Article Highlights
Bridging the Simulation Tool Divide
04/12/2021 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Barry Olney’s High-Speed Simulation Primer
04/09/2021 | Barry Olney, In-Circuit Design Pty Ltd
Polar Instruments Driven by Customer Demand
04/08/2021 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
Rising Star Award Winner: Radu Diaconescu
04/05/2021 | Radu Diaconescu, Swio.io
Emerging Engineer: Jesse Vaughan
03/31/2021 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
Design :: Business

Latest Articles

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Altium Introduces New Subscription Model

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

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.

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.

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.

Book Review: The Timeliest Read of 2021—The Business of WE

It’s only January, but this may be the timeliest book of the year, as well as the most important. Why? Because it deals with the issues that we are facing right here now. The gap that Kriska refers to is the one between black and white, men and women and as the title suggests “we and them.”


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.

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

This week’s news gave off every indicator that we’ve started a new calendar year. The news channels were busy with changes in leadership—both corporate and governmental—and changes in ownership. Changes in representation, too. Honestly, it was hard to sort out the news to just five top items. Be that as it may, here are five things we think you ought to read, even if you read nothing else about the electronics manufacturing industry this week: tradeshow coverage, strategic acquisitions, market discussion, and governmental advocacy.

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.

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.

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 Most Rewarding Part of the Job

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: the most rewarding part of a design engineer's job.

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?

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.

Lee Ritchey on Reducing Respins by One

I-Connect007 recently spoke with Lee Ritchey about the subject of continuous improvement with a focus on DFM, specifically looking at the benefits of reducing the number of respins by just one. A longtime instructor and one of the authors of Right the First Time: A Practical Handbook on High-Speed PCB and System Design, Lee has spent decades preaching the value of solid DFM practices, so we asked him to discuss why so many OEMs accept multiple respins with each design project and what designers could do to eliminate just one spin. He also shares some of the lessons in reducing respins that he learned in the early days of Silicon Valley.


Happy Holidays from I-Connect007

The I-Connect007 team would like to wish you and your loved ones the happiest holiday season. Continue to stay safe and healthy as we head into 2021. Happy Holidays!

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.

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

Some years, the middle of December is marked by a distinct lack of news in PCB design, fabrication and assembly. Much of the industry often takes off around this time to get a head start on the holidays, or to squeeze in a much-needed vacation. But 2020 is not one of those years. Most of us aren’t traveling anywhere farther than the refrigerator this year, and everyone seems to still be working, albeit from their home offices. And companies in the PCB community continue to make news.

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

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

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.

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

This week’s mainstream news was dominated—well, my personalized online news feed was, at least—by ballistics. SpaceX was in the news daily for lobbing multiple pieces of iron, even as their CEO took his household suborbital, leaving California and touching down in Texas. Pandemic numbers charts continue their skyward trajectory worldwide. The ever-present military tests and technology demonstrations, seemed a bit more commonplace this week as well. Worldwide political news, in general, seemed to follow parabolic curves like an Australian boomerang, veering off in unexpected ways only to suddenly cut a curving path and return.

Book Excerpt: Thermal Management With Insulated Metal Substrates, Part 4

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 4 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.

Understanding MIL-PRF-31032, Part 6

Concluding this six-part discussion on understanding the military printed circuit board performance standard MIL-PRF-31032, Anaya Vardya the remaining procedure required to address the unique requirements of the military.


Chapter 1 Excerpt from the Book ‘Thermal Management: A Fabricator's Perspective’

Heat cannot be efficiently exchanged with stagnant air surrounding a hot device; however, it can be transferred away from the electronic component to the PCB using thermal vias. A thermal via is a good conductor of heat that runs between the top layer and bottom layer of the PCB, dissipating heat through simple conduction. In simple terms, thermal vias are plated holes located under, or electrically connected to, a surface-mounted heat source on a PCB that allows heat transfer through the hole.

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

Around the holidays, we often see a slowdown in PCB design and manufacturing news. But this holiday season, there’s been no rest for the newsmakers in our industry! In the last week, our daily and weekly newsletters have been chock-full of breaking news and up-to-the-minute technical information that readers like you rely upon every day.

Just Ask Tara Dunn: The Exclusive Compilation

We asked for you to send in your questions for Averatek’s Tara Dunn, and you took us up on it! We know you all enjoyed reading these questions and answers, so we’ve compiled all of them into one article for easy reference. And if you’d like to hear more from Tara, be sure to view her Flex007 column series “Flex Talk.”

Stephen Chavez and Happy Holden on Designing Reliable Vias

Andy Shaughnessy and Happy Holden speak with Stephen Chavez, a staff engineer with an aerospace company and chairman of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA), about designing vias for greater reliability. They also address several areas where they can look to improve reliability, a variety of steps that designers should take to help ensure more robust vias, and some testing and educational resources that PCB designers and design engineers should be aware of.

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

Well, it’s the last Friday in November. On any normal year in the U.S., this would be “Black Friday” because, for many retailers, the kickoff to the holiday season’s shopping spree is the source for most of the operating income for the year. While it remains to be seen how exactly how much traditional in-store and online retailing will rake in, with the varied pandemic lockdowns, it’s clear that readers wanted to get the latest electronics industry sales numbers!

Lee Ritchey Discusses His ‘Homemade’ NASA Board

In this audio interview, Lee Ritchey shares a story about his favorite PCB design—a board that he built on his kitchen table early in his career for a radio used on the Apollo 11 spacecraft. Lee explains how he ended up working on this design as a young engineer, as well as the excitement that he felt watching Apollo 11 land on the moon while carrying his PCB. He also jokes about why his wife was less than pleased with his handiwork when he drilled holes in the board on the kitchen table.

Our Thanksgiving Wish

As we take time to observe this holiday, the I-Connect007 team wishes to offer our thanks to you, our global readers and contributors: designers, fabricators, engineers, assemblers, quality and process control gurus, chemists, physicists, supervisors, managers, entrepreneurs, business owners, standards writers, industry experts, and more. You breathe life into the vital, thriving, world-changing electronics industry. You are the real story.

Mentor’s User2User Conference Focuses on Semiconductor Development

Mentor conducted its annual User2User Conference virtually this year on November 10. In a departure from past U2U conferences, this event was focused primarily on developing semiconductor advances. Happy Holden reports on all the details.

PC Technological Advances in 2020

With CES quickly approaching, which is perhaps the largest technology event globally that is also going virtual this year, key component and sub-assembly companies are not waiting to announce their next generation of components. Dan Feinberg details new components and performance advances, as well as why you should consider building your own PC.

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

In my top five picks, we have news about columnist Tara Dunn moving to Averatek to work with their A-SAP additive processes, and an interview with Audrey Sim regarding the “hybrid” model adopted by the HKPCA for its upcoming Electronic Circuits World Convention. We also have a compilation of the questions that readers have asked Joe Fjelstad and news about DownStream Technologies adding support for flex, rigid-flex, and embedded component designs. Finally, we share a review of some of KYZEN’s new training sessions on cleaning electronic assemblies—virtual courses that pack a lot of information into 15-minute snapshots. Knowing how tight everyone’s schedules are now, 15-minute events might be the ticket.


Just Ask Joe Fjelstad: The Exclusive Compilation

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

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

My last turn to select the top five editor’s picks was just before the triple-threat Halloween holiday (full moon, blue moon, and on a Saturday). Now that it’s my turn again, it falls the mega-superstitious Friday the 13th. You’re not triskaidekaphobic, are you?

Just Ask Tara Dunn: What Is the Thickest Flex Layer Available?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Tara Dunn’s turn! Today's question: What is the maximum thickness of a single flex layer?

Manufacturers Weigh in on Made-in-America Debate

As the U.S. grapples with who will take the helm of the U.S. presidency, electronics manufacturers around the country are grappling with which policies and ideas would promote growth and innovation in the sector. Many agree that a push for “made in America” policies and incentives might be useful. Often, they point to similar initiatives used by other countries, including China and India.

Just Ask Tara Dunn: Why Don’t Fabricators Provide More Feedback to Designers?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Tara Dunn’s turn! Tara is the vice president of marketing and business development for Averatek. A regular Flex007 columnist, Tara discusses flexible circuits, rigid-flex, and rigid PCBs, as well as RF/microwave technology, microelectronics, and additive processes. She is also co-founder of Geek-a-Palooza and a show manager for the SMTA Additive Electronics TechXchange event. She has over 20 years of experience in the PCB industry. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Tara.”

