Article Highlights
Solid Data Management Key to Accurate Quotes
11/30/2021 | David Gronner, PCB Technologies Ltd.
RealTime with....American Standard Circuits: The Fundamentals of RF and Microwave PCBs
11/17/2021 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
From DesignCon: What’s Old is New Again with Selective Heat Sinks
11/16/2021 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
A PCB Design Data Management Overview
11/15/2021 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Pulsonix Discusses New Features, Including Design Reuse and Cross Probing
11/15/2021 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
Design :: Software

Latest Articles

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.

Pulsonix Discusses New Features, Including Design Reuse and Cross Probing

Jim Southward, executive account manager for SouthCom Technologies and head of the North American sales office for Pulsonix, recently met with Nolan Johnson to discuss what's been going on lately at Pulsonix. Jim walks us through some of the new features Pulsonix has added in recent releases, and he details a few handy functions that some users may not even be aware of.

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.

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."

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.

Hate PCB Respins? Five Ways to Reduce or Eliminate Respins

Redesigning a printed circuit board is a chore that no one likes. Respins of printed circuit boards cost money, delay the schedule, and just aren’t enjoyable for anyone. Yet, many companies are not taking advantage of available tools that can reduce—and in many cases eliminate—PCB respins.

DFM 101: PCB Materials

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

Why We Simulate

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

Alternatives to Simulation

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

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

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


IBM Awarded Best Technical Paper at IPC APEX EXPO 2021

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

Bridging the Simulation Tool Divide

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

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

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

Barry Olney’s High-Speed Simulation Primer

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

Polar Instruments Driven by Customer Demand

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

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.”

EIPC Technical Snapshot: 5G and Loss Minimisation

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

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

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

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.

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

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


The Magnitude of Stackup Considerations

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

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

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

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.

A Library Management Cautionary Tale

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

Best Practices: Footprint Design and CAD Library Management

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

Wild River ISI-56 Platform Accelerates SerDes Testing

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

Seven Tips for Your Next Stackup Design

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

Just Ask Heidi Barnes: The Exclusive Compilation

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

Cutting Respins: Journey to the Single-spin PCB

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

Just Ask Heidi: 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.


Just Ask Heidi: The Biggest Challenge for Design Engineers?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, Eric Camden, John Mitchell, and Tara Dunn in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Heidi Barnes’s turn! Today's question: What is the biggest challenge for PCB design engineers right now?

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.

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

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

EIPC Technical Snapshot: PCB Surface Finishes

For the third in a series of Technical Snapshot webinars, EIPC chose to focus on PCB surface finishes, comparing specific properties, examining corrosion behaviour and discussing selection criteria for low-loss, high frequency applications.

John Watson Discusses His Favorite Career Moments

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

Just Ask Heidi: Eliminating EMC Failures

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, Eric Camden, John Mitchell, and Tara Dunn in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Heidi Barnes’s turn!

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

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

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

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

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.

Catching up With QCMS General Manager Rick McAnally

Founded in 2007, QCMS is one of the more interesting EMS companies on the East Coast. They are actually a sister company to Niche Electronics located in Pennsylvania. Dan Beaulieu interviews QCMS General Manager Rick McAnally.


Part 11 of Siemens’ Digital Twin Webinar Series: Data-Driven Manufacturing

I-007e Micro Webinars recently released a free, on-demand series titled “Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing” with Siemens' Jay Gorajia. In Part 11, Gorajia discusses, “Data-Driven Manufacturing: Making Big Data Into Smart Data.”

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

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

PCB Technologies Focuses on an All-in-One Solution

Recently, PCB Technologies reached out to us with news about their new All-In-One offering. Intrigued, we followed up and spoke with VP of Marketing and Business Development Arik Einhorn to get more details on the All-In-One services. We’ve included the short article and the interview here.

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

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

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

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

Brad Griffin Discusses Cadence’s New Transient Solver Technology

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

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

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

EIPC Technical Snapshot: Automotive Technology

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

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

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

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

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


Part 6 of Siemens’ Digital Twin Webinar Series: Single CAM Solutions

I-007e Micro Webinars recently released a free, on-demand series titled “Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing” with Siemens' Jay Gorajia. In part 6, Gorajia discusses a “Single CAM Solution for All Process Engineering Tasks.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Combatting Thermal Challenges With TRM Software

Johannes Adam is the creator of a simulation tool called Thermal Risk Management (TRM) used to help PCB designers and design engineers predict hot spots on the board before during layout. He and Douglas Brooks, founder of UltraCAD Design, have used the tool to produce several technical articles and a book on the subject. In this interview, they tackle the biggest misconceptions they see from designers and engineers who deal with thermal management issues.

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.

Just Ask John Mitchell: The Exclusive Compilation

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

Manufacturing Test Strategy Tools: Part 4 of Siemens’ Digital Twin Webinar Series

I-007e Micro Webinars recently released a free, on-demand series titled “Implementing Digital Twin Best Practices From Design Through Manufacturing” with Siemens' Jay Gorajia. In Part 4, Gorajia discusses “Manufacturing Test Strategy Tools in the Hands of Designers.”

