


Cadence Helping Users to Save Time, Money With Automation

During DesignCon, Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Brad Griffin, the group director for product management for the system analysis group at Cadence Design Systems. We discussed some of the areas where PCB designers can cut costs and how EDA companies can help these designers by automating certain time-consuming tasks. As Brad says, “The ‘A’ in EDA is for automation, right?”

A Young Designer’s Journey After Grad School

Lukas Trumpler is a young PCB designer from Germany who designs boards for sensors with ITK Engineering GmbH. I recently met with Lukas and spoke with him about his job, what he’s learned in this industry so far, and his impressions of his first AltiumLive event.

This Month in Design007 Magazine: Al Neves on Designing for Profitability

If your company is having trouble designing PCBs for profitability, where does the blame fall? Is it management’s fault for having inefficient processes, or is it the fault of the designers and design engineers for not keeping up to date with their training? During DesignCon, I asked Al Neves of Wild River Technology to weigh in on this question. As he explains, you and your manager might both be to blame for inefficiencies in the design process.

2020 EIPC Winter Conference, Day 2

Rested and refreshed, delegates returned to the conference room for the second day of the 2020 EIPC Winter Conference in Blijdorp, Rotterdam, South Holland. Pete Starkey provides an overview of the presentations and activities from Day 2.

2020 EIPC Winter Conference, Day 1

Pete Starkey recaps how the 2020 EIPC Winter Conference, held in mid-February, attracted around 90 delegates from a dozen European countries—as well as a few from North America—to an outstanding learning and networking experience for members of the PCB community. The theme of this year's event was: “The Needs for Next-Generation Electronic Devices and Changes in Fabrication Solutions for PCBs, PCBAs, Materials, and Technologies.”

Ventec’s Materials are Enablers for 5G, Industry 4.0

In this video interview from the show, Technical Editor Pete Starkey and Ventec COO for Europe and the Americas Mark Goodwin discuss Ventec’s latest high-speed, low-loss, high-frequency materials as enablers for 5G and Industry 4.0.

Max Seeley: Some Designers Hesitant to Adopt New Tech

I spoke with Max Seeley of 3M about a design class he presented at AltiumLive in Frankfurt, Germany. We also discussed autorouting and the continuing advances in EDA tools, as well as the schism between users who embrace new technology and those who still prefer to layout their boards the old-fashioned way. Which camp do you belong to?

Joe Clark Says DownStream Is Ready for More Growth in 2020

Joe Clark, co-founder of DownStream Technologies, gives Kelly Dack an overview of the company and their innovative product line, which serves to smooth the bumps that can occur between source design output and manufacturing line input. As Joe explains, 2019 was a great year for the company, and he expects that trend to hold through 2020.

February Design007 Magazine: Eric Bogatin Looks at EMI Root Causes and Solutions

The I-Connect007 team recently spoke with design instructor and author Eric Bogatin about the EMI challenges facing PCB designers today. Eric is a “signal integrity evangelist” with Teledyne LeCroy, as well as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, and technical editor of the Signal Integrity Journal. In this interview, Eric explains why EMI is so prevalent and what designers and design engineers can do to avoid EMI from the start.

Fresh Thinking on the Logistics of Laminate Distribution

Mark Goodwin, COO of Europe and the Americas for Ventec International Group, sits down with Barry Matties to explain his approach to supply chain management, efficient distribution, and maintaining definitive product identity at every stage.


Todd Westerhoff on the Value of Solid Design Skills

Andy Shaughnessy recently caught up with Todd Westerhoff, product marketing manager for Mentor’s HyperLynx signal integrity (SI) tools. Todd discusses some of the challenges that he and his customers are facing and why good design skills have more influence on a PCB than any software tool.

Bryan LaPointe: A Great Time to Be Working With Technology

I recently interviewed Bryan LaPointe, a product engineer with Cadence Design Systems, and one of the younger people in the world of PCB design and EDA tools. I asked Bryan to discuss some of the challenges technologists are facing in PCB design and engineering, as well as some of the things that make this field so exciting right now.

What You Need to Know About a PCB Design Career

Never stop learning. Why? Because the industry never stops changing. Those that continuously stay in that state of learning are the ones who succeed. The old saying “Knowledge is power,” often attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, has never been truer. Fortunately, there is never a lack of things to learn. Don’t ever become apathetic about learning. Make a point of keeping a running list of ideas or subjects that you want to research, and then purposely set aside time in your week strictly to study and learn about these things anywhere you can.

The Value of Education and Communication

Editor Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Lawrence Romine, VP of corporate marketing at Altium, about what he thinks design customers need to know and the importance of education and communication between designers and manufacturers.

Planning a Successful Technical Conference

Amanda Lange founded DINEvent and has evolved her company into an active events planner and management company with a global client base. In this interview, Nolan Johnson asks Amanda to share how a technology company should get started with a technical conference for customers.

Top 10 Most-Read Design News Stories of 2019

As we move into 2020, we took a look back at the most popular Design007 news stories of the past year. Here for your enjoyment are the Top 10 most-read Design007 news items of 2019.

Top 10 Most-Read Design Articles of 2019

As we move into 2020, we took a look back at the most popular Design007 articles of the past year. Here for your enjoyment are the Top 10 most-read Design007 articles of 2019.

Is Captive Making a Comeback?

Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Altium’s Steve Chalgren, senior VP of business strategy and planning. Steve shared his thoughts about why improved manufacturing and automated EMS equipment, such as robotics, might lead smaller OEMs to become captive shops like the old days. Is captive making a comeback?

Designing for Complex PCBs

The I-Connect007 editorial team sat down with Freedom CAD’s Scott Miller to talk about the industry’s demand for more increasingly complex PCBs, and the challenges this presents. They also discuss Freedom CAD’s in-house training programs, the company’s recent book authored by Scott, and why communication is such an important tool in a PCB designer’s toolbox.

AltiumLive Frankfurt 2019: Happy Holden Keynote

Nobody left early! Altium had wisely kept Happy Holden’s keynote presentation on “PCB Trends that Will Impact Your Future” until the end of the final day of the AltiumLive 2019 European PCB Design Summit in Frankfurt, Germany. Pete Starkey presents the highlights of Happy's presentation.


AltiumLive Frankfurt 2019: Carl Schattke Keynote

“How many here can remember manually taped artworks?” No more than three hands were raised in an audience of over 230 at the AltiumLive 2019 European PCB Design Summit in Frankfurt, Germany, as IPC Advanced Certified Interconnect Designer Carl Schattke introduced his keynote, entitled “Making and Breaking the Rules.” Schattke had learned PCB layout as his father’s apprentice, hand-taping several hundred PCB designs in the 1970s.

Martyn Gaudion Discusses Backdrilling Software

Martyn Gaudion updates Pete Starkey on Polar’s recent work to model signal integrity to higher speeds as well as additional laminates included in the material library. Now backdrilling is the focus for high-speed design specialists. Martyn discusses the backdrilling beta software that Polar Instruments was showing on the show floor.

AltiumLive Frankfurt 2019: Rick Hartley Keynote

Introduced by Lawrence Romine, Altium’s VP of corporate marketing, as a “low impedance presenter with a passion for his topic,” Rick Hartley delivered the opening keynote at the AltiumLive 2019 European PCB Design Summit in Frankfurt, Germany. Pete Starkey provides an overview of Hartley's presentation, entitled “What Your Differential Pairs Wish You Knew."

A Radical New Design Perspective

Nolan Johnson recently interviewed Gordon Kruberg, CEO of Gumstix, which was acquired by Altium recently. While Gumstix designs and sells computer hardware products, Altium bought Gumstix for the Geppetto design software. Gordon discusses how the concepts of Geppetto are likely to influence future design methods in the Altium environment.

University Rover Challenge Tests Student Teams

Jose Antelo, Luis Toledo, and Francisco Fernandez, members of the California State University (CSU) Fullerton Rover Challenge team, are working on building a competitive robotic platform to compete with other universities in a competition hosted by The Mars Society known as The University Rover Challenge.

Lee Ritchey on the Direction of PCB Design

Editors Andy Shaughnessy and Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Lee Ritchey of Speeding Edge about the direction of PCB design. Lee also discusses some of the changes that he has seen in this industry over the past 40 years and some of the technological drivers that are causing designers to think more like electrical engineers than ever before.

Why Does the PCB Industry Still Use Gerber?

Every so often, I hear technologists ask why so many PCB designers still use Gerber. That is a fair question. Ucamco has over 35 years of experience in developing and supporting cutting-edge software and hardware solutions for the global PCB industry. Our customers—small, medium, and large PCB fabricators—include the electronics industry’s leading companies, and many of them have been with us for over 30 years. We are dedicated to our industry and excellence in everything we do, which includes our custodianship of the Gerber format.

Dugan Karnazes Discusses His New Startup

I caught up with Dugan Karnazes again this year and discussed his new startup, Velocity Research, which is a one-stop shop for design made up of technical creatives. The Grand Rapids company is already doing design work for a variety of customers, from individuals to multinational companies.

Explaining the QSFP-DD Data Center Interconnect Standard

According to Cisco’s report, most IP traffic either originates or terminates in data centers. Yet as massive as the flows between centers are becoming, the data managed within those same facilities is going even higher. All of this activity means that “hyperscale” is the word of the future. Roughly one-quarter of all servers installed in 2016 went to hyperscale facilities, but that number will grow to almost one-half by next year.