This Month in Design007 Magazine: HDI Design, Landless Vias, VeCS, and More

Andy Shaughnessy, Happy Holden, and Dan Feinberg recently met with James Hofer, general manager of Accurate Circuit Engineering, to discuss via design techniques and via reliability from the fabricator’s viewpoint. As Hofer explained, even with open lines of communication between the designer and the board shop, there are plenty of variables to contend with regarding proper via design, especially when working with PTFE materials.

Roundtable Discussion: App Notes and Fab Notes

Andy Shaughnessy recently invited four recent contributors—Dana Korf, Jen Kolar, Mark Thompson, and Kelly Dack—to review the June and August 2020 issues of Design007 Magazine, which covered app notes and fab notes, respectively. In this wide-ranging roundtable, the group discusses some of the ongoing challenges related to incomplete and inaccurate design data and why communication can preclude many of these problems. What follows is the transcript from this conversation.

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

This past week, we published a variety of articles, interviews, and columns—and readers definitely made their favorites known. There was good news about hiring and staffing. (In case you were wondering, there are quite a few open positions in this industry right now.) We touched base with a pair of young engineers to get their thoughts on what it’s like for recent grads working in the PCB manufacturing community. We learned about a company’s new program that can help take some of the stress out of NPI. We also launched a new chapter in our “Just Ask” series, this time starring columnist Tara Dunn. And there was sad news that a contract manufacturer’s chairman had just passed away.

Just Ask Tara Dunn: DFM for Flex and Rigid-Flex

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Omni PCB President Tara Dunn’s turn! A regular Flex007 columnist, Tara discusses flexible circuits, rigid-flex, and rigid PCBs, as well as RF/microwave technology, microelectronics, and additive processes. Tara is the co-founder of Geek-a-Palooza and a show manager for the SMTA Additive Electronics TechXchange event. She has over 20 years of experience in the PCB industry. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Tara.”

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: OSV Project—From Zero to Ventilator PCBs in Record Time

Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Chris Denney, CTO of Worthington Assembly, about his role in the Open Source Ventilator project, which he discussed during a panel at AltiumLive with partners Dugan Karnazes of Velocity Research and Rob Cooke of Calumet Electronics. Chris explains how many of the normal hurdles disappeared once the focus on revenue was removed from the equation, and the ventilator PCBs were designed and manufactured in record time.


Survey Results: ‘Are You Currently Hiring?’

The I-Connect007 research team invited readers to share their thoughts on what's happening with staffing and retention to help prepare for an upcoming issue on this important topic. Here, we delve into the first question, "Are you currently hiring?"

The Aerospace and Defense Chapter of the HIR

Nolan Johnson and Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Jeff Demmin of Keysight Technologies, who breaks down the work his team has done on the Aerospace and Defense Chapter of the Heterogeneous Integration Roadmap (HIR).

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

Welcome to the Halloween issue of the I-Connect007 Top Five Editor’s Picks! This year’s Halloween lands on a doozy of a day. Astronomers among us will, undoubtedly, already have noticed that not only does the spooky holiday fall on a Saturday night, but it also falls exactly on a full moon—and a Blue Moon, at that! The last time a Halloween Blue Moon occurred in all time zones was in 1941. As if there weren’t enough “ghoulishness” already, 2020 delivers yet another rare occurrence.

Brad Griffin Discusses Cadence’s New Transient Solver Technology

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

Real Time with… AltiumLive Europe: If You Don’t Know How It’s Made, How Can You Possibly Design It?

Designers attending the AltiumLive Europe 2020 Virtual Summit had the opportunity to see at first-hand how circuit boards were made to help them make informed design-for-manufacturing decisions. Pete Starkey details how Würth Electronik welcomed AltiumLive to its Niedernhall factory to take a virtual tour.

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

After a crazy year like this, we shouldn’t be surprised that this trade show season is unlike any other. Here’s one of the many “silver linings” of 2020: We actually dodged a bullet earlier this year when COVID-19 hit after most of our industry’s big events had taken place. In this week’s top five, we have an assortment of trade show and conference news items, plus a few examples of technological trends and innovation.

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: Early Communication Key to Success of OSV Project

Rob Cooke, director of engineering at Calumet Electronics, discusses his role in the Open Source Ventilator (OSV) project that yielded ventilator PCBs in record time. He and project partners, Dugan Karnazes of Velocity Research and Chris Denney of Worthington Assembly, recounted this story during a panel at the virtual AltiumLive.

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

Trade shows and technical conferences haven’t died; they’ve just moved online. The trade show season continues in virtual full force this week, and event coverage dominates the top five this week. Surprisingly, I don’t see events as this week’s theme. No, this week’s theme is “pundits.” We have Walt Custer’s industry outlook, seven experts on additive electronics, a designers conference keynote, and the IPC’s government relations expert. Don’t get me wrong: These folks are asked to speak to the industry for a good reason. They know their subject matter, and they present it skillfully. This week’s top five picks are worth reading.

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

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

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: Heidi Barnes Discusses Signal Integrity Panel

Andy Shaughnessy speaks with Heidi Barnes, a signal and power integrity applications engineer with Keysight Technologies, about the panel she participated in during the virtual AltiumLive. She also discusses the need for young engineers to absorb knowledge from their more seasoned co-workers, and why it's so important to follow this advice: "Read the manual!"


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

It’s showtime! This past week, we saw quite a bit of news about virtual trade shows. It’s great to see show managers pivot from live, in-person events to virtual shows with only a few months to make it all happen. How would you like to be a show manager today?

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: Greg Ziraldo on a New Approach to DFM

Andy Shaughnessy speaks with Greg Ziraldo, senior director of operations at Advanced Assembly, about his AltiumLive panel, "Design With Manufacturing." Greg discusses things that designers and electrical engineers should keep in mind regarding assembly during the design process, as well as a few ideas that he hopes attendees will take away.

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: A Novel Idea—Design With Manufacturing

Andy Shaughnessy speaks with Jeremie Waller, senior electrical engineer at Quantel USA, about the panel he’ll be participating in during AltiumLive 2020 on design with manufacturing. He and panelists Gerry Partida of Summit Interconnect and Greg Zhiraldo of Advanced Assembly will discuss why designers need to see their fabrication and assembly providers as true partners, not just customers, and why communication is such a vital part of the design process.

Real Time with… AltiumLive 2020: The Need for Simulation in High-Speed PCB Design

Andy Shaughnessy and Picotest Managing Director Steven Sandler discuss the panel that Steven will be participating in at AltiumLive 2020. The panel, led by Dr. Eric Bogatin, will feature co-panelists Heidi Barnes of Keysight Technologies, Rula Bakleh of Graphcore, and Istvan Novak of Samtec, who will discuss various ways to reduce signal and power integrity issues by using simulation, measurement, and other tricks of the trade. Steven also discusses his presentation on simulation, which focuses on SPICE simulation methods.

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

Most all the action this week involved the STMA International Conference and Exposition. I-Connect007’s Real Time with… video interviews generally led the way for views and clicks. In each item, the intent was to make things better in some fashion. Whether it was pivoting on trade show delivery, optimizing the metalization process in the fab, adding more AI to manufacturing capital equipment, unifying and furthering the concept of the digital twin concept, or responding to company growth by upgrading systems with the help the equipment manufacturers, all these news items speak to being adaptable and forward-thinking.

Flexible Circuit Technology Workshop #5 Tackles Structures, Applications, Materials, and Manufacturing Processes: Think and Plan in Three Dimensions!

In just 15 minutes, flex expert Joe Fjelstad will teach you about implementing this useful technology into your manufacturing operation. Joe suggests you start with defining your end-product requirements and understanding cost and product life cycle expectations, as well as end-user needs. He further addresses the many considerations with adopting this useful technology.

Stop Relating Trace Temperature to Current Density

Many design engineers and even many software suppliers make the significant mistake of equating changes in trace or via temperature with current density. This is incorrect at best and dangerous at worst. There is little if any correlation between temperature and current density. Current and trace dimensions (among other things) are the relevant variables, but current density is not. I hope by the end of this article you will see why. Here are four illustrations that will help you understand this.

Real Time with…SMTAI 2020: ASC Makes Lemonade Out of Lemons

Steve Williams and Anaya Vardya, president and CEO of American Standard Circuits (ASC), discuss the upcoming virtual SMTAI show and how the company is “making lemonade out of lemons.” As they point out, there may be no face-to-face interaction, but virtual shows are open to attendees from around the world with no travel or hotel costs. Anaya explains how the COVID-19 lockdown has caused ASC to become more creative in its marketing efforts, including holding webinars and publishing two eBooks with I-Connect007. They also discuss ASC’s holistic approach to the marketplace, with a diversified product mix across various segments.

