Article Highlights
EMA President Manny Marcano: EDA Tools Are Essential
04/03/2020 | Andy Shaughnessy, I-Connect007
I-Connect007 Survey: DFM, Signal Integrity Knowledge Most Important Job Criteria
04/03/2020 | I-Connect007 Research Team
Arlon Takes on High-Power Failure
04/02/2020 | Real Time with...IPC
The Formation of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association
04/02/2020 | Patty Goldman, I-Connect007
Advances in Medical Diagnostics Using LoC and LoPCB Technologies
03/31/2020 | Pete Starkey and Happy Holden, I-Connect007

Latest Articles

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.

'Coatings Uncoated!' Webinar Series and Automotive Industry Trends

Phil Kinner, global business/technical director of Electrolube’s coatings division, tells Pete Starkey about the positive impact of the “Coatings Uncoated!” webinar series and comments on how the company has responded to the changes in the focus of the automotive industry.

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

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

Arlon Takes on High-Power Failure

In this video interview from IPC APEX EXPO, Pete Starkey and Dave Nelson, director of business development at Arlon Electronic Materials, explore causes of failure in high-power PCBs and explain how resin cracking during drilling can be overcoming using thermally conductive filled resin.

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.

IPC’s Dr. John Mitchell Commends U.S. Manufacturers and Governors

On March 31, Dr. John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, gave Barry Matties an update on the industry response to COVID-19 since their conversation on March 20. Mitchell provides an overall update on the industry, commending U.S. manufacturers for their proactive responses.

Industry Outlook With Siemens’ Fram Akiki

In this video interview from the show, Editor Dan Feinberg speaks with Fram Akiki, VP of electronic and semiconductor industries for Siemens, about the biggest challenges in the electronics industry. They also discuss major industry trends, including smart connected devices used in autonomous transportation and robotics, increased complexity, and a reduced time to market.

Advances in Medical Diagnostics Using LoC and LoPCB Technologies

Several techniques for detection and diagnosis of COVID-19 are currently under development, some of which may detect the novel virus exclusively; others may also detect strains that are genetically similar. A detection kit recently announced uses technology based on a portable lab-on-chip (LoC) platform capable of detecting, identifying, and differentiating MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and COVID-2019 in a single test.


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.

BGA Standard Update With Ray Prasad

In this video interview from the show, Ray Prasad, president of Ray Prasad Consultancy Group, updates Guest Editor Joe Fjelstad on the ongoing work with the BGA standard and the latest revision that is going to ballot.

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

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

I-Connect007 COVID-19 Outbreak Research Survey Results

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

EPTAC Preparing Young People for Future in Industry

In this video interview from the show, Guest Editor Kelly Dack and Leo Lambert, VP/technical director of EPTAC Corporation, describe the impact of internships and apprenticeships, the importance of IPC specifications, the effectiveness of certification.

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

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

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

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

This Month in PCB007 Magazine: A Scorecard for Suppliers

Al Block and Naji Norder from National Instruments talk about the PCQR2 tool, what that entails, and how companies can use the data-driven analysis to validate the quality of suppliers and potentially save millions.

InduBond Gets Hot With Induction Heating Lamination

In this video interview from the show, Editor Nolan Johnson sat down to speak with Víctor Lázaro, InduBond’s R&D director and technical manager, about InduBond's latest technology for panel lamination utilizing induction heating. InduBond demonstrates a lamination oven on the IPC APEX EXPO show floor, as well as the advantages of the technology.

What It Takes to Be a Milaero Supplier, Part 2

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 2, Anaya Vardya focuses on what it takes to be a milaero supplier in the areas of engineering and CAM.


IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Heston Singh

"We have been coming here for many years, and we had another good experience this year," said Unitron's Heston Singh. "If it wasn’t good, we wouldn’t be coming back. They have products that are needed for this market, so we’ll be back every year."

IPC Chief Economist Dr. Shawn DuBravac Shares Industry's Financial Outlook

On March 23, IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., CFA, spoke with I-Connect007 publisher Barry Matties in an exclusive phone interview immediately following DuBravac’s online briefing to IPC member attendees.

Audio Interview With IPC President and CEO Dr. John Mitchell: COVID-19 Global Industry Update

On March 20, Dr. John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, spoke with I-Connect007 publisher Barry Matties in an exclusive phone interview with updates on COVID-19-related current events in the manufacturing industry. In this information-packed 14-minute audio interview, Dr. Mitchell shared key takeaways from Friday’s IPC Executive Forum conference call.

