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 :: Associations

Latest Articles

Master the Art of Communication With Manufacturers

As mentioned in the May issue of Design007 Magazine, design is performed, at times, in a vacuum. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whenever circumstances allow, design should be performed by communicating with all stakeholders throughout the design process, hence the emphasis on the word with in DWM. Communication can occur through personal correspondence such as email and voice conversations or through more formal design meetings—in person or through videoconferencing. No matter which means of communication you prefer, it’s important to communicate early and often with stakeholders involved in the downstream processes as you bring your project to realization.

EIPC Summer Conference 2022: Day 2 Review

Örebro, Sweden on June 15 brought a bright and early start to Day 2 of the EIPC Summer Conference for those who had enjoyed the previous evening’s networking dinner, but had resisted the temptation to over-indulge or to carry on their long-awaited catch-up conversations with old friends into the small hours. All but a few were in their seats for 9 a.m., awake and attentive for Session 4 of the conference, on the theme of new process technologies, moderated by Martyn Gaudion, CEO of Polar Instruments.

The U.S. Economy Needs the Bipartisan Innovation Act and the PCB Act

In this IPC-created interview between Dale Curtis, IPC Advocacy Communications and Chris Mitchell, IPC VP Global Government Relations, the importance of the semiconductor and PCB manufacturing legislation moving through US Congress is highlighted.

EIPC Summer Conference 2022: Day 1 Review

At last, a live EIPC conference and this time in the Swedish city of Örebro, “where history and contemporary culture converge,” a pleasant and convenient location for an event that included a privileged visit to the Ericsson facility in Kumla. Around 100 delegates made the journey and the Örebro Scandic Grand Hotel was an excellent conference venue for the June 14-15 conference.

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.

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

Market news was certainly big this week. While the U.S. stock market continues make some large swings, the PCB and PCBA are doing their own dance with the numbers. We’re still feeling the effects of the pandemic, but it seems to be more about playing catch up. Still, the industry is showing some instability, both in positive and negative ways.

The Survey Said: Why Don’t You Know Your Fabricator?

When we want to find out what challenges our readers are facing, we just ask. And they don’t mind sharing—the good, the bad, and the ugly. In a recent survey, we asked our PCB designer readers, “Why don’t you know who is going to manufacture your boards?” Here are some of more interesting replies we received, edited slightly for clarity. Do you see yourself in these replies?

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

We’re still not officially into summer yet, but Atlanta is bringing the heat, baby! It’s hit 97 degrees a few times this week, and I now have a fan aimed right at my face. At least it’s nice and humid too. I’m glad I don’t wear make-up. And it’s been a hot week in the circuit board community. This week, Eltek reported a fire at a board shop in Israel, and Flex committed to building a 145,000-square-foor facility in Jalisco, Mexico to serve the electric and autonomous vehicle segment.

Producing Diverse Designs in Concert With Manufacturing

There is a new acronym bubbling up in the design world: DWM, which stands for “design with manufacturing.” Why is this different than design for manufacturing, or DFM? With DWM, the emphasis is on integration between the design team and the manufacturers during the design process. DWM is much more than that. We are tasked with producing designs that meet various technical requirements, yet are cost-effective and manufacturable. We provide this service to hundreds of customers who have varying degrees of processes, tools, and manufacturing partners. Given this diversity, we have recognized the importance of designing with manufacturing to achieve the product development goals of manufacturability and technical excellence.

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

PCB fabrication is back in the news this week and posting high readership numbers as well. Among the most-read news, we see industry leaders changing roles, capital equipment shipment milestones, operational cost efficiencies, and, last but not least, cybersecurity.


The Survey Said: Designing Around Missing Data

One of the best tools we have for keeping our fingers on the pulse of the industry is the reader survey. When we want to find out what’s going on, we just ask. Fortunately, our readers are not a shy bunch of folks. They don’t mind sharing—the good, the bad, and the ugly. In a recent survey, we asked our PCB designer readers, “What missing information or data (impedance requirements, library data, etc.) do you find yourself having to ‘design around’?”

Designing in a Vacuum Q&A: Nick Barbin

Optimum Design Associates President Nick Barbin has worn a lot of hats in this industry, from PCB designer to EMS company owner. We asked Nick to share his thoughts on what it’s like to design in a vacuum, while offering some strategies for escaping the vacuum.

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

Things are heating up in the world of PCB design and manufacturing as well. In the past week, we published quite a bit of news—some good, some not so good. Some of the news is mixed, as we see with the EMS industry shipments rising YOY in April, but falling from the previous month. It’s nice to see NASA investing in American small businesses, but they didn’t really have a choice, did they?

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.

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

I know I’m not alone in this behavior: Car advertisements during television commercial breaks are as good as invisible to me, until I’m thinking about getting a new car. Only then do I notice them. Rather, I see each one with all my attention and being. If that extends into our industry, then everybody must be itching to pick up some new equipment. This week’s must-reads includes a smattering of new product announcements, along with the news of the IPC European subsidiary.

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

This week, we bring you an article about manufacturing training for veterans, and a review of a great signal integrity webinar. IPC honors its A-Teams with the coveted Golden Gnome Awards, and Technica discusses various ways for fabricators to increase ROI. Dan Beaulieu has a review of a really cool book: Back to Human—How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation. In spite of all the meetings on Teams and Zoom, it’s easy to feel disconnected. But great leaders find a way to foster that connectivity.

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.

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

The big news in the industry this week was the new bill introduced to the U.S. Congress in support of the PCB manufacturing industry. The Supporting American Printed Circuit Boards Act of 2022, which was introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Blake Moore (R-UT), incentivizes “purchases of domestically produced PCBs as well as industry investments in factories, equipment, workforce training, and research and development.” The bill is a PCB-oriented complement to the semiconductor-oriented CHIPS Act of 2021.

Designing in a Vacuum Q&A: Mark Thompson

I-Connect007 Columnist Mark Thompson of Out of the Box Manufacturing has been in CAM engineering for decades, and he’s also worked as a PCB designer, so we knew he would have a few things to say about working in a vacuum. As he explains, the designer isn’t the only stakeholder in the process who feels like he’s working inside the dust bag of a Hoover upright.

Designing in a Vacuum Q&A: Carl Schattke

Not long ago, I caught up with Carl Schattke, CEO of PCB Product Development LLC and a longtime PCB designer, for his thoughts on “designing in a vacuum.” As Carl points out, if you follow PCB design best practices, knowing the identity of your fabricator is not a “must-have.” He also offers some communication tips for discovering the information you do need, including one old-fashioned technique—just asking for it.


Tips for Designing in—and Escaping From—the Vacuum

We asked Monsoon Solutions VP of Engineering Jen Kolar if she had any thoughts on “designing in a vacuum,” and her response was, “Absolutely!” In this wide-ranging discussion, Jen and Senior PCB Engineer and Director of Designer Development Cory Grunwald share some tips and techniques for designing PCBs in a vacuum, and a few methods for getting out of the Hoover’s dust bag. As Cory points out, “In the end, the communication is going to happen anyway. It’s just a matter of whether it happens at the end or in the beginning.”

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

This week, we have some M&A news from Summit Interconnect, and a variety of columns. Chris Bonsell discusses the lack of preventive maintenance planning in PCB manufacturing, and Kelly Dack lays out some solder mask guidelines for PCB designers. Duane Benson helps make sense of the quoting process in a time of 50-week lead times, and Dan Beaulieu has a great review of a book about how shareholder policies have caused many of the problems we see in corporations today.

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

It certainly seems that our times continue to be interesting, don’t they? Just how many different flavors of supply chain disruption can we come up with? Investment on the supply side needs to increase, but the size of the labor force needs to increase even more, if we want to accomplish the task of the buildout itself, let alone running the facilities properly.

DFM 101: Solder Mask and Legend

One of the biggest challenges facing PCB designers is understanding the cost drivers in the PCB manufacturing process. This article is the latest in a series that will discuss these cost drivers from the PCB manufacturer’s perspective, and the design decisions that will impact product reliability.

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.

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.

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.

Additive Design: Same Steps, Different Order

We recently spoke with Dave Torp, CEO of Winonics, about the company’s additive and semi-additive processes and what PCB designers need to know if they’re considering designing boards with these new technologies. As Dave explains, additive design is not much different from traditional design, but the steps in the design cycle are out of order, and additive designers must communicate with their fabricators because so much of the new processes are still proprietary.

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.

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

Spring has definitely sprung, and the trade show season continues to roll right along. Managing Editor Nolan Johnson just returned from DesignCon 2022, and as he says in his review, the attendance was up from last year’s event, which had been at the McEnery Convention Center in the waning days of the pandemic. I hope we’re getting back to normal, whatever that means. This week, we have a few articles about Industry 4.0, as well as a column on setting your priorities. We have a cool article about methods for measuring the breakdown of resins during multiple thermal laminations, and a conversation with an EMS company president who realized that he was actually running a data collection firm that happened to make circuit boards. Can you say the same about your own company?


DesignCon 2022: Back to Business as Usual

It was something of a homecoming as DesignCon returned to the Santa Clara Convention Center this week for DesignCon 2022. It’s been two years since the last DesignCon was held in this venue just before the pandemic began. I attended DesignCon 2021 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in July of last year, and I could see a big improvement in attendance as DesignCon moved back into its usual venue.

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.

Does Copper Pour on a Signal Layer Decrease Signal-To-Signal Isolation?

Does putting a ground pour on PCB signal layers make the isolation better or worse? It can go either way, but with the proper knowledge and application, this technique will improve your designs. In this article, I’ll discuss how to simulate trace-to-trace isolation with true electromagnetic simulation software. We’ll also cover a variety of rules of thumb that can help you stay away from trouble.

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

According to a quick look at history.com, “Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. In the Julian Calendar, as in the Hindu calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1.” All well and good, but why April Fools’? “People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.”

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.

Setting Goals for Your PCB Design Education

For our March issue of Design007 Magazine on planning your design education, we spoke with Bill Brooks of Nordson ASYMTEK, a long-time PCB designer, CID instructor, and fantastic sculptor. He is also one of the first to ever teach standalone PCB design courses in a college. After he earned his certification to teach the IPC CID workshops, Bill served as an adjunct instructor at Palomar College near San Diego, teaching beginning and advanced PCB design classes for 10 years. I asked Bill to share his thoughts on setting up a PCB design education career plan, and the need to stay on top of your game as a PCB designer.

AltiumLive 2022: Design for Availability

Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Rodrigo Contreras Lopez of SnapEDA about Rodrigo’s AltiumLive presentation, which is now available online. It’s a changing world, he says, and designers need to approach their designs from a different perspective: Creating designs with parts that may or may not be available now may just set up your design team and your customer for failure in a few years. Is Design For Availability going to enter the PCB design lexicon?

Thank You to the I-Connect007 Team

During IPC APEX EXPO, the I-Connect007 team works very hard to bring you several great interviews that will keep you up to date on the latest industry activity. This year, we had Nolan Johnson, Andy Shaughnessy, Pete Starkey, and Happy Holden of I-Connect007 in front of the cameras. We also send out a very special thank you to our guest interviewers, who sat in the I-Connect007 show floor studio to conduct many interviews. The list includes Tara Dunn, Dick Crowe, Joe Fjelstad, Steve Williams, and Kelly Dack. Their contributions are greatly appreciated.

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

It’s been a crazy week, with lots of bad news coming out of Ukraine. (I’m a news junkie by trade, but I confess that some days I just unplug from the news completely to avoid overdosing on negativity.) And, as you might have guessed, this is all having ill effects on our electronics supply chain, which is already stretched thin. This is reflected in our IPC news item that shows an uptick in PCB sales in February, but a drop in bookings YOY, in part due to the trouble in Eastern Europe. But there’s positive news in this week’s top reads. We have a NextFlex article about an innovative flexible technology called flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) and a great interview by Dan Beaulieu. We also have a column by Travis Kelly, who discusses PCBAA’s efforts to lobby for American manufacturing in Washington. And last but not least, let’s welcome our two newest columnists, Paige Fiet and Hannah Nelson, who discuss their excitement about entering this industry.

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

This week seems jam-packed with holidays, both major and minor, doesn’t it? We started with “International Pi Day” on March 14. With all the obligatory pricing specials on most all things “pie” here in the U.S., suffice it to say, I’ve got a short stack bake-at-home pizza “pi” in my freezer, thanks to the one-day-only sales price of $3.14. Personally, I’m glad they didn’t make the promotional price = pizza diameter * Pi.


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.