Mentor and Z-zero Collaborate on New Stackup Tool

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


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.

This Month in SMT007 Magazine: Robustness Is Not the Same as Reliability

Bob Neves discusses a disconnect he sees in reliability testing between what’s being tested and what happens out in the field, as well as why most reliability tests these days should instead be considered robustness tests.

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

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

Book Excerpt: Power Integrity By Example, Chapter 5

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

Just Ask Happy: Integrating Design Processes With IEEE HIR

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.

App Notes: What Are They Good For?

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

Just Ask Happy: Routing BGAs With High-Speed Diff Pairs

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.

Book Excerpt: Signal Integrity by Example, Chapter 3

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

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

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

Book Excerpt: Signal Integrity by Example

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


Book Excerpt: Cornerstone of Smart Manufacturing—The Convergence of IT and OT

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of the I-Connect007 eBook The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to… Advanced Manufacturing in the Digital Age, written by Oren Manor of Siemens, a Siemens Business.

Book Excerpt: Power Integrity by Example

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

Book Excerpt: Producing the Perfect Data Package

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Mark Thompson's I-Connect007 eBook "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to... Producing the Perfect Data Package." Mark is in engineering support at Prototron Circuits and a Design007 columnist.

Autodesk’s Fusion 360 Merges ECAD, MCAD

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

Ventec Book Excerpt: Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates

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

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

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

The Cost of Inefficient Production of PCB Documentation

The following article is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of the I-Connect007 eBook The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Documentation, written by Mark Gallant of DownStream Technologies.

Freedom CAD’s Expert PCB Design Tips, Part 2

When you’re designing complex PCBs, knowledge truly is power. The more PCB design tips, tricks, and techniques you know, the better your cutting-edge designs will be. With that in mind, we’re bringing you a series of PCB design tips, courtesy of Freedom CAD Services.

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 3

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

A Design Economics Horror Story

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


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

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

Happy’s Smart Factory Protocol Primer

The smart factory concept is built upon data interchange as the foundation. There has been much development in the area of industrial and manufacturing data protocols over the years, stretching back into the 1960s. This article by Happy Holden surveys what are considered the most common protocols in use in the electronics manufacturing industry today, including IPC-CFX/ Hermes, OML, SECS/GEM, and MAPS.

What It Takes to Be a Milaero Supplier, Part 3

The decision to pursue military and aerospace (milaero) certification impacts every facet of the organization, and not every shop is prepared to make this transformation. In Part 3, Anaya Vardya explores what it takes to be a milaero supplier in the areas of purchasing and quality.

MFLEX Increases Growth

Happy Holden recently spoke with Jay Desai of MFLEX about the latest flex work the company has been doing and its aim to transition toward more automation and a smart factory approach.

Cadence Helping Users to Save Time, Money With Automation

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

Business Practices Drive the Smart Factory, Not the Other Way Around (Pt. 2)

In Part 2 of this conversation, Sagi Reuven— business development manager at Mentor, a Siemens Business—continues his discussion on how smart factory implementations must start with traditional process analysis and improvement before the data capture process is useful.

EMA President Manny Marcano: EDA Tools Are Essential

In this interview, Editor Andy Shaughnessy speaks with Manny Marcano, president of EMA EDA Automation, who shares an update on the company's current level of business operations under COVID-19 restrictions. Marcano explains that EMA is classified as an essential business due to its work with the defense segment and that employees are now working from home. He also discusses the company's free work-from-home license offer and why he is available to help any designers or design engineers who have questions during these changing times.

The Formation of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association

Patty Goldman spoke with Gary Ferrari, FTG Corporation, at IPC APEX EXPO 2020 about the formation of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association, which—having been started two months ago—has attained lots of interest from the industry. The PCEA hopes to bring together designers, engineers, fabricators, assemblers through local chapters to focus mainly on education and learning.

Siemens and Valor: Two Complementary DFM Technologies

Before IPC APEX EXPO kicked off, Andy Shaughnessy attended a Siemens seminar in San Diego on smart manufacturing for electronics and the integration of technologies from Siemens’ digital industry software and Valor. Afterward, Andy spoke with Andy Farrington, director of portfolio development for the Americas, about the event, as well as some of the hot topics and solutions that the speakers addressed.

Multi-board Etching: Managing Rigid-Flex Designs and Conductivity

Good troubleshooting techniques involve considering a system as individual parts rather than as a whole. The same techniques apply to your work with multi-board PCB designs. Each board consists of a single unit that has its own lifecycle. Some product designs may use a single PCB design for multiple functions or for multiple devices. Others may interconnect multiple PCB designs to produce a complete, fully functional system.