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

In this week’s picks, we bring you news about the upcoming SMTA International 2020, IPC’s plans for the fall, a move for Burkle North America’s headquarters, and advice on how to select the correct CAD tool. And we have the first installment of our newest series: “Just Ask John Mitchell.”

Just Ask John Mitchell: Emerging Engineers and Managers

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, and Eric Camden in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s IPC President and CEO John Mitchell’s turn! Today, John answers this question: Does IPC have an interest in emerging managers, as well as emerging engineers?


Just Ask John Mitchell: Are IPC’s Positions Dictated by Politics?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, and Eric Camden in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s IPC President and CEO John Mitchell’s turn! A regular PCB007 columnist, John focuses on many of the challenges affecting the global electronics industry supply chain. Over the years, he has served as an engineer, manager, and executive at a variety of companies and organizations. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask John.”

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

Two weeks ago, when it was my turn to pick the top 5, I made a comment about themes. I’m making a stretch here, but this week’s theme is technical education. Three out of the five most popular news items this last week reported on upcoming technical events or publications.

Documenting Your Flex Circuit Design

As a flex circuit applications engineer, when I receive an RFQ, the first thing I do is look at the customer’s data and review their manufacturing notes. Quite often, I find notes that supersede IPC specifications in manufacturing documents, as customers often believe these added notes and associated specifications will make the circuit more robust. However, these non-standard IPC manufacturing specifications/notes can wreak havoc on the manufacturing process and can actually lead to a less robust circuit.

I-007eBook Review: Thermal Management From a Fabricator’s Perspective

The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Thermal Management: A Fabricator’s Perspective, written by Anaya Vardya, founder and CEO of American Standard Circuits, is an important book for a number of reasons. The most important reason is right there in the title; it is from the fabricator’s perspective. Besides explaining all aspects of thermal management—from thermal vias and metal-core boards to mixed technology—this book also describes the various applications of thermal dielectrics, their properties, and their incorporation into the actual fabrication of PCBs.

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

This week, we have a little bit of everything. There’s quite a bit of new technology news, along with an I-Connect007 eBook on thermal design techniques, trade show talk, and an interesting take on trading in capital equipment. We’ve been following the “digital twin” for the past few years, and when Siemens released a webinar on the topic this week, Happy Holden got a sneak peek and wrote a review that turned out to be one of our most popular recent articles.

American Standard Circuits’ New Book Covers Thermal Management From a Fabricator’s Perspective

I had the opportunity to speak with Anaya Vardya, president and CEO of American Standard Circuits, about "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Thermal Management: A Fabricator’s Perspective," which serves as a desk reference for designers on the most current thermal management techniques and methods.

Just Ask Happy: Resin-Filled Vias, Without Voids

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. Enjoy.

I-Connect007’s Latest Innovation: Joe Fjelstad’s E-Workshop on Flexible Circuits

Denied the prospect of physically attending conferences, symposia, or live workshops by travel and social-distancing restrictions, Pete Starkey welcomed the opportunity to enjoy a privileged preview of I-Connect007’s latest innovation in technical webinars: a series of e-workshops on flexible circuit technology with the industry’s leading authority—Joe Fjelstad.

This Month in Design007 Magazine: Thermal Fundamentals With Mike Jouppi

The I-Connect007 team recently interviewed Mike Jouppi, one of the champions of thermal management in PCBs. Mike spent decades working on updating the old IPC current-carrying data, which dated back to the 1950s, and he is the primary architect behind IPC-2152— the standard for determining current-carrying capacity in printed board design. As Mike explained in this wide-ranging interview, even if you’re using the latest thermal design software, you still need to have a firm understanding of the fundamentals.

NVIDIA’s Three Next-Generation GPUs Excite Consumers

Finally, the product release that many had been waiting for. NVIDIA recently announced its next-generation RTX 3000 Series GPUs, and the stated capabilities are amazing. Dan Feinberg has all of the details.


The Role of EDA Tools in Creating Fab Notes

When discussing fab notes, there’s a lot of focus on what designers should and should not include in the package. But what is the role of EDA tools in this process, and can intelligent data formats streamline the tasks and help eliminate fab notes that are less than fantastic? In this interview, Pat McGoff, market development manager for Mentor, a Siemens Business, speaks frankly about fab notes and what EDA tool companies like Mentor can do to automate this process.

An Excerpt From the Book ‘Thermal Management: A Fabricator’s Perspective’

Thermal management in the printed circuit board (PCB) world is big business! A recent Markets and Markets report projects the thermal management market to reach $16 billion by the year 2024 with an average CAGR of 8% over that period. We have chosen to focus this book on providing designers a thermal management desk reference on the most current thermal management techniques and methods from a PCB fabrication perspective, including a case study on an extreme mixed-technology design that we recently produced. We hope you find value in our efforts.

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

When compiling my Top Five, I tend to let the reader views guide my choices. Oh, sure, sometimes a news item is significant well beyond the reads it receives; that’s why this is an editor’s picks, not a strict Top Five. Still, readership habits inform my choices. That makes it even more interesting when a week demonstrates a theme so convenient as to seem contrived. Take this week, for example. In this week’s top five, four of the top five are news reports on mil-aero topics. You, dear readers, gobbled up the military and aerospace news this week. The outlier is, as we all would expect, a conference report from our very own Pete Starkey.

Real Time With…I-Connect007: The App Notes and Fab Notes Roundtable

Most of our readers are familiar with our Real Time With... video program. For over a decade, we’ve been a staple at trade shows and conferences around the world, doing on-camera interviews with the industry’s top technologists, managers, and executives. Now, Real Time With…I-Connect007 is turning the cameras around to focus on recent issues of our magazines. In this first installment, four of our recent contributors—Dana Korf, Jen Kolar, Mark Thompson, and Kelly Dack—review the June and August issues of Design007 Magazine, which covered app notes and fab notes, respectively.

Promoting a Circular Economy in Electronics Manufacturing

The sixth international Electronics Goes Green Conference was held as an online virtual. Pete Starkey provides a recap of the event, which provided insight into innovative eco-design and extended reliability from the perspective of iNEMI’s roadmap.

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

This week, we have quite a potpourri for you. There's good news about the PCB market. And as this year continues to surprise us at every turn, companies are discovering the true nature of their leaders. Todd Kolmodin has a great column about bosses and leaders and why the two words are not synonymous. Not to be outdone, columnist Barry Olney found a way to explain the wavelength of electromagnetic energy by using a chocolate bar and a microwave oven. We also have great articles by Sagi Reuven and Pete Starkey.

Just Ask Joe: Standardized Grid Designs

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden. Now, it’s Joe Fjelstad’s turn! Inventor, columnist, instructor, and founder of Verdant Electronics, Joe has been involved with rigid PCBs and flexible circuits for decades, and he’s ready to share some of his knowledge with our readers. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Joe.”

Catching up With VirBELA’s Glenn Sanford

Have you been disappointed by trade shows and conferences being canceled or postponed? Have you wondered how some of these events are going virtual? Dan Beaulieu speaks with Glenn Sanford, chief strategy officer of VirBELA, about the company’s platform and its impact on events.

I-Connect007 Survey on Leadership: More Important Now Than Ever

The I-Connect007 research team recently conducted a survey on leadership, covering everything from leadership qualities to stories and lessons learned from inspirational leaders. Read what respondents from the industry had to share on the topic of leadership.

Just Ask Joe: The Land Warrior Project

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden. Now, it’s Joe Fjelstad’s turn! Inventor, columnist, instructor, and founder of Verdant Electronics, Joe has been involved with rigid PCBs and flexible circuits for decades, and he’s ready to share some of his knowledge with our readers. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Joe.”


Just Ask Joe: Automotive Conformal Coatings

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden. Now, it’s Joe Fjelstad’s turn! Inventor, columnist, instructor, and founder of Verdant Electronics, Joe has been involved with rigid PCBs and flexible circuits for decades, and he’s ready to share some of his knowledge with our readers. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Joe.”

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

This week, the top five is full of progress in technology and financial performance. It’s more evidence that the electronics industry, at its core, continues to thrive.

Got a Question? Just Ask Joe!

A few months ago, we launched our “Just Ask” series with Happy Holden. Many readers took us up on it, sending all manner of questions for happy to answer. Now, Joe Fjelstad—inventor, technologist, author, and Flex007 columnist—is getting in on the action. Here’s your chance to pick Joe’s brain. What’s the one question about this industry that you’ve always wanted to ask Joe?