Communication, Part 5: Internet Impedance Calculators for Modeling

Bob Chandler of CA Design and Mark Thompson of Prototron Circuits address how new engineers use internet impedance calculators for modeling (e.g., formulas versus recipes) in Part 5 of this series. Do you use impedance calculators that you found on the internet? Read on!


Words of Advice: What Feature Would You Like to See in Your CAD Tool?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What feature would you like to see in your CAD tool? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Happy Holden Previews His AltiumLive Frankfurt Keynote

I recently sat down for an interview with Happy Holden, who is slated to give a keynote speech at this year’s AltiumLive event in Frankfurt, Germany. Happy gives a preview of his presentation, which is focused on smart factories and automation, and why artificial intelligence might improve PCB design and fabrication in the future.

Communication, Part 2: Design Data Packages

The first part of this six-part series highlighted ways that PCB fabricators and designers can better communicate, starting with how to qualify a board shop. In Part 2, Bob Chandler and Mark Thompson talk about the importance of preparing, sending, and receiving comprehensive (and ideally, perfectly complete) design data packages.

Leo Lambert on Training the Next Generation of Technologists

I sat down for an interview with Leo Lambert, VP of technical director for EPTAC Corporation, during the IPC Summer Meetings in Raleigh, North Carolina. We discussed the company’s growth, including plans to have training centers across different regions of the country to help cut down on students’ travel times, and why training methods must constantly evolve to remain effective.

Design Rule Checks Cut Down Board Respins

PCB designs commonly undergo multiple respins as a result of inconspicuous signal integrity (SI), power integrity (PI), and electromagnetic interference (EMI) violations. At an average cost of nearly $28,000 per respin, ensuring that a given design meets its performance, time to market, and cost goals is imperative. To help eliminate complicated and difficult-to-diagnose layout violations, some PCB tool suites offer unique electrical design rule checks (DRC).

Words of Advice: What Feature Would You Like to See in Your CAD Tool?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What feature would you like to see in your CAD tool? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Robert Feranec: A Lifetime of PCB Design

I recently spoke with Robert Feranec about the upcoming keynote he’ll be giving at AltiumLive in San Diego, California. Robert is a YouTube star and founder of the FEDEVEL Academy. In our interview, he discusses his keynote presentation as well as how he’s helping designers and engineers around the world understand and optimize their PCB design processes.

Pulsonix Is Bullish on Next-gen Designers

During a recent trip to the U.K., Barry Matties spoke with Bob Williams, the managing director of Pulsonix, about training the new generation of designers. He explained how the company reaches out to local high schools, colleges, universities, and user groups to advocate for careers in PCB design and manufacturing.

EIPC Summer Conference 2019, Day 1

The beautiful city of Leoben in central Austria provided the setting for the EIPC 2019 Summer Conference. In this article, EIPC Chairman Alun Morgan provides the highlights of the first day of the event, including a recap of the technical presentations.

PCB Design Training: More Critical Than Ever

I interviewed Gary Ferrari of FTG at the IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore. Gary is a co-founder of the IPC Designers Council and a longtime advocate for PCB design and PCB designers. We discussed the crucial role that PCB designers play in the entire electronics development process, and how IPC and the Designers Council are helping to educate and inform the next generation of designers.


AltiumLive Q&A With Keynote Speaker Eric Bogatin

It's show season again! The 2019 AltiumLive PCB Design Summit will be here before you know it, taking place October 9-11 in San Diego, California. Teledyne LeCroy’s Eric Bogatin, the “signal integrity evangelist,” will be giving a keynote presentation titled “Breaking Bad: A Downside of Open Source Designs.” Eric gives us a preview of his presentation and discuss some of the biggest design challenges he sees today.

Decoupling Capacitors’ Impact on Power and Signal Integrity

It is crucial for hardware designers to identify the resonant frequency of each element of the PDN on a PCB and its impact on power integrity. A PCB with poor power integrity—such as a higher-than-targeted PDN impedance across the wideband range—results in SSN and a shrunken eye diagram of the signal transmitted by the IC that draws power from the PDN. This article demonstrates the post-layout co-simulation of power and signal integrity.

Altium Designer 19.0 Features Printed Electronics Design Functions

The newest version of Altium Designer—revision 19.0—includes functionality for designing printed electronic circuits. We wanted to get the scoop on Altium’s PEC tools, so we asked Nikolay Ponomarenko, Altium’s director of product management, to give us a tour of the new functions.

IPC High-reliability Forum and Microvia Summit Review, Part I

The IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit covered a broad range of topics related to reliability and provided interactive opportunities to share expert knowledge and experience in determining and understanding the causes of failure and selecting the best design rules, materials, processes, and test methods to maximise product reliability.

Words of Advice: What are Your Biggest Problems Related to Flex Design?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What are your biggest problems related to flex design? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Pulsonix 10.5 Development Driven by Customer Demand

I recently spoke with Bob Williams, the managing director of Pulsonix, about the release of the EDA tool’s version 10.5. Bob explained how the company had made the tool more intuitive based on user input, and he discussed some of the more cutting-edge functionality not normally found in competitively priced tools.

Libraries: A Must-have for Design

I-Connect007 was invited to attend a session of the Orange County Chapter of the IPC Designers Council (DC). Even though I have been an IPC member for over half a century (yes, almost since vacuum tubes dominated design), this was my first DC event.

Design Rules Recipe: Solvability, Manufacturability, and Performance

One thing that we’ve noticed lately: Each designer seems to have his or her own way of using PCB design rules. There doesn’t seem to be much agreement about setting or using design rules. So, in this true experts panel, Mike Creeden of San Diego PCB joined Freedom CAD’s Scott McCurdy, Jay Carbone, and Rich Kluever to share their views on PCB design rules.

Wild River, eSilicon, and Samtec Team up for 112-Gbps Test Vehicle

During DesignCon, I sat down for an interview with Tim Horel from eSilicon, Al Neves of Wild River Technology, and Matt Burns from Samtec. They’ve recently teamed up to create a 112-Gbps test vehicle that may be the first of its kind of test fixture.

Collaboratively Creating Wearable Medical Products

Patty Goldman, Barry Matties, and Happy Holden recently spoke with David Moody and Rich Clemente of Lenthor Engineering along with Anthony Flattery and Amit Rushi—their customers at GraftWorx. They discussed a recent project and how they worked together to solve a difficult problem by designing a rigidized flex circuit for their product.


Altium’s Craig Arcuri on Design Rules: Past, Present, and Future

We recently spoke with Altium’s Craig Arcuri about his views on design and manufacturing rules. Craig has experience running both design and manufacturing companies, so he has a fairly circumspect view of constraints from both sides of the product realization process. Craig details some of the challenges with setting and managing hundreds of often divergent design and manufacturing rules, and how both design and manufacturing constraints need to evolve.

Technically Appropriate Material Choices are Key to Design Success

Materials are no longer a passive part of the design; they play an active role in the manufacturability, reliability, and speed of a PCB. I-Connect007’s Nolan Johnson and Mike Creeden, founder of San Diego PCB Design, discuss several key characteristics that designers should consider in their material selection process.

XPLM: Using PLM to Integrate ECAD and MCAD Data

During AltiumLive in Munich, I met with Robert Huxel, XPLM’s director of business development for EMEA and APAC. XPLM offers data integration for some of the big EDA tool companies, and their tools can integrate ECAD and MCAD data into PLM systems. I asked Robert to tell us about the requirements of today’s PLM tools, the changing world of ECAD and MCAD integration, and whether these two types of data are ever going to converge.

An Experienced Millennial on Hiring the Next Generation

During DesignCon, I met with Geoffrey Hazelett, VP of sales for Polar Instruments. Even though he has been in EDA for a few years, Geoffrey is still in his thirties, which makes him a youthful cherub in this industry. I asked Geoffrey what he thinks about the new PCB designers and EEs entering this field, and what more can be done to expose young people to the world of PCBs.

Preparing to Enter the Workforce With PCB Design Experience

Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Alex Burt, a computer engineering student at George Fox University, at a well-attended college career fair on the GFU campus in Newberg, Oregon. In the interview, Alex discusses his PCB classwork, challenges of design, and how it has impacted his internship experience as he prepares to enter the workforce upon graduation in the spring semester of 2019.

Words of Advice: Flex Design Challenges

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What are your biggest problems related to flex design? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

PCB Design Is All in the Family With Nicole Pacino

I shared a flight with Nicole Pacino on the way to Altium Live in Munich, and she mentioned that her father was speaking at the show. I went down the list of speakers, and it turned out that her dad is Mike Creeden of San Diego PCB. In Germany, I asked Nicole to tell us about how she got into this industry, and what we could do to draw more young people into this career.

From Spain to Austria: A Student’s Drive to Be a Professor

The AltiumLive event in Munich drew several hundred PCB designers from around Europe, including engineering students interested in PCB design. I spoke with Pablo Sanchez Martinez, a student at FH Joanneum in Austria who is working toward being a full professor in hardware design. Pablo discussed his studies in engineering and PCB design, the classes he’s teaching, and his plans for teaching the young engineers of the future.

ITEQ’s Tarun Amla Discusses 5G Inflection Points

ITEQ Corporation Executive VP and CTO Tarun Amla discusses effects of 5G on materials and shares general observations on the 5G rollout at DesignCon. He also talks about the challenges for their customers, and how they help them address their issues.