Mentor's Oren Manor on Automation Business Adjustments

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

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

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

Publish Your Work, Become an Industry Leader

I recently met with Bert Simonovich, founder of Lamsim Enterprises, to discuss a new mentorship program and panel discussion at DesignCon, where veteran authors of technical papers mentor new authors through the process. Bert explained the benefits of publishing technical papers and shared Wayne Gretzky’s advice for any engineers or technologists who are considering publishing their technical work.

A Young Designer’s Journey After Grad School

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

Show & Tell Feature: Happy’s Highlights

Happy Holden traveled to San Diego for IPC APEX EXPO 2020. He was happy to get out of Grand Rapids, where the temperature had dropped to 28 degrees. In this article, he describes some of the highlights of the show, from beginning to end.

2020 EIPC Winter Conference, Day 2

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

2020 EIPC Winter Conference, Day 1

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

Avoiding EMI Problems With Lee Ritchey

The I-Connect007 team met with design expert Lee Ritchey to pick his brain on EMI (electromagnetic interference) problems and what can be done to minimize them. Lee explains the issues are almost always tied to power delivery, as well as the abundant amount of misinformation surrounding this topic.

What It Takes to Be a Milaero Supplier, Part 1

The decision to pursue military and aerospace (milaero) certification impacts every facet of the organization, and not every shop is prepared to make this transformation. This is the first article in a four-part series, breaking down what it takes in sales and customer service, engineering and CAM, purchasing and quality, and manufacturing. Anaya Vardya starts by exploring sales and customer service.

Max Seeley: Some Designers Hesitant to Adopt New Tech

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


Joe Clark Says DownStream Is Ready for More Growth in 2020

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

Solder Paste Printing From the Stencil’s Perspective

Jeff Schake of ASM Assembly Systems discusses the complications surrounding printing and solder paste that he sees from his perspective as a stencil expert.

AT&S: Working With Designers on a Global Level

Barry Matties recently took a tour of AT&S’s Austrian factory, which is developing new circuit design strategies surrounding embedded and active components. Gerald Weis discusses the company’s focus on serving and educating PCB designers around the world, as well as their plans to embrace the latest technology and Industry 4.0 processes going forward.

Upcoming IPC APEX EXPO Offers Sessions on 5G

Dave Hoover of TTM discusses the Sessions @ the Intersection set for IPC APEX EXPO 2020—specifically, the two-part session he will host around the topic of 5G and materials.

Residual/Free TBBPA in FR-4

Sergei Levchik describes how testing has shown that FR-4 printed circuit boards do not contain free or residual tetrabromobisohenol-A (TBBPA).

Are ISO Procedures Strangling Innovation?

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

Fresh Thinking on the Logistics of Laminate Distribution

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

Flexibility Is Key to Direct Imaging Success

Brendan F. Hogan, managing director of MivaTek, explains that while each industry has its own set of requirements and difficulties, the lines between semiconductor and PCB markets are blurring, demanding more flexibility from equipment suppliers.

Todd Westerhoff on the Value of Solid Design Skills

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

Meet John Watson, I-Connect007 Columnist

Meet John Watson, CID, one of our newest I-Connect007 columnists! John has been in the electronics industry for 40 years, with 20 of them being in PCB design, and is now a senior PCB engineer for Legrand Corporation. Read "Elementary, Mr. Watson" in Design007 Week Newsletter.


The World of PCBs: Anything But Boring

Andy Shaughnessy had the chance to catch up with Megan Teta, CID+, product manager of design and education services at Insulectro. Megan explains why she’s excited to become more involved in training and why the world of PCBs is anything but boring, contrary to popular opinion.

Chris Banton is Bullish on New Tech

Chris Banton is the director of marketing for EMA Design Automation. He and Andy Shaughnessy discuss the need to train the next generation of designers, advent technologies like AI and machine learning, and why companies like EMA are using these advancements to help designers with today’s complex PCBs.

Bryan LaPointe: A Great Time to Be Working With Technology

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

What You Need to Know About the Digital Factory

Barry Matties spoke with Oren Manor, director of business development for Mentor, A Siemens Business, during productronica about the many benefits of a digital factory and what’s keeping companies from becoming one. Oren also gives examples of big data analytics along with the move to a lot size of one.

What You Need to Know About a PCB Design Career

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

The Value of Education and Communication

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

Planning a Successful Technical Conference

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

Top 10 Most-Read Design News Stories of 2019

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

Top 10 Most-Read Design Articles of 2019

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

Top 10 Most-Read Design Columns of 2019

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


Wi-Fi 6: Wired vs. Wireless

We all know that it makes no sense to get the latest device just because they come out with a new one every year. Sure, post-millennials tend to want a new phone every year, but most of us are well past that. However, as the competitive nature of the consumer tech industry continues to increase, the rate of change is also accelerating, as is the peer pressure to upgrade. Non-techies get new phones every year, techies get new CPU and GPUs every two years, average consumers get bigger and higher-res TVs every three years, and on it goes.