Just Ask Joe: Optimum Copper Plating for Thermal Via Farms

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden. Now, it’s Joe Fjelstad’s turn! Inventor, columnist, instructor, and founder of Verdant Electronics, Joe has been involved with rigid PCBs and flexible circuits for decades, and he’s ready to share some of his knowledge with our readers. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Joe.”

Understanding MIL-PRF-31032, Part 2

In Part 2 of this series on understanding the military PCB performance standard MIL-PRF-31032, Anaya Vardya explains how the first step in the process is to develop a quality management plan (QMP).

New Solder Joint Technology From Schmartboard

Schmartboard has a surprisingly simple patented process to improve solder joint reliability; in this interview, they discuss the process in detail, along with their search for a go-to-market partner.

The Pros and Cons of Working Remotely

For this issue of Design007 Magazine, Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy asked Patrick Crawford if IPC had any insight into how the “new normal” of working from home has impacted their members. Here is what the IPC technical staff had to say about the advantages and disadvantages of working remotely, as well as working with IPC volunteers who are new to working from the dining room table.

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

This week’s picks include a little of everything. We have an interview with the founder of Avishtech, a new EDA software company that has a spin on field solvers and stackup tools. We also have an interview with Mike Carano, who discusses the need for mentors. Then, there’s news about partnership between Koh Young and Mentor, and an iNEMI "best practices" guide for disinfecting your facility. Finally, we've compiled all of the "Just Ask Happy" entries into a single document for your viewing pleasure. Happy Friday!

Joe Fjelstad Updates His Online Flex Workshop

Joe Fjelstad has been an innovator in flexible and rigid-flex technology for four decades. About 10 years ago, I-Connect007 helped Joe produce an online workshop on flex technology based largely on his book Flexible Circuit Technology, which was first published in 1994 and is now heading into its fifth edition. In this online video course, Joe offers a primer on flexible circuits, covering everything from the history of this technology through the most cutting-edge technologies.

Avishtech: A New Player in the Field Solver and PCB Simulation Tools Market

It has been a crazy year with lots of ups and downs. But within the clouds, we’ve seen plenty of silver linings, too. Case in point: Avishtech, a brand-new company lead by founder and CEO Keshav Amla. (You may be familiar with his father, Tarun Amla, a veteran PCB materials technologist who is now with ITEQ.) We recently caught up with Keshav and asked him to discuss his company’s simulation tools, his plans for the company, and what it’s like launching a company in this “new normal.”


Just Ask Happy: The Exclusive Compilation

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! We loved them so much, and we know that you did too, so we’ve compiled all 21 questions and answers into one document for easy reference.

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

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

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: 5 Must-Reads for the Week

Nolan Johnson's top 5 picks this week include the SpaceX Dragon splashdown, the Mars 2020 mission’s Ingenuity helicopter—featuring an interview with the carbon fiber company that built the helicopter’s landing gear—and the U.S. Air Force’s efforts to secure space systems with the help of volunteer hackers. Readers also responded to news from IPC and iNEMI, and blockchain turned out to be hugely popular.

Flex Workshop Update With Joe Fjelstad and Anaya Vardya

When Anaya Vardya, president and CEO of American Standard Circuits, heard that Joe Fjelstad, founder and CEO of Verdant Electronics, was releasing an updated version of his flexible circuit technology workshop, he knew ASC had to be a sponsor. We recently asked Joe and Anaya to discuss the flexible circuit technology workshop, as well as the ongoing need for flex and rigid-flex training—even in the time of COVID-19—as the demand for flex continues to rise.

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

Say what you will about 2020, but it certainly isn’t boring. There’s a lot going on in the PCB world, and there’s something for everyone in this week’s top five picks. And it’s all positive, despite the lingering presence of COVID-19 and its aftereffects.

Just Ask Happy: Monitoring Via Reliability on a Lot-by-Lot Basis

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut by covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. How would you monitor microvia reliability on a lot-by-lot basis?

Just Ask Happy: What Would You Change About the Industry?

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut by covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. What would you change about the industry?

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

This week’s top five is a smattering across the industry. There’s an update on an established vendor and a press release from a startup. Then, we have two columns: one on M&A, and the other on supply chain disruptions. Finally, I highlight an interview from a U.S. food distributor sales manager, shedding light on the similarities of supply chain interruption in all industries. It's quite an assortment, but what they all have in common is that readers found these items compelling.

Just Ask Happy: Manufacturing Issues From a Designer’s Viewpoint

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. Enjoy.

Find the Perfect Employee With D.B. Management Group

If you’re searching for the right person for an open job in the PCB industry, look no further than D.B. Management Group’s recruiting page in each of the I-Connect007 magazines.


Selling in a Post-COVID Environment, Part 2

Nolan Johnson continues his conversation with Penny Cole about how COVID-19 has affected her industry’s distribution channels and supply chain, as well as how she has adapted to the shifting dynamic as a salesperson.

Selling in a Post-COVID Environment, Part 1

Nolan Johnson spoke with Penny Cole of Lotus Foods about how COVID-19 has affected her industry’s distribution channels and supply chain, as well as how she’s adapted to the shifting dynamic as a salesperson.

With App Notes, Trust But Verify

For this month’s issue on app notes, I checked in with Clive “Max” Maxfield. The author of Bebop to the Boolean Boogie and countless technical articles and blog posts, he has been involved with all manner of app notes and datasheets during his long career. Max shares his thoughts on data. As he points out, “Remember that these documents are not written by an ‘infallible creator.’”

A New Job Is One Click Away at I-Connect007 Career Opportunities

In the pages of I-Connect007’s monthly magazines and newsletters, you’ll find job openings for positions that span the entire circuit board supply chain. Here’s a quick sample of available positions: chief technology officer, director of business development, senior process engineer, image department operator, development chemist, SMT field technician, and sales reps for territories that span the U.S.

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

Like a bad penny, COVID-19 just keeps coming back and affecting the PCB industry. This week, we saw more industry events going fully virtual—a trend that’s likely to continue. But as Chris Mitchell explains, the COVID-19 outbreak is also forcing lawmakers and organizations to work together for the good of the U.S. electronics supply chain. Sometimes, it takes a crisis to make everyone cooperate, so let’s celebrate these little victories.

Book Excerpt: Power Integrity By Example, Chapter 5

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

What Is the Proper Role of App Notes?

There’s a disconnect in the design segment. Some designers say they follow app notes every time, but a growing number of designers approach app notes with a wary eye. Many of the leading voices in the design community have been advising designers not to rely on app notes without running the numbers first. We decided to ask PCB design instructors Rick Hartley and Dan Beeker to help us shine a light on this issue.

Cyberattack! Think It Couldn’t Happen To You? Think Again!

Eric Cormier and Dave Ryder of Prototron address the ransomware attack that locked them out of their system last December, bringing business to a screeching halt and forcing them into the arduous process of a full rebuild. With things finally starting to normalize, Eric and Dave now offer precautionary advice they’ve accumulated over the past six months.

But Wait, There’s More Happy-ness: Happy Holden Wants Your Questions

The “Just Ask Happy” series has been so popular that we’re giving readers another bite at the apple. Here’s your chance to send Happy Holden more of your questions. What’s the one question about this industry that no one has ever been able to answer to your satisfaction?

I-Connect007 Leadership Survey: Valuable Lessons From Grandma

The I-Connect007 research team has been surveying readers on the topic of leadership as part of our ongoing planning for upcoming issues. As this response illustrates, great examples of leadership can be found everywhere—provided we're paying attention.


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

The common theme in this week’s Top 5 editor’s picks is “change.” We’re talking change in the form of forwarding process, achieving milestones, evolving, and improving metrics. This week’s picks are not only newsworthy but also captured reader attention based on metrics. If you haven’t read any other news items from the industry this week, I propose these five must-reads.

This Month in Design007 Magazine: When Working Remotely, Cybersecurity Is a Necessity

When we started planning this issue on working remotely, we knew we’d have to speak with Stephen V. Chavez, chairman of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA). We recently asked Steph to discuss some of the security measures that his company employs and what his experience has been like since he began working out of his Arizona home office full-time several months ago.

Understanding MIL-PRF-31032, Part 1

Over the course of this series, Anaya Vardya will discuss topics such as MIL-PRF-31032 requirements, the quality plan, responsibilities of the Technical Review Board (TRB), and the testing and reporting requirements for the certified shop into the DLA.