Andy Johnson: EDA a Great Field for Young People

At the AltiumLive event in Munich, Germany, I sat down for an interview with Altium’s Andy Johnson. Andy is 25 and just a few years out of college, so I asked for his thoughts on working in this industry and what we can do to draw more young people into the PCB design community.


EIPC Winter Conference, Day 2

After the papers from the first day of the EIPC Winter Conference in Milan on February 14–15, the delegates were hosted at a reception and plant tour of Elga Europe at their nearby production facility. Here's a recap of the events and highlights of the Day 2 of the conference.

Nano Dimension Offers Update on Dragonfly 3D Printer a Year After Launch

The Nano Dimension Dragonfly 3D printer arrived in much fanfare a little over a year ago. The company has been selling them to customers around the world, many of whom are using them to print antennas, sensors, and PCBs. At AltiumLive in Munich, I asked Product Manager Robert Even to discuss what they’ve learned in the year since the Dragonfly debuted, and some potential uses for 3D printing technology.

SimplifyDA: Time for a New Autorouter Paradigm?

At DesignCon, I spoke with SimplifyDA CEO Zen Liao and Director of Sales and Marketing Dale Hanzelka. SimplifyDA is putting a new twist on the old autorouter by utilizing topological technology. I asked them to discuss their approach to autorouting, and how they plan to entice more PCB designers to use routers. Is it time for a paradigm shift in autorouting?

Bert Simonovich on Modeling Copper Roughness

I met with one of our contributors, Bert Simonovich of Lamsim Enterprises, at DesignCon 2019. Bert’s paper on interconnect modeling was nominated as a Best Paper finalist, so I asked him to discuss his paper and some of the challenges that engineers and their customers are facing right now.

EMA: Cadence Moves Simulation Further Up in the Design Cycle

Cadence Design Systems recently integrated more of its Sigrity capabilities into the front end of its PCB design tools. During DesignCon, Chris Banton of EMA Design Automation spoke with me about how this drive for “model-less analysis” benefits the PCB designer who can now access signal and power integrity, DFM, and electrical rule checking functionality early in the design process and have fewer issues later.

Words of Advice: What are Your Biggest Design Challenges?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What are your biggest design challenges? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Cherie Litson on ECAD/MCAD and Training the Next Generation

Cherie Litson, CID+, was one of the instructors at AltiumLive Munich. I asked her to discuss some of the topics she covered in her class, and what the future of PCB design will look like. How are we going to pass down all of this design knowledge to the next generation?

Todd Westerhoff Discusses His New Position and Much More

At DesignCon, I met with our old friend Todd Westerhoff, a veteran signal integrity engineer. Todd joined Mentor, a Siemens Business, since we last spoke. We discussed his new job responsibilities, his drive to get more designers and engineers to use SI tools, and the increasing value of cost-reduced design techniques versus overdesigning PCBs.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Judy Warner on Altium's Transformative Vision

During IPC APEX EXPO, Guest Editor Kelly Dack sat down for an interview with Judy Warner, Altium's director of community engagement. They discussed Altium's efforts to educate PCB designers, regardless of their CAD tools, and the company's plan to transform the industry by bringing together PCB design and manufacturing.

Linda Mazzitelli: PTC Goes all in on ECAD/MCAD Collaboration

At AltiumLive Munich, I ran into Linda Mazzitelli of PTC. Linda has worn a lot of hats in the PCB design world—she’s even married to a designer. I asked Linda to discuss her current work at PTC and the apparent convergence of ECAD and MCAD, which many think has been a long time coming for this industry.


Casper van Doorne Discusses His AltiumLive Class, IoT, and More

What’s in a name? When PCB designer Casper van Doorne needed to choose a name for his service bureau, only one name would do—Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated, a villainous name familiar to fans of Walt Disney. At AltiumLive Munich, I spoke with Casper about his company, the class he presented in Munich, and some of the benefits and ramifications of the growth of IoT.

TUM Hyperloop Team Learns PCB Design on Way to Setting World Speed Record

At AltiumLive Munich, I met with Tobias Bobrzik, a Technical University of Munich student and member of the TUM Hyperloop team. In 2018, the TUM Hyperloop team’s prototype pod set the world speed record of 290 miles per hour, which lead to their meeting with Musk. Tobias designed some of the PCBs used in that vehicle, so I asked him to tell us more about this experience, and what he hopes to do after graduation.

Words of Advice: Flex Design Problems

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What are your biggest problems related to flex design? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity. How many of you would agree that "educating the customer" is your biggest challenge?

AltiumLive Munich: Day 2 Keynotes

Having enjoyed the conference dinner and robot battles of the previous evening, a good night’s sleep, and a hearty breakfast, Altium’s family of over 220 electronics engineers and designers eagerly returned to the conference room. Many jostled to secure the best seats for the second day of the European AltiumLive design summit in Munich, keen to make the most of the “learn, connect, and get inspired” opportunity it offered.

AltiumLive Munich: Day 1 Keynotes

The weather forecast was wrong! Despite my apprehension and winter clothes, there was very little snow at the Hilton Munich Airport. It could have been any season of the year inside the splendid convention facility, which was also the venue for the second European AltiumLive design summit. AltiumLive brought together a family of over 220 electronics engineers and designers eager to learn from top industry experts and applications specialists who were equally eager to share their knowledge and experience freely.

Words of Advice: Advice for Systems Designers

In a recent Design007 survey, we asked the following question: What advice would you give an OEM system designer? Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

AltiumLive Munich Draws Designers from Around Europe

I’m finally unpacked after last week’s AltiumLive PCB design summit in Munich. Much like the AltiumLive event I attended in San Diego last October, the conference drew hundreds of PCB designers. This marked the second AltiumLive PCB design summit held in Munich, and Altium seems to have it down to a science. I spoke with designers from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium, just to name a few countries. Many of them were involved in the automotive segment but some were in medical and industrial controls as well. It’s great to be at an event that is full of PCB designers, because designers are few and far between at most PCB industry events.

The Quest for Perfect Design Data Packages

There’s an ongoing problem in the PCB industry: fabrication shops are receiving incomplete or inadequate design data packages, leaving manufacturers scrambling to fill in the blanks. For a quick-turn prototype shop like Washington-based Prototron, with over 5,000 customers and up to 60% of orders coming from new customers each month, that can add up to a lot of wasted time and effort just in the quoting stage. Dave Ryder, Prototron president, and Mark Thompson, engineering support, delve into this continuing issue and more.

Altium Prepares for Munich Show as Growth Continues

It’s been just two months since the AltiumLive event drew several hundred designers to San Diego, California, and Altium is already gearing up for the next show in Munich, Germany (January 15–17, 2019). I recently spoke with Chris Donato, VP of global sales for Altium, about the upcoming AltiumLive show as well as the company’s growth over the past few years.

January 2019 Issue of Design007 Magazine Available Now

The component shortage is getting crazy. Some PCB designers are finding their favorite capacitors on 50-week and 80-week lead times, or worse. How do you design a board today when the components you need won’t be available for a year or more? In the January 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, we asked our expert contributors to explain the current component shortage, as well as some of the workarounds that can help you get your next design out the door sooner rather than later.


Rainer Beerhalter Discusses His AltiumLive Munich Presentation

Rainer Beerhalter is a physicist, and according to his design bureau’s website, “founder, owner, and mastermind” of B GMBH. Rainer attended the first AltiumLive in Munich in 2017, and he’s returning to this year’s event in Munich January 15–17. I asked him to tell us about the class he’ll be teaching in Munich, and why he decided to come back for the sophomore AltiumLive show.

Words of Advice: Design Challenges

In a recent Design007 survey, we asked the following question: "What are your biggest design challenges?" Here are just a few of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.

Dan Beeker on His AltiumLive Munich Keynote and Battle With the Status Quo

Dan Beeker, senior principal engineer with NXP Semiconductors, was one of the speakers at the first AltiumLive event in San Diego in 2017. Now, he returns to AltiumLive 2019 in Munich from January 15–17 with a keynote titled, “It’s All About the Space.” Here, he discusses his keynote, which focuses on the need for designers to understand the behavior of electromagnetic fields, and why the status quo for advanced PCB design must change from, “We are going to fail,” to, “We are going to pass.”

Susy Webb: The History and Future of the Designers Council

When we started planning this issue on the IPC Designers Council, I knew I’d have to speak with design instructor Susy Webb, a longtime DC member and currently an executive board officer. I asked Susy to discuss how she first got involved with the DC, why designers should join their local chapter, and what the future holds for this group.

Calculation of Frequency-Dependent Effective Roughness Dielectric Parameters for Copper Foil Using Equivalent Capacitance Models

Knowledge of the correct parameters of laminate PCB dielectrics refined from any copper foil roughness impact and the proper foil roughness characterization are important constituents of modeling high-speed digital electronics designs.

Effects of PCB Fiber Weave on High-Speed Signal Integrity

This article studies the effect of PCB fiber weave on signal integrity in terms of mode conversion and differential channel loss due to intra-pair skew. The study used Keysight ADS 2DEM simulation to observe s-parameter (i.e., insertion loss and differential to common-mode conversion) and an eye diagram for signal transmission at 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps.

Randy Burcham Discusses New Techniques for BOM, Daughterboards

During AltiumLive, I spoke with IOTA Engineering's Randy Burcham, who taught several classes during the event. He explained his methodology for filtering BOM data as well as his new approach to working with daughterboards and how he was up and running on Altium tools after only three days.