Calumet is Bullish on Additive and Semi-Additive

Calumet Electronics has been a domestic pioneer with additive and semi-additive electronics manufacturing processes. We recently asked Calumet’s Todd Brassard and Meredith LaBeau to discuss the state of this technology, which traditional processes that they might replace, and some of the challenges facing OEMs or PCB shops that are considering these options.

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.

Happy Holden Reflects on Successful IPC APEX EXPO 2022

The attendance at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO seemed higher than I expected, so thank you all for making the necessary arrangements to attend. However, we sorely missed many of our foreign contributors and friends. One of my cherished reunions was with Pete Starkey, who fought through the red tape of government restrictions to make his way from England for the show. Both of us were able to help conduct interviews with many of the industry’s business and technical leaders. For that, I am grateful.

IPC Student Director: Three Things IPC APEX EXPO Taught Me

IPC APEX EXPO 2022 was my first in-person APEX EXPO event, and it surely did not disappoint. The show this year was packed with high quality technical courses, engaging professional development courses and, of course, an admirable show floor exhibition. This year APEX EXPO really resonated with me, and I would like to leave you with three insights I learned while attending.

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

In the news this week we found a synchrony of topics. Much of the world is aware of the speaking points from U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address this past Tuesday. In that speech, President Biden talked prominently about U.S. legislation in process to bring more technology manufacturing back to the states. In fact, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger was not only an invited guest, but was referred to directly in the speech as a positive example. I can only assume that President Biden meant that moment to be a motivator for other CEOs in the industry.

The IPC STEM Event Inspires

Once again, IPC APEX EXPO featured its successful STEM event, organized by the IPC Education Foundation, and sponsored by several companies, including I-Connect007. The event had nearly 80 students in person for a hands-on introduction to our industry. After the welcoming comments, the students broke into groups for different activities. While some enjoyed a guided tour of the show floor, upstairs the other students learned how to solder. Then they rotated so that they all had the same opportunities.


DFM 101: Plating Methods

One of the biggest challenges facing PCB designers is not understanding the cost drivers in the PCB manufacturing process. This article is the latest in a series that will discuss these cost drivers (from the PCB manufacturer’s perspective) and the design decisions that will impact product reliability. There are two methods of plating copper on PCBs—pattern plating and panel plating. The panel plating method eliminates most of the copper plating distribution issues, but because it adds copper thickness to the base layer, it makes maintaining fine line definition and consistency difficult.

David Pogue Keynote Opens IPC APEX EXPO 2022

There were just a few empty seats in the huge, main lecture hall of the San Diego Convention Center on January 25 as IPC APEX EXPO welcomed the opening keynote speaker, science and tech writer David Pogue. Despite the early time of 8:30 a.m., the crowd enjoyed his topic, “Disruptive technology and how it will affect your business: What’s coming by 2026?” Pogue took us on a short journey through some of the technological innovations that continue to accelerate the transformation of our lifestyles and gave us a preview of how we might succeed in a world we’ve never seen before.

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

Like many of you, for the past few months, we’ve been busier than a farmer with two rattlesnakes and one shovel. As soon as we got home from IPC APEX EXPO 2022 we started work on our post-show publication, Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2022 Show & Tell Magazine. Now in its fifth year, Show & Tell is the best—and most exhaustive—source of in-depth information about IPC APEX EXPO. We published Show & Tell this week, and the response from industry leaders has been off the charts. Show & Tell gives the reader a taste of what it was like to be at the show, from ribbon-cutting and keynotes through the last conference classes.

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

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re now closer to the equinox than to the solstice; change is in the air. Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve had unseasonably mild and sunny weather, teasing us that spring might be right around the corner. Change is in the air in our news feeds, too. This week, we bring you on-the-grow news from NCAB and Aegis, some market reports on smart manufacturing, and a widely read column on cybersecurity from Mehul Davé. Now that’s something to warm up to.

Kris Moyer Discusses New IPC Design Role

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team spoke with Kris Moyer, a longtime PCB designer who has just joined IPC’s Education Foundation. Kris was one of the judges and creators of the IPC Design competition that culminated at IPC APEX EXPO, and he was eager to discuss his new job and the cutting-edge technology he’s seen lately, including additive, flex, and rigid-flex circuits. I-Connect007 is your source for coverage of IPC APEX EXPO 2022.

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.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2022: IPC Design Competition—Meet the Judges

In this interview from the show floor, Editor Andy Shaughnessy speaks with the designers who worked with IPC to create and judge the IPC Design Competition. Listen to Kris Moyer, Kevin Kusiak, Russ Steiner, and Steve Roy discuss their involvement in setting up the PCB design used for this competition, and what they looked for as judges of the contest.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2022: AltiumLive Goes Virtual

Kelly Dack gives an update and discusses with Andy Shaughnessy the launch of AltiumLive 2022 Virtual. Kelly was the emcee of this online event, which ran at the same time as IPC APEX EXPO 2022. Kelly was often seen roaming the show floor, followed by his own camera "crew," documenting the activities for his viewers.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2022: Disruptive Technologies Growing Business

Joe Clark, founder of DownStream Technologies, gives editor Andy Shaughnessy his report of what's been causing a 10% growth in his business during the past two years. Rigid-flex as a disruptive technology has been a focus of the latest phases to his software tools. If you didn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events in San Diego, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

Changes on the Horizon: Is Resistance Futile?

For printed circuit engineers, especially those of us who have been in the industry for some time now, change is inevitable. From customer requirements that lead to design changes and deadlines being pulled in, to decreasing budgets and resource reallocations, change is one area where we must be adaptable if we want to survive and be successful in today’s industry. Engineering change orders (ECOs), schematic/drawing redlines, component placement adjustments, and mechanical features modifications are among the changes that most of us usually deal with at one point or another during a project’s design cycle.


Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2022: New Materials for Additive Manufacturing

Trevor Polidore of Rogers Corporation and I-Connect007 Guest Editor Tara Dunn discuss the introduction of the new Rogers materials designed for use in 3D printing. They also look at the trends and challenges in materials for additive and semi-additive manufacturing. If you were unable to attend IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events in San Diego, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

Keep the Change? No, Embrace It

In a world where technology is so quickly evolving, we really shouldn’t be surprised that companies and professional events have gone virtual. Change can be daunting, but as we all master navigating life in this “new normal” (don’t you hate that term?), we realize that not much of our professional lives has changed. You still have to go to work every day, but now you just do so from the comfort of your home, and you don’t interact with people in person. Obviously, the global pandemic had a massive impact on work culture. Even though the situation with the virus is slowly improving, a lot of companies are still maintaining a flexible workplace.

High-Voltage Circuit Design Guidelines and Materials

The Hubble telescope, the Cassini-Huygens mission, and other exploratory spacecraft utilize high-voltage DC power supplies for everything from vidicon camera tubes and mass spectrometers to radar and laser technologies. NASA has experienced performance problems with the 1.5 kV supplies because—as a 2006 report stated—“designers did not take the high-voltage problems seriously in the initial design.” The report cited very narrow parts parameters, electrical insulation problems in dielectrics, ceramics, bad geometries, small spacing, the use of the wrong insulating materials, and thermal expansion as causes for the power supply failures.

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

The last time I was in this space, we were busy preparing for our extensive coverage of IPC APEX EXPO, so now I have the honors of compiling the news from the week following the event. We often use the phrase “busy news week” in these compendiums, but this week I have metrics—25% more news items published this week at I-Connect007 than our weekly average. All the more reason to read the website newsfeeds and newsletters, but also all the more reason for me to bring you the best of the best from the past week.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2022: Selecting the Right Base Material

Steven Sekanina, Isola’s director of High Speed Digital Products, helps launch their new book, “The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… High Performance Materials.” Editor Andy Shaughnessy sat down with Steven to discuss the importance of selecting the right base material for your printed circuit board, and the criteria to consider when choosing high-speed PCB laminates. If you didn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events in San Diego, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO: Fire Up the Inkjets

Technical Editor Pete Starkey sits down with Don Monn of Taiyo America to discuss the benefits of inkjet solder mask and how it helps streamline the manufacturing process. They also discuss the recent acquisition of Circuit Automation, a manufacturer of solder mask coating and vertical drying equipment. If you didn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events in San Diego, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

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.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO: PCB Manufacturing Today

Dick Crowe speaks with Kurt Palmer, president of Burkle North America, about the trends he sees in PCB manufacturing today. From LDI to laser drills, they discuss a wide range of concerns and opportunities. If you didn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

Day 3: Lots of Action in San Diego

The perfect San Diego weather on Wednesday morning ushered in another full day at IPC APEX EXPO 2022. IPC President and CEO John W. Mitchell’s keynote presentation offered a roadmap for the organization and the future of the electronics manufacturing industry. IPC runs on the contributions of its tireless volunteers, and a group of these engineers and technologists were honored at yesterday’s Awards Luncheon. The traffic on the show floor was steady most of the day, and we saw a constant stream of visitors in the I-Connect007 booth and studio.

Day 2: Keynotes, Competitions, and a Busy Show Floor

Here in San Diego for IPC APEX EXPO, Tuesday saw the keynote address from tech author David Pogue, the ribbon cutting ceremony for the EXPO, the designer’s competition, and a full day of exhibition. Committee work and technical programs continued. We’re here, covering all the events, of course. Pogue stopped by our booth after the keynote. Barry Matties and I interviewed Pogue; look for that interview in our upcoming special edition magazine, Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO Show & Tell.


Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO: New Book on Stackup Design

Your stackup is basically the heart of your design. Now, there's a great new eBook that answers all of your questions about designing the perfect stackup: "The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Stackup Design," written by Bill Hargin of Z-zero. In this IPC APEX EXPO interview, Happy Holden speaks with Bill about the importance of this topic and what readers can learn in his new book. Look for it in the I-007eBooks library. If you didn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

Day 1: It's Show Time!

IPC APEX EXPO officially opens today, and as Crosby, Still and Nash once sang, “It’s been a long time coming.” The last live IPC APEX EXPO was held two years ago and was—for many of us—the last trade show we would attend before the pandemic hit. A lot has changed since then. But not everything has changed. After spending a few days watching the exhibitors set up, I have to say that it looks a lot like the show floor always does at IPC APEX EXPO. I was surprised at the amount of capital equipment on the floor. I thought that exhibitors might have scaled back their spending, afraid that attendance might be light, but I saw no evidence of that. Companies came here ready to strut their stuff!

IPC APEX EXPO: We’re Back, Masked, and Ready for Business

I-Connect007 is here in San Diego, setting up our booth on the show floor for the exhibition portion of IPC APEX EXPO. Technical conferences and programs start today, and the show floor has filled with all the biggest names in our industry. Registration has been smooth and everyone seems to be wearing masks.

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

Next week, we’ll be in San Diego. In fact, I fly down tomorrow morning to start preparations, along with most of the I-Connect007 team. The weather forecast says to expect sunny, with the occasional cloud, all week, with daytime temperatures around 70 degrees. That’ll be nice, as I’m sure COVID-related social distancing guidelines will encourage us to socialize outside as much as is feasible.

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.

AltiumLive 2022: Tamara Jovanovic Discusses Lessons Learned at AltiumLive

Shortly after graduating three years ago, design engineer Tamara Jovanovic attended her first AltiumLive in San Diego and discovered the global community of PCB designers. With a few years of experience designing PCBs for smart baby beds with Happiest Baby, Tamara is now working on her master's degree. In this interview, Tamara explains why she plans to attend AltiumLive again this year, and she discusses what it's like attending class as an experienced technologist.

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO: Siemens’ Supply Chain Solutions

Nolan Johnson speaks with Oren Manor of Siemens Digital Industries Software about the company’s booth at IPC APEX EXPO, which will highlight a DSI platform meant to help designers find and use components in their designs during these tough supply chain challenges. If you can’t make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don’t worry. We’ll be bringing you interviews with the engineers, managers and technologists who are making a difference in our industry.

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.

Living in a Material World: High-Speed Design Strategies

Any discussion about high-speed PCB design techniques would be incomplete without considering the properties and requirements of the materials. Your material selection drives much of your design strategy when you’re operating at 28 gigabits per second or faster. We recently spoke with high-speed design expert Lee Ritchey of Speeding Edge, and electronic materials veteran Tarun Amla of Avishtech and Thintronics, about the relationship between advanced PCB materials and high-speed design techniques. They discuss the challenges facing designers and engineers working with materials at speeds that were considered unreachable not long ago, and what designers need to know about material selection as board speeds continue rising toward the stratosphere.