Chris Hanson: New Ventec IMS Dielectrics Rated for Higher Temps

Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Chris Hanson, global head of IMS Technology for Ventec International Group. During their conversation, Chris discusses his group’s recent efforts to create new IMS materials, with a focus on dielectrics. As Chris explains, Ventec has developed several new dielectrics that can withstand much higher operating temperatures, one of which is UL-rated for a maximum operating temp of 155°C, which may be the highest for an IMS dielectric.

Just Ask Happy: Calculating Trace Temps in a Vacuum

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. Enjoy.

Just Ask Happy: Mechanically Drilled Blind and Buried Vias

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. Enjoy.

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

The USMCA trade agreement was just the tip of the iceberg in news affecting our industry this week. We also saw more young people getting involved in the industry, an HDP User Group webinar on automotive thermal issues, and more questions for our own Happy Holden—this time, on stacked microvia reliability, or the lack thereof.

Just Ask Happy: Two-Layer Low-Speed PCBs

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. Enjoy.

Catching up With Fane Friberg: Supply Chain Management Expert

Dan Beaulieu recently spoke with Fane Friberg, principal at CEPHAS and a supply chain management expert, about how he started his company, as well as current market challenges he sees and what he thinks the future holds for companies—especially post-pandemic.

Materials for Automotive Applications: Thermal Management Issues

For Pete Starkey, the highlight of the recent HDP User Group Automotive Technology Webinar was Alun Morgan’s presentation on materials for automotive applications. This forward-looking informational session covered the latest developments in automotive standards and automotive electronic packaging.


IPC: Shawn DuBravac and Chris Mitchell on USMCA

On July 1, 2020, the USMCA trade act (United States-Mexico-Canada Act) phased in as a trade agreement guiding economic trade and growth in North America. Nolan Johnson spoke with both Shawn DuBravac, IPC’s chief economist, and Chris Mitchell, IPC’s vice president of global government affairs and an I-Connect007 columnist, about the impact of USMCA on North American electronics manufacturing.

Book Excerpt: Thermal Management With Insulated Metal Substrates, Part 3

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3 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.

Just Ask Happy: Stacked Microvia Reliability Issues

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. Enjoy.

Just Ask Happy: The Future of 3D Printing

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. Enjoy.

Just Ask Happy: Ground Reference Planes

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. Enjoy.

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

Updates on trade shows, conferences, and associations dominated industry news this past week. Some events are returning to a physical venue; others are opting for a virtual version in 2020. Add to that a spate of cross-association cooperative agreements and new programs for career development coming from multiple associations, and you’ve delivered four of my top five picks.

Just Ask Happy: The Future of Mechanical Blind, Buried Vias

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between. Enjoy.

Just Ask Happy: The Proper Order of Design Techniques to Improve Connectivity

We asked for you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, and you took us up on it! The questions you've posed run the gamut, covering technology, the worldwide fab market, and everything in between.

Happy Holden Is Taking Your Questions Now

Happy Holden, the industry icon and “Father of HDI,” is ready to answer your questions! What have you always wanted to ask Happy, but never thought you'd have the chance? Now is your chance! Please take a few minutes to jot down your questions for Happy. A select group of answers will be published in upcoming editions of I-Connect007 magazines and newsletters.

Book Excerpt: Producing the Perfect Data Package, Part 2

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of Mark Thompson's I-Connect007 eBook The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to... Producing the Perfect Data Package. Mark is in engineering support at Prototron Circuits and a Design007 Magazine columnist.


DownStream Technologies Update With Joe Clark

On June 15, Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Joe Clark, co-founder of DownStream Technologies, about the company’s drive to take care of its customers and employees throughout the pandemic and beyond. As the U.S. slowly starts reopening, Joe discusses some of his customers’ current challenges, especially those working from home for the first time, and how DownStream’s forecast has helped the company prepare for the uncertainties in the industry right now.

Letter to the Editor: Rick Hartley Offers Addendum on App Notes

In the June 2020 issue of Design007 Magazine, the I-Connect007 editorial team interviewed design instructors Rick Hartley and Dan Beeker regarding their belief that designers should not trust app notes until they've been proven to be accurate. After the issue was published this week, Rick emailed us with a few more points that he wished to contribute to the ongoing app note conversation.

Walt Custer’s EIPC Business Outlook Webinar: ‘You Can’t Sugarcoat This Stuff!’

In normal circumstances, it would have been the time of year for the EIPC Summer Conference, and Walt Custer would have opened the proceedings with his business outlook for the global electronics industry. However, circumstances were far from normal. Pete Starkey discusses some of the takeaways from Custer's global business outlook webinar, organized by EIPC.

The iNEMI 2019 Roadmap: Optoelectronics

Continuing the series of webinars highlighting recently-published chapters of iNEMI’s 2019 Roadmap—the comprehensive guidebook to the future goals and needs of the electronics manufacturing industry—the installment on optoelectronics examined and discussed data transmission by optical technology. Pete Starkey provides an overview.

The Survey Said: Designers' Tips for Working Remotely

Most PCB designers are now working from home as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. In a recent Design007 Magazine survey, we asked the following question: What tips do you have for working remotely more successfully?

Where The Jobs Are: The I-Connect007 Help Wanted Pages

If you’re looking for a career in the PCB industry—design, fabrication, or assembly—the I-Connect007 Career Opportunities section, jobconnect007.com, is the first place you should look. Right now, there are job openings for positions that span the entire circuit board supply chain, and you can submit your resume directly to the hiring managers by clicking on the ad.

PCB Builder from Digi-Key Lets Customers Order Directly From Board Shops

On June 2, components distributor Digi-Key Electronics announced the release of PCB Builder, a tool that lets customers have PCBs shipped directly from the fabricator. PCB Builder also allows customers to perform file layer checks and receive instant quotes from multiple fabricators. Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Josh Mickolio, supplier business development manager for Digi-Key, about the development of PCB Builder and what this tool means to PCB designers and design engineers.

SpaceX Manned Mission Promises More Success for Milaero and Electronics Manufacturing

On May 30, 2020, SpaceX became the first non-governmental organization to send human cargo into orbit and to a successful docking rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). On June 1, Nolan Johnson spoke with military/aerospace consultant and I-Connect007 columnist Mike Hill about the significance of this mission.

Ventec Book Excerpt: Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates

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

3D Additive Electronics Manufacturing: Are We Nearing an Inflection Point?

Recently, Dan Feinberg was invited to attend a detailed and broadly informative webinar by nScrypt titled “The Strength of 3D-Printed Electronics," which covered the status and advances in the use of 3D printing for electronic device design and manufacture. nScrypt is an Orlando-based company founded in 2002 that focuses on 3D printing. Here’s what Dan learned from each of the speakers.


IPC’s Shawn Dubravac: COVID-19 Outbreak Accelerates Industry Shifts Already Under Way

On May 19, Barry Matties spoke with Shawn Dubravac, chief economist for IPC. While discussing other topics, Matties asked for Dubravac’s perspective on shifts in the market, who observed that the recessionary trend might be behind us; the markets are already showing recovery. Still, it could take a year or so to fully recover.

IPC's Dr. John Mitchell: Leadership in Times of Crisis

On May 13, Dr. John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, spoke with Barry Matties and Nolan Johnson in another installment in our series of industry updates. In this interview, Mitchell discussed the challenges of leadership in crisis situations.

Meet Patrick Crawford, I-Connect007 Columnist

Meet Patrick Crawford, one of our newest I-Connect007 columnists! Patrick’s columns will provide updates on IPC Design activities. He is currently the liaison to the Design Community Leadership, the industry leadership group of IPC Design. Patrick and the Design Community Leadership work to develop the IPC Design program as IPC redoubles its efforts to serve the printed board design engineering industry.

A Design Economics Horror Story

During a recent conversation with Rick Hartley, he shared one of his favorite PCB design horror stories. This is a cautionary tale about what can happen when design teams place too much faith in app notes and do not follow cost-aware design techniques. Enjoy!

Happy Holden's Essential Skills: Online Instruction and Distance Learning

Online courses have become increasingly available and popular. For this to be effective, specific requirements must be met for courses taken or produced over the internet in order to provide the user with a positive experience. Read Happy Holden's updated article from his series on 25 essential skills for engineers.

Porticos: Designing Everything From Handheld Electronics to Guitar Parts

I met with Greg Patterson, one of the founders of Porticos—a product development company that develops rugged handheld electronics, among other products. Greg shares the biggest design challenges Porticos encounters in these products, as well as some of the most interesting projects he has developed.

Counseling Startups From Design Through NPI

Andy Shaughnessy and Happy Holden sat down for an interview with Richard Marshall, CEO of Xitex Limited, a company based in the U.K. that provides consultancy to startups launching wired and wirelessly connected products. Richard explains some of the most common factors companies overlook when introducing a new product. He also discusses one startup’s new product—a Fitbit-type device worn by horses—and why he advises startups to “Make your mistakes close to home.”