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.

Best Practices Highlighted at the 2020 IPC EMS Management Meeting

The key challenge at the top of EMS leaders’ minds during roundtable discussions was the lack of skilled workers. Leaders brainstormed solutions like creative identification and sourcing of talent outside of the manufacturing sphere, leveraging the flexibility of smaller businesses to make changes attractive to potential employees as well as cooperation with IPC and other talent development programs. John Mitchell updated the group on the IPC Education Foundation (IPCEF) and workforce initiatives to build and support workforce needs. The group welcomed Andy Marris of MRA, who discussed motivating and engaging an existing workforce to create a competitive advantage.

DownStream: Smoothing out the Post-Processing Bumps

In this video interview from the show, Joe Clark, co-founder of DownStream Technologies, gives Guest Editor 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.

Trends From the Show: Solder and Software

In my role as a media representative, my perspective on IPC APEX EXPO may be a bit different from that of many attendees. Since the I-Connect007 team had the opportunity to talk to many attendees and exhibitors and listen to their stories over the course of the week, our view can be particularly wide. When I reflected on all the conversations, pieces from all throughout the week coalesced and provided a different understanding of and takeaway from the show.

Are Trade Shows at a Crossroads?

With the cancellation of this year’s E3 show, the biggest gamer conference, the event’s format is shifting to a more fluid, online communication method. This may be the wave of the future. Can you imagine if the COVID-19 outbreak had occurred just three months earlier? Would there have been a Consumer Electronics Show, DesignCon, or IPC APEX EXPO? If the coronavirus is still in play in six months, will these shows take place in 2021?

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Travis Smith and Mindy Sanchez

"I’m seeing a lot of great manufacturers and different equipment that’s available in the market, as well as new, emerging technologies," said Travis Smith of Ball Aerospace. "I’m learning a lot more about some of IPC’s standards and committees as well. It has been a fantastic week of educating ourselves for manufacturing processes going forward. And the IPC booth has a wealth of information."

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Camille Sybert

"There’s a need for flexible solutions, so people are trying to make the most of the equipment that they buy, and they want to have the equipment that’s able to be flexible in scale with what it is that they’re looking for," said Camille Sybert of Nordson Electronics Solutions. "We have customers asking about future capabilities that they might not be ready for right now, but they want to know that it’s something that can be easily integrated into their processes in the future, as they’re in a position to better be able to do so."


Show & Tell Feature: New Developments and Opportunities

“Elevate the Excellence of Electronics” was the theme for this year’s IPC APEX EXPO. As expected, the show set the bar high with technical sessions, professional development sessions, committee meetings, numerous networking opportunities, and an exhibitor list that included all aspects of the electronics supply chain. Columnist Tara Dunn explains how she repeatedly found herself interested in multiple sessions being hosted at the same time, and having to pick and choose which session to attend.

Design007 Survey: Profitability in Your Design Process

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What part does profitability play in your PCB design planning process? Here are a few of the comments, edited slightly for clarity.

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.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Jered Stoehr

"What I like is the CFX and the Hermes standards and the little flags, showing IPC-CFX supporters," said Jered Stoehr. "It’s nice to see the data standards for how these machines are connecting and communicating."

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.

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

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

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

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

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Gerry Padnos

"Overall, it has been a successful show for us," said Gerry Padnos. "We have mainly seen serious shoppers, not just window shoppers. We have done a lot of good work here, and we have a lot of interest in our products."

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.”


IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Caleb Buck

"I am a PCB designer and an electrical engineer," said Caleb Buck of EaglePicher Technologies. "I’m not involved in the manufacturing, but I tell manufacturers what to do via my drawings. I had an interest in learning more about the IPC standards, my manufacturer’s capabilities, and some of the tools they use."

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Scott Pohlmann

"As a salesman, my job is to make sure I stay on the cutting edge of technology," said Scott Pohlmann of Milwaukee Electronics. "When our customers ask for certain features that they need on their equipment or performance, I need to know what the state-of-the-art equipment, profiles, and procedures are out there.

Inspiring Next-Generation Engineers Through STEM

Through the STEM Student Outreach Program, IPC invites high school students to visit IPC APEX EXPO for a day. Last year, they had about 100 participating students, and this year, it doubled. The program is designed to introduce students to our industry at a younger age. During one event planned for them, the students had a chance to participate in a hands-on soldering track, creating wearable buttons to take home with them.