CES 2022: Half Virtual, Still Valuable, and Here’s Why

Another CES has wrapped up, and while not fully back to its glittery self, the show still managed to create quite a buzz in the electronics world. Attendance was about half of its typical 150,000 as hundreds of companies still touted their wares and I’m excited to share with you what I discovered. I reported on the show from the safety of my home office, which was a bit of a letdown because I really enjoy walking the aisles of the show, visiting the exhibits of both large and small companies.


A High-Voltage PCB Design Primer

Of all the different boards a designer can create, a high voltage PCB design can be complicated and requires strict attention to safety. If not laid out correctly these boards can be safety hazards or can fail to function on first power up, leaving a designer with wasted time and effort. In the best case, the board will function reliably for a long period of time thanks to correct layout practices. High-voltage PCB design can be as complex as any high-speed digital design. Boards for high-voltage systems can be space constrained and they carry important safety requirements. They also need to be highly reliable to ensure they will have a long life when run at high voltage and current.

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2022: Blackfox Mixes It Up with Training Opportunities

Andy Shaughnessy speaks with Jamie Noland, master IPC trainer and marketing manager for Blackfox Institute, about current and upcoming training opportunities and what you can expect from them at the show. Blackfox has expanded its offerings to reach a wider audience, including some very basic classes for beginners.

Happy Holden’s Five Must-Reads of 2021

Over the past year, I-Connect007 has published more than 4,000 news items, nearly 300 articles, and 350 columns from the leading expert voices in the industry. We also have interviewed dozens of fabricators, assemblers, and designers on the most relevant and pressing topics in the ever-evolving printed circuit board industry. So, it only made sense to ask Happy Holden about his picks for the best reads at I-Connect007 in 2021.

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

No matter how you look at it, we’re already off to a roaring start in 2022. Here on the West Coast of the U.S., heavy and persistent rains are doing what they can to fix years of drought through the southwest United States. The eastern seaboard is seeing plenty of rainy weather as well. As they say on the salt containers: When it rains, it pours. That adage is rather true in the news of the industry this week. Therefore, my must-reads include a celebration of longevity in business, the launch of our next space telescope, and the sale of equipment for the printing of electronics. On a more circumspect note, we also bring you the IPC’s report on rising material and labor costs, and an article on cybersecurity.

The Art of Using Symmetry—and Asymmetry—in PCB Design

An empty board outline is a PCB designer’s empty canvas. Components are the designer’s paint palette, and the traces are the brush strokes used to blend and mesh the components together on the canvas. The subject matter is defined by the schematic entry and the tone is often set according to the purpose of the design. The subject matter’s form emerges during placement and takes shape when routed. The aesthetic nature of a PCB or PCBA is typically judged by the designer’s use of symmetry, focal points, and centers of interest. The enjoyment experienced by observing a bee (a bilaterally symmetric insect) symbiotically interact with a flower (a radially symmetric plant) is derived from the realization of two well-proportioned beings striking a mutually equitable existence, a classic win-win scenario.

If You’re Not Measuring Inductance, Ask Yourself: Do You Feel Lucky?

I recently ran into Dr. Bruce Archambeault at PCB Carolina in Raleigh, North Carolina. He’s retired from IBM now, but as he explains, he’s still teaching. He taught a class at the show that focused on layout considerations and inductance, and why inductance needs to be measured. There weren’t many empty seats in his class. I asked Bruce to discuss his class and why it’s so importance for designers and engineers to measure inductance. Bruce also discusses how he’s linked the study of inductance to the “Dirty Harry” movie franchise.

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

I’m starting to get more and more out-of-office replies. Are you reading this on your phone while standing in line at Best Buy? But if you’re reading this, here’s to you! It’s been a pretty good year—much better than last year, though that’s a fairly low bar to clear. It’s a mixed bag this week, with news about trade shows, along with articles and interviews focusing on everything from education to methods for dealing with supply chain issues by staying flexible and taking action earlier in the process.

RealTime with... American Standard Circuits: Thermal Management

In the third of a series of three RealTime with... interviews, I-Connect007 managing editor Nolan Johnson received knowledgeable and informative answers from Anaya Vardya, John Bushie, and Dave Lackey of American Standard Circuits to his questions on the topic of thermal management. Anaya Vardya began by clarifying the terminology, describing thermal conductivity as a material property defining how quickly heat was transmitted through a piece of that material, whereas thermal management was about analysing the entire system, trying to understand how much heat was being generated, and using appropriate techniques to dissipate that heat as efficiently as possible.

Insulectro Passionate About Educational Programs

Ken Parent, Chris Hunrath, and Michelle Walsh discuss their educational and training vision, programs that they are bringing to the industry, and why. There’s a gap, they say, in the talent pool from entry level to engineers. “There’s a huge demand now,” says Chris Hunrath. “The quicker we can fill that gap and train new people, the more PCBs can be built and more of the new products and technology will be accepted into the industry.” We are living in a people-constrained business today.

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

Right now, it seems that almost everyone I know is talking about the future. Doesn’t matter whether it’s with my family, loved ones, friends, industry colleagues, or neighbors I meet on the street, conversations are almost entirely forward-looking. This being the holiday season, some reminiscing is to be expected, but I’m just not hearing it in the chatter all around me–this year is different somehow. And it shows in this edition of my must-reads for the week as well. This week we bring you forward-looking discussions with ,,,


The Mission of the New Printed Circuit Board Association of America

Barry Matties recently met with Travis Kelly to discuss the formation of the Printed Circuit Board Association of America (PCBAA), a consortium of U.S.-based companies he chairs to support U.S. domestic production of PCBs. PCBAA was established on three pillars, and Travis explains how they intertwine with each other—and with other similar organizations in the industry.

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."

ICT Autumn Seminar Review: Live in 2021!

Faced with the choice between a real or virtual event, Bill Wilkie took a calculated risk. It has been many long months since members of the Institute of Circuit Technology had gathered together under one roof, but a fair-sized bunch of industry stalwarts braved the weather and the threat of COVID, descended on the Manor Hotel in Meriden, UK, on Nov. 30, and applauded Bill’s decision to go live. They were not disappointed; the program was superb, the atmosphere upbeat, and the networking opportunity priceless.

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

It hardly feels like the end of 2021, but here we are, looking at a new year and IPC APEX EXPO and AltiumLive coming up in less than two months. If you don’t count days lost during the holidays, it’s more like one month before showtime. Hey, at least we have some live events to attend now. This week, we have some association and trade show news, as well as articles on data management and the diminished role of U.S. chip makers in the global electronics supply chain. We’re almost behind the eight-ball here, folks, and we can’t build chip factories overnight. Let’s get a move on!

EIPC Technical Snapshot Review: Semi-additive Processes

The development of ultra-high-density PCBs and packaging substrates using semi-additive and additive manufacturing processes was the theme of the 13th Technical Snapshot webinar presented by EIPC on November 24. It was introduced and moderated by technical director Tarja Rapala-Virtanen. Daniel Schulze, application engineering manager at Dyconex in Switzerland, gave the opening presentation, “Advanced high density rigid packaging substrates for RF and miniaturization.” He explained that with their long-established capabilities in ultra-high-density PCBs in flex, rigid-flex and rigid multilayer technologies, it was logical for Dyconex to apply their expertise to the development of specialist IC substrates.

Solid Data Management Key to Accurate Quotes

Data is omnipresent. At times it goes unnoticed, just waiting there for someone to collect, analyze, and make use of it to create value. Data that seemed irrelevant at the time might come in handy when you need to come up with a solution to a new challenge. When, for instance, you need a reliable quote that can accurately predict a product’s price, you need to base it on past actual operation machine time, raw materials cost, etc. Otherwise, guessing a new product’s price might result in unexpected spending, especially when it concerns sophisticated systems.

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

If you’re in the United States like I am, and if you celebrated with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, like my family did, then you just might have fallen asleep sitting up in a chair (or in my case, stretched out on the couch) and missed some of the highlights in the news this week. Never fear, I woke up early to bring the top five news items you should know for this week. We have industry bookings and sales news from IPC, some news from the flex sector, an explanation of induction lamination from Happy Holden, and two different takes on “sustainability.”

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

This month—and this year, really—has just flown by. As someone mentioned to me recently, “There are basically only three full work weeks before New Year’s Day.” Yikes. Thanksgiving is next week, which means most of your customers and suppliers will be hard to reach. Unless there’s a problem, that is! In that case, they’ll find you, even if you’re carving a turkey with the kids and grandkids. So, with a short week on the horizon, most of us are in overdrive now, trying to get ahead of the game.

New Methods for Quantifying PCB Design Weaknesses and Manufacturing Challenges

Gerry Partida explains, "The industry is at a new point in evolving how we look at building boards. Our industry has historically built boards and then tried to find a test for them. Then, when they found a test for it, they figured out that it needed to be analyzed before they built the board. We did this with electrical test. We built boards and down the road, as people started asking, “Why am I buying bad boards? We should electrically test them,” electrical test was introduced, reluctantly, into the test part of manufacturing printed circuit boards by suppliers or fabricators. Then they embraced it. But when we started testing boards, we did comparison tests."

RealTime with....American Standard Circuits: The Fundamentals of RF and Microwave PCBs

In the second of a series of three RealTime with... interviews, I-Connect007 managing editor Nolan Johnson received knowledgeable and informative answers from John Bushie, director of technology at American Standard Circuits, and Anaya Vardya, president and CEO, to his questions on the unique challenges of RF and microwave PCBs.


From DesignCon: What’s Old is New Again with Selective Heat Sinks

Andy Shaughnessy met with James Hofer, General Manager of Accurate Circuit Engineering, during DesignCon 2021 in San Jose. He discussed some of the new technology they’ve been working on, including copper coins. James explains the benefits of making copper coins—a technology that’s been around for years—in 3D and even laminating them into the board to control heat in one area. James explains, "What we’re doing now is milling and forming these selective heat sinks into different shapes and heights. Rather than put a flat, round, 30-mil thick copper coin into a board, we’ll instead make it with some podiums so that the heat sink gets mounted to the board and is below level, except in particular areas where you bring it flush to the surface of the board, or even higher."

A PCB Design Data Management Overview

In recent issues of Design007 Magazine, we’ve covered strategies for managing specific types of data. But in this issue, we’re looking into data management techniques from a company level. The I-Connect007 Editorial Team recently spoke with three PCB designers who have quite a bit to say about PCB data management: Altium’s John Watson, and Bissell’s Dugan Karnazes and Patryk Akhurst. They discussed their data management philosophies, the need for detailed processes that fit each company, and why data management techniques must undergo continuous improvement to be effective.

Why Good PCB Data Management is Essential

Manufacturing data management consists of four primary components: data transfer, data storage, revision control, and data access. The PCB fabrication and assembly data management system and process is required to be robust to protect customer IP and ensure that the proper data is used to build the product. The entire process assumes that the provided designer data package can’t be built as-is. The design data must be updated/completed after it is received by the manufacturer. Powerful CAD/CAM software has made it easy for designers/companies to pass the final editing and revision control onto their manufacturers. Over time nefarious entities have significantly improved their ability to steal/copy data in parallel with this, thus complicating data transfer and management.

Manage Your Data and Document Everything

One of my biggest nightmares involves getting a call from my boss over the weekend; there’s a problem and they need documentation that I manage, but they can’t find it on our shared drive. At a small company, it’s important to have rules and guidelines about managing documentation. I’m sure bigger companies have full-time employees who oversee PLM systems and make sure every piece of work is documented in a clean and comprehensive way. In a startup environment, though, this type of work usually falls on engineers and the technologists doing the actual testing.

IPC-2581: An Open, Neutral, Efficient Data Transfer Format

PCB design and manufacture has become exponentially more complex as modern electronics providers strive to meet consumer demand for greater connectivity and performance. In the current process, two major pain points need to be overcome to achieve an efficient design and manufacturing process that results in first-time-right products that go to market quickly. The first pain point is time to manufacture—the flow from end of design to start of manufacturing is dependent on multiple communications and shared files between the design house and the manufacturing partner. The second pain point is the design for manufacturing (DFM) analysis that all manufacturers run on the data to see if the design violates any of their manufacturing rules/guidelines.

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

It’s merger mania! Yes, there’s been a lot of M&A activity lately in our industry over the past few months. This week was no different when it comes to merger activities. In this week’s selections, we have news about DuPont’s acquisition of Rogers, Nano Dimension’s merger with Essemtec, and NCAB’s acquisition of Elmatica. We also have news from SMTA International, and an interview with Joe Clark of DownStream Technologies about their new flex and rigid-flex technology.