Survey: Complete, Accurate Design Data Tops List of Fab Expectations

In a recent survey, we asked PCB designers about expectations, particularly fabricators’ expectations of their PCB designer customers. The overwhelming majority (84%) of respondents indicated that a fabricator’s primary expectation of a designer is a complete, accurate data package.

Aurora Circuits’ Chris Kalmus Offers PCBs for Ventilators at No Charge

Electronics manufacturers continue to step up to the plate during these uncertain times. In this interview, Dan Beaulieu speaks with Chris Kalmus, owner of Aurora Circuits in Aurora, Illinois, who announced on April 24 that his company would be offering PCBs for ventilators free of charge.

Accurate Circuit Engineering Staying Ahead of the COVID-19 Curve

On April 16, Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Accurate Circuit Engineering’s James Hofer. James provided an update on the company’s responses to the challenges of fabricating PCBs while much of the country is under COVID-19 quarantine. James explained that he is dedicated to keeping his employees safe and healthy while continuing to meet the needs of his customers, many of whom are medical and military OEMs. He also discussed his current workload, which includes one customer developing a ventilator that can serve four patients at the same time.


Flexible Circuit Technologies: ‘We Do it All’

During IPC APEX EXPO 2020 in San Diego, Carey Burkett, VP of Flexible Circuit Technologies, sat down for an interview with Dan Beaulieu. The two discussed the company’s expansive growth, the current flex and rigid-flex landscape, and FCT’s drive to provide complete solutions from rigid and flex circuits through box build.

I-Connect007 Survey: DFM, Signal Integrity Knowledge Most Important Job Criteria

In a recent survey regarding the industry's expectations of PCB designers, we asked our readers: Of the following criteria, which are the three most important for your job, according to your customers and your company? Here are the results.

Mentor's Oren Manor on Automation Business Adjustments

Oren Manor, director of business development at Mentor, a Siemens Business, shares an update with Barry Matties on the recent COVID-19 outbreak. Manor describes how Mentor's automation business operations have adjusted. Manor also provides some projections on how manufacturing may need to adjust as the global economies come out of this time.

Dan Beaulieu: Adapting to New Methods at D.B. Management

In this audio interview, Nolan Johnson gets an update from Dan Beaulieu, a 40+ year veteran of the electronics manufacturing industry and an industry consultant for 25+ years. Dan shares an update on current business operations for D.B. Management, including how—like his clients—he may be at home, but it's still business as usual. Dan also offers his perspective on how our industry will weather and emerge from this challenging time.

I-Connect007 COVID-19 Outbreak Research Survey Results

Our ongoing survey regarding the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the electronics industry has produced some interesting results. Here are some of the response highlights as of today. If you would like to make your voice heard, please take the survey.

This Month in Design007 Magazine: Mentor—Managing Small Problems for Profitability

At DesignCon, I met up with Todd Westerhoff, product marketing manager for highspeed design at Mentor, a Siemens Business, to discuss common design profitability issues and cost-aware PCB design. He explains how simple problems can “slip through the cracks” and cause delays, what you can do, and how first-order analysis can make simulation accessible to designers who wouldn’t simulate otherwise.

Watch & Learn! Latest Installment of I-007e Micro Webinar Series Features EV Charging Controller Case Study

The eleventh episode of the popular micro webinar series “Coatings Uncoated!” is now available to view. In “Cycle Time Constrains Coverage,” topic expert Phil Kinner from Electrolube examines the trade-off between cycle time and coverage required while considering an electric vehicle charging controller case study. If you are in the assembly business, an EMS company, or responsible for specifying conformal coating and/or encapsulation, then this free series is for you.

I-Connect007 Researchers Survey Industry on COVID-19 Outbreak Effect

In the last 24 hours, we surveyed our readers regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its effect on our industry. After reviewing the first 100 survey responses primarily from North America and Europe, one-third of the respondents reported that the outbreak was having at least a small effect on their orders. Two-thirds of our readers have yet to see any effect on their orders.

Are ISO Procedures Strangling Innovation?

Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Quantel’s Roger Beers, who voiced his concerns about the struggles engineering departments face when dealing with new technologies within ISO procedures. While great for repeatable processes, Roger says ISO in its current state may be preventing engineering growth.

Traversing the Design Landscape With Hartley and Creeden

Design instructors Rick Hartley and Mike Creeden recently spoke with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team about the current landscape of the PCB design segment. This wide-ranging conversation also focused on the next generation of designers, some promising new laminates, and the need for more communication and collaboration between designers and fabricators.


A Radical New Design Perspective

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

Why Does the PCB Industry Still Use Gerber?

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

IPC-2581 Continues to Flourish

Because standards adoption in this industry tends to be akin to turning around a battleship, what is often seen as new has generally already been in production for 10 years or more. Often, there are outside influences and dependencies that cause this, so most of us tend to take a “wait-and-see” approach—let others shake out the issues. And even then, we only look at adoption if the mandate comes from higher-ups in the organization. It works the way we do it now, so why change?

Words of Advice: Making Life Easier for Fabrication and Assembly

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What steps do you take to make the job easier for your fabrication and assembly providers? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Words of Advice: Starting a New Design

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What do you think is the most important thing a designer should remember when planning a new PCB design? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Bob Martin Brings Maker Attitude to AltiumLive Keynote

Bob Martin is a self-proclaimed “Wizard of Make” and senior staff engineer with Microchip Technology. Next week, this leader of the maker community will be one of the keynote speakers at AltiumLive in San Diego, California. I caught up with Bob and asked him to give us a preview of his presentation.

John Michael Pierobon Discusses His Flex Design Class

If you’re new to flex design, you might want to check out an online course offered by All Flex, a flex fabricator. The course, Designing Flexible Circuits, was created by John Michael Pierobon. I asked John Michael to discuss his flexible circuit design course, and whether online curriculum can ever replace good old-fashioned live instruction.

Joe Grand Brings a Hacker Outlook to PCB Design

From designing his own mischievous gadgets to testifying on Capitol Hill and starring in his own Discovery TV show “Prototype This!” Joe Grand has lived a hacker’s life. I spoke with Joe about his upcoming keynote at AltiumLive in San Diego, “When Hacking and Engineering Collide,” which will focus on the lighter side of engineering and the benefits of thinking like a hacker. Can Joe convince PCB designers to adopt a hacker’s outlook?

Words of Advice: Flex Design Problems

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What are your biggest problems related to flex design? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity. Not designing "enough flex to get good at it" is a fairly common refrain.

SimplifyDA’s Floorplanning Tool Optimizes Autorouting

Zen Liao, CEO of Simplify Design Automation, recently spoke with the I-Connect007 editorial team about his company’s high-level floorplanner for autorouting, which allows engineers to pass their ideas along to PCB designers. Zen discusses the floorplanning technology and his marketing strategies as well as the challenge of getting reluctant PCB designers to embrace autorouters.


Meet Our Newest Columnists From NCAB Group

Meet our newest I-Connect007 columnists from NCAB Group! Jeff Beauchamp, Ruben Contreras, and Harry Kennedy are field application engineers from NCAB Group's technical team. In their columns, they will explore fresh PCB concepts, including medical and telecommunications applications, topics related to RoHS, and much more.

Words of Advice: Obstacles to Solid Data Hand-off

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What are the biggest obstacles you face in getting your design to the fabricator? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Interconnect Reliability Correlation With System Design and Transportation Stress

Interconnect reliability is very critical to ensure product performance at predefined shipping conditions and user environments. Plating thickness of the compliant pin and the damping mechanism of electronic system design are key success factors for this purpose. This paper discusses design variables—such as pin hard gold plating thickness, motherboard locking mechanism, and damping structure design—to ensure interconnect reliability.

Development of Flexible Hybrid Electronics

This article will present a hybrid manufacturing process to manufacture FHE systems with a two-layer interconnect structure utilizing screen printing of silver conductive ink, filled microvias to connect ink traces at the different layers, and use of the traditional reflow process to attach the semiconductor chips to the printed substrates.

AWE 2019: Go XR, Be Awesome

Dan Feinberg attended and covered the recent 2019 Augmented World Expo (AWE) and conference in Santa Clara, California. The event featured the latest developments and technologies in augmented (AR), mixed (MR), virtual (VR), and extended virtual reality (many just call it all XR to make it simple). Here's a wrap-up of the event.