Is Captive Making a Comeback?

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

Insulectro Works to Bridge the Fabricator/Designer Gap

Barry Matties sat down with Insulectro’s Megan Teta and Mike Creeden to discuss trends they see in the materials market and how they’re working to bridge the gap between fabrication and design, including helping designers understand what they can do to make a board more manufacturable.

Utilizing AI in CAD Library Development

Nolan Johnson speaks with Chico Wu of Footprintku, a company using artificial intelligence (AI) to help fill gaps in CAD library development by partnering with design teams on things like addressing resource shortages and automating custom design rulesets while also eliminating other manual steps in the process.

The Viability of a Cyanide-free Immersion Gold Bath

The Tianjin chemical blast in August 2015 sensitized the Chinese authorities to the use of cyanide in production. As a consequence, the authorities have introduced licensing with regard to the use of cyanide. In turn, this has motivated Chinese PCB manufacturers to ask suppliers for a competent cyanide-free immersion gold solution (CNF Au).

Digi-Key on Adapting to the Changing Industry Landscape, Part 2

The I-Connect007 editorial team recently spoke with Chris Beeson, executive vice president of global suppliers and new business development at Digi-Key Electronics, about trends and the changing landscape of the industry. In the second half of this interview, Beeson discusses the EDA tools market, and how Digi-Key works with PCB designers to present the most efficient, seamless process for selecting components.

Designing for Complex PCBs

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

AltiumLive Frankfurt 2019: Happy Holden Keynote

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

AltiumLive Frankfurt 2019: Carl Schattke Keynote

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

What Does Intelligent Routing Look Like?

Many PCB design projects miss schedule commitments by 70% due to delayed routing and lack of automation. Moreover, due to late-stage design changes, schedules are not met, and the addition of those new items takes 10 times longer or more to incorporate than if changes were added from the beginning. Fortunately, over the past several years, powerful routing capabilities have been added that allow designers to address a number of specific, critical tasks.


Martyn Gaudion Discusses Backdrilling Software

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

Oren Manor on the Siemens-Mentor Integration

In this video interview, part of the productronica coverage, the I-Connect007 team speaks with Oren Manor, director of business development for Siemens, in the Siemens booth. Oren introduces us to the in-booth production equipment that integrates factory automation, motion controls, and MES solutions. He points out that the recent effort to automate SMT lines is now expanding into the areas of final assembly, box build, and manual assembly as well.

AltiumLive Frankfurt 2019: Rick Hartley Keynote

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

A Radical New Design Perspective

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

University Rover Challenge Tests Student Teams

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

Lee Ritchey on the Direction of PCB Design

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

Communication, Part 6: The Importance of Technology Fit

In the final installment of this series on how PCB fabricators and designers can better communicate, Bob Chandler from CA Design and Mark Thompson from Prototron Circuits discuss the importance of “technology fit” and how this concept impacts the synergy of the two parties involved.

Dugan Karnazes Discusses His New Startup

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

Design For Excellence: Karen McConnell on Standards

During the IPC Summer Meetings, I spoke with Karen McConnell, senior staff CAD CAM engineer with Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. Karen is a veteran PCB designer as well as an IPC committee chair and mentor. She offered an update on some of the IPC committees she chairs, the need for more mentor programs in this industry, and why you can call something a ham sandwich if you define it correctly in the standard.

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

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


Happy Holden Previews His AltiumLive Frankfurt Keynote

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

ODB++: Transforming Ideas Into Products

The ODB format originated with the objective of delivering on this need. The format was originally introduced for use by PCB fabricators, eliminating the need for a collection of CAM files in multiple formats—such as Gerber, Excellon, IPC-356, or even IPC-350, which was an early attempt to simplify this process. The key to the success of ODB was that it obtained industry acceptance.

Words of Advice: What Data Format do you Send Your Assembly Provider?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What PCB data format(s) do you send to your PCB assembly supplier? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Insertion Loss Performance Differences Due to Plated Finish and Circuit Structure

Data will be presented for loss versus frequency for six different plated finishes commonly used in the PCB industry, and opinions will be offered as to why the loss behavior differs for the different plated finishes and for the different circuit configurations. Because the insertion loss of high-frequency circuits also depends on substrate thickness, circuits fabricated on substrates with different thicknesses will be evaluated to analyze the effects of substrate thickness on insertion loss.

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

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

Robert Feranec: A Lifetime of PCB Design

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

Pulsonix Is Bullish on Next-gen Designers

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

EIPC Summer Conference 2019, Day 1

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

SimplifyDA’s Floorplanning Tool Optimizes Autorouting

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

AltiumLive Q&A With Keynote Speaker Eric Bogatin

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


Decoupling Capacitors’ Impact on Power and Signal Integrity

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

The Impact of Inductance on Impedance of Decoupling Capacitors

This article discusses the impact of interconnection inductance on the impedance of the decoupling capacitor, which influences the power integrity of the PCB. The investigation is performed with 3DEM simulation by varying the trace length and height of stitching vias that connect the decoupling capacitor across the power rail and ground.