Averatek Moves Ahead With A-SAP™, ASAP

During DesignCon, the I-Connect007 Editorial Team spoke with Mike Vinson and Paul Dennig of Averatek. They discussed the company’s latest advances in air cavities and semi-additive processes, and what this new technology will mean to the industry, especially PCB designers. Vinson said, "Over the next 12 months, I think you’ll see more involvement from a number of areas—everything from sensors to the actual printed circuit boards themselves and miniaturization. This technology can enable the more advanced packages and the smaller components to be used on the printed circuit board without a great deal of expensive modification."

Dan Beeker: Follow the Geometry and Control the EM Fields

Senior principal engineer Dan Beeker of NXP Semiconductor became something of an industry rock star a few years ago with his remake of the Meghan Trainor song “All About That Bass.” With “All About the Space,” Dan had his class attendees humming a tune that reminded them that signals travel in the spaces around the traces, not the traces themselves. Now, Dan is on a mission to spread the gospel of the late Ralph Morrison, who spent much of his career writing and teaching about electromagnetic field theory. In this DesignCon interview, Dan explains why the PCB design community needs to embrace Morrison’s teachings, which he believes could save the industry hundreds of millions of dollars in respins.

Sunny Patel on Design Data Formats

For this issue on design data file formats, we wanted to speak with someone who has experience using Gerber, IPC-2581, and ODB++. Sunny Patel of Candor Industries has used all three of these formats over the years, so we asked him to share his opinion of each format. He also points out why it might be more important to focus on flexibility than any one specific format. As Sunny says, "With Gerbers there’s a lot more opportunity to put different types of data into our pre-CAM software. That could be just us, but we haven’t had any issues so far, knock on wood, with any of the file formats. I just feel like there’s more opportunity to edit and make micro-adjustments on the HDI side with Gerber. But let’s see what happens. Everyone is always improving their file formats."

NCAB Discusses Recent Merger with Elmatica

I-Connect007’s Nolan Johnson catches up with Anders Forsén, chief financial officer at NCAB Group, to get an update on the recently announced acquisition of Elmatica by NCAB. In this audio interview from the NCAB headquarters in Sweden, Anders details how he sees Elmatica and NCAB working together to deliver a stronger solution for customers.


The Case for IPC-2581: Interview with Ed Acheson

Over the last few years, IPC-2581 has hit several milestones: Revision C was released in late 2020 and it now includes complete build intent for rigid-flex circuits. It is also integrated with IPC’s Connected Factory Exchange assembly format. To learn more, the I-Connect007 Editorial Team spoke with Ed Acheson, a senior principal product engineer with Cadence Design Systems. Ed is also one of the developers behind the IPC-2581 design data transfer format. He walks us through the ins and outs of IPC-2581, and explains why he believes this open-source format could be just what PCB designers and fabricators need today and tomorrow.

Who Selects the Design Data Format, and Why?

For this issue on design data formats, I wanted some feedback from a PCB design bureau, so I spoke with Jen Kolar, VP of engineering at Monsoon Solutions in Bellevue, Washington. I asked Jen who decides on the design data format at Monsoon, and why.

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.”

Test Strategies and Pain Points

In this interview with Bert Horner of The Test Connection, Inc., a test engineering service provider, he shares his insights on the trends and challenges for test and inspection. This discussion is centered around common challenges in the industry, and the importance of setting up your test and inspection strategy. Bert states, "The biggest challenge is giving access to the key points and understanding a test strategy prior to the assembly being built."

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

This week’s top picks, as influenced by readership interest, don’t seem to hold to a particular theme. Previously, I’ve referred to this as a potpourri, and now that I’ve done that once, I can’t really do so again, can I? How about a mixed bag? No, I don’t think so. While the news is certainly a diverse assortment, this just feels too obvious.

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

There’s a lot going on in the industry this week, and my top five picks have a little bit of everything.

The Case for Gerber: Interview with Karel Tavernier and Dirk Stans

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team recently spoke with Karel Tavernier, managing director of Ucamco, which now takes care of the Gerber format; and Gerber advocate Dirk Stans, managing director of Eurocircuits. They discuss why Gerber continues to be the most popular format for PCB designers, the advantages it offers designers and fabricators, and what the future holds for this resilient format.

Soldering to Aluminum With Mina

At DesignCon, I caught up with Divyakant Kadiwala of Averatek Corporation. He spent a few minutes explaining a special process developed by Averatek that allows technologists to solder to aluminum.

Ken Wyatt: Think of Circuit Traces as Wave Guides

We spoke with Ken Wyatt of Wyatt Technical Services during DesignCon 2021. In this interview, Ken discusses his DesignCon tutorial and how proper stackup planning can help in the fight against radiated emissions. He also points out that many PCB designers lack a true understanding of EMC and radiated emissions in general, and why some knowledge of physics is so important to today’s PCB designers.

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

Well, William Shatner finally did the field research for his role as Captain James T. Kirk this week, going sub-orbital on the Blue Origin launch platform. No, I’m not making fun of Shatner’s flight, quite the contrary. He’s the first actor in the entire Star Trek franchise to go into space while still living. And at 90 years old, he’s now the oldest person to make the trip as well!


The Case for ODB++: Interview with Pat McGoff and Max Clark

To learn more about ODB++, we spoke with Pat McGoff and Max Clark of Siemens Digital Industries Software, two developers who have been working on the format for years. In this interview, they explain how ODB++ works, why they believe designers and manufacturers should switch to this format, and what’s next for ODB++.

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

This week we have quite a potpourri for you. Our newest columnist, Kim O’Neil of Prototron Circuits, offers details on setting up your own quality management system (QMS). Emmy-winning tech writer David Pogue will be a keynote at IPC APEX EXPO, which I think is a great move on the part of IPC. We have an article from Brent Fischthal of Koh Young America on the value of investing in the latest AOI equipment, which can save you time and money by eliminating false calls.

Tribal Knowledge and Design Data Formats

I recently began to investigate “tribal knowledge” in PCB and PCBA operations. My goal was to determine whether anything of value would be lost if it were not recorded or preserved for future industry technologists. In the face of modern material science and industry standards, the descriptive title “tribal knowledge” suggests that one must determine what is fact, what is fiction, and what may just be plain embellishment, coincidence, or even magic. In many cases, tribal knowledge seems to be composed of memories of problems solved due to trial and error, coupled with observations of resulting causes and effects.

Sunstone Circuits: Use the Design Data Format That Gives You Best Results

To get some feedback from a PCB prototype manufacturer about design data formats, we asked Matt Stevenson, Sunstone’s VP of sales and marketing, to weigh in. As Matt explains, his company is equally at home using Gerber or ODB++, but it’s not the fabricator’s job to convince customers to use one data format over another. In the end, you should use the format that gives you the best results.

Collaboration by Design: The Role of EDA Tools

Rapidly designing and building successful electronic circuit boards is always helped by good communication and collaboration among engineering teams (internal and/or external), purchasing departments, and EMS providers. Collaborating effectively and efficiently with colleagues throughout the design cycle leads to better results.

PCEA Approaches Two-Year Anniversary with New Members and Classes

I recently spoke with PCEA’s Mike Creeden at DesignCon 2021. As PCEA closes in on its two-year anniversary, Mike provides an update on the organization’s growth and plans to continue connecting and educating PCB designers and design engineers.

Applying DFM Analysis to Flexible PCBs

Flex circuit designs have unique properties and materials that separate them from rigid printed circuit boards. The flex circuits’ thinness makes them more delicate, and they are more susceptible to accidental damage during manufacturing. This negatively affects the yield, increasing the per-item cost. Let us explore why running concurrent DFM is even more important with flexible circuitry than for rigid PCBs.

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

Once again, seemingly like clockwork, the controversy erupts. It’s such a divisive issue, and it seems no one can be undecided in this debate; each of us is expected to take a stand. All of society—including the media—asks, “Which side are you on?”

Real Time with... American Standard Circuits: Flex and Rigid-Flex PCBs

In the first of a series of three Real Time with…ASC interviews, I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson got some no-nonsense answers from Anaya Vardya and Dave Lackey on the topic of flex and rigid-flex PCBs. I was impressed by ASC’s generosity in sharing knowledge and technology.

24 Essential Skills for Engineers: The Story Behind the Book

In this interview with I-Connect007’s own Happy Holden about his newest book, 24 Essential Skills for Engineers, which he wrote over the span of his career, he highlights some particular moments from his time working at HP and as CTO of Foxconn which inspired many of the book’s chapters. Happy explains why he covered engineering skills as well as “soft skills” such as problem-solving and communication—skills which are keys to succeeding as an engineer.


EIPC Technical Snapshot: Updates, Methods, and Interconnections

Not a lot happens in August, when European industry traditionally takes its summer holidays, ready to bounce back re-energised and invigorated in September. EIPC, the European Institute for the PCB Community, got the autumn webinar season off to a flying start with the 11th in their series of Technical Snapshots.

From DesignCon: Electro Rent Beats High Cost of Test Equipment

At DesignCon, I spoke with Rachael Lee, Western regional manager of Electro Rent. This company rents out test and measurement equipment like oscilloscopes and spectrum analyzers—machines that can cost six figures to purchase. In this interview, Rachael explains how the company operates and why certain companies choose to rent test equipment for the long term instead of buying.

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

Every fall, the action in the world of PCB design and manufacturing begins to pick up again. No more out-of-office email replies; summer vacation is over, and it’s time to get back at it. This week’s Top Five is a veritable pastiche of columns, articles, and news from the electronics industry.

BOMs and the Supply Chain from an Assembler's Point of View

Duane Benson of Screaming Circuits speaks with Nolan Johnson about issues assemblers encounter with BOMs and part shortages. Duane gives advice on how to avoid some common pitfalls.

From DesignCon: Bringing the Power of Simulation to a Wider Audience

Andy Shaughnessy ran into Siemens EDA Product Marketing Manager Todd Westerhoff during DesignCon 2021 and asked him for an update on his company’s simulation and analysis tools. They discussed Siemens’ ongoing efforts to bring the power of simulation to more PCB designers and run simulation earlier in the design process, as well as the challenges Siemens faces in developing tools that appeal to both signal integrity experts and mainstream hardware design engineers.

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

In some weeks, readership numbers are pretty even, which means I make my picks based on “excellence” or “achievement” of some sort. Other weeks, you readers “go viral” on a few key news items, making the selection process numerically driven. This was one of those weeks. Here, then, are the five most-read news items. Of course, leading the way are our esteemed technical editors, Pete Starkey and Dan Feinberg. These gentlemen are examples of my opening statement, as both enjoy huge popularity with readers precisely because they are so good at reporting on the industry.

From DesignCon: EMA Helps Get DFM, Analysis Info to Designers Early in the Process

Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Chris Banton, Director of Marketing for EMA Design Automation, during DesignCon 2021 in San Jose, California. He explained how EMA helps Cadence Design Systems push more DFM and signal integrity information into designers’ hands earlier in the design cycle, as well as how they are blurring the lines between PCB and RF design functions. He also discussed the company’s increased efforts creating design education modules for customers who hire inexperienced PCB designers.

The Power of Designer and Manufacturer Collaboration

Whether you are beginning board layout, building the first run of a prototype, or you’re making a change to a mature product several years into its life span, there is no incorrect time to consult your PCB manufacturer. Circuit boards today are dense with features that push the limits of manufacturing technology, and as designers employ these technological advances it’s easy to venture off the well-documented path of standard manufacturing.

From DesignCon: Rogers’ Products at the Right Place and Time

Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Dean Marquart, product manager at Rogers Corporation about his role in managing parts so that customers are getting what they need—and when they need it.

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

The kids and grandkids are back in school, and fall is on the way. During this busy week, we published a variety of articles, covering everything from trade shows to mergers. It’s hard to argue with IPC’s plans to require proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test to enter IPC APEX EXPO; you can expect other trade shows to follow suit in the future. We’d hate for a show to become a super-spreader event.


Collaboration: The Key to Streamlining Your Design Process

We recently spoke with Patrick Davis, product management director of Cadence Design Systems, about the benefits of collaboration between PCB designers and fabricators—and the drawbacks to throwing designs “over the wall.” Patrick explains why designers and fabricators often seem to be talking past each other, the role that EDA software companies can play in facilitating collaboration, and why IPC-2581 may be the right means for connecting all of design’s stakeholders.

