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

Latest Articles

Master the Art of Communication With Manufacturers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Producing Diverse Designs in Concert With Manufacturing

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

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

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

Designing in a Vacuum Q&A: Nick Barbin

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

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

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

Designing in a Vacuum Q&A: Mark Thompson

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

Designing in a Vacuum Q&A: Carl Schattke

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


Tips for Designing in—and Escaping From—the Vacuum

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

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

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

DFM 101: Solder Mask and Legend

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

AltiumLive 2022: Tips and Tricks for Supply Chain Management

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

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

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

DesignCon 2022: Back to Business as Usual

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

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

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

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

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

Setting Goals for Your PCB Design Education

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

AltiumLive 2022: Design for Availability

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


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

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

IPC Student Director: Three Things IPC APEX EXPO Taught Me

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

DFM 101: Plating Methods

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

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

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

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

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

Kris Moyer Discusses New IPC Design Role

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

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

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

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

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

Keep the Change? No, Embrace It

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

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

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


Day 3: Lots of Action in San Diego

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

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

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

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

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

Day 1: It's Show Time!

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

AltiumLive 2022: Tamara Jovanovic Discusses Lessons Learned at AltiumLive

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

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

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

Living in a Material World: High-Speed Design Strategies

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

A High-Voltage PCB Design Primer

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

High-Voltage PCB Design: Beating Separation Anxiety

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

Happy Holden’s Five Must-Reads of 2021

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

RealTime with... American Standard Circuits: Thermal Management

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

Insulectro Passionate About Educational Programs

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

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

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

The Mission of the New Printed Circuit Board Association of America

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

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

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

EIPC Technical Snapshot Review: Semi-additive Processes

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

Solid Data Management Key to Accurate Quotes

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


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

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

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

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

New Methods for Quantifying PCB Design Weaknesses and Manufacturing Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

A PCB Design Data Management Overview

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

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

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

Why Good PCB Data Management is Essential

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

Manage Your Data and Document Everything

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

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

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


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

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

Averatek Moves Ahead With A-SAP™, ASAP

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

DownStream Adding More Flex, Rigid-Flex Functionality

I recently spoke with Joe Clark, one of the co-founders for DownStream Technologies. We discussed the company’s latest software release, which adds more flex and rigid-flex capabilities, as well as updates to the scripting in DownStream’s tools.As Joe explained, "With our current release of software, we focused in on rigid-flex designs, which is becoming a common design challenge for our customers. We’ve implemented support for rigid-flex embedded components going to the next level now, and we’re working with some large companies to define the design for manufacturing checks that would be necessary for verifying these advanced designs. So that’s coming in our DFM release that will be out later this year."

Dan Beeker: Follow the Geometry and Control the EM Fields

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

Sunny Patel on Design Data Formats

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

NCAB Discusses Recent Merger with Elmatica

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

The Case for IPC-2581: Interview with Ed Acheson

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

Who Selects the Design Data Format, and Why?

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

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

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

Test Strategies and Pain Points

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soldering to Aluminum With Mina

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

Ken Wyatt: Think of Circuit Traces as Wave Guides

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tribal Knowledge and Design Data Formats

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


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

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

Excerpt: The System Designer’s Guide to… System Analysis, Chapter 2

In Chapter 2 of this book, the subject involves the challenges in the design and development of data center systems. With the exponential growth in data center infrastructure for IT networking, numerous challenges have emerged, from limited ecosystems to high-performance computing issues. There are many constraints to building data centers and updating the equipment in them. Planning is critical in managing increased capacity in the existing data center space.

Collaboration by Design: The Role of EDA Tools

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

PCEA Approaches Two-Year Anniversary with New Members and Classes

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

Applying DFM Analysis to Flexible PCBs

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

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

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

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

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

24 Essential Skills for Engineers: The Story Behind the Book

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

EIPC Technical Snapshot: Updates, Methods, and Interconnections

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

From DesignCon: Electro Rent Beats High Cost of Test Equipment

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Power of Designer and Manufacturer Collaboration

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

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

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

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

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

Collaboration: The Key to Streamlining Your Design Process

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

From DesignCon: Insulectro Educating Designers About New Materials

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


Seeking Out Design Education Resources

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

How to Use Panelization Planning to Save Money and Resources

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

Paying it Forward: DFM Education for Engineering Grads

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

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

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

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

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

The Impact of Via Structures on Multi-Gigabit Signal Transmission

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

From DesignCon: Isola Navigating a Challenging Supply Stream

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

DFM from the Fabricator’s Point of View

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

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

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

Review: Siemens PCB Stackup Planning Webinar

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


Unfolding Altium’s Design Education Platforms

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

The EMS/Designer Relationship: Kelly's Story

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

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

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

You Can’t Learn PCB Design on Your Own

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

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

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

DesignCon 2021 Kicks Off With a Family Reunion

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

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

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

My PCB Design Education: A Continuous Process

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

Design Education and Training for Today and Tomorrow

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

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

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


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

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

Ask the Experts: Replacing the Retiring 'Graybeards'

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

DFM 101: PCB Controlled Impedance

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

Ask the Experts: Copper Pour on Unused Layer Sections?

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

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

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

Ask the Experts: Determining Amount of Copper for Heat Dissipation

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

Whizz Systems: The Silicon Valley CM

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

Rogers Technology Update

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

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

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

Siemens Webinar: Rigid-Flex Design Without Respins

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


Ask the Experts: Tying Vias

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

Anaya Vardya Discusses ASC’s Move into Additive Processes

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

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

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

The Survey Said: Most Common Design Mistakes

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

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

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

Averatek Pushing Boundaries of Additive and Semi-Additive Processes

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

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

This may be a global industry, but the effect is very real: holidays in the U.S. will drive the industry news cycle. In fact, I can even (unscientifically) rank the major U.S. holidays by their silencing effect on the news. Christmas leads the way, of course, followed by New Year’s, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. Here's a wrap-up of the biggest stories of the past week, starting before Independence Day weekend.

Ask the Experts: Crosstalk Solutions

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

My Life in PCB Design

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

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

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

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

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

EIPC Technical Snapshot Review: Microvia Reliability Issues

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

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

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

‘The Trouble with Tribbles’

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

ICAPE Group Offers Boots on the Ground Support in Asia

Nolan Johnson speaks with Roger Harts about some of the current complications around manufacturing electronics in China and how ICAPE Group works as a vital supplier partner to OEMs and companies hoping to manufacture in Asia.

Words of Advice: Biggest Challenges for Designers

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

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

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


ExpressPCB Plus 3.0 Adds Functionality, SnapEDA Integration

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

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

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

Catching up With Kusu’s Pascal Delloue

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

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

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

My Ongoing Journey Toward DFM

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

Planning and Communication—Key to Optimizing Your Design Time

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

PCEA Webinar: Tips and Tricks for RF Design

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

Why You Should Get Involved in IPC Standards Development

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

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

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

Medical, Defense Face Shortage of Multilayer Ceramic Capacitors

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


Operational Excellence from a Design Services Manager

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

Meeting the Challenge With Design Reuse

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

The Top Five Reasons Products Fail EMI Testing

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

PCB Design Challenges: Designing With DDR

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

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

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

Arlon President Discusses Acquisition by EMC

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

A Tribute to Dieter Bergman

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

Show & Tell Magazine Now Available on Demand

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

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

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

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

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


PCEA Expands in Its Sophomore Year

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

Benchmarking Your Process Engineering

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

Isola Releases IS550H Material

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

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

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

Meet Chris Young, MilAero007 Columnist

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

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.

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.


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