Altium Designer 19.0 Features Printed Electronics Design Functions

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

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

The Microvia Summit on May 16 was a special feature of the 2019 event in Baltimore, since microvia challenges and reliability issues have become of great concern to the PCB manufacturing industry. It provided updates on the work of members of the IPC V-TSL-MVIA Weak Interface Microvia Failures Technology Solutions Subcommittee and opportunities to learn about latest developments in methods to reveal and explain the presence of latent defects, identify causes and cures, and be able to consistently and confidently supply reliable products.

Mentor Tools: Optimized for Flex and Rigid-flex Design

With the launch of the new Flex007 section in Design007 Magazine, we asked David Wiens, product marketing manager with Mentor, a Siemens Business, to tell us about their tools’ flex and rigid-flex design capabilities. As David explains, today’s higher-end design software tools are optimized for flex design, making workarounds a thing of the past.

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

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

Words of Advice: Where Do You Get Involved in the Design Process?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: Where in the process do you typically get involved with a design project? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Identifying Product Board Class and Pre-quote Software

Deciding on the class of the final product will determine what files are needed for fabrication and assembly. It is critical to note that for a product to be built to any class level, it must be designed to that class level from its inception.

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

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

Pulsonix 10.5 Development Driven by Customer Demand

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


Words of Advice: Where Do You Get Involved in the Design Process?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: Where in the process do you typically get involved with a design project? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Libraries: A Must-have for Design

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

Stitching Capacitor: Crosstalk Mitigation for Return Path Discontinuity

When the return path is broken due to the switching of reference planes with different potential, e.g., from ground to power or vice versa after layer transition on PCB, the return current might detour and propagate on a longer path, which causes a rise in loop inductance. This might lead to the sharing of a common return path by different signals that pose a high risk of interference among the signals due to higher mutual inductance. This interference results in signal crosstalk. To mitigate the crosstalk due to return path discontinuity (RPD), stitching capacitors are mounted on the PCB to serve as a bridge between the two reference planes of interest on different PCB layers.

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

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

The GraftWorx Fluid Management Patch Story

The GraftWorx vision is to connect patients to clinicians with clinical data that will have a meaningful impact on their care. Its first application is to monitor patients with end-stage renal disease or kidney failure using a wearable device called the SmartPatch that records numerous clinical cardiovascular metrics. This article details how GraftWorx was designed, fabricated, and assembled.

Freedom CAD Book Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Executing Complex PCBs

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Executing Complex PCBs," written by Scott Miller of Freedom CAD Services.

Mentor’s EDA Perspective on Managing Design Rules

I recently spoke with Dave Wiens, product manager, and Mike Santarini, EDA content director of corporate marketing, both of Mentor, a Siemens business, about design rules and constraints, and what their customers want regarding design rules. They explained how EDA companies like Mentor help designers constrain for performance while avoiding over-constraining and increasing the cost of the board and also being manufacturing-aware.

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

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

Words of Advice: When do You Get Involved in the PCB Design Cycle?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: Where in the process do you typically get involved with a design project? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Technically Appropriate Material Choices are Key to Design Success

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


Smart Design Data Is Essential for Industry 4.0 Manufacturing

Almost all of the conversation regarding Industry 4.0 is centered on the manufacturing floor, which is where the effect of the initiative is most felt initially. Little attention is given to the starting data for manufacturing—the data that comes from design. However, you can’t have smart manufacturing if your process begins with dumb data. As Pink Floyd said, “You can’t have your pudding if you don’t eat your meat!”

XPLM: Using PLM to Integrate ECAD and MCAD Data

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

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

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

An Experienced Millennial on Hiring the Next Generation

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

Preparing to Enter the Workforce With PCB Design Experience

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

PCB Design Is All in the Family With Nicole Pacino

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

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

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

Andy Johnson: EDA a Great Field for Young People

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

Kelly Dack at IPC APEX EXPO: The Attendees Speak!

During IPC APEX EXPO, Guest Editor Kelly Dack and the I-Connect team roamed the show floor, recorders in hand. They asked various attendees for their impressions of the show, and any new tools and technology that may have caught their attention. These are their stories.

EIPC Winter Conference, Day 2

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


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

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

SimplifyDA: Time for a New Autorouter Paradigm?

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

Bert Simonovich on Modeling Copper Roughness

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

3DEM Modeling: Influence of Metal Plating on PCB Channel Loss and Impedance

This article briefly introduces different types of metal plating commonly used in PCB fabrication. Subsequently, the influence of metal plating on PCB channel loss (i.e., insertion loss or S21) and impedance (i.e., time domain reflectometry or TDR) is studied with 3DEM modeling,

Mentor’s Cristian Filip Discusses His Award-winning DesignCon Paper

During DesignCon, I met with Cristian Filip, a senior product architect with Mentor, a Siemens business. Cristian had just received word that his paper had won a DesignCon Best Paper award—his second such award in three years. I asked Cristian to discuss his paper and how this technology can help improve manufacturing yields at high volumes.