From DesignCon: Insulectro Educating Designers About New Materials

I recently met with Insulectro VP of Technology Chris Hunrath at DesignCon 2021. We discussed a variety of new laminates that Insulectro is distributing, as well as some newer processes and the need to educate designers on the ins and outs of cutting-edge laminates.

Seeking Out Design Education Resources

I’ve been doing PCB design for about 15 years. I started in high school, drawing out simple circuits in an image editor and raiding the local Radio Shack for ferric chloride and copper-clad boards for toner transfer etching. The results were crude, and often didn’t work, but the process was fascinating—and truthfully still is. For as empowering as it can be, PCB design has a shockingly low barrier to entry.

How to Use Panelization Planning to Save Money and Resources

In this interview, Siemens’ Patrick McGoff speaks with Nolan Johnson about strategies to utilize panelization planning to save money and resources.

Paying it Forward: DFM Education for Engineering Grads

Every day, I had the opportunity to drive to several Seattle-based design companies and meet with their engineering staffs, usually full of young, recently graduated electrical engineers. Almost every company I visited had employed several recent EE graduates (all named Zach, Ian, or Ashley, it seemed) who were tasked with laying out PCBs. I could tell in a heartbeat that these kids were smart.

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

The past couple weeks have delivered quite a bit of PCB manufacturing industry news, to be sure. If you haven’t already seen this news piece from USPAE, “Electronics Industry Summit With US DoD Spawns More Dialogue, Collaboration,” I’d like to bring it to your attention one more time.

Altium’s Nexar Platform Unites Design, Supply Chain, and Manufacturing, Part 1

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team recently spoke with Ted Pawela, chief ecosystem officer and head of the Nexar business unit at Altium. Ted discussed Altium’s new Nexar cloud platform which aims to build an ecosystem that connects designers, supply chain companies, and manufacturers.

The Impact of Via Structures on Multi-Gigabit Signal Transmission

This article briefly introduces various via structures on the PCB for layer transition purposes. It also investigates the impact of these via structures on multi-gigabit transmission by analysing time domain reflectometry (TDR), differential insertion loss (Sdd21), and eye diagrams.

From DesignCon: Isola Navigating a Challenging Supply Stream

Nolan Johnson and Andy Shaughnessy visited with Jim Hartzell of Isola to learn about how the company has thrived in the past 18 months, despite some real supply chain backlogs. Jim also talks about new products, and what’s on the horizon for Isola.

DFM from the Fabricator’s Point of View

What do you think of when you hear the term DFM? The I-Connect007 Editorial Team posed this question to a trio of design and fabrication experts: DownStream Technologies co-founders Joe Clark and Rick Almeida, and Max Clark, business unit manager for Valor at Siemens EDA. We think you’ll enjoy this wide-ranging conversation.


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

This week, we’ve covered a variety of topics in our newsletters and websites. In my Top Five picks, we have quite a mixed bag of industry news and articles. In market reports, there’s good news from the North American PCB side of things, but bad news from the EMS segment, driven by long lead times and material shortages. We also have an article that gets down to the root cause, or causes, of the six-month lead time and price increases.

Review: Siemens PCB Stackup Planning Webinar

I love getting to know new tools in the industry, especially when they address issues that haven’t been included into the layout software yet. This Siemens webinar on stackup design, presented by Z-zero founder and HyperLynx alum Bill Hargin, offers a variety of tips for designers and design engineers. I totally agree with Bill’s statement, “The PCB stackup is the central nervous system of the design.”

Unfolding Altium’s Design Education Platforms

For the August issue on PCB design education, we knew we had to speak with Judy Warner, director of community and industry engagement for Altium. Judy has been heavily involved with Altium’s educational programs, including the technical presentations for their annual conference, AltiumLive. The I-Connect007 Editorial Team asked Judy to discuss Altium’s educational plans going forward, specifically AltiumLive’s transition back to live, in-person shows soon to be offered in a new hybrid format.

The EMS/Designer Relationship: Kelly's Story

In a recent discussion with John Vaughan and Kelly Dack, we explored how parts availability information can reverberate back to the design team in unexpected ways. In this part of the interview, Dack details how a parts availability issue can restart the design all the way back with the OEM design team.

Designing With the End in Mind—How the Meaning of DFM Will Transform in the Future

Designers of today’s complex printed circuit boards occasionally encounter setbacks due to their lack of early planning. Such consequences for apathy in preparation and awareness will continue to escalate along the growth curve of complexity that the industry continues to experience. In this article, Altium's Vince Mazur explains how designers can be served by a design for manufacturing (DFM) mindset to help assure first-pass success.

You Can’t Learn PCB Design on Your Own

When Editor Andy Shaughnessy asked me to comment on the best path for new PCB designers to learn the trade, I had one immediate thought: I don’t think anyone can learn PCB design on their own. It’s just not possible today. There’s always more to learn in PCB design, and more than one way to learn.

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

I’m at DesignCon as I start pen this week’s must-reads. It’s good to be back in the convention centers, I have to say. In my last installment, I expressed the anticipation; I can now confirm that taking the pulse of our industry is so much easier when one is nearer the heartbeat.

DesignCon Day 2: PCB Exhibitors and Sessions Aplenty

The first day of DesignCon, held at the McEnery Center in San Jose, seemed to be more lightly attended than in previous years. While that may seem like bad news, word from exhibitors was that those in attendance are here to do business. Likewise, the technical conference seems to be delivering on its promise.

DesignCon 2021 Kicks Off With a Family Reunion

It’s been a long 18 months since DesignCon 2020, and we’re all different people, and a different industry. So, it seems only fitting that DesignCon 2021 held a Family Reunion banquet at the end of the first day of the conference at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California.

My Road to Becoming a Great Designer

It was halfway into 2009, I had recently graduated from the University of Guelph with a bachelor of engineering in systems and computing, and the options for employment were slim. Unfortunately, I had entered the workforce during the very tail end of the 2008 financial crisis and was having difficulty finding employment in any field. It would be the better part of a year before I was able to start in the first position in my field as a junior electronics engineer.


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

Well, we’re officially in the trade show season. Delta variant or not, Editor Nolan Johnson and I are going to DesignCon next week. I’m flying on Delta, which I think is a harbinger of good luck. I did get flight insurance, though. I’m definitely ready to fly somewhere.

My PCB Design Education: A Continuous Process

Being under pressure to deliver functioning boards, on time, made me aware of what could go wrong, and it forced me to employ a systematic approach to every design I work on. I started keeping notes of the tricks I learned along the way and because of that, I ensured that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes again. Here are some of the design practices that I’ve been following while designing boards.

Design Education and Training for Today and Tomorrow

PCB design and design engineering are evolving constantly, and design education and training must also evolve to meet the needs of tomorrow’s young designers—yes, there are young designers again. The I-Connect007 Editorial Team recently spoke about this issue with design instructor Susy Webb, CID. We asked Susy to discuss how design and training have changed in the last few decades, where design education is headed, and how today’s crop of new designers differs from the “graybeards” who are planning their retirements. She also recommends design education resources from a variety of media formats.

Ask the Experts: Why Are Fabricators Reluctant to Share Capabilities with Designers?

Q: No offense to your experts; I love your publication. But wouldn’t designers be better off posing questions to fabricators’ CAM departments? But they won’t answer them anyway! Which begs a question: Why don’t most fabricators share their capabilities, Valor settings, etc., with designers? And then they complain?

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

This week’s must-reads include: a recently-run interview with Travis Kelly from Isola; IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac discussing economic trends that will touch the industry; new high-speed materials; technique for copper pour from Design007’s recent “Just Ask…” series; and maintaining continuous manufacturing knowledge throughout your enterprise.

Ask the Experts: Replacing the Retiring 'Graybeards'

Q: Our company’s senior designers and EEs, including me, are heading for retirement and pickleball. How can we attract new/young people into PCB design?

Excerpt: The System Designer’s Guide to… System Analysis, Chapter 1

System designers for 5G, automotive, high-performance computing (HPC), IoT, and other advanced applications have been facing growing challenges in EM interference and thermal issues. These are prevalent in all electronic devices. Data centers play a key role in this high-performance computing (HPC) era, and EMI/thermal issues have a huge impact on the performance of data centers. This book explains scenarios and issues based on the context of data center electronic systems.

DFM 101: PCB Controlled Impedance

One of the biggest challenges facing PCB designers is not understanding the cost drivers in the PCB manufacturing process. This article is the latest in a series that will discuss these cost drivers (from the PCB manufacturer’s perspective) and the design decisions that will impact product reliability.

Ask the Experts: Copper Pour on Unused Layer Sections?

Q: Is it best practice to flood with copper (tying all areas to GND as needed) all unused portions of all layers?

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

In the past week, we published quite a bit of news—some good, some not so good. The supply chain is likely to be a challenge for the next year or so. But in this industry, technologists always seem to find a workaround.


Ask the Experts: Determining Amount of Copper for Heat Dissipation

Q: When a datasheet calls out an area of copper for heat dissipation, how do I interpret that requirement for my board?

Whizz Systems: The Silicon Valley CM

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team spoke with Whizz Systems in the months prior to COVID. As we come out of lockdown, we decided to check in with Muhammad Irfan and Dan Williams of Whizz Systems. In this part of the interview, they discuss Whizz Systems’ unique methods for navigating the many handoffs involved in the design and manufacturing process, as well as their drive to educate their customers about this process. They also share their thoughts on the trends they’ve seen as a CM working out of Silicon Valley.

Rogers Technology Update

At the IEEE International Microwave Symposium (IMS) show in Atlanta, I met with John Coonrod, technical marketing manager with Rogers Corporation and a Design007 columnist. I asked John to discuss the papers he presented at IMS and to give us an update on Rogers’ materials and technology.

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

In this week’s top five: a high profile surprise merger between Autodesk and Altium, which had been in the works, resolved this week; financial news from fabs and assemblers around the globe is reporting strong bookings and sales as the industry bounces back from pandemic-related shutdowns; component demands continue to exert pull pressures on the semiconductor suppliers, keeping the market (overly?) competitive pricewise. The tiles are indeed being stirred. Which pieces will you be dealt?

Siemens Webinar: Rigid-Flex Design Without Respins

Rigid-flex circuits have become almost ubiquitous over the past decade; most personal electronic devices contain at least one rigid-flex circuit. But there’s a downside to rigid-flex: Respins are almost a given with rigid-flex designs. And rigid-flex respins can be quite expensive, since this technology costs quite a bit more, on average, than flex or rigid boards.

Ask the Experts: Tying Vias

Q. What is the best method for tying vias to ground and power planes for bypass capacitors when using multiple caps of different values for one component power pin?

Anaya Vardya Discusses ASC’s Move into Additive Processes

It’s been far too long since I’ve been at a live trade show, so I jumped on the chance to attend the IEEE International Microwave Symposium (IMS) show in Atlanta. I ran into Anaya Vardya, CEO of American Standard Circuits, and asked him to give us an update on ASC’s new technologies.

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

Trade show season is around the corner, and we’re talking about real, in-person trade shows. The virtual shows served their purpose, and we may see more virtual shows in tandem with live events, but I’ll be glad to get back on the show floor and see what’s “really” going on out there. It's great to see IPC’s hand soldering competitions returning to Europe this fall.

The Survey Said: Most Common Design Mistakes

In a recent I-Connect007 survey to designers and design engineers, we asked the following question: What are the most common design mistakes that your company encounters?

Ask the Experts: 12-Layer Stackups With Multiple Powers and Grounds

Question: We’re having lots of problems designing good stackups for 6-, 8-, 10- and 12-layer boards with multiple powers and grounds. Any suggestions?


Averatek Pushing Boundaries of Additive and Semi-Additive Processes

At the IEEE International Microwave Symposium show in Atlanta, I met with Tara Dunn, I-Connect007 columnist and VP of marketing and business development for Averatek. We sat down at the show and discussed the past year and a half, and after joking about how we felt like we were on an episode of The Twilight Zone, Tara gave me an update on Averatek’s continuing research into additive and semi-additive technologies.

Ask the Experts: Crosstalk Solutions

Question: Crosstalk is getting worse, after we had it under control. It’s not just transmission lines anymore. It’s almost laughable, but it’s costing us money. What can be done?

It’s FR-4, Jim, But Not as We Know It!

As Star Trek was responsible for adding terms such as photon torpedo, dilithium crystal, and warp drive to our language, so NEMA were responsible for the terms G-10, FR-4, and FR-5. “FR” was the NEMA abbreviation for “flame retardant” and materials so classified were marked with a red manufacturer’s logo.