The Readers Speak: The Design Data Format Survey

If you’re or designer or a design engineer, the odds are good that you have a few things to say regarding design data formats. We want to hear from you! Your participation in this design data survey would be much appreciated. We know that your time is valuable, and you’re getting ready for the holidays, so we’ve kept it short and sweet.

Embedded Inductors with Laser Machined Gap

The power magnetics are often the largest and most expensive devices in the circuit. Integrating them into either a power converter module or system board can significantly reduce size and cost of the power converter function. This work presents the fabrication of embedded inductors and the experimental laser machining of gaps in the underlying ferrite structure.

Mentor Discusses New DFT, DFM, and Design Verification Tools

At electronica 2018, John McMillan, digital marketing program manager-Electronic Board Systems, and Mark Laing, business development manager-Valor Division of Mentor, a Siemens business, discuss new tools for PCB design verification, as well as design for manufacturing (DFM) and design for testing (DFT).


Rick Almeida Discusses DownStream's Latest News

At the 2018 electronica exhibition in Munich, Rick Almeida, founder of DownStream Technologies, brings Editor Pete Starkey up to speed with the company’s latest news.

Martyn Gaudion on Signal Integrity Modelling and Stackup Tools

The accuracy of signal integrity modelling continues to improve, and stackup tools are becoming widely used, which now include material suppliers' datasheet information. During the recent electronica show in Munich, Germany, Martyn Gaudion, managing director at Polar Instruments, explained how Polar often serves as a bridge between PCB design and fabrication, and why educating his customers is so critical.

Words of Advice: Fabricator Feedback?

In a recent Design007 Survey, we asked the following question: What is the most important feedback that you receive after your board is manufactured? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

New Grad Designs PCBs for Smart Baby Beds

The best ideas in the electronics industry improve the quality of our lives. At AltiumLive, I ran into Tamara Jovanovic, a new PCB designer and junior electrical engineer with Happiest Baby, a Los Angeles-based company that makes smart beds that can protect babies from crib death. After joking that I save the world from dangling participles while she’s saving babies, I asked Tamara to tell us more about smart baby beds, and how she got into PCB design in the first place.

New Designers Council Column: The Digital Layout

The IPC Designers Council is launching a new column in Design007 Magazine: “The Digital Layout.” I recently asked two IPC Designers Council (DC) Executive Board members, Mike Creeden and Stephen Chavez, to discuss the content and objective of their new column, and how this all ties in with the DC.

Impact of Serpentine Routing on Multi-gigabit Signal Transmission

Serpentine is a technique to minimize skew or misalignment of differential pairs. The number of segments and intra-pair spacing of serpentining impacts the high-speed signal transmission. As the intra-pair gap is enlarged for serpentining, the characteristic impedance of the PCB trace in differential mode will rise. This leads to impedance discontinuity, signal reflection, and ultimately, attenuation. The signal attenuation is heavily dependent on the number of segments and intra-pair spacing of the serpentine.

Achieving Minimal Crosstalk in Multi-board Interconnect

In an electronic system, the signal transmission exists in a closed-loop form. The forward current propagates from transmitter to receiver through the signal trace. On the other hand, for a single PCB, the return current travels backward from receiver to transmitter through the ground plane closest to the signal trace. Meanwhile, for multi-board interconnect (e.g., connectivity through flex or ribbon cable), the return current travels back to the transmitter through the ground or return wire, preferably as close as possible to the signal wire. The path of forward current and return current forms a loop inductance.

ESD Alliance Advisory Council to Shape ES Design West at SEMICON West

The Electronic System Design Alliance, a SEMI Strategic Association Partner, today hosted the first meeting of the Advisory Council of ES Design West co-located with SEMICON West 2019 West at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, July 9-11, 2019.

Julie Ellis: Communication and Fabrication Knowledge Critical for Designers

Field Application Engineer Julie Ellis of TTM sees it all: good designs, bad designs, and everything in between. Her classes on proper DFM techniques are always a big draw. She taught at the inaugural AltiumLive in 2017 and was back at this year’s event. I caught up with Julie and asked her to discuss some of the things she covered in class. As she points out, many issues could be eliminated if designers communicated with their fabricators and had a better understanding of how PCBs are manufactured.

Max Seeley’s PCB Design Career is No Fish Story

Max Seeley, senior electrical, PCB, and manufacturing engineer with 3M, was an instructor at the first AltiumLive event in 2017, and he made a return visit to this year’s event in San Diego. I asked Max why he decided to come back to AltiumLive this year and to share the story of his rather circuitous journey into PCB design, which included a turn as a custom aquarium builder. Everyone in PCB design has a different backstory.


Pulsonix Expands into North America with Version 10 Release

At PCB West in Santa Clara, California, Guest Editor Tim Haag and Publisher Barry Matties sat down with Ty Stephens of Pulsonix on the eve of the software developer's much-anticipated version 10 release date. Stephens outlined many new updates in the upcoming release—which has been in development for over two years—and discussed the company’s desire to break into the highly competitive North American software market.

Amway Sells Beauty Products—and Designs its Own PCBs

During AltiumLive in San Diego, I met Dugan M. Karnazes, an associate electrical engineer and PCB designer at Amway. The company is famous for selling nutritional supplements and soap, but apparently Amway has been busy diversifying over the years. I was interested in finding out more about Amway’s electronics development. Dugan sat down with me to discuss his role at Amway, and how this company grew into an $8 billion global giant.

Cadence Presents New Software System and Technical Papers at PCB West 2018

During PCB West 2018, I spoke with Dan Fernsebner, product marketing group director, and Hemant Shah, product management group director for enterprise PCB products, both with Cadence Design Systems, about their new software launch—DesignTrue DFM Ecosystem. Fernsebner and Shah also address recent technical papers from Cadence on Industry 4.0, IPC-2581, system-level design, and return-path analysis and management.

Altium Designer Increasingly Used for High-Speed Design

I recently met with Mark Forbes, the director of technical marketing at Altium, during the AltiumLive event in San Diego. We discussed Mark’s class on MCAD/ECAD collaboration and the success of AltiumLive, as well as the growth of Altium users who design high-speed PCBs with Altium Designer.

Catching up With Scott McCurdy and Freedom CAD

During PCB West, Scott McCurdy of Freedom CAD Services sat down with Technical Editor Tim Haag for an interview. We discussed Freedom CAD’s latest news, some trends in PCB design software tools, and the continuing need to draw more young people into a career in PCB design.

Rick Hartley is Bullish on PCB Design, 3D Printing

At the recent PCB West in Silicon Valley, Consulting Technical Editor Tim Haag met with long-time design industry veteran Rick Hartley to discuss the changing landscape of circuit board design, the layout designers of the future, and how designers can benefit from 3D printing of circuit boards.

Darwin E. George: Seeking PCB Design Job at Retirement Age

Some of us dream of living a life of leisure at 70. But not Darwin E. George. This septuagenarian wants to find a job designing PCBs. We met up with Darwin at AltiumLive, where he was networking and trying to get his foot in the door with one of the companies that are hiring now. Darwin told us about his career in PCB design, his experience learning a new EDA tool, and why he would rather design high-speed PCBs instead of playing shuffleboard for the rest of his life.

RTW SMTAI: PalPilot on Adding Value to Design and Assembly

Tim Sullivan, vice president of sales at PalPilot International Corp., speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson about their services, and how they add value to their customers from design to assembly/manufacturing. He also talks about their online platform called FootPrintKu, which help designers when it comes to footprints of their design.

One-Question Survey, Part 2: What Advice Would You Offer a New Designer?

During AltiumLive 2018, the I-Connect007 editorial team asked some of the attendees to answer one question: What advice would you offer to a brand-new PCB designer? Here are just a few of the replies we received.

Karl-Heinz Fritz on Cicor’s DenciTec Technology

In a recent interview, Karl-Heinz Fritz, VP of technology at Cicor, discusses the business, DenciTec technology, the impact of tariffs on trade, and applications for 3D printing and additive manufacturing, including potential new opportunities for PCB designers.


Cadence: Bullish on AI

David White has been involved with artificial intelligence research for almost 30 years. Now, David is the senior group director of R&D for Cadence Design Systems, and I knew we’d have to speak with him for this issue on AI. In a recent interview, we discussed his decades of work in AI, Cadence’s research into AI and machine learning, and what he believes AI could mean for the EDA tools of the future.

One-Question Survey: What Advice Would You Offer a New Designer?

During AltiumLive 2018, the I-Connect007 editorial team asked some of the attendees to answer one question: What advice would you offer to a brand-new PCB designer? Here are just a few of the replies we received.

AltiumLive 2018 a Mecca for PCB Designers

AltiumLive 2018 San Diego is now in the history books. This is the second annual AltiumLive (North America), and it was even better than the first. With nearly 300 hundred participants, from all parts of the country and industry, the event was a huge success.

John R. Watson Returns to AltiumLive in San Diego

When AltiumLive launched last year, John R. Watson, CID, of Legrand signed up as an instructor. He’ll be presenting at this week’s AltiumLive in San Diego as well. I spoke with John recently about his AltiumLive class, and the state of PCB design. He also discussed a few tricks for designing boards with components that are currently on an 80-week lead time, and why this problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.