EMA: Cadence Moves Simulation Further Up in the Design Cycle

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

Cherie Litson on ECAD/MCAD and Training the Next Generation

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

Todd Westerhoff Discusses His New Position and Much More

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

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

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

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

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


Words of Advice: What Concerns you About the Future?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What concerns do you have about the future? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

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

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

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

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

Words of Advice: Flex Design and Manufacturing Training

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: Where do your technologists acquire training or expertise regarding flexible circuits? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Oren Manor Details New Camstar Electronics Suite

In this video interview, Nolan Johnson meets with Oren Manor—director of business development for Mentor, a Siemens Business—to discuss the introduction of their new Camstar Electronics Suite software, an innovative manufacturing execution system (MES) for electronics.

AltiumLive Munich: Day 2 Keynotes

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

AltiumLive Munich: Day 1 Keynotes

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

Happy Anniversary, Gerber Format: Looking Ahead to Digital Innovation

This year, we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the introduction of the Gerber machine language format. We can thank H. Joseph Gerber, the man who took manual PCB design to the next level with the automated photoplotter, for giving us this format in 1964. Gerber immigrated to the United States in 1940 with his mother following the death of his father during the Holocaust. Gerber started Gerber Scientific Instrument Company in 1948 to commercialize his first patented invention—the variable scale.

AltiumLive Munich Draws Designers from Around Europe

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

The Quest for Perfect Design Data Packages

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


Mentor and Seica Partner for Data Prep and Testing Big Boards

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

Altium Prepares for Munich Show as Growth Continues

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

January 2019 Issue of Design007 Magazine Available Now

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

Rainer Beerhalter Discusses His AltiumLive Munich Presentation

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

Words of Advice: Design Challenges

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

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

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

Susy Webb: The History and Future of the Designers Council

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

Effects of PCB Fiber Weave on High-Speed Signal Integrity

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

Dock Brown on Succeeding at Failure Analysis

Dock Brown of DfR Solutions gave a keynote speech at SMTAI, “Requirements for Both Cleaning and Coating to Building Medical Hardware.” Barry Matties and Happy Holden sat down with Dock to discuss the current trends he sees in failure analysis, the concept of “rules versus tools,” and how predictive engineering software used early in the design cycle can help predict failures in components and microvias and drive cost down.

Randy Burcham Discusses New Techniques for BOM, Daughterboards

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


Martin Cotton’s Parting Shot

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

Words of Advice: Streamlining Your Design Process

In a recent Design007 Survey, we asked the following question: What would help you streamline your design process? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Mentor Discusses New DFT, DFM, and Design Verification Tools

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

Rick Almeida Discusses DownStream's Latest News

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

Martyn Gaudion on Signal Integrity Modelling and Stackup Tools

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

Words of Advice: Fabricator Feedback?

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

New Grad Designs PCBs for Smart Baby Beds

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

Impact of Serpentine Routing on Multi-gigabit Signal Transmission

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

Life Beyond 10 Gbps: Localize or Fail!

Ideally, all interconnects should look like uniform transmission lines (or wave-guiding structures) with the specified characteristic impedance. In reality, an interconnect link is typically composed of transmission lines of different types (microstrip, strip, coplanar, coaxial, etc.) and transitions between them such as vias, connectors, breakouts and so on. Transmission lines may be coupled to each other that cause crosstalk. The transitions may reflect and radiate energy due to discontinuities in signal and reference conductors. The crosstalk, reflections and radiation cause unwanted and sometime unpredictable signal degradation.

Achieving Minimal Crosstalk in Multi-board Interconnect

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


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

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

Julie Ellis: Communication and Fabrication Knowledge Critical for Designers

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

Max Seeley’s PCB Design Career is No Fish Story

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

Pulsonix Expands into North America with Version 10 Release

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

Amway Sells Beauty Products—and Designs its Own PCBs

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

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

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

Altium Designer Increasingly Used for High-Speed Design

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

Catching up With Scott McCurdy and Freedom CAD

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

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

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

RTW SMTAI: PalPilot on Adding Value to Design and Assembly

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


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

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

Mentor and TEXMAC Takaya Team up to Optimize DFT

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

Simon Fried: Additive Manufacturing Through Printed Electronics

Simon Fried, president of Nano Dimension, discusses how the company has taken the additive manufacturing process to the next level through printed electronics. He also shares his thoughts on the growing demand for 3D circuits, as well as how this could potentially be a game-changer for PCB designers.

Cadence: Bullish on AI

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

Artificial Intelligence: The Future of EDA?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been making inroads into a variety of industries in the past decade or so, from automobiles to medical devices. Naturally, EDA tool companies are taking a look at AI. Does AI offer a way forward for PCB design tool developers? I recently interviewed Paul Musto, director of marketing for the Board Systems Division of Mentor. We discussed Mentor’s plans for integrating AI into EDA tools, and why we may be at the very beginning of understanding the pros and cons of this new technology.