Star Trek: Laying a Path for Technology of Tomorrow, Today

In 1966, when Star Trek first aired, PCBs were in their infancy. A handful of components mounted to a double-sided board with 6-mil traces was on the leading edge of electronics. Since then, much of electronic innovation has been driven by PCB technology. Could the trends in PCB innovation have been predicted at that time? Perhaps through science fiction like Star Trek we can boldly explore our own final frontier.

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

Optimism is on the rise. This week, we saw signs of increased confidence in the PCB industry, but this was tempered by the realities of supply chain issues and 50-week lead times for some components. We saw some M&A activity and a bit of really interesting news from Stanford University about flex. Cherie Litson brought us a story of her life in PCB design, against a backdrop of Star Trek. IPC also announced an introductory PCB design class. Isn’t it nice to have new designers again?

My Life in PCB Design

In a cold (62°F), semi-dark room, there are banks of mainframe computers along one wall; a soft light glows upward from the table in the corner. I take my kit—a variety of sizes of black, red, and blue tape, decals, and an X-Acto knife—and set it on the side table.

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

This week, Nolan Johnson's top five includes two popular press releases on equipment purchases, plus a case study that details another company’s ROI from new equipment. We also bring you Pete Starkey’s latest EIPC webinar writeup, and a bit of historical controversy from Clyde Coombs.

Hewlett-Packard’s Adoption—and Controversy—of Plated Through-Holes

I believe that it is instructive to remember just how close Hewlett-Packard—and likely the entire industry—came to adopting eyelets instead of plated through-holes in the early 1960s. That there was ever a controversy over the use of plated through-holes as an acceptable printed circuit interconnection process seems almost impossible to consider, let alone take seriously today. But in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the PTH was not just a controversial idea; serious product designers considered eyelets a preferred technology.

EIPC Technical Snapshot Review: Microvia Reliability Issues

Since the mid-1990s, when they were developed for mass production in the mobile phone industry, microvias have become principal enablers for high-density designs, and have evolved from single-level to complex stacked and staggered structures. They are fundamentally robust interconnects, although some aspects of their reliability are still under investigation.

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

It’s summertime here in Atlanta. The masks are gone, and my Hawaiian shirts are back in rotation! It feels like we’re getting back to normal. Speaking of normal, it looks like DesignCon, PCB West, SMTA International, and IPC APEX EXPO are good to go; they’re set to be live, in-person events, just like in the “olden days” of early 2020.


‘The Trouble with Tribbles’

The original Star Trek series came into my life in 1966 as I was entering sixth grade. I was fascinated by the technology being used, such as communicators and phasers, and the crazy assortment of humans and aliens in each episode. My favorite episode is “The Trouble with Tribbles,” an episode combining cute Tribbles, science, and good/bad guys—sprinkled with sarcastic humor.

Words of Advice: Biggest Challenges for Designers

In a recent I-Connect007 survey to designers and design engineers, we asked the following question: What is the biggest PCB design challenge that you or your company deal with regularly? Here are a few of the responses, edited slightly for clarity.

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

This week’s can’t miss news items touch all the bases—unlike Pittsburgh Pirates Rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes, who didn’t touch all the bases on Tuesday night’s game, and had his home run revoked.

ExpressPCB Plus 3.0 Adds Functionality, SnapEDA Integration

ExpressPCB has recently released version 3.0 of its ExpressPCB and Express PCB Plus PCB design tools. The I-Connect007 Editorial Team recently spoke with Michael Hebda, product manager for ExpressPCB. He offered a walk-through of the new Plus version 3.0 and explained how the new enhancements enable PCB designers to potentially cut hours or days off their design cycle.

Star Trek, the Original Series: An Homage from a Fan

It’s fun to think back to the days when I first saw Star Trek on TV. In September 1966, I was a sophomore in college in chemical engineering. Being a science fiction fan for many years, I was looking forward to this new show, so I would go over to the student union building early in order to get a seat in the TV room. I got interested in science fiction from a few good movies like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and Forbidden Planet (1956). Then I took up reading the magazine Scientific American at the library.

Catching up With Kusu’s Pascal Delloue

There are other countries in Asia besides China and Pascal Delloue intends to promote them. He has many years of experience in the global marketplace and his new company, Kusu Corporation, is poised to introduce SE Asian companies and the electronics products they can provide for the rest of the world. I have to say this is an interview like no other I have ever conducted. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

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

In case you’ve been on the beach with an umbrella drink in your hand, in industry news we saw the soft opening of a new laminate facility and more M&A activity in the PCB fab segment. And we ran some really great content from our contributors, with articles on how to save your company money and how to save yourself time in the design cycle. Plus, Editor Nolan Johnson channels his inner John Updike with his review of one of the most popular manufacturing strategy books ever, three decades after its publication.

My Ongoing Journey Toward DFM

For the past five years I have spent the first several hours of each working day communicating with a wide variety of offshore manufacturers about customer PCB design issues. I must say, it has been an eye-opening experience. Not only have I learned a lot about PCB manufacturing capabilities and challenges around the world but also about the design for manufacturability (DFM) attitude and aptitude of a wide cross-section of North American PCB designers and design engineers.

Planning and Communication—Key to Optimizing Your Design Time

How many times in our careers have we been asked, “Can we pull in the schedule?” and we can feel the hair on the back of our neck standing up on end. This type of question can be hard to hear simply because it is the wrong type of question.

PCEA Webinar: Tips and Tricks for RF Design

Dan Feinberg recently attended a remarkably interesting presentation on tips and tricks of designing for RF signals, hosted by the Printed Circuit Engineering Association. If you’re not yet familiar with PCEA, it is made up of former members of the IPC Designers Council, and it has become an international network of engineers, designers, fabricators, assemblers, and anyone else related to printed circuit development.


Why You Should Get Involved in IPC Standards Development

From a business perspective, involvement in IPC standards is incredibly important. Usage of IPC’s globally accepted standards creates a level playing field in the electronics supply chain. The playing field, however, is only as level as the participants who are involved in the development of a standard.

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

Summer is almost upon us. But it doesn’t look like there’s much of a summer vacation afoot for this industry. In the past week, we saw lots of traction with our coverage of everything from M&A activity and the supply chain shortage to challenges facing PCB designers, Spanish language training courses, and designing for semi-additive processes.

Medical, Defense Face Shortage of Multilayer Ceramic Capacitors

Industrial, medical, and military demand for high-quality, high-voltage multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) has been hit hard by a shift in production by the world’s largest MLCC manufacturers who are focusing on a seemingly insatiable demand for smaller, lower voltage—and in some way—lower-performance MLCCs.

Operational Excellence from a Design Services Manager

Jesse Vaughan discusses the key aspects of continuous improvement he sees in his role as manager of design services at ACDi, and the importance of carving out communication channels—both internally and externally to help build operational excellence.

Meeting the Challenge With Design Reuse

As project schedules get shorter and budgets get squeezed, project managers and small business owners must constantly look at ways to maximize limited funding and resources. But reusable PCB design IP allows us to investigate ways to potentially shorten design cycle time.

The Top Five Reasons Products Fail EMI Testing

The three top product failures that Ken Wyatt sees constantly in his consulting practice are radiated emissions, radiated susceptibility, and electrostatic discharge. After reviewing and testing hundreds of products over the years, he's come to the conclusion that products fail these tests for five common reasons. Read on!

PCB Design Challenges: Designing With DDR

Longtime signal integrity experts Rick Hartley and Barry Olney join the I-Connect007 Editorial Team for a discussion around DDR and the complications board designers inevitably face when they design for DDR. If, as Rick and Barry explain, the DDR design process is not that much more complicated than that of a typical high-speed board, why does DDR cause design engineers so much grief? Much of this comes down to following the process, running simulation, and not relying on reference designs.

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

Finally, it’s May. The snow has melted, the flowers are beginning to bloom, and summer is just around the corner. We’re slowly getting back to normal after the craziest year I can remember. And our industry is on the move! This week, we bring you a veritable seafood platter of articles and columns about PCB design, fabrication, and assembly.

Arlon President Discusses Acquisition by EMC

Arlon President Brad Foster updates Nolan Johnson on EMC’s acquisition of Arlon in December 2020. Foster shares the basic structure of the agreement, the long-term stability built into the merger, and outlines how this brings EMC, Arlon and Technica together as a team. Foster also hints at what we can expect to see from Arlon and EMC in the coming months.

A Tribute to Dieter Bergman

In 1962, while at Philco Ford, Dieter became the company’s official representative to the IPC. Dieter tag-teamed with his friend and co-worker Gerald Ginsberg on the development of a prolific run of technical publications including a multilayer design standard and the massive binder known as the IPC-D-330 IPC Design Guide. For his standards contributions, Dieter received the IPC President’s Award in 1968, the same year he assumed chairmanship of the IPC Design Committee.


Show & Tell Magazine Now Available on Demand

IPC APEX EXPO 2021 is in the history books now. But as the paperboys used to say in the 1930s, you can still “read all about it” in Real Time With… IPC APEX EXPO 2021 Show & Tell Magazine! It’s all right here in one convenient publication: interviews with award winners, coverage of keynote speeches, show notes from our technical staff, thoughts from IPC Emerging Engineers, and much more

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

This week’s biggest news came in the form of industry briefings—there were a lot of them and the news was universally positive. The news you need to read for this week includes three reports from IPC detailing: the strength and risks in the global economic recovery; a strong EMS book-to-bill ratio; and strong North American PCB sales. Zeroing in on a single company, Apple reported a significant jump in revenue.

IPC-2581 Revision C: Complete Build Intent for Rigid-Flex

With the current design transfer formats, rigid-flex designers face a hand-off conundrum. You know the situation: My rigid-flex design is done so now it is time to get this built and into the product. Reviewing the documentation reveals that there are tables to define the different stackup definitions used in the design. The cross-references for the different zones to areas of the design are all there, I think. The last time a zone definition was missed, we caused a costly mistake.

PCEA Expands in Its Sophomore Year

Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with PCEA’s Scott McCurdy and Tomas Chester about the organization’s plans for its second year. They explained that they plan to add new chapters and members, especially younger engineers like Tomas.

Benchmarking Your Process Engineering

Mark Thompson has been in bare board fabrication for over 30 years. He is now laying out printed circuit boards at Monsoon Solutions, a high-tech design bureau near Seattle, Washington. With Mark’s extensive hands-on knowledge of PCB manufacturing, he brings a unique perspective to PCB design. In this discussion with the I-Connect007 editorial team, Mark shares what’s important from a process engineer’s point of view, and how to stay on top of evaluating and benchmarking your manufacturing process, along with insights from his new role as a designer.

Isola Releases IS550H Material

Nolan Johnson speaks with Michael Gay of Isola and Chris Hunrath of Insulectro about the release of their new halogen-free, high-thermal reliability material, which they hope fills the gap in the market between epoxies and polyimides.

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.

I-Connect007 'Just Ask' Q&A Compilation Available Now

Throughout 2020, we asked you to send us your questions for Happy Holden, John Mitchell, Joe Fjelstad, Tara Dunn, and Heidi Barnes. You all had plenty of questions for these industry experts. The following is a handy compilation of your questions and their answers.

Meet Chris Young, MilAero007 Columnist

Meet Chris Young, one of our newest I-Connect007 columnists! Chris’ columns will take a lighthearted (sometimes humorous) and informative view of the aerospace and defense industry.

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.”


A Show Full of Opportunities

Looking back to my notes from IPC APEX 2020, I noticed one of my comments: There were so many interesting sessions that I often found myself in the position of choosing between several that I wanted to attend in the same timeslot. This year was not any different in that regard. I am purposely glossing over the fact that I, like many of my friends, missed the camaraderie and opportunity to catch up in person while attending these technical sessions, and I look forward to being able to do that next year.

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

I’m sure it’s just me being hyperaware, but I can’t shake it: Mars is where it’s at right now. Is it just me, or do you get the same feeling from the news? There are the Mars rovers—three generations of them still rolling, now—and a drone helicopter winding up for a maiden flight any day now. But that’s not all. There’s SpaceX’s StarShip, rapid-prototyping its way into a manned flight to Mars. And NASA’s whole “return to the Moon” project is simply a shakedown for the U.S. government contractors’ Mars flight hardware, too.

Excerpt—The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to... SMT Inspection: Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond, Chapter 2

A limitation of many 3D optical inspection systems is the cycle time typically associated with processing millions of pixels to reconstruct a full 3D image using data captured from multiple channels. There should not be a compromise between 3D inspection and throughput. A successful inspection deployment should provide oversight for the process, not compromise, interrupt or slow that process.