AltiumLive to Feature Altium Designer 19 Release

This week, Altium Designer 19 will be officially launched to the public during AltiumLive, which takes place October 3-5 in San Diego. I asked Altium COO Ted Pawela to give us a preview of Altium Designer 19, and to explain how AD19 fits in with the company’s long-term plans. He also discusses Altium Live’s plan to provide PCB design content that is not vendor-specific to help support the entire industry, not just customers.

Lee Ritchey Returns to AltiumLive with 32 Gbps Design Class

Lee Ritchey was one of the instructors for last year’s inaugural AltiumLive event, which drew hundreds of PCB designers. Now, Lee is back, teaching a high-speed design class at next week’s AltiumLive in San Diego. That class is sold-out, but you can catch Lee teaching the same class at the January AltiumLive event in Germany. I asked Lee to explain what he plans to cover in this course, and why PCB designers and design engineers should consider attending one of the events.

Judy Warner: AltiumLive’s Second Year to Be Even Better Than First

Last year, Altium launched its AltiumLive event with shows in San Diego and Munich, Germany. This year, the event has expanded to include an extra day of classes. Altium is gearing up for the San Diego event in early October and the German show in January 2019. I recent spoke with Judy Warner, director of community engagement for Altium, about what designers should expect at both shows, and how the company can build on the success of the 2017 events going into the future.

PCB Design Challenges: A Package Designer’s Perspective

The challenges faced by the PCB designers of today are significant. If we examine the breadth of designs, we find ever-increasing data rates and more high-speed signal routing that drive additional challenges meeting signal-quality requirements, including reflection signal loss and crosstalk issues. At the same time, designers are being asked to complete designs in shorter cycle times and in smaller form factors. They must come up with new and more complex routing strategies to better control impedance and crosstalk. Manual implementation is often time-consuming and prone to layout errors.

Managing the Challenges of Flex and Rigid-Flex Design

PCB designers working with flex or rigid-flex technology face many potential risks that can derail a project and cause costly design failures. As the name implies, flex and rigid-flex designs comprise a combination of rigid and flexible board technologies made up of multiple layers of flexible circuit substrates, attached internally and/or externally to one or more rigid boards. These combinations provide flexibility for the PCB designer working on dense designs that require a specific form factor. Rigid-flex allows the PCB design team to cost-efficiently apply greater functionality to a smaller volume of space, while providing the mechanical stability required by most applications.

The Impact of PCB Dielectric Thickness on Signal Crosstalk

Crosstalk is an unintentional electromagnetic (EM) field coupling between transmission lines on a PCB. This phenomenon becomes a major culprit in signal integrity (SI), contributing to the rise of bit error occurrence in data communications and electromagnetic interference (EMI). With the existence of mutual inductance and capacitance between two adjacent transmission lines on a PCB, crosstalk has become more severe due to the shorter signal rise/fall times at today’s higher data speed rates.


Mentor Preparing for Next-Gen PCB Designers

Millennials are the future of our industry. What does this mean for the PCB design community? How do we attract more of these smart young people to the world of PCB design? I asked Paul Musto, director of marketing for Mentor’s Board Systems Division, to explain the company’s initiatives aimed at drawing more young people into PCB design

In With the New at Cadence

The next generation of PCB designers is coming—slowly, but surely. What will this new group of designers mean for EDA vendors like Cadence Design Systems? Andy Shaughnessy recently interviewed Dan Fernsebner, product marketing group director and a veteran EDA guy, and Bryan LaPointe, lead product engineer and representative of the younger generation. They discussed the next generation of PCB designers, some of the best ways to draw smart young people into this industry, and why the PCB designers of the future may need to have a college degree just to get an interview.

Advanced Stackup Planning with Impedance, Delay and Loss Validation

A typical PCB design usually starts with the material selection and stackup definition—the stackup planning or design exploration stage. How reliable are the data provided by the material vendors and PCB manufacturers? Can we use these data to predict trace width and spacing for the target trace impedance or to calculate delays or evaluate the loss budget?

Thermal Management Materials: Easing the Decision-Making Process

There are many different types of thermally conductive materials, and choosing between them will be dictated by production requirements and application design, as well as critical performance factors that must be achieved.

Multi-board Design with Altium’s Ben Jordan

Not too long ago, historically speaking, most electronic products contained only one PCB. But multi-board designs have become almost ubiquitous over the past decade, and EDA software companies are working to improve and simplify the multi-board design process. Editors Andy Shaughnessy and Stephen Las Marias spoke with Ben Jordan, director of product and persona marketing for Altium, about the company’s multi-board design tools, the challenges that customers face, and the numerous trade-offs that designers must contend with while performing multi-board design.

Achieving Optimum Signal Integrity During Layer Transition on High-Speed PCBs

In electronic systems, signal transmission exists in a closed-loop form. The forward current propagates from transmitter to receiver through the signal trace. Meanwhile, the return current travels backward from receiver to transmitter through the power or ground plane directly underneath the signal trace that serves as the reference or return path. The path of forward current and return current forms a loop inductance. It is important to route the high-speed signal on a continuous reference plane so that the return current can propagate on the desired path beneath the signal trace.

DFM: Top Ten PCB Concerns

DFM—design for manufacturability—is a critically important but often ignored aspect of the PCB design process that directly impacts product quality and reliability. This article will discuss the top 10 DFM concerns that should be part of any design review process.

Sensible Design: Protecting PCBs from Harsh, Challenging Environments

Think very carefully about the sort of environment your PCB is likely to encounter. It is easy to over-engineer a product so that it will survive the very worst of conditions, but worst conditions may only be fleeting or transient. Therefore, a resin solution with a lower temperature performance specification will often cope. Take temperature extremes, for example. Your application may experience occasional temperature spikes of up to 180°C, which you might feel deserves treatment with a special resin.

Paving the Way for 400Gb Ethernet and 5G

This article briefly introduces the 4-level pulse amplitude modulation (PAM-4) and its application in 400 Gigabit Ethernet (400GbE), to support the booming data traffic volume in conjunction with the deployment of 5G mobile communications. Furthermore, this article also highlights the essential pre-layout effort from signal integrity perspective for physical (PHY) link design on a PCB, including material selection, transmission line design and channel simulation to support 56Gbps data rate that paves the way for seamless communication in 400GbE.

Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Flex and Rigid-Flex Fundamentals

The design process is arguably the most important part of the flex circuit procurement process. The decisions made in the design process will have a lasting impact, for better or worse, throughout the manufacturing cycle. In advance of providing important details about the actual construction of the flex circuit, it is of value to provide some sort of understanding of the expected use environment for the finished product.


Making the Most of PCB Materials for 5G Microwave and mmWave Amps

Ready or not, 5G is coming, and it will require the right circuit materials for many different types of high-frequency circuits, including power amplifiers. 5G represents the latest and greatest in wireless technology, and it will be challenging to design and fabricate, starting with the circuit board materials, because it will operate across many different frequencies, such as 6 GHz and below, as well as at millimeter-wave frequencies (typically 30 GHz and above).

Experts Discussion: What Does 5G Mean to Materials and EDA Tools?

Whether we’re ready for it or not, 5G technology is coming. We decided to speak with John Hendricks, market segment manager for wireless infrastructure at Rogers Corporation, and Ben Jordan, director of product and persona marketing for Altium, about the challenges related to 5G and what this means for PCB designers and fabricators.

Design and Manufacturing Perspectives from DISH Technology’s Les Beller

I recently interviewed Les Beller, a long-time PCB designer who is now a manufacturing engineer for DISH Technology. We discussed his company’s business shift towards 5G and streaming, and the stresses that puts on a design team. He also explains the greatest challenges that he’s facing with HDI and higher frequencies, and the added importance for designers to understand the manufacturing process and DFM tools.

The Survey Said: Industry Optimistic After Strong 2017

During recent trade shows and conferences, we spoke with a variety of fabricators and assembly providers. They had one thing in common: Every company achieved strong growth in 2017, and shared a positive outlook about the future. This year, the industry is optimistic, driven by positive economic outlook, growing customer demand, and new technologies and vertical markets, among others.

Zuken Pulling Ahead in Automotive PCB Design

Zuken has been developing PCB design tools for the automotive market for years. With automotive electronics worth over $200 billion globally, and growing every day, Zuken is preparing for a brave new world of smart cars, and autonomous and electric vehicles. I spoke with Humair Mandavia, chief strategy officer with Zuken, and asked him about the challenges facing automotive PCB designers, and the trends he’s seeing in this constantly evolving segment of the industry.

Interview: Incoming and Outgoing Presidents of Polar Instruments

Polar Instruments has hired some talented technologists recently, including a new president, Dorine Gurney. At DesignCon, I had the opportunity to sit down for an interview with Dorine and Ken Taylor, Polar’s outgoing president. We talked about Dorine’s objectives for the company and Ken’s plans for life after Polar.

Fadi Deek Discusses Mentor’s New Power Integrity eBook

At DesignCon 2018, I ran into Mentor’s Fadi Deek, the author of both of Mentor’s I-Connect007 eBooks: the newest, "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to Power Integrity by Example," and their first book, "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to Signal Integrity by Example." We sat down and discussed how the idea for the books came about, as well as some of the power integrity challenges facing PCB designers and engineers.

Jan Pedersen: CircuitData Enhances Current Data Formats

During the Design Forum at IPC APEX EXPO 2018, Jan Pedersen, senior technical advisor for the PCB broker Elmatica, gave a presentation on CircuitData. The language is designed to help facilitate other design data transfer formats such as Gerber, ODB++, and IPC-2581. Jan spoke with Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy and Contributing Technical Editor Happy Holden about how this open language works with the existing data formats, as well as the need to eliminate paper documents from design process, and how the industry can help shape this open-source language.