K&F Electronics Hiring Young People for the Future

At the SMTA show in Atlanta, I spoke with Rick Kincaid, founder of K&F Electronics, about his son Sean taking over the family business as well as the current uncertainty with trade tariffs.

Words of Advice: Will 5G Affect Electronics Manufacturing?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: How do you think 5G will affect the electronics manufacturing industry? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

ICT 45th Annual Symposium Review

The Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) held its 45th annual symposium on June 4, 2019 in Dudley at the Black Country Museum—a symbol of the spirit of innovation in engineering technology and the entrepreneurial and manufacturing skills that had established that region’s supremacy in leading the original Industrial Revolution. Here's a recap of the events and presentations at the symposium.

Collaboratively Creating Wearable Medical Products

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

Automation and the Smart Factory: Introduction to Industry 4.0

There’s a lot of talk about automation, but I find that there is very little available on automation planning. This is one of my specialties. I started by studying for an MSEE in control theory, which went well with my bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering because I specialized in process control and IC manufacturing.


Words of Advice: Long Component and Laminate Lead Times

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What advice do you have regarding the current supply chain issues? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity. One reply really sticks out: "If the end customer is large, use their power."

EM Modeling: The Impact of Copper Ground Pour on Loss and Impedance

This article briefly introduces the general purposes of copper ground pour on printed circuit boards. Subsequently, the impact of copper ground pour on PCB channel loss in terms of insertion loss and impedance in terms of time domain reflectometry (TDR) is studied with electromagnetic modeling using Mentor HyperLynx.

IPC Asia President Phil Carmichael on China Trends

At the productronica China 2019 show in Shanghai, Barry Matties joined Phil Carmichael, president of IPC Asia, to discuss the continued growth of IPC in Asia, including the increasing emphasis on training. IPC China has grown from hosting two technical conferences five years ago to 32 in the past year. Phil also addresses current trends he’s seeing as well as trade tensions between China and the U.S.

Patty's Perspective: From Start to Finish

Our goal in this month's issue of Flex007 Magazine is to provide insights into how best to accomplish the seemingly daunting task of designing flexible and rigid-flex circuits—and with a new and different design each time. A lot of it boils down to one factor: working with your supplier and customer.

Words of Advice: Combating Component and Material Shortages

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What strategies are you employing to combat supply chain issues? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

ITEQ’s Tarun Amla Discusses 5G Inflection Points

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

Staying Current on Flex Manufacturing is Smart Business

Brendan Hogan, managing director of smart electronics manufacturer MivaTek Global, discusses how to better design for flex, and ways designers can stay current on manufacturing technology that can impact their flex boards.

Dan Gamota Discusses Flex and Alternative Substrates

As the VP of manufacturing technology and innovation for Jabil, Dan gave us his take on the current state of flex and alternative substrates and explained why modeling, automation, and process controls are likely to be key ingredients in the recipe for manufacturing non-FR-4 boards in the future.

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

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

Words of Advice: What are Your Biggest Design Challenges?

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


Thinking and Designing in Three Dimensions

This article aims to encourage interconnect designers who design for flex or rigid-flex circuits to use the modern CAD tools at their disposal for getting flex done right the first time. While modeling PCBs in 3D is not new, and all the major PCB EDA vendors offer some form of 3D modeling and integration, it is still a rare circumstance that flexible circuit designers use 3D CAD modeling.

The Electronic Component Shortage Crisis: A Veteran Engineer’s Perspective

From where we stand now, at the beginning of 2019, we see lead times for some components in the short range of up to 16 weeks; medium-to-high is 32 weeks, and long lead times are as far out as 80 weeks. In other words, if we ordered a component today, it would arrive in over a year a half from now (maybe). This all started with the capacitors (we will see why later), but we now see other component series being sucked into this problem.

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

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

Words of Advice: Flex Design Problems

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

AltiumLive Munich: Day 2 Keynotes

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

The Sun Rises on IPC APEX EXPO 2019

It's sunrise on Monday in San Diego, and IPC APEX EXPO at the San Diego Convention Center is already abuzz with activity. The exhibition hall setup is on schedule to open for business tomorrow morning, January 29th, 2019.

CES 2019 Showstoppers, the Show Floor, and Some Neat Stuff

CES 2019 is over, and those of us who spent four to five days trying to see and hear as much as possible are in recovery mode. There were over 182,000 attendees, and 6,600 of us were media all trying to get to as much of the 2.9-million-square-feet exhibit space as possible.

Mentor and Seica Partner for Data Prep and Testing Big Boards

Mark Laing, business development manager of the Valor division at Mentor, a Siemens company, and Luca Corli, director of sales at Seica, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about the partnership between their two companies, which enables efficient data preparation for testing big boards, and accelerates new product introduction (NPI) cycles.

Alun Morgan Discusses AltiumLive Munich Keynote

EIPC Chairman Alun Morgan will deliver a keynote speech at this week’s AltiumLive event in Munich, Germany. He gave us a quick preview of his keynote, and explained what his new job entails as technology ambassador with Ventec International Group.

January 2019 Issue of Design007 Magazine Available Now

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


Robert Art on the Importance of Thermal Management

Robert Art, global account manager for IMS materials at Ventec International Group, discusses future market requirements for thermal management materials, the need for a better understanding of the concept of thermal impedance, and an initiative to propose a consistent industry-standard method for measuring thermal conductivity while at electronica 2018.

The Readers Speak: The Design Data Format Survey

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

Martin Cotton’s Parting Shot

Martin Cotton is a unique personality in the PCB industry. As Cotton says, “I’m a designer—look at my haircut!” Cotton gave the keynote at the Institute of Circuit Technology’s 2018 Harrogate Seminar, challenging his audience to consider laminate dielectric properties in the context of power and cost in a presentation entitled 'The Effect of the Dk of a PCB Laminate on the Cost-effectiveness of Office Rental Space. Intrigued?' Read on!

Words of Advice: Fabricator Feedback?

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

Design Data: File Naming Conventions

Working for an EMS provider, I am often asked to make sense of customers’ PCB design data packages that must be audited for completeness and manufacturability. Quite often, EMS operations receive data to produce a PCB design and begin the auditing process, only to be called off due to customer changes. Sometimes the data is incomplete, or it is missing one or more of the data files required to fabricate the PCB at the supplier. There are also occasions where a customer has sent files that were supposed to be the updated version but were not changed at all.

At GreenSource, Lean and Green Starts on the Front End

GreenSource is the first new captive shop in American in decades, and one of the first waste-free board shops as well. The CAM engineers all work remotely, and they can launch a job without ever entering the facility. I spoke with JanNell Taylor and Andy Schilloff, who work at the CAM office in New York. We discussed what it’s like working for a company that plays by its own rules, and what they're doing to get ready for the day GreenSource goes commercial

Strategies to Manage Your China Business Through Turbulence

While the United States may be the world’s most open market, China remains the most competitive, and is still viewed by most U.S. and EU companies as the "last great opportunity for growth.” Many companies want to gain entry to the Chinese market share for their products or services. Thus, the competition for sales of products or services is correspondingly intense. Here's how to succeed in the world's second largest economy.

Altium Designer Increasingly Used for High-Speed Design

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

Book Review: The Printed Circuit Board Designer’s Guide to… Producing the Perfect Data Package

Over the course of his career, Mark Thompson, CID+, engineering support at Prototron Circuits, has evaluated thousands of data packages and delivered numerous talks to designers and engineers about how to create the perfect package. In the spirit of “garbage in, garbage out,” data packages must be perfect to create quality boards. Learn all this and more in The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Producing the Perfect Data Package!

Mentor and TEXMAC Takaya Team up to Optimize DFT

At SMTAI, Mark Laing of Mentor, a Siemens Business, and Dave Levine of TEXMAC Takaya, sat down with Editor Nolan Johnson to discuss design for test, and their collaboration to improve DFT in PCB design tools and test machinery. They also traced the evolution of DFT over the past decade as it has begun to "left-shift" farther into the realm of the designer, all the way up to schematic entry.


Karl-Heinz Fritz on Cicor’s DenciTec Technology

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

Cadence: Bullish on AI

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

Front-End Expert Mark Thompson of Prototron Circuits Publishes Book on Producing the Perfect Data Package

Errors and inaccuracies slow the process down because the CAM department has to correct their data package or ask customers to clarify their intent. In the quick-turn prototype business where people pay for time, a slowdown on a three-day turn can be a disaster. I recently sat down with Thompson to find out more about his new book and discuss the quest for the perfect data package.