Overcoming Component Selection and Sourcing Challenges

Most PCB designers know precisely how Captain James T. Kirk felt because we often feel the same way when starting a new design. We are launching into something that we ultimately don't know how it will turn out. We don't know the difficulties we'll face or problems we’ll need to fix. While we can control the design process and use our skills to make reasonable decisions, there are often huge hazards awaiting us in the "unknown." One worsening problem for all designers is component procurement.

My Thoughts From the Virtual Show

Gosh, I sure missed the live event! I listened in on several technical sessions, the awards ceremony, the keynotes, and the Hall of Fame management session. I tried a couple of professional development courses but got the frownie face on my screen and didn’t go back in. I have almost 90 days(!) to browse them to my heart’s content, so what the heck. There were good points and a few not so good things about this first ever virtual conference. You probably experienced some yourself.

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.

Barry Olney’s High-Speed Simulation Primer

The I-Connect007 editorial team recently spoke with Barry Olney of iCD about simulation. Barry, a columnist for Design007 Magazine, explains why simulation tools can have such a steep learning curve, and why many design engineers are still not using simulation on complex high-speed designs.

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.

Technical Conference—Balancing Conventional and Disruptive Technologies

I thought the three keynotes given by IPC President and CEO John Mitchell, Industry Week Editor-in-Chief Travis Hessman, and IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac, were spot on. They all spoke to the fact that the way products are conceived, designed, manufactured, and used is changing rapidly. While the keynotes had different focus areas, I noted an important similarity—they all underscored the need for increased industry collaboration to help bring the factory and supply chain of the future to life.

With Flex, Sometimes You Gotta Break the Rules

Sometimes in life, we need to break the rules. For example, in junior high I had a curfew but to have my first kiss, I had to break curfew. I got grounded, but it was worth it! My last article was about reasons to follow IPC design and inspection rules. This time, we are discussing instances where, due to complex requirements, customers are not always able to follow the rules. I will also discuss some design options that will hopefully keep you from “getting grounded.”


Rising Star Award Winner: Radu Diaconescu

Last year’s IPC APEX EXPO, which took place in sunny San Diego, seems to have taken place in a different world. This was a world where talks were held in front of a large crowd, not a monitor, and travelling to the other side of the world wasn’t considered a reckless risk. By February 2020, however, we were starting to grasp the seriousness of the situation. Back then, there were a lot of things that we didn’t know, and more importantly, there were a lot of things that we had no clue that we didn’t know. The concept of “knowing what you don’t know” or figuring out the areas where one lacks knowledge is probably as important as acquiring the knowledge itself.

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

The Top 5 is labeled as “editor’s choice,” which is a good thing this week because if I were limited to just posting the five most viewed news items, this week’s list would be full of our own coverage for IPC APEX EXPO. Judging from the metrics, that content has been extremely popular.

Rooting Out an 'Us vs. Them' Mentality: An Interview with Laura Kriska

Earlier this year, I-Connect007 columnist Dan Beaulieu submitted a book review on "The Business of WE: The Proven Three-Step Process for Closing the Gap Between Us and Them in Your Workplace." As a follow up to that review, Dan has interviewed the book's author, Laura Kriska.

Emerging Engineer: Jesse Vaughan

Jesse Vaughan, a member of the IPC Emerging Engineer program, discusses some of the takeaways from this year's virtual IPC APEX EXPO.

Happy’s Play-by-Play of IPC APEX EXPO

This was the first time IPC had a virtual APEX EXPO. It went well, but I missed seeing everyone. On the other hand, all this material being available for 90 days certainly allows it to fit anyone’s schedule. I spent all week intently listening to the presentations.

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

This week, we have a round-up of stories from around the industry, including a Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO interview with Ventec, an article by Tamara Jovanovic about eliminating “garbage in, garbage out,” a review of an EIPC webinar by Pete Starkey, and news about another trade show going virtual this summer. And last but certainly not least, we bring you our one-minute video salute to all the fantastic people in this industry who we’ve worked with for decades. Enjoy!

Eliminating ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out’ With Checks and Balances

The proverbial saying “garbage in, garbage out” holds true in the electronic product development world. PCB designers stand squarely in the middle of a busy information intersection flowing with inputs and outputs. Missing or bad information at the beginning of a design project will undoubtedly lead to board re-spins, increased costs, and most importantly, a delayed product release. The same can be said about the PCB designer who doesn’t provide a fully checked and comprehensive data package to the downstream manufacturers, i.e., “throwing it over the fence.”

Averatek Offers Updates on ASAP Progress and Online Resource Site

Averatek’s Mike Vinson and Tara Dunn provide an update on Averatek’s ASAP progress. Mike shares the results from his presentation on reliability and signal integrity, while Tara details the newly announced ASAP Community of Interest web resource site.

Turning ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out' into ‘Good In, Good Out’

In the PCB design cycle, it is so easy to unintentionally introduce “garbage” into your system. Unless you have time to extensively check everything you bring in from an external source, it is very likely that something will not match up with your design data. In the end, this means you’ll have to put more work into your design and basically reverse-engineer a part that was supposed to save you time and effort.

Achieving Growth in a Difficult Year: The Benefits of Global Supply Chain Management

Jack Pattie, president of Ventec USA, discusses the growth of the business, the strengthening of the operation, quality system accreditations, the advantages of building close working relationships with OEMs, and how a well-managed global supply chain has overcome some of the challenges and frustrations encountered during the past year.


I-Connect007 Video: A Salute to The Industry

I-Connect007 has produced this new one-minute video to acknowledge nearly 35 years of sharing your stories. In 1987 we launched our first industry publication and we have been dedicated to covering this industry ever since. We did not start out as publishers: in fact, our background was in printed circuit board fabrication. In 1987 there were still nearly 3,000 PCB shops in North America. At the time, profits were goods, trade events included giant industry parties (remember the extravagant hospitality suites in Anaheim?), and the industry was in a state of change.

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

Last week was “APEX Week” and, unsurprisingly, the most popular news this week was APEX related (with one outlier, of course!) This week, the top five items you should follow lean strongly toward APEX interviews focusing on future trends. Remember, this year APEX offers on-demand access to the papers, presentations, events, keynotes, and forums. You can even register for post-show access.

DownStream Focused on Rigid-Flex and Embedded Component Support

Editor Kelly Dack and Joe Clark, co-founder of DownStream Technologies, discuss trends in PCB design and how this has led to the company's introduction of rigid-flex design support for their tools.

APEX Thursday Keynote: Shawn DuBravac on a Data-driven Tech World

Shawn DuBravac, IPC chief economist, provided Thursday’s IPC APEX EXPO keynote address, “The Tech Industry in a Post-pandemic World.”

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

There was a lot going on in the industry this week, and most of it happened at the virtual IPC APEX EXPO. Sure, it wasn’t the same as being in San Diego, but the show went pretty well, especially for a first-time event. There were a few technical snafus, but the IPC technical staff was responsive and took care of most of the issues right away. As I said a few months ago, how would you like to be in trade show management during a pandemic? So, without further ado, here are my top five stories from the past week.

Elmatica Offers Unique Thank You for Dieter Bergman IPC Fellowship Award

This is how Norwegian PCB broker Elmatica said “thank you” to IPC for selecting Jan Pedersen for the Dieter Bergman IPC Fellowship Award. And you think you've had a cold winter! The Elmatica team definitely has a great sense of humor. Let's all congratulate Jan for his work with IPC, including updating PCB standards and helping to streamline the design data process.

Karen McConnell: Recipient of the IPC Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame Award

"I heard about IPC when I started a new job at UNISYS after graduating college. I moved from ASIC design to printed circuit boards," said Karen McConnell after being inducted into the Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame. "At the time, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, there were rumors going around that printed circuit boards were going to disappear, and ASICs were going to take over the world. But something in printed circuit boards fascinated me. I minored in robotics in college as an electrical engineer and the data used to fabricate, assemble and test the boards is actually all robotic language. I was hooked."

IPC APEX EXPO 2021 Keynote: Travis Hessman on ‘The Great Digital Transformation’

Wednesday’s Premier Keynote at IPC APEX EXPO 2021 came from Travis Hessman, editor-in-chief of IndustryWeek, “a website and magazine dedicated to manufacturing leadership, operational excellence and the technologies that make it possible.” An energetic and animated presenter, a powerful storyteller and visibly passionate about digital manufacturing, Hessman made it clear at the outset that his goal was not to hype an already over-hyped industry, nor to focus on the technologies themselves, but to walk-through the process of transformation.

Bonding Hybrid Multilayer Constructions at Rogers Corporation

John Ekis, Rogers Corporation's market segment director for aerospace and defense, discusses the SpeedWave family of low-dielectric constant, ultra-low-loss prepreg materials with excellent filling and bonding characteristics for hybrid multilayer constructions. SpeedWave prepreg is also compatible with FR-4 fabrication processes and lead-free PCB assembly processing. SpeedWave is available in multiple spread and open weave glass style and resin content combinations, and is also compatible with FR-4 fabrication processes and lead-free PCB assembly processing.

IPC Managers Forum: Packed With Useful Information

Gene Weiner of Weiner International Associates discusses the highlights of the IPC Managers Forum which took place on the first day of IPC APEX EXPO. The forum was filled with a variety of speakers covering a range of industry topics.


IPC Releases Free Smart Factory for Electronics Manufacturing Presentation

The IPC APEX EXPO 2021 Technical Program features a tract on the “Factory of the Future Implementation,” March 10-11. As part of that program, IPC has made available a free presentation and video from the Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC), a CFX Program member. In this presentation, Barry Maybank along with Naim Kapadia, MTC technology manager, explains the background of the MTC, one of seven high-value-manufacturing technology catapult centers established in the UK.

IPC APEX EXPO Keynote: John Mitchell on the State of the Industry

IPC President and CEO Dr. John Mitchell was the Monday keynote for the 2021 edition of IPC APEX EXPO. Delivered via video conference as a part of this year’s virtual format, Mitchell made good use of a panel approach. After opening remarks, Mitchell anchored an around-the-horn series of reports from IPC experts.

The Key to Eliminating Bad Design Data: Constant Vigilance

The I-Connect007 editorial team recently met with Jen Kolar and Mark Thompson of Monsoon Solutions to discuss ways to eliminate bad data from the design process, whether that be from CAD libraries, parts vendors, chip makers, or customers themselves. They key in on some problems and obstacles that allow incorrect data into the design cycle, and then highlight possible solutions.

IPC APEX EXPO 2021: The Complete Agenda

IPC APEX EXPO week kicks off today in a first-ever virtual format. The 24-page IPC APEX EXPO program of courses and conference events details the events, technical program, keynotes, and much more.

Virtual IPC APEX EXPO Kicks Off Today

There will be no long TSA lines, late flights, Uber rides, noisy hotel rooms, missing luggage, or aching feet...all things that we long for. Instead, we will be attending our first-ever online IPC APEX EXPO 2021 starting today. One key benefit with this year’s IPC APEX EXPO is your ability to choose what session you will see or not see, as the IPC will have the sessions available for 90 days after the show so that you can catch up on whatever you missed. Also, those on your team who normally do not travel to the event will now be able to take part.

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.

Real Time With… Premium Sponsors Share ‘Top 5 Things You Need to Know’

As part of I-Connect007’s coverage of the IPC APEX EXPO 2021, four premium sponsors share their knowledge and expertise in the following categories.

EIPC Technical Snapshot: Cleanliness

John Ling’s invitation to the fifth in EIPC’s series of Technical Snapshots was as droll as we have come to expect: “In these confined days of lockdown, and exhortations to stay at home and only go out for exercise, this only exercises the natural inclination to hop on a ‘plane to some sunshine.’ Although not the same as Factor 20, one of our webinars gives a high degree of protection from harmful ignorance, and you do not have to go out in the cold.”

The Magnitude of Stackup Considerations

When I was asked to write about stackup creation, I paused at the magnitude of this subject. It is similar to the framework used to pour concrete cement—you need to get the framework right because the framework has such a big impact on the final outcome. Such is the case with shaping the success or failure of our circuits. In writing the newest training manual due out early this year, I observed that the longest chapter in the textbook was dedicated to this subject.

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.


Predicting a ‘Roaring Twenties’ Innovation Boom

The 2020s have not started as anyone would have wished. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed weaknesses in supply chains and in global manufacturing, yet this could still be the most innovative decade ever.