Mentor’s HyperLynx Automates SERDES Channel Design

Mentor recently released the newest version of its HyperLynx signal integrity software. This version may be the first SI tool in the industry to fully automate SERDES design channel validation. I spoke recently with Chuck Ferry, product marketing manager with Mentor, about the new HyperLynx and some of the new serial link design capabilities that customers have been demanding.

Julie Ellis: TTM’s Interface Between Designer and Fabricator

As a field application engineer for TTM, Julie Ellis sees the problems that can occur between circuit board designers and manufacturers. Barry Matties spoke with Julie at the AltiumLive event in Munich about the age-old problem of throwing designs “over the wall,” the trend towards HDI, and what advice she would give new designers.


Cadence’s Sigrity Automates Power Integrity Simulation Earlier in Design Cycle

DesignCon is always a great place to check out the latest PCB layout and simulation software tools. During DesignCon 2018, Guest Editor Kelly Dack met with Sam Chitwood, a product engineer with Cadence. Sam explained how the Cadence Sigrity simulation software now allows users to make decisions early in the design process, and how this can help optimize the design of the power delivery network and ensure signal integrity in complex PCBs.

South African Electronics Industry Going Strong

EDA Technologies is a South African company that offers PCB design engineering services, mainly for the domestic electronics market, which makes up a surprising 12.5% of South Africa’s GDP. Barry Matties recently spoke to founder Nechan Naicker about the benefits of outsourcing to South Africa, the market segments they service there, and any advice he had to offer from his 20+ years in the industry.

SnapEDA Harnesses Technology in Providing Verified Parts

Like many young entrepreneurs, Natasha Baker knew she wanted to run her own company years before she finally pulled the trigger. But she waited until the time was right, developed a business plan, and stuck to it. Now, five years after SnapEDA was launched, the company continues to expand its library parts and symbol creation services, with the help of some of today’s most cutting-edge technology. I recently caught up with Natasha, and we discussed how her team utilizes technology that has helped SnapEDA to become a major player in this space.

Worldwide Systems Consulting: Tools, Process, People

In Munich for productronica, Editor Andy Shaughnessy and Publisher Barry Matties sat down with Mentor’s Jay Gorajia, director of worldwide systems consulting. Gorajia discussed Mentor’s systems consulting business, their focus on the “digital twin,” and how their acquisition by Siemens is benefitting Mentor and their customers.

Bridging the Customer-Supplier Gap

For the February issue of Design007 Magazine, we interviewed Nolan Johnson of Sunstone Circuits, and Dan Beaulieu of DB Management—our regular columnist—on the topics of knowing your customers, the challenges in dealing with customers, and providing excellent customer satisfaction.

Still Using 1980s Formats for Design Data Handoff?

The IPC-2581 format was created in the early 2000s with the merger of two competing formats: ODB++ and GENCAM. The new format, the brainchild of the late Dieter Bergman, languished with no adoption until 2011, when a small group of companies created the IPC-2581 Consortium with the goal of getting this open, neutral and intelligent format adopted. The consortium has been growing steadily in recent years. Its membership now includes more than 100 associate members in addition to its more than 90 corporate members.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Polar Instruments Discusses New Engineer, SpeedStack Upgrades

During IPC APEX EXPO 2018, Polar Instruments' Lupita Maurer and Geoffrey Hazelett sat down with Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss upgrades to their SpeedStack tool and Lupita's new position with the company.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Judy Warner Discusses EDA Market and Altium's Growth

Judy Warner, Altium's director of community engagement, discusses what it's like transitioning to the EDA software side of the business. Warner also highlights Altium's growth after reporting first-half earnings.

Barry Katz Discusses SiSoft's DesignCon Papers and Plans for 2018

SiSoft President and CTO Barry Katz sat down with Editor Andy Shaughnessy to share his thoughts on the company's papers presented during DesignCon 2018, as well as SiSoft's latest products and plans for 2018.

Real Time with... DesignCon: User Feedback Helped Shape Altium Designer 18

During DesignCon 2018, Altium’s Judy Warner sat down with Editor Kelly Dack for an update on Altium’s software tools. She explains how user feedback lead the company to fix the bugs in Designer 17 during the development of Designer 18, and how “community engagement” is more than a buzzword for Altium.


Mentor Focusing on Power and Signal Integrity

Chuck Ferry is a product marketing manager at Mentor, and SI/PI product architect for HyperLynx tools. I spoke with Chuck recently during DesignCon 2018, and he shared some of his thoughts on the industry and Mentor’s plans for this year and beyond.

A Conversation with Dorine Gurney, New President of Polar Instruments

Dorine Gurney has recently been named president of Polar Instruments. With a 30-year resume that includes management positions at Mentor Graphics, Lattice Semiconductor and Tektronix, she takes the reins as Ken Taylor heads into retirement. I recently caught up with Dorine at DesignCon 2018 in Santa Clara, California.

Pulsonix Ready for 2018

Pulsonix has been developing PCB design software for almost 20 years, establishing a reputation for its full-featured, low-cost design tools. Now, the UK-based company wants to break into the US market, and Pulsonix recently showcased its latest tools at PCB West. During the show, I spoke with Business Development Manager Ty Stephens about the company’s latest tools and plans to become a major player in the US market.

What’s New in EDA: The Experts Discussion

We wanted to find out what’s new in the world of EDA. Joining us on our experts conference call were Polar Instruments Managing Director Martyn Gaudion, DownStream Technologies founder Rick Almeida, and Director of Product Management Mark Hepburn and Product Management Group Director of Allegro Enterprise Products Hemant Shah, both with Cadence Design Systems. The group discussed the challenges and opportunities they see in our industry, as well as the need to bring new blood into the PCB design community.

Nano Dimension’s 3D Printing: Prototypes at the Push of a Button?

SICK AG is a global manufacturer of sensors and sensor solutions for industrial applications, with headquarters located in Waldkirch, Germany. After a demo of Nano Dimension’s new 3D printing machine at productronica, Barry Matties met with SICK’s Danny Wernet to discuss its pros and cons and get his overall impression of the technology. Are 3D prototypes really as simple as feeding in a Gerber file and pushing a button?

Thermal Management Update with Doug Brooks

I had the opportunity to talk with our contributor Doug Brooks recently. He has been doing some research on temperature effects on PCB traces over the last few years, and I wanted to check the status of his latest thermal efforts. He discussed his work with Dr. Johannes Adam, why temperature charts based on a trace in isolation are inaccurate, and how the industry remained so wrong about PCB temperatures for so long.

Dr. Johannes Adam Gets Hot on Thermal Management

Thermal management expert Johannes Adam, PhD, was kind enough to take the train from his home in Leimen, Germany to meet with me during productronica in Munich. He is the creator of TRM (Thermal Risk Management) software and contributor, with Douglas G. Brooks, of "PCB Trace and Via Currents and Temperatures: The Complete Analysis, 2nd Edition." He’s also working on his own book on thermal management. Johannes sat down for an interview, and I asked him to share his views on the current state of thermal management for PCBs, and what the industry can do to put the spotlight on what’s hot in PCBs.

Mike Jouppi Discusses his Drive for Better Thermal Data

If you mention thermal management in a group of PCB designers and design engineers, Mike Jouppi’s name usually pops up. Mike is an engineer and founder of the Thermal Management LLC consulting firm. He spent years updating IPC’s charts on current-carrying capacity, which had been unchanged since the 1950s. I recently caught up with Mike and asked him to give us his views on the state of thermal management, as well as the tools and standards related to thermal design.

Tips & Tricks: Rule-Based PCB Layout

You’ll need to refer to your fab house, both to ensure that they can build what you need, and to get the final say on their design rules. Some fab houses even have downloadable design rules for various CAD packages. That makes setting things up a lot easier.

Mentor White Paper: Characteristic vs. Instantaneous Impedance

Successful signal integrity analysis depends on a fundamental concept: impedance. Without a thorough understanding of the impedance values that a signal encounters along the way, designers cannot maintain good signal quality from source to receiver.


The Impact of HDI on PCB Power Distribution

A key aspect of HDI technology is the use of microvias. For reference, the IPC HDI Design Committee has identified microvias as any hole equal to or less than 150 microns. Multiple types of HDI stack-ups associated with blind and buried microvias can be used to meet the density and cost requirements for today’s products. Design teams should develop stack-ups in conjunction with the fabricator to minimize cost and meet signal integrity requirements.

Heat Transfer and Thermal Conductivity: The Facts

In my first two columns, I presented a broad introduction to the subject of thermal management of electronic circuits. This month I’m taking a closer look at thermal interface materials—how they can be applied to achieve efficient heat transfer, and the significance of bulk thermal conductivity in relation to heat transfer and thermal resistance.

HDI PCBs: Make the Right Choice from Design to Volume

Modern electronic products are expected to offer evermore advanced functions, while the products themselves are becoming increasingly smaller. There are two key factors for the successful production of HDI PCBs: first, making the right choices at the design stage, and then carefully choosing the factory that can support the specific technical demands of the project. NCAB Group COO Chris Nutall explains.

Three Perspectives for HDI Design and Manufacturing Success

Mike Creeden has been in the PCB design industry for more than 40 years now. In June 2003, he founded San Diego PCB Inc., a design bureau serving a variety of industries, including industrial, automotive electronics, medical diagnostics, internet of things (IoT), defense, aerospace, and communications markets. So, we asked Creeden to share his insights about HDI, and how designers and manufacturers can address those issues.