Joe Fjelstad Breaks Down His Occam Process

Joe Fjelstad recently met with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team to discuss the potential benefits of his Occam process for solderless assembly. This technique allows assembly of the PCB without the risks associated with traditional surface-mount processes, such as solder joint failure. Has the time come for the industry to embrace Occam?

NCAB: A ‘Hub’ That Works With Designers From Start to Finish

In this video interview from the show, Guest Editor Kelly Dack meets with Ruben Contreras, field applications engineer at NCAB Group, and Shaun Salas, key account manager. They discuss a variety of ways to overcome challenges with tariffs and broker relationships, as well as emphasizing upstream expertise and how the company operates as a "hub." Part of NCAB’s objective is to work with designers and design engineers to make the board more manufacturable.

Burt Rutan’s Keynote: SpaceShipOne

In this video clip from his presentation, Burt Rutan discusses some of his aircraft’s revolutionary flights that drew the most public attention, including SpaceShipOne, which flew three of the five manned space flights launched by man in 2004. He also explains the benefits of working with Microsoft’s Paul Allen, who agreed to fund SpaceShipOne based on a simple handshake.

David Bergman: CFX a Key Ingredient of Smart Factories

In this video interview from the show, Jennie Hwang and David Bergman, IPC's VP of standards and training, address the use of CFX to facilitate plug-and-play smart factories. IPC APEX EXPO 2020 offered a variety of demonstrations of CFX, IPC’s Connected Factory Exchange.

Rogers Continues to Grow and Adapt

In this video interview from the show, Guest Editor Judy Warner and Tony Mattingly, senior product manager at Rogers Corporation, discuss the state of materials at the company, as well as the Rogers innovation centers the company has opened recently.

Insulectro: Educating Designers About High-Speed Materials

In this video interview from the show, Ken Parent, Insulectro's VP of sales and product manager, speaks with Guest Editor Kelly Dack about the company's efforts to educate engineers and designers about materials and their options and availability. Insulectro has held a series of PCB design classes and plans to keep educating designers about these high-speed materials.

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.


Randy Cherry: IPC Validation Services Continues to Expand

In this video interview from the show, Randy Cherry, IPC's director of validation services, gives Guest Editor Judy Warner his annual update on IPC's Validation Services, which is growing along with ever-increasing IoT and connectivity.

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

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

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.

The Success of IPC’s STEM Student Outreach Program

The IPC Education Foundation (IPCEF) hosted its STEM Student Outreach Event on February 6 at IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego. Nine local high schools attended bringing 193 students and 30 educators from Mission Hills High School, Morse High School, North County Trade Tech High School, Saint Marcos High School, E3 Civic High School, Point Loma High School, Otay Ranch High School, Mount Miguel High School, Otay Ranch High School—Girls in STEM. Twice as many students were able to participate this year, and each participating high school received a $1,000 grant and soldering station to enhance STEM-related learning at their school.

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.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Katie Carl

"We have a wide range of kids. All of them have some sort of interest in technology, which is why they wanted to come in general," said Katie Carl, a high school teacher escorting a group of kids at IPC APEX EXPO. "It’s neat when they start seeing how these technologies are created because a lot of them have seen robotics or have done a tiny bit of soldering with little circuits, but when they can see how those things are built and created in the industry, it makes it more applicable for them."

Congratulations to Steve Pudles! IPC Hall of Fame 2020 Inductee

With over 32 years spent working with IPC, Steve Pudles was elected to the IPC’s Hall of Fame this year. Patty Goldman spoke with Steve about how he first became involved as well as his time in the organization, including his work with the EMS Management Council.

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.

IPC Government Relations: Focus on Supply Chain Resiliency

During IPC APEX EXPO, Editor Nolan Johnson sat down with Chris Mitchell, VP of global government affairs, to discuss IPC’s latest initiative with industry intelligence programs. As Chris explains, some of these efforts are focused on improving the DoD’s supply chain. This includes moving the DoD from leaded to lead-free components to help avoid millions of dollars in rework. He also discusses the team’s drive to unite with partners around the world and create a truly global organization.


IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Sheryl Long

"It’s a great place to see our customers and other friendly faces," said Sheryl Long, global marketing communications manager for Rogers Corporation. "The traffic has been a little slow this year, but it’s a great place to meet everybody at one spot and to get together and talk about what’s going on in the industry.

Catching up With Flexible Circuit Technologies

Dan Beaulieu catches up with Troy Koopman, president and co-founder of Flexible Circuit Technologies (FCT), and Carey Burkett, the company’s VP of business development. FCT is a full-service flex and rigid-flex supplier.

IPC: Automotive Electronics Segment Exploding

Electronics are increasingly being used in the design of new vehicles, driving IPC activities in standards development to help the industry adapt to building electronics better for the automotive industry. At IPC APEX EXPO 2020 we saw an increase in automotive content throughout the show which also provided opportunities for automotive OEMs and Tier1 suppliers to network.

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

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

Watch and Learn: Not All Acrylics Are Created Equally

How can additional data, including test results, ensure a greater understanding of the most suitable coating for your application? The fifth episode of the popular webinar series, "Coatings Uncoated," is now available to view. Author of "The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to Conformal Coatings for Harsh Environments" and topic expert Phil Kinner from Electrolube shares highly focused educational information on conformal coating and encapsulation.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020: The I-Connect007 Photo Gallery

If you couldn’t make it to IPC APEX EXPO 2020 in San Diego, don’t worry. I-Connect007 was there to cover it all. From “A Night of Happy-ness” through tear-down, our reporters were on hand to document the entire week.

American Standard Circuits: Strong Focus on Military and Aerospace

During IPC APEX EXPO 2020, Joe Fjelstad speaks with Anaya Vardya, president and CEO of American Standard Circuits. In this interview, Anaya shares a variety of recent business updates. He also highlights the company's flex technology and I-Connect007 eBooks on flex and rigid-flex fundamentals, as well as RF and microwave PCBs.

IPC Designers Council Has a New Name: IPC Design

Yes, you read that right. The IPC Designers Council is now known as IPC Design. Many of you have heard secondhand stories about what this change will entail, so I asked IPC to shed some light on this subject. I recently spoke with IPC’s Teresa Rowe and Patrick Crawford about what’s changing, what’s not, and IPC’s plans to provide improved infrastructure for PCB design content and curriculum.

iNEMI: Emerging Technologies Driving Rapid Industry Development

During IPC APEX EXPO, Editor Joe Fjelstad spoke with Grace O'Malley, iNEMI's VP of technical and project operations, about the well-attended roadmap sessions and other iNEMI meetings taking place at the show. Topics covered included emerging applications and how these technologies are driving industry development across the board, and at a fast pace.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: John Mitchell Discusses the Show's Evolution

During IPC APEX EXPO, Technology Editor Dan Feinberg spoke with John Mitchell, CEO and president of IPC, about the event’s evolution from a strictly PCB show into a miniature Consumer Electronics Show, including new ideas and prototypes. They also discussed several new IPC initiatives, including IPC Design.


IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Show Week Time-lapse Video

It was a busy week at IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego, and I-Connect007 was there to cover it all. From set-up to tear down, I-Connect007 captured a four-day time-lapse video of the show floor. We’d like to thank our good friends at MacDermid Alpha for letting us set up our camera in their booth.

IPC APEX EXPO Reflections

The sun may have risen and set on the 2020 edition of IPC APEX EXPO, but the developments from the week in San Diego certainly will linger with us for some time. Editor Nolan Johnson provides a summary of the events at IPC APEX EXPO 2020 in San Diego, California.

Phil Carmichael: IPC Asia Continues Solid Growth

Phil Carmichael, IPC president of Asia Pacific, talks with Barry Matties at the HKPCA show during the first week of December 2019 about the continued growth and increased engagement by Asian member companies with IPC, with over 320 members in standards committees now working on the development of the next-generation standards.

True or False: CFX Edition

Since the release of IPC-2591—Connected Factory Exchange (CFX), Version 1.0—there has been a lot of buzz regarding CFX within the industry from all segments. Still, with all of the buzz, there are also some misconceptions floating around the industry regarding CFX. David Bergman takes some of those statements, using feedback from Subcommittee members, and plays a little game of “True or False: CFX Edition.”

IPC APEX EXPO 2020: Day 2 Review

Wednesday at IPC APEX EXPO drew a fairly steady stream of attendees to the show floor. Exhibitors we spoke with said the visitors were ready to spend some money. Almost everyone said their company was having a good quarter and experiencing slow but consistent growth year over year.