Managing Footprints With Integrated EDA Tools

Electronics companies are always under great pressure to continually grow and innovate. In addition to navigating ever-accelerating design cycles, they must also address and overcome generational complexities associated with their products, the underlying components they use, and the human capital accountable for delivering on time and on budget. Electronics firms can ill afford the time and resource inefficiencies associated with manually correcting design errors, poor library data integrity, or other inconsistencies leading to missed deadlines or even costly re-spins.

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

I’m following the landing procedures for NASA’s Perseverance Mars lander as I’m finishing my Top 5 list for the week. The successful landing of the lander seems a nice highlight for this week. Our global aerospace programs, both national and private enterprise, make these missions seem almost, almost routine. They are, as we all know, anything but routine. No surprise, then, that aerospace-related news percolated to the top of mind for our readers this week.

Footprints: A Distributor’s Perspective

No issue on footprints and library management would be complete without input from a component distributor. I recently interviewed Geof Lipman of Octopart; as director of operations for part data, he’s one of the brains behind the entire site. Geof explains how Octopart functions and manages millions of component data points, and he also discusses the current landscape of electronic components.

A Library Management Cautionary Tale

The library management of footprints, land patterns, or cells—however you refer to them in your ecosystem—is one of the most critical items in the foundation of any PCB or CCA design. When I was asked to write an article on this topic, so many thoughts and experiences instantly flooded my mind. After 30+ years of designing PCBs throughout the industry, I have my share of experiences and stories about footprints. One particular experience stands out.

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

We’re moving on into 2021, and there’s quite a bit going on in the world of PCB design, fabrication, and assembly. IPC APEX EXPO is fast approaching, and I know a lot of you will be attending, albeit virtually. In this week’s Top Five, columnist Eric Camden provides a how-to guide for PCBA technologists planning their IPC APEX EXPO schedule.

We Are Stronger by What Unites Us

PCEA President Stephen V. Chavez and SMTA Global Executive Director Tanya Martin co-wrote this letter to the editor in response to a recent PCB007 column.

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.

Joe Fjelstad's Book Review: The Innovators

"The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution" by Walter Isaacson is the best technology history book I have ever read, and at the same time one of the most engaging and entertaining. It is a forte of Isaacson to write biographies of great people. I have read his other books on DaVinci, Steve Jobs, Ben Franklin and Albert Einstein and found them equally brilliant. Isaacson has a number of other titles I have yet to get to in the future. He is a singularly great storyteller.

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

Another active news week in the electronics industry! February is launching with a high-G burn, to be sure. And if you’re a fan of The Expanse, like I am, then you’ve probably already watched through to the Season 5 finale; this means you have attention to spare for industry news all of a sudden. And if you haven’t reached the current end of the line for The Expanse, then today’s list is just what you need while you catch up.


Catching up With Nano Dimension

Dan Feinberg spoke with Valentin Storz, Nano Dimension’s general manager of EMEA and director of marketing, about how the pandemic has affected their business this past year and what they have planned moving forward.

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

This week, we have a variety of news and articles to share, and it’s all positive. We have a new president, and he’s pledging to help American businesses. December PCB sales were up 4.5% over the same period a year ago. Atotech is just about ready to launch an IPO. Sunstone has tweaked its free CAD tool, PCB123, to make it even easier for designers to receive their Gerber files. And columnist John Watson breaks down what we all learned during the chaos that was 2020.

IPC’s Alicia Balonek Talks Trade Show News

Nolan Johnson discusses IPC APEX EXPO 2021 with Alicia Balonek, senior director of trade shows and events at IPC. Alicia provides an update on how IPC APEX EXPO will be structured in a virtual format, overviews the programming changes, and new additions designed to make IPC APEX EXPO the best virtual event possible.

Book Excerpt: ‘Thermal Management: A Fabricator's Perspective,' Chapter 3

Conceptually, a metal-core board is exactly like it sounds—the metal is in the middle of the PCB sandwiched between layers on both sides. Just about any PCBA that will contain active heat-generating components can benefit when designed on a metal-core PCB. On a conventional PCB, the standard FR-4 layers are relatively poor thermal conductors, and heat is normally dissipated from active components using vias and thermal pads, as discussed earlier.

Tech 2 Tech: KYZEN’s Short Technical Sessions a Big Hit

Nolan Johnson gets an update from Tom Forsythe on KYZEN’s Tech 2 Tech sessions. These brief 15-minute sessions were set up during the pandemic by KYZEN for customers, prospects, and new engineers around cleaning, and have since found traction with their manufacturers, reps and distributors.

Your Greatest Competition is Yourself

It really doesn’t matter who you think your external competitors are, because the only competitor that really matters is you. Of course, you will look externally to stay on top of latest trends, but when it comes to competition, just competing with yourself is a win. When you look at yourself as your greatest competitor you will start with a huge advantage: you already have great intel on how “your competition” thinks. Ask yourself, “What can I do to displace my ‘competitor’ and create something much better?”

What’s Driving Price Increases for CCL and Prepreg?

Demand for copper foil is increasing from both PCB and battery production for e-mobility, leading to an upward price pressure for copper foils as post lockdown pent-up demand starts to exceed capacity. Lead times are stretching and prices increasing, particularly for heavy copper foils (2 oz./70 micron and above) as capacity is repurposed to maximize square-meter output for lightweight foils to increase capacity for lithium battery production.

Book Excerpt: Thermal Management With Insulated Metal Substrates, Part 5

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 5 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.

MivaTek’s New Technology and Market Drivers

I recently spoke with Brendan Hogan about the upcoming new product releases from MivaTek. The conversation flows naturally from the new product’s market drivers to the X=Xc – 1 idea that is at the core of the market drivers.

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

Hard to believe that a year ago, I was getting ready to attend DesignCon and IPC APEX EXPO and wondering if this Novel Coronavirus was going to cut into attendance from the Pacific Rim. Now, we’re accustomed to virtual trade shows. They’re not ideal, but they’re the best we can do while meeting in person is not possible. We’ve learned to adapt.


TTM’s Approach to Stackup Design: Train the Customer

In this interview with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team, TTM’s Julie Ellis and Richard Dang drill down into stackup design, detailing some of the common stackup challenges that their customers face when designing for both prototype and volume levels, and offering advice to designers or engineers who are struggling with stackup issues. They also discuss why having too many different prepregs in a stackup can be asking for trouble, and how proper stackup design can optimize both the fabrication and assembly processes.

CES Dispatches: Opening Day at Pepcom

On Monday, January 11, I attended the launch of the CES 2021. Well, more precisely, I attended the Pepcom program, one of the multitude of ways to connect with CES in the virtual environment. Pepcom is a regular at CES, functioning a bit like a show-within-a-show.

CES 2021: Just How Different Will It Be?

CES 2021 starts today and this year there is no need for an overpriced hotel room in Vegas, no long lines to get a taxi or board a bus, and no crowded exhibit halls (one good thing this year). On the other hand, you must decide ahead of time what you want to see and make a reservation or appointment if you wish to have time and access assured.

Just Ask Heidi: Winning NASA’s Silver Snoopy Award

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’ turn! Today: the ins and outs of NASA's Silver Snoopy Award.

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

It’s a new year, and time for new resolutions and new beginnings. “New year, new you” certainly is reflected in this past week’s news. We saw several announcements regarding mergers, acquisitions, and organizational changes, plus some government legislation to help kick off the new year. Based on viewing activity, readers were keen to keep up on the changes under way.

Cutting Respins: Journey to the Single-spin PCB

PCB design is more than a short sprint to the finish line; it is a journey best suited for the prepared adventurer. According to a study by Lifecycle Insights, the average PCB design project requires 2.9 respins. These respins can cost anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of dollars—each! As an engineer/business owner, I find respins frustrating because I would rather spend my time and money applying scientific principles inventing, improving technology, and solving problems. I am not an advocate for perfectionism, but rather I focus on becoming a better adventurer. Sometimes I get to taste the sweet wine that is a single spin PCB. As fellow adventurers, let’s discuss some topics that influence unnecessary return trips on our PCB design journey: simulation, technical reviews, and interest in PCB design.

Just Ask Heidi: Is China Still Far Ahead of the U.S. in EE Graduates?

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’ turn! Today's question: Is China still graduating far more EEs than the U.S.?

IPC CEO and President John Mitchell Discusses New Membership and Dues Structure

In this video, IPC CEO and President Dr. John Mitchell discusses the organization’s move from a site-based and enterprise membership dues structure to a company revenue-based model. Mitchell explains that this change will go into effect upon each member company’s renewal in 2021, and he points out that many of the existing member discounts will remain unchanged.

Just Ask Heidi: The Biggest Challenge for Design Engineers?

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! Today's question: What is the biggest challenge for PCB design engineers right now?

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

We always hear that the PCB industry is “mature,” full of people past their prime who don’t know how to change with the times. I think 2020 puts the lie to that idea. I’m honored to be a journalist covering such an amazing group of people. In the words of U2, “I will begin again.” Happy New Year!


I-Connect007 Wishes You a Happy New Year

Could there be a more welcome year in recent memory than 2021? If there’s one thing most of us can agree on, it’s that we want 2020 squarely in our rearview mirror as we speed ahead with a fresh, new start. This past year has brought with it much reflection, change and even some consternation. Thank you for taking this journey with us!

Just Ask Heidi: Attracting New Designers and Engineers

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! Today's question: How can we attract more young designers and design engineers to this industry?

Chapter 1 Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to Process Validation

The original principle underlying the IPC’s ionic cleanliness requirement was that the mobility of surface ions, detectable from SIR measurements, would correlate to a maximum value of detectable ionic elements permissible on the circuit surface. The industry required a test that was both fast and accurate for process control. Thus, a simplified ion chromatograph that was able to detect ionic elements without differentiation was created.

Happy Holden Discusses His Favorite Career Moment

Managing Editor Nolan Johnson recently buttonholed Happy Holden and asked him to discuss the favorite moment of his career. To know Happy is to understand the full weight of his quiet influence on this industry. We’re delighted to share with you Happy’s reminiscence about spending time with his family at David Packard’s ranch while re-engineering the tank controls at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. As Happy explains, Packard may have been a billionaire and an ex-secretary of defense, but he still cleaned all of the fish that Happy’s kids caught on the ranch.

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.

Just Ask Heidi: Eliminating EMC Failures

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!

IPC Addresses Critical Industry Skills Gaps With Electronics Workforce Training

Over the past three decades, IPC standards and certification programs have played a critical role in protecting public safety and promoting excellence by ensuring the quality, reliability, and consistency of electronic products. In 2019, IPC worked with its global network of certification centers to certify over 108,000 individuals across 200 countries and 21 languages to seven IPC standards. The ubiquitous adoption of these programs speaks to the strong partnership forged between IPC and the electronics industry.

Chapter 2 Excerpt from the Book ‘Thermal Management: A Fabricator's Perspective’

Insulated metal PCBs (IMPCB) or metal-clad PCBs (MCPCB) are a thermal management design that utilizes a layer of solid metal to dissipate the heat generated by the various components on the PCBs. When metal is attached to a PCB, the bonding material can either be thermally conductive but electrically isolative (IMPCBs or MCPCBs), or in the case of RF/microwave circuits, the bonding material may be both electrically and thermally conductive. The reason that RF designers usually have the bonding material thermally and electrically conductive is that they are using this not only as a heat sink but also as part of the ground layer. The design considerations are quite different for these different applications.

Dr. John Mitchell on IPC APEX EXPO Going Virtual

On Monday, December 14, 2020, Barry Matties and Dr. John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, discussed last week’s decision to move IPC APEX EXPO to an all-virtual platform. In this interview, Dr. Mitchell confirms that IPC is committed to delivering a cutting-edge experience, including a strong technical program, exhibitor and visitor support, multiple keynotes and a wide variety of online networking events. Matties and Mitchell also analyze the challenges for IPC in hosting the show, as well as some of the unique opportunities that a virtual show presents for IPC and attendee alike.

Happy Holden: ECWC15 Virtual Event a Success

This is the first Electronic Circuits World Convention that I have not attended in person since 1978. To refresh your memory, these are held every three years on a rotating basis. The HKPCA hosted this year’s conference and they kept up the fine tradition of collecting outstanding keynotes, nearly 60 technical presentations and myriad poster papers. HKPCA was also kind enough to provide English slides and translations. It is still possible to sign up and view the presentations. I have listened to 20 of the presentations, and hope to attend even more in the coming days as they are all worth watching.


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