Who Really Owns the PCB Layout?

In order to understand the current climate, we have to look at the division of labor that took place in electronic design about 40 years ago. The labor was divided into two processes, with the first being the design itself. This process was (and still is) owned by the electrical engineers. Though circuit design has changed, the methods for representing the circuit have not. Paul Taubman of Nine Dot Connects explains.

Lee Ritchey On the Future of PCB Design

I spoke with long-time PCB design instructor and Right the First Time author Lee Ritchey during the recent AltiumLive event in Germany. Lee and I discussed everything from the advice he offers to young PCB designers to his thoughts on where the industry is going and what’s missing from today’s electrical engineering curriculum.

Cannonballs, eBooks, and Signal Integrity

I-Connect007 editors Andy Shaughnessy and Pete Starkey recently met with Polar Instruments Managing Director Martyn Gaudion at productronica. They discussed the success of "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Secrets of High-Speed PCBs," the ongoing challenge of facilitating communication between designers and fabricators, and the influence of chemical bond-enhancement processes on insertion loss.

Nancy Jaster Brings Manufacturing, Design Background to Designers Council

Nancy Jaster was recently named the head of the IPC Designers Council. At the recent AltiumLive 2017 event, I spoke with Nancy about her unique background in both design and manufacturing, and how she hopes to use that experience and mindset to revitalize the Designers Council going forward, particularly with the International and student chapters. We also discussed her plans to bring more young people, particularly women, into the industry.

Zuken Teams With Nano Dimension for 3D Printing Design Flow

At PCB West, Zuken shared a booth with Nano Dimension. Zuken has been working with Nano Dimension for some time, and adding support for 3D printing and nanotechnology to its design tool platforms. I sat down with Zuken’s Humair Mandavia and Nano Dimension’s Simon Fried to learn more about this alliance, and to find out more about this odd-looking box being demonstrated in Zuken’s booth.

Signal Integrity: The Experts Weigh In

When we began planning the October issue on signal integrity, we arranged a conference call with a variety of industry experts. Mike Steinberger of SiSoft, Mark Thompson of Prototron Circuits, and Yogen and Sunny Patel of Candor Industries joined editors Andy Shaughnessy, Patty Goldman, Happy Holden and Publisher Barry Matties on the call for a spirited discussion about the challenges related to signal integrity and some of the tricks of the trade for helping ensure SI.


Nine Dot Connects: Good Design Instruction is a True Value-Add

Nine Dot Connects has certainly blazed an interesting trail. The company started out as an Altium reseller, but in less than a decade, Nine Dot Connects has also become a design service bureau and a provider of PCB design instruction, training, and consulting services. I recently interviewed Paul Taubman, technical services director for Nine Dot Connects. We discussed the company’s expansion from VAR to service bureau and content provider, and the changing landscape of PCB design instruction.

AltiumLive Summit—Munich, Germany, Part 1

Altium held a very successful AltiumLive PCB Design Summit in San Diego, California at the beginning of October for the benefit of their North American design community, and followed it three weeks later with a counterpart European event in Munich. And what an eye-opener it proved to be—literally hundreds of delegates, a superbly organised and managed programme, billed as a completely immersive two-day interactive design experience on a theme of learning, connecting and getting inspired.

Happy Holden and Charles Pfeil Discuss the Past and Future of PCB Design, Part 1

When it comes to the PCB design community and the challenges facing it, as well as where design has been and where it’s heading, there aren’t many people as qualified to speak on the topic as long-time industry veterans Happy Holden and Charles Pfeil. Joined by I-Connect007’s Barry Matties at the recent AltiumLive 2017 event in San Diego, the three sat down for a discussion about the current state of PCB design, what the future holds, and what it means to be a designer.

Insulectro Teams with Isola to Address Signal Integrity Needs

Insulectro and Isola recently shared a combined booth during PCB West 2017. Insulectro has distributed Isola materials for years, and the companies wanted to focus on Isola’s line-up of high-speed, low-loss material sets. Insulectro’s Chris Hunrath, VP of Technology, and Norm Berry, Director of Laminates and OEM Marketing, sat down with me to discuss the challenges facing signal integrity engineers today, and some of the Isola low-loss, low-Dk materials that can help with their signal integrity requirements. You might find Chris and Norm speaking to a group of PCB designers near you.

AltiumLive 2017 Munich: Sold Out!

I recently sat down with Ted Pawela, Lawrence Romine, and Judy Warner of Altium to wrap up their sold-out AltiumLive 2017 PCB Design Summit in Munich, Germany. This conference, following on the heels of an AltiumLive event in San Diego, was packed full of PCB designers who attended a series of great keynotes and an excellent technical program. We discussed some of the highlights of the show, including designers’ reactions to a new version of Altium Designer 18 and the brand-new Altium Nexus tool.

SiSoft Preparing for DDR5 Simulation Next Year

DDR5 is expected to double the memory bandwidth and density of DDR4. Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with SiSoft CTO Walter Katz about his company’s efforts to hit the market with this game-changing technology in 2018.

The History of Predictive Engineering

It all started in 1983, at HP, when I complained to our group's vice president that our W. Edwards Deming and Total Quality Management (TQM) Six Sigma training was being concentrated in PCB manufacturing. We had eliminated final inspection and instead placed quality in the hands of the operators with a final electrical test. The electrical test was governed by what we learned from Deming.

Carl Schattke: I Started Designing Boards When I Was 12

Growing up with a father who owned a PCB design bureau, Carl Schattke, CID+, may have been predestined to design circuit boards for a living. In fact, he’s been designing boards for nearly his entire life. Carl gave a keynote speech at the recent AltiumLive event in San Diego, where I caught up with him to discuss a lifetime spent in PCB design, as well as the graying of the PCB design community and what might be done to inspire a youth movement in PCB design.

GCSI's James Kozich Discusses Industry Hiring Trends

James Kozich of Gilbert Consulting Services has been matching qualified technologists with the right jobs for decades, from the shop floor to C suite positions. During SMTA International, he sat down with Andy Shaughnessy to discuss the recent hiring trends he's seeing in electronics manufacturing.

Sunstone Integrates SnapEDA Libraries into PCB123

Sunstone Circuits and SnapEDA recently announced that SnapEDA’s parts library would be integrated into Sunstone’s PCB123 design tool. During PCB West, I interviewed EDA Product Manager Nolan Johnson of Sunstone Circuits and SnapEDA President Natasha Baker. We discussed their new partnership, the changing parts library landscape, and where the companies see this alliance heading in the future.


Polar Instruments’ Martyn Gaudion Discusses Tools and Books

Polar Instruments has pretty been busy lately. In the last year, Managing Director Martyn Gaudion has written two books for I-Connect007, and the company has been working to upgrade its tools, especially library functionality. I met with Martyn at PCB West. We discussed Polar’s newest tool updates, Martyn’s new side job as an author of technical books, and the continuing growth of the EDA segment, including among young people.

Dan Beeker’s AltiumLive Keynote: It's All about the Space

Dan Beeker of NXP Semiconductors was a keynote speaker at the recent AltiumLive 2017 event in San Diego. His presentation focused primarily on the design of three-dimensional structures and how it’s all about space. I caught up with Dan, and we discussed his presentation, his background and career, and what kind of advice he would give to young PCB designers.

AltiumLive 2017 Attracts Hundreds of Designers

Altium conducted its first-ever users conference, AltiumLive 2017: Annual PCB Design Summit, at the Hilton Resort and Spa on beautiful Mission Bay in San Diego. This conference included a lineup of notable speakers, including four keynote speeches over the two-day event. This conference drew hundreds of PCB designers, many of whom attended breakout sessions designed in accordance with the show’s motto, “Learn – Connect – Get Inspired.”

Altium Designer 18 Introduced at AltiumLive 2017

At the recent AltiumLive 2017 event in San Diego, I sat down for an interview with Dan Fernsebner, Altium’s global head of technical marketing. Dan discussed the upcoming release of Altium Designer 18, as well as the company’s corporate responsibility for giving back to the industry and bringing more young people into EDA. The event featured speakers such as Happy Holden, Dan Beeker, Charles Pfeil, and Tara Dunn, as well as a robot team competition.

Full Coverage of AltiumLive 2017

Altium recently conducted its first-ever users conference, AltiumLive 2017: Annual PCB Design Summit, at the Hilton Resort and Spa in San Diego. Speakers included Dan Beeker of NXP Semiconductors, Max Seeley of 3M Corporate R&D, Tara Dunn of OMNI PCB, Susy Webb of Fairfield Nodal, Charles Pfeil of Altium, and our own Happy Holden. This conference drew hundreds of PCB designers, and included a robot design challenge and battle. If you couldn’t make it, don’t worry. We shot a variety of video and still photos.

Sensible Design: Thermal Management—The Heat is On

Thermal management materials are designed to prolong equipment life and reduce incidences of failure. They also maintain equipment performance parameters and reduce energy consumption by reducing operating temperatures, and minimising the risk of damage to surrounding components. Indirectly, they maintain brand reputation, as the reliability of the equipment will be very dependent upon the effectiveness of the thermal management technique used.