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

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

AltiumLive 2018 a Mecca for PCB Designers

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

John R. Watson Returns to AltiumLive in San Diego

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

AltiumLive to Feature Altium Designer 19 Release

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

Lee Ritchey Returns to AltiumLive with 32 Gbps Design Class

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


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

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

PCB Design Challenges: A Package Designer’s Perspective

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

The Impact of PCB Dielectric Thickness on Signal Crosstalk

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

Mentor Preparing for Next-Gen PCB Designers

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

In With the New at Cadence

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

Help Wanted: PCB Design Layout Specialist

I was told recently that the designer, aka the PCB layout specialist, is a dying breed soon to be extinct. I wish to reassure my fellow designers that, in my opinion, you are in the catbird seat. You are in hot demand and you should have great opportunities for the remainder of your career. By the way, after reading this article, you may feel empowered to go ask for a raise. Please don’t tell your manager that I sent you!

Susy Webb: Training the New Generation of Designers

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

Thermal Management Materials: Easing the Decision-Making Process

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

Multi-board Design with Altium’s Ben Jordan

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

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

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


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

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

Dave Wiens Discusses Multi-board Design Techniques

For our multi-board design issue, I interviewed Dave Wiens, product marketing manager for Mentor, a Siemens business. We discussed how the multi-board design technique differs from laying out single boards, along with the planning, simulation and analysis processes required to design multi-board systems.

DFM: Top Ten PCB Concerns

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

Paving the Way for 400Gb Ethernet and 5G

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

Faster Board Speeds Demand Constraint-Driven Design

Using powerful constraint techniques can be a double-edged sword. While the design process is made much safer by including constraints, it is all too easy to over-constrain the design and make it impossible to complete routing and placement. Even paper design guidelines can make products uneconomic to produce unless a great deal of engineering knowledge is applied during the design.

APCT Moves into Rigid-Flex with Cartel, Cirtech Acquisition

When I spoke with APCT President Steve Robinson a year ago, he said he was interested in adding flex and rigid-flex capabilities, and working closely with designers and engineers. With the recent acquisition of Cartel and their subsidiary Cirtech, APCT now has a flex and rigidflex facility, along with military and aerospace certifications. At DesignCon 2018, I asked Steve to discuss these acquisitions and what they mean for APCT and their customers.

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

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

Mark Thompson: What Designers Need to Know about Fab

Mark Thompson wants to help PCB designers. He’s seen it all in CAM support at Prototron Circuits: the incomplete or inaccurate data packages, boards that are unnecessarily complex or over-constrained, and so much more. Mark just returned to writing his popular Design007 Magazine column, The Bare (Board) Truth, which addresses questions such as, “What happens to your design at CAM?” I asked Mark to explain why it’s so important for designers to communicate with their fabricators, and why they need to get out of the office and visit a board shop every now and then.

Field Trip: CID Class Sees How Flex is Made at Streamline Circuits

While I was teaching my CID class for EPTAC in Santa Clara, I learned that we were only a block away from Streamline Circuits. Streamline does a lot of military and aerospace work, as well as communications and industrial electronics. The company manufactures quite a bit of multilayer flex and rigid-flex circuits, in addition to rigid boards. This would make a great field trip for my CID class!

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

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


Design and Manufacturing Perspectives from DISH Technology’s Les Beller

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

ITEQ Ready for Autonomous and Electric Vehicles of the Future

During DesignCon 2018, I spoke with Tarun Amla, the executive vice president and CTO of ITEQ. We discussed ITEQ’s future plans, including the development of materials for cutting-edge technology needs, such as autonomous and electric vehicles, as well as 5G technology.

EDADOC: A Driving Force in China's Automotive Electronics Design

EDADOC is one of the biggest providers of PCB design and manufacturing services in China, with a long history in automotive electronics design and manufacturing. China Editor Edy Yu recently conducted an email interview with EDADOC R&D Technical Research Manager William Zhou and Brand Planning Specialist Wen Ling, who collaborated on their answers. We discussed the challenges related to designing and fabricating automotive PCBs, the opportunities in this segment, and the trends they see in the market for autonomous and electric vehicles.

American Standard Circuits Discusses New RF/Microwave eBook

During DesignCon 2018, I met with Anaya Vardya and John Bushie of American Standard Circuits. Anaya and John recently co-wrote an eBook, published by I-Connect007, titled "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to Fundamentals of RF/Microwave PCBs." We discussed their goals and the scope of this handy microbook, which features plenty of information that even high-speed digital designers can benefit from.