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.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020: Day 1 Review

2020 was a special anniversary year for IPC APEX EXPO: “Celebrating 20 years of excellence in electronics” was the tagline. Pete Starkey provides a review of the Day 1 activities on the show floor and beyond.

‘A Night of Happy-ness’ and 2020 Good for the Industry Awards

The Horton Grand Hotel in San Diego was the site of “A Night of Happy-ness” on the evening of Monday, February 3, 2020. I-Connect007 transformed the Regal Ballroom into a cozy lecture hall with two key objectives: to award the I-Connect007 Good for the Industry awards, and to celebrate the life, achievements, and personality that is industry pioneer Happy Holden.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Dawns on San Diego

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 launched on Tuesday, February 4, and I-Connect007 started its exclusive coverage.

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.


IPC Solder Stencil Task Group—Inviting OEM Input to IPC APEX EXPO Meeting

Jeff Schake of ASM Assembly Systems is chairman of IPC’s Solder Stencil Task Group. In this conversation with Nolan Johnson and Barry Matties, Jeff discusses what they will be meeting about at the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO.

Meet Eran Navick, I-Connect007 Columnist

Meet Eran Navick, one of I-Connect007’s newest columnists! In his columns, Eran will discuss technology around the world, touching on all aspects of PCB technology, especially high technology. Eran has been in the PCB business for over 25 years and held key positions in PCB companies, including as a PCB designer and applications engineer.

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).

DesignCon Kicks Off Its 25th Anniversary Show

DesignCon’s 25th anniversary show got underway yesterday, and the I-Connect007 Editorial Team was there, meeting with some of the industry’s top electronics engineers, technologists and managers

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.

CES: The Main Halls

CES 2020 is now over, and the next round of shows is underway (NAMM is also over now, IPC APEX EXPO is next week, followed by AWE and others). CES displayed electronics related to gaming, monitors, computers, smartwatches, TVs, vehicles, cellphones, etc. However, the effect on the industry and the way we live will be felt until the next CES. The largest and most influential participants are usually found at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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.

What You Need to Know: The High-tech Job Market

Andy Shaughnessy met with Taylor Rousse, an engineering recruiter for Aerotek, a high-tech staffing company, at PCB Carolina to discuss the demands she sees in different industry segments and how it varies region to region. Taylor also offers advice for designers or electrical engineers in the job market, including tips on writing that perfect résumé and the return of the counter-offer.

IPC APEX EXPO Technical Session Preview

Brook Sandy-Smith, IPC technical conference program manager, previews the technical side of IPC APEX EXPO 2020, which includes the customary technical sessions, but also some new wrinkles like the fundamentals program and “sessions @ the intersection” to encourage more interaction.


The IPC Education Foundation’s New Column

The IPC Education Foundation’s new column with I-Connect007 will feature Charlene Gunter du Plessis, Aaron Birney, and Corey Lynn. These IPC Education Foundation members will share updates on programs and activities here. Find out more about the authors below and read "Foundations of the Future" in the SMT007 Week Newsletter.

IPC Validation Services: What to Expect at IPC APEX EXPO 2020

IPC’s Randy Cherry previews what to expect from IPC APEX EXPO 2020, including a full line on display demonstrating CFX/Hermes, further development of the Validation Services program, as well as testimonials from member companies that have been participating in IPC’s new trusted supplier program to the Department of Defense (DoD).

IPC APEX EXPO Technical Conference, Featuring Fundamentals and the Intersection

IPC's Brook Sandy-Smith brings us a preview of the Technical Conference at IPC APEX EXPO 2020. In addition to the Sessions @ the Intersection and the Technical Conference, the Fundamentals Program is new at IPC APEX EXPO 2020. The program provides curated content for industry newcomers and anyone interested in a broader view through the many facets of electronics manufacturing. Attendees will learn important concepts, terminology, and background as preparation for the detailed content on new studies and technologies presented at the technical conference.

Foundations of the Future: Get More Engaged in 2020

Since the inception of the IPC Education Foundation in January 2019, the mission remains to create connections between electronics manufacturers and supply chain companies, academia and the emerging workforce. In this debut column, Charlene Gunter du Plessis describes plans for engaging in 2020, including scholarships and more, and the IPC APEX EXPO 2020 STEM Student Outreach event.