The State-of-the-Art in PCB Pre-production Engineering

If there’s one benefit of old age, it’s being able to remember the introduction to our industry of technologies that may be taken for granted by the present generation, but were revolutionary at the time. I can recall the history of Ucamco as far back as the late 1980s when, as one of the very early adopters of the DISC laser plotter and its associated electronic PCB front-end tooling system, our company gained entry to a spectacular new world of pre-production engineering capability.

RTW SMTAI: Judy Warner Discusses AltiumLive: 2017 and Her New Role

At SMTA International in Rosemont, Illinois, Judy Warner of Altium discusses her new role as director of community engagement. She also details AltiumLive: 2017, which takes place October 3-4 at the Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa. AltiumLive features Happy Holden and Charles Pfeil, as well as a robot design challenge and battle.

The International Paris Air Show with ASC’s Anaya Vardya

The International Paris Air show is the crème de la crème of the world’s trade shows. This is the big one, where all the aircraft, airline and defense aerospace companies meet to introduce new products, discuss the future of aviation, and make deals. This year I decided to talk to my friend Anaya Vardya, ASC’s president and CEO, about the show, why he goes and what it’s like.

Resins: Cutting Through the Technical Jargon

This month, I’m going to cut through some of the more heavy-going tech-speak, taking a few of my customers’ more frequently asked questions about resins to try to help you refine your selection process. There’s a lot of ground to cover, but for the purposes of this column, let’s concentrate on the PCB’s operating environment, caring for the components that are to be encapsulated, and the special needs of applications like LED lighting and RF systems.


Trilogy Circuits: Mil/Aero Demands Technological, Regulatory Expertise

In the 16 years since its founding, Trilogy Circuits has become one of the go-to companies for mil/aero PCB design and manufacturing. I spoke with Charlie Capers, president and founder of the Richardson, Texas firm, about how he keeps ahead of the game. As he explains, succeeding with mil/aero PCB work requires not only mastery of the technological side, but of the regulations and certifications as well.

Using Vibration and Acceleration Analysis to Improve Reliability

Deriving the physical constraints and fatigue issues for a design prior to manufacturing is essential to reducing board failure and thereby improving product quality. In harsh environments, fatigue can be responsible for up to 20% of failures. Customers have come to expect reliability across the industry spectrum no matter where actual production occurs. Reliable products have less risk of failure, less field returns and less warranty claims, all of which contribute to higher profitability. It is a given that every product is expected to fail at some point, however premature failures can be mitigated through proper design with attention to potential issues due to vibration and acceleration.

Embedded Technology: A Useful Tool in Freedom CAD’s Toolbox

Freedom CAD has been designing and fabricating boards with embedded technology for years, and doing some pretty innovative work along the way. I asked Scott McCurdy, Freedom CAD’s director of sales and marketing, to share some details about their embedded processes, as well as the challenges and opportunities that embedded technology offers.

A Deep Look Into Embedded Technology

In preparation for this month’s magazine, we set up a conference call with the goal of uncovering the challenges and opportunities related to embedded technology. Invited were a handful of the industry’s heavy hitters in the embedded world: Retired technologist and I-Connect007 Contributing Editor Happy Holden, and Ohmega’s Technical Director Daniel Brandler and Design & Test Engineer Manuel Herrera.

Launching a New PCB Design Curriculum in Serbia

Let me share with you an experience that I remember from my college days. When I was a student, I had a professor who was too proud of the fact that she was an academic. “You don’t need to know how to manually solder electrical parts or how to design printed circuit boards,” she lectured. “It is important that you understand the formula for charge carrier currents in a p-n junction.” I started working as an R&D engineer for a Swiss company that developed and manufactured instruments for measuring magnetic fields and electrical currents. And nobody ever asked me about charge carriers in p-n junctions.

Better Together: How HDP User Group Showcases the Industry’s Best Side

HDPUG is a non-profit trade organization comprised of members from top companies in the electronics industry, from materials suppliers and manufacturers, to OEMs and end users. Key activities include collaborating on issues facing multiple industries and bringing people together on projects who might not have met otherwise. Barry Matties met HDPUG’s European representative and project facilitator Alun Morgan at the recent EIPC Summer Conference to learn more about the group and current projects.

Global Impact on European PCB Fabrication: EIPC Summer Conference 2017, Day 1

Electronics industry professionals from 13 countries, mainly from Europe and Scandinavia, others from the USA, but some from as far away as India and Japan, gathered in Meriden, the centre of England, for the EIPC Summer Conference.

HDP User Group 2017 European Meeting Highlights Technology Progress

The conference facility at the offices of Oracle, in the royal burgh of Linlithgow in West Lothian, Scotland, was the venue for the 2017 European meeting of the High Density Packaging User Group. I was delighted and privileged to be invited once again to sit in on the open session, an intense programme of technical presentations and discussions, project reviews, status updates and new project proposals.

SnapEDA: Recruiting Top Engineering Talent in an Amazon World

You don’t have to love EDA to work at SnapEDA, but it helps. This startup, founded by Natasha Baker, is on its way to creating the world’s largest parts library for PCB designers. Baker leads a small team of young, fiercely talented engineers—the kind of employees that are attractive to companies like Google and Facebook. I asked Natasha to explain her hiring process, and how she ensures that each employee is the right fit for SnapEDA.

Steve Robinson Discusses APCT’s Tenfold Expansion

Steve Robinson, CEO of APCT, a PCB fabricator in Silicon Valley, has led the company to impressive growth since he acquired it nearly 10 years ago. I ran into Steve at DesignCon 2017, and we sat down to discuss the company’s remarkable transformation and his focus on working with PCB designers and engineers to create advanced, high-speed PCBs.


Altium Focuses on the Designer First

A few months before Judy Warner joined Altium, while she was still with I-Connect007, she sat down with Lawrence Romine to discuss the company’s drive to satisfy the individual PCB designer, and not necessarily the OEMs who employ them. Romine also explains what sets designers and engineers apart from the average person, and why some Altium users have a different primary EDA tool, but use Altium when they need a design done fast.

San Diego IPC Designers Council Meeting Held at Del Mar Show

The Del Mar Electronics and Manufacturing Show is a long-time favorite among PCB professionals. What better place to hold a meeting of the San Diego Chapter of the IPC Designers Council? Each year, the San Diego Chapter of the Designers Council hosts their largest meeting of the year at the Del Mar show. This year, approximately 50 PCB designers and electronics professionals attended the lunch-and-learn meeting.

'Flexdude' Tom Woznicki Celebrates Company’s 25th Anniversary

Twenty-five years ago, Tom “Flexdude” Woznicki got laid off. A lot of people did, back during the mini-recession that helped bring Bill Clinton into the White House. So, he launched his own flex circuit design bureau and never looked back. Since then, he’s designed flex circuitry for everything under the sun, including the Mars Rover; the flex circuits he designed are visible in many of the Rover photos. I ran into Tom at DesignCon 2017 and we discussed the benefits of flex circuits, the expansion of the flex market, and his company’s first quarter-century in operation.

China High-Speed PCB Market Update with Polar's Simon Chan

During the recent CPCA Show in Shanghai, Editor Stephen Las Marias and Polar Instruments (China) Assistant Manager Simon Chan discussed the opportunities and challenges for Polar's customers in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the current state of the high-speed PCB market in China.

Perpetual or Subscription EDA Tool Licenses? That is the Question

After I began working at Altium, I started learning all I could about PCB design software licensing. I wondered about the pros and cons of perpetual vs. subscription licenses. I wanted to learn firsthand from PCB designers what kind of benefits they received and challenges they faced as a result of how EDA companies offered design tools. I reached out to a variety of sources to get a broad slice of insight into this evolving issue, and thus began my trip down the EDA licensing software rabbit hole.

Mentor Graphics Takes Best Paper Award at DesignCon

At DesignCon, I met with Dave Kohlmeier, senior product line director for Mentor Graphics. We discussed their Best Paper award and DesignCon sessions such as the Signal Integrity Boot Camp, as well as the new rigid-flex capabilities found in the HypeLynx suite.

A New Power Design Methodology for PCB Designs

Advanced PCB design is an iterative process of analysis-fix-analysis. Historically, this process is very time-consuming, requiring analysis experts and PCB designers to work together to find and fix layout problems. This article describes a new PCB design methodology that allows a PCB designer to perform the power design without having to run expert-level analysis tools. This methodology provides the setup automation for advanced analysis without the need to understand every minute parameter, and can be completed in a few steps.

Catching up with Polar Instruments' Geoffrey Hazelett

Product specialist Geoffrey Hazelett discusses some of the latest developments at Polar Instruments, including a new tool that will allow fabricators to determine how copper roughness will affect the end-product. He also talks about Polar's upcoming eBook on signal integrity, soon to be published by I-Connect007. Talented young technologists like Geoffrey are the future of our industry.

Cadence’s Zhen Mu Discusses Her Power-Aware Analysis Solution White Paper

At DesignCon, I met with Zhen Mu, senior principal product engineer with Cadence Design Systems, and Brad Griffin, product marketing director for Cadence. We discussed Zhen’s new white paper, “Power-Aware Analysis Solution.”

Selling PCB Design Services in a First-World Country

As the business operations manager for Better Boards Inc., I see our company at the focal point for consolidation: a gathering of skilled board designers to create a center of excellence. It is at this point that we have the critical problem facing a PCB design services company: How do we effectively sell these services back to the companies that cast off their own skilled employees? How do we sell PCB design services into small companies that can barely afford the one overworked electrical engineer that they hired last year?


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