PCB West 2018 Draws a Crowd of Designers and Technologists

The I-Connect007 team attended UP Media Group’s PCB West 2018 Conference and Exhibition in Santa Clara, California. I have been attending this event for many years, and every year the show is better than the year before. This year was no exception.

Chuck Bauer Discusses the Future of Packaging

When we decided to cover the future of PCB packaging, we knew we would have to interview Charles Bauer, Ph.D., owner of TechLead Corporation. Chuck recently spoke with Happy Holden, Andy Shaughnessy and Barry Matties about current trends in packaging, the need for product designers and manufacturers to communicate, and why no matter how cool the technology is, cost is still king.

Advanced Stackup Planning with Impedance, Delay and Loss Validation

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

Susy Webb: Training the New Generation of Designers

For years, I’ve been running into Susy Webb at PCB West, where one of the classes she teaches is PCB design basics. I always ask Susy about the class, especially the attendees’ backgrounds. Over the years, her class has begun drawing more and more degreed engineers, with fewer “traditional” PCB designers attending. I asked Susy to discuss the next generation of PCB designers, some of the trends she’s seeing among new PCB designers, and the need for designers to take charge of their own design training, whether their management agrees or not.

Thermal Management Materials: Easing the Decision-Making Process

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

Multi-board Design with Altium’s Ben Jordan

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

CPCA 2018 Seminar Overview

I had the good fortune to speak at a seminar sponsored by the CPCA and organized by the China Team of I-Connect007 in Shanghai. This full-day seminar was on one of today’s hot topics, “Automation in PCB Manufacturing.”


EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference Day 2: The Past, the Present and the Future, Pt. 2

Alun Morgan wrapped-up the proceedings, thanking delegates for their attention, speakers for sharing their knowledge and sponsors for their generous support. Special thanks and good wishes to Michael Weinhold for his enormous contribution over the years, and to Kirsten Smit-Westenberg and Carol Pelzers for their calm and professional organisation and management of another superb event.

The Survey Said: Industry Optimistic After Strong 2017

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

Porsche Engineering…by Design

Thomas Wischnack of Porsche Engineering is currently designing the high-power charging infrastructure that will go inside the next generation of automobiles. Thomas was a keynote speaker at AltiumLive 2017 in Munich, Germany. Barry Matties met with him to learn more about Porsche’s hardware and circuit development and what Porsche does to continually bring new designers into the fold.

Estonia a Hot Spot for New Technology

Most Westerners know very little about Estonia. A former Soviet Bloc country, Estonia has come a long way since restoring its independence in 1991. Electronics companies are thriving in this tiny EU member country, and capital city Tallinn has been called “Silicon Valley on the Baltic Sea.” During productronica, I met with Arno Kolk, general manager of the Estonian Electronics Industries Association, and we discussed the explosion of new technology in this “Baltic Tiger” country?

Succeeding at the Velocity of Technology: An IPC APEX EXPO 2018 Wrap-Up

After many months of planning, IPC APEX EXPO 2018 proved to be a success. From revolutionary advancements displayed on the show floor to expert insights conveyed in technical conference sessions and professional development courses, IPC APEX EXPO provided the learning and connections that helped 4,574 attendees from 43 countries prepare for the future.

South African Electronics Industry Going Strong

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

SnapEDA Harnesses Technology in Providing Verified Parts

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

Bridging the Customer-Supplier Gap

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

MakeHarvard 2018: The Super Bowl of Makeathons

The inaugural MakeHarvard event was everything one would expect from the title, and more. Sunstone Circuits’ Nolan Johnson and Dustin Jablonski served as both mentors and competition judges. Sunstone sponsored a prize for the best feats of reverse engineering and documentation. Sunstone’s reverse engineering competition was one of the most hotly contested. Judging was based on creativity, depth, technical difficulty, usability, scalability, and value to society.

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

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


IoT: Let’s Put the “A” Back into EDA

If I say IoT, most people today will immediately conjure up some notion in their mind. This is especially true in the engineering community, where many of us are hanging the future of our careers on the Utopian vision of a clean, beautiful environment with hidden networks and sensors everywhere.

Frontline's InStack Viewer Helps Designers and Fabricators

Ben Quarles, software solultions business manager at Frontline, and Editor Andy Shaughnessy discuss the new InStack Viewer, which allows PCB designers and fabricators to investigate impedances, material properties, and other attributes of the correct stackup.

Part 2: EIPC’s 2018 Winter Conference in Lyon, Review of Day 1

We continue with the rest of Pete Starkey’s report on Day 1 of the EIPC Winter Conference in Lyon, France. Included in this segment are presentations by Ventec, Ericsson, TTM and others, plus photos of their evening tour of Alstom.

Out-of-the-Box Innovation Strikes a Chord at NAMM 2018

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) holds two shows each year; the first is in Anaheim in January, and the second in Nashville in July. The January show is huge, attracting 100,000 visitors during its four-day run. My friend and editor (and bass player) Dan Feinberg has discussed how difficult it was for him to cover the CES show in a few days, and I must echo that sentiment about NAMM. It is one gigantic show.

IEEE’s Romanian SIITME Show a Success

The 23rd annual IEEE International Symposium for Design and Technology in Electronic Packaging (SIITME) was held in Constanta, Romania, in October 2017. It attracted more than 190 participants from Romania, and 13 other counties. While there might be some who question the suitability of Romania as a venue for such a conference, the country has a long technological history and has produced some top innovators and pioneers in aviation including Aurel Vlaicu, Traian Vuia, Henri Coanda, who prototyped an early jet aircraft in 1910.

Tips & Tricks: Rule-Based PCB Layout

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

Heat Transfer and Thermal Conductivity: The Facts

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

HDI PCBs: Make the Right Choice from Design to Volume

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

Video from productronica 2017: Karel Tavernier on Ucamco's New Communic8tor

European Editor Pete Starkey and Ucamco Managing Director Karel Tavernier discuss Ucamco’s cloud-based Communic8tor platform which facilitates two-way communication between the CAM engineer and the PCB designer, or any other party involved in the manufacturing process. This gives real-time access to image data and annotations, enabling queries to be resolved, changes to be approved, and a full communications history to be maintained.

Happy Holden and Charles Pfeil Discuss the Past and Future of PCB Design, Part 2

In Part 2 of this feature interview, I continue my conversation with industry icons Happy Holden and Charles Pfeil at the recent AltiumLive 2017 event in San Diego. In this half of the interview, we discuss the potential for artificial intelligence in EDA software tools, the graying of the designer pool, and what can be done to draw more young people to PCB design.


Meet One of the Industry’s Newest PCB Designers

Molly Knewtson is a recent graduate now working for a pharmaceutical company as a mechanical engineer. She was asked if she would consider learning PCB design and taking on some design projects. She agreed, though she had never considered circuit design as a career path. I sat down with Molly at PCB West to learn how she came to this position and what might be done to inspire more people from her generation to join the industry.

Polar Instruments’ Martyn Gaudion Discusses Tools and Books

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

Predictive Engineering: Happy Holden Discusses True DFM

Happy Holden has been involved in DFM for over 45 years, since he first started working at HP and optimized their PCB design and manufacturing processes. Naturally, for this issue, Barry Matties and Andy Shaughnessy made it a priority to get Happy’s thoughts on DFM, and what true DFM entails.

It’s Not Your Father’s DFM Anymore

What does DFM look like today? Well, for one, it’s become more than DFM. We now expect our software tools to serve us more completely to take new designs to market. DFM has evolved to become an integral part of new product introductions (NPI). Today’s NPI software spans design and manufacturing to accelerate the optimization of a PCB for manufacturing. It looks at the entire design-to-manufacturing release process and deliverables, then streamlines them.

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

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

Fault-Finding: It’s All About Prevention, not Blame

There are thousands of things that can go wrong during the design and manufacture of a PCB assembly. One might say that it is an absolute miracle when a PCB goes through all of its phases—design, fabrication and assembly—and operates successfully. But there are some management and customer cultures who naively attempt to resolve problems by seeking out the culprits and shouting “Off with their heads!”

The International Paris Air Show with ASC’s Anaya Vardya

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

New Challenges Facing Mil/Aero Segment

For this month's issue, we invited a sampling of professionals whose experience centers on the electronics industry in the military and aerospace world, including experts from design, PCB manufacturing, and the assembly arena to sit down with us for a frank discussion. Our discussion centered on the challenges associated with military work, including the new regulatory requirements for cybersecurity, dealing with leaded vs. lead-free components, and the differences and similarities with the commercial world.

Trilogy Circuits: Mil/Aero Demands Technological, Regulatory Expertise

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

Using Vibration and Acceleration Analysis to Improve Reliability

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


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