IPC APEX EXPO: Sessions @ the Intersection

In this short video, Brook Sandy-Smith, IPC’s technical conference program manager, explains how “the lntersection” will be a new meeting place In between this year's IPC APEX EXPO show floor and the technical conference available to attendees and the free sessions that are open to any registration type.

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.

Visit the Newcomers’ Lounge at IPC APEX EXPO

The Newcomers’ Lounge will open on February 2, will remain open through February 6, and is conveniently located near the technical conference and meetings area, where it will serve as a dedicated resource center for newcomers to get their questions answered and meet other newcomers. Use the lounge to take a break from the hustle and bustle of a busy day, catch up on emails, or grab a quick snack or refreshment.

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.

Tamara Jovanovic Checks in After First Year as a Designer

What a difference a year makes. The I-Connect007 Editorial Team caught up with Tamara Jovanovic, a PCB designer they met last year at AltiumLive in San Diego as a newly minted engineering graduate. She discusses her first year in the industry and explains how education and training events can help shape the careers of new designers.


Lady Gaga’s Keyboardist Designs a Circular Piano

Who says a modern piano has to be a certain shape? Not Brockett Parsons, Lady Gaga’s keyboardist. He worked with Dave Starkey and Chuck Johnson to create PianoArc—a custom-designed 360-degree circular keyboard and a company with the same name. I spoke with Brockett and Dave at AltiumLive to learn more about the design efforts that went into this fascinating instrument.

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.

Meet Two New CID Grads: Kalen Brown and Michael Steffen

At PCB West, I spoke with two newly minted Certified Interconnect Designers: Kalen Brown of EaglePicher and Michael Steffen of Crystal Group. After passing the CID exam, they attended the IPC Designers Council Executive Board Meeting, where the more “seasoned” veterans were very happy to meet them.

CFX Preview at IPC APEX EXPO 2020

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team chats with IPC’s Chris Jorgensen about the advances CFX has made in the past year and where the standard is in the standardization process. Chris also previews the CFX line that will be on display at the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO and shares IPC’s plans on educating and providing support solutions to potential users of CFX to implement it more easily.

Curtis Scott Opens the Blinds on PCB Design

I recently spoke with Curtis Scott, a young PCB design engineer with Current Products, a manufacturer of automated window coverings in Pensacola, Florida. I’m always excited to hear about OEMs in Pensacola; I lived there for 17 years, and it’s a great town, but you won’t find much industry other than tourism. I asked Curtis to share his thoughts on the industry and his job designing PCBs in that scenic city on the Gulf of Mexico.

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.

Updates on Cleaning Standards and Committees

Graham Naisbitt of Gen3 discusses the changes he's seeing in cleaning, including how the WP-019 white paper has caused a closer look at electrochemical reliability. As a long-time head of committees, Graham also breaks down many of the topics he hopes are addressed at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO.

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.

How to Become a Certified IPC Trainer

The Blackfox Certified IPC Trainer (CIT) programs are best suited for experienced and skilled electronics technicians, engineers, and supervisors who have the will and passion to teach and train colleagues about the quality standards of IPC. They also provide successful candidates with a credential that confirms their knowledge and understanding of IPC quality systems.

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.

MacroFab: Manufacturing Digitized

MacroFab CEO Misha Govshteyn explains how a digital manufacturing platform connected to a network of vetted partner factories can help eliminate a lot of variability from the fabrication process.

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.

Book Summary: The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to…Process Validation

The latest book in I-Connect007’s "The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to…" series is authored by Gen3’s Graham Naisbitt. With his deep background in process validation and standards work, Naisbitt is uniquely qualified to explore achieving acceptable electrochemical reliability using both CAF and SIR testing. This eBook is a perfect present for the holidays.


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).

The Future of the World Is Truly in the Hands of Our Youth

At I-Connect007, we are proud to once again sponsor the STEM Outreach Program at the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO 2020. Another way we support our youth is by sharing the stories of young people who are doing amazing things. Dylan Nguyen is a great student, musician, and creative thinker. Recently, he shared with me the details of his school science fair project, “Kite: Powering the Future,” which solved a problem that he faced. Dylan is a leader with a bright future, and the world is lucky to have kids like him.

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.