Expert Discussion: Dan Feinberg on Automotive Electronics

A fixture at the Consumer Electronics Show, Dan Feinberg has been covering autonomous, hybrid and electric vehicles for years, along with the rapid growth of high-tech electronic gadgetry in traditional vehicles. In this freewheeling expert discussion, Dan spoke with Barry Matties, Patty Goldman, and Happy Holden about the future of auto electronics and what it all means to the PCB industry.

Zuken Pulling Ahead in Automotive PCB Design

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

Interview: Incoming and Outgoing Presidents of Polar Instruments

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

Porsche Engineering…by Design

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

Fadi Deek Discusses Mentor’s New Power Integrity eBook

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

Jan Pedersen: CircuitData Enhances Current Data Formats

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


Martin Cotton Discusses Ventec’s New Book and Low-Loss Materials

During DesignCon 2018, Andy Shaughnessy sat down for an interview with Martin Cotton, director of OEM projects for Ventec. Martin was a PCB designer for years, so he has experience on both sides of the desk. They discussed Ventec’s reasons for coming to DesignCon, their expansion into low-loss materials, and Ventec’s new I-Connect007 book, The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates.

Mentor’s HyperLynx Automates SERDES Channel Design

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

Julie Ellis: TTM’s Interface Between Designer and Fabricator

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

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

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

South African Electronics Industry Going Strong

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

SnapEDA Harnesses Technology in Providing Verified Parts

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

Worldwide Systems Consulting: Tools, Process, People

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Ucamco's New Tools for Designers, Fabricators

European Editor Pete Starkey and Ucamco partner Luc Maesen discuss Ucamco's newest solutions for PCB designers and fabricators, YELO (Yield Enhancing Layout Optimizer) and Communic8tor. Both of these products were recently launched for users in the North American market.

IPC-2581 Demo Draws a Crowd at IPC APEX EXPO

During IPC APEX EXPO 2018, the IPC-2581 Consortium held a demo of this open-source data transfer standard, attracting numerous designers, fabricators and assembly providers. Jim Pierce of Axiom Electronics and Bob Miklosey of Aegis Software sat down to discuss the demo and their involvement with the consortium. Axiom now charges more for designs submitted in the Gerber format.

MakeHarvard 2018: The Super Bowl of Makeathons

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


Still Using 1980s Formats for Design Data Handoff?

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

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

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

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

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

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Valor Tool Benefits from Merging Mentor, Siemens Technologies

Oren Manor, director of business development, discusses the convergence of the electrical and mechanical discplines made possible through Mentor's merger with Siemens. Manor also explains how Mentor's Valor platform now utilizes Siemens' "digital twin" concept.

Frontline's InStack Viewer Helps Designers and Fabricators

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

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

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

Real Time with... DesignCon: Mentor Partners with Sintecs on EU Project

During DesignCon 2018, Guest Editor Kelly Dack interviewed Sintecs' CEO Evert Pap and system architect Hans Klos in the Mentor booth. Sintecs used Mentor's software tools to design the dReDBox, a virtual prototype project funded by the European Union.

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

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

Entering—and Enjoying—the Industry

I was recently given the opportunity to write an article for our publication. Being somewhat new to this industry, I figured it would be a good idea to write an introduction on how I got into electronics—specifically the part most people my age don’t give thought to.

Who Really Owns the PCB Layout? Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, Paul Taubman made the bold statement that the PCB layout is just as much a mechanical effort as it is an electrical one. In Part 2, he threads the needle, explaining why he believes that a PCB truly a mechatronic design, and why mechanical engineers may be more prepared to take on the PCB layout.


EMA Cloud Lined with Capability

Editor Kelly Dack speaks with EMA Design Automation Marketing Manager Chris Banton about the company's new free cloud-based OrCAD schematic capture tool, OrCAD's design constraint manager, and the Sigrity electrical rule checker.

Rogers Continues Expansion into High-Speed Digital Materials

Mahyar Vahabzadeh discusses a paper presented by his colleague Dr. Allen Horn at DesignCon. He also explains some of the different characteristics Rogers has discovered as they move from RF into high-speed digital materials.

Mentor Focusing on Power and Signal Integrity

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

A Conversation with Dorine Gurney, New President of Polar Instruments

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

Fully Automated Schematic Verification

Schematic verification is a part of the hardware engineer’s responsibility just as PCB layout verification is an accepted part of the PCB designer’s responsibility. However, with today’s circuit designs becoming more and more complex, time-consuming manual schematic verification is no longer an option. Manual verification of a complex circuit introduces significant risk by not identifying schematic design errors that are, in turn, passed to the downstream processes and ultimately to the fabricated board.

Pulsonix Ready for 2018

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

What’s New in EDA: The Experts Discussion

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

Thermal Management Update with Doug Brooks

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

PCB Cooling Strategies, Part 1

With the development of communication and IT industries and the ever-increasing demand for information analysis, many chip makers have racked their brains trying to provide customers with better technology, such as increased computing power and storage capacity of chips as well as diversifying their product offerings.

Dr. Johannes Adam Gets Hot on Thermal Management

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


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