Traversing the Design Landscape With Hartley and Creeden

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

Words of Advice: Making Life Easier for Fabrication and Assembly

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

LA/Orange County SMTA Expo and Tech Forum Review

Dan Feinberg recently attended the LA/Orange County SMTA Expo and Tech Forum, which was held in Long Beach, California. He provides an overview of the activities, from the show floor to the presentations.

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.


Conductivity Laminate for High-frequency Applications

Editor Pete Starkey and Vitali Judin discuss how Rogers Corporation has responded to demands for high thermal conductivity combined with low loss in high-power RF applications with the newly launched. The PTFE-based TC350 Plus is capable of handling temperatures above 125°C and draws upon Rogers’ long experience with the TC350 material line-up.

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.

Words of Advice: What are Your Biggest Design Challenges?

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

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.

Digi-Key on Adapting to the Changing Industry Landscape, Pt. 1

The I-Connect007 editorial team recently spoke with Chris Beeson, executive vice president of global supplier and new business development at Digi-Key Electronics, about trends and the changing landscape of the industry. Beeson describes how Digi-Key is looking to continue growing its user community as a design service provider while providing greater services for the entire PCB.

AltiumLive Frankfurt 2019: Jeremy Blum Keynote

Blum was a great advocate of considering the PCB in its holistic context and designing beyond it. Understanding the software needs ought to be of prime importance for the designer, and he believed that writing even the most basic firmware would help to ensure that the resulting electronics would be debuggable and equipped to handle the needs of the software development team.

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.

Flex Standards Update With Nick Koop

This month, I interviewed Nick Koop—director of flex technology at TTM Technologies, a veteran “flex guy” and instructor, and a leader of several IPC flex standards committees. Nick provides an update for the committees he’s involved with and discusses some of the challenges that he sees as more designers enter the world of flex.


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.

Book Review: The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Executing Complex PCBs

If you are serious about designing complex PCBs (most designs today are far from elementary) and even more serious about doing it right the first time, then this is the book for you. Loaded with guidelines for designing cutting-edge PCBs, this book is filled with real-world examples and tips, tricks, and techniques by some of Freedom CAD’s most experienced designers.

Vertical Conductive Structures, Part 4: Tuning Your Signal Performance

The objective of this article is to demonstrate the possibility of using a stitching element as an alternative to the point-to-point connections that are used with traditional via technology. Point-to-point connections have the best performance in terms of signal integrity (one via less in the connection that distorts the signal). A via is mainly a capacitive element that causes signal loss/ dispersion.

Words of Advice: 5G Reliability

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: Do you think 5G will improve the reliability of communication? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

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.

Words of Advice: The OEM Systems Designer

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

Why Does the PCB Industry Still Use Gerber?

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

Dugan Karnazes Discusses His New Startup

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

Explaining the QSFP-DD Data Center Interconnect Standard

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


Communication, Part 5: Internet Impedance Calculators for Modeling

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

Meet Ray Prasad, SMT007 Columnist

Meet Ray Prasad, one of our SMT007 columnists! Prasad’s columns explore DFM, manufacturing processes, yield improvement, quality control, IPC standards, and much more.

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.

IPC-2581 Continues to Flourish

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

Words of Advice: 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.

Meet George Milad, I-Connect007 Columnist

Meet George Milad, one of our newest I-Connect007 columnists! George’s columns will cover PCB plating, IPC specifications, and more. George is the recipient of the 2009 IPC President’s Award, chairs the IPC Plating Committee, and is a permanent member of the IPC Technical Activities Executive Committee.

So Many Standards Committees, So Little Time

During the IPC Summer Meetings and Panelpalooza in Raleigh, North Carolina, I met with Leo Lambert, vice president and director of technology at EPTAC. We discussed IPC’s recent efforts to revamp the way standards are developed and interpreted as well as changes to training and education committees and a variety of methods for eliminating errors and duplicated comments when revising standards.

Why Designers Need to Be at the SMTA Additive Electronics Conference

In a recent interview, Kelly Dack and Tara Dunn (Omni PCB president and conference co-chair) discussed why designers need to attend the SMTA Additive Electronics Conference. Tara will also be attending and moderating a panel discussion at the conference.

Words of Advice: Making Life Easier for Fabrication and Assembly

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

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.


Words of Advice: Starting a New Design

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

Communication, Part 2: Design Data Packages

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

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.

Bob Martin Brings Maker Attitude to AltiumLive Keynote

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

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.

John Michael Pierobon Discusses His Flex Design Class

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

Words of Advice: First Steps in the Design Process

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What are the first steps you take in the PCB design process? Here are some of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Leo Lambert on Training the Next Generation of Technologists

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

Insulectro and DuPont Experts Talk Flex Design

I recently spoke with Insulectro’s Chris Hunrath and DuPont’s Steven Bowles at the DuPont Technology and Innovation Center in Sunnyvale, California. We discussed a variety of topics related to flex design, including the support structure that’s needed in flex design, the everchanging world of flex materials, and the need for working with a flex fabricator as early as possible in the flex design cycle.


Design Rule Checks Cut Down Board Respins

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

Words of Advice: What are Your Biggest Design Challenges?

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

Joe Grand Brings a Hacker Outlook to PCB Design

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

Words of Advice: 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.

Words of Advice: Flex Design Problems

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

SimplifyDA’s Floorplanning Tool Optimizes Autorouting

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

PCB Design Training: More Critical Than Ever

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


AltiumLive Q&A With Keynote Speaker Eric Bogatin

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

Decoupling Capacitors’ Impact on Power and Signal Integrity

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

Meet Our Newest Columnists From NCAB Group

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

Words of Advice: Obstacles to Solid Data Hand-off

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

Words of Advice: Your Company’s Design Process

In a recent survey, we asked PCB designers to describe their company’s design process: Is it a rigid workflow they follow to the letter, or a process that allows for their individual techniques? Of course, the comments were illustrative.

Bill Brooks on Teaching PCB Design at Palomar College

Bill Brooks of Nordson ASYMTEK is a long-time PCB designer and one of the first people to teach PCB design courses in a college setting. He recently spoke with the I-Connect007 editorial team about his history in design and his time as a PCB design instructor, the curriculum he developed and taught, and various techniques that might be enacted today to better educate the designers of tomorrow.

Focusing on Surface Sensitivity for Reliability

At the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit, Customer Applications Scientist Elizabeth Kidd and Sales Engineer Alex Bien, both of BTG Labs, discuss with Andy Shaughnessy their presentation on the challenges of working with highly sensitive surfaces, such as the risk of contamination. They also talked about the various surface characterization techniques that BTG Labs uses to identify such contaminants.

Interconnect Reliability Correlation With System Design and Transportation Stress

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

Words of Advice: Drawbacks to Your PCB Data Format?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What is the biggest drawback to your current PCB data format? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Development of Flexible Hybrid Electronics

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


IPC Reliability Forum Wrap-up With Brook Sandy-Smith

I attended the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore, Maryland. The speakers and panelists focused on a variety of topics, but one issue that kept popping up was the failure of some microvias on military and aerospace PCBs. Fortunately, some smart technologists are focusing on determining the cause of these via failures. I asked Brook Sandy-Smith, IPC’s technical education program manager, to give us a quick wrap-up of this event.

Words of Advice: Planning a New Design

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

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.

Denny Fritz: The Difference Between Quality and Reliability

I recently spoke with industry veteran (and I-Connect007 columnist) Denny Fritz about the relationship between quality and reliability—two terms that are unequal but often used interchangeably. We also discuss the current state of lead-free solders in the U.S. military and defense market as well as the microvia reliability issues Denny focused on at IPC’s High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore, Maryland.

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.

26 Meters of Flex!

Barry Matties spoke with Philip Johnston, managing director of Trackwise Designs, about the company’s patented length-unlimited multilayer printed circuits aimed at replacing conventional wire harnesses. Originally created for the aerospace industry, Trackwise has since seen growing interest from a number of different industries. Jake Kelly, managing director and chairman of Viking Test Ltd., also joined the conversation to discuss the importance of having a flexible equipment supplier when dealing with such a unique technology.

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.


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

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

PCB Reliability: Via Design

When considering the long-term reliability of a PCB, you must take into account any vias on your board. While an invaluable and essential part of board design, vias introduce weaknesses and affect solderability. This article will discuss vias, the potential concerns that are introduced into your board through their implementation, and how to minimize those concerns to acceptable levels.

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.

Design Is a Pivotal Piece of the Puzzle

As a field applications engineer at TTM Technologies, which has fabrication and manufacturing locations around the world, Julie Ellis sees a wide variety of customer design requirements. In this interview with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team, Julie explains how PCB designers can influence the development of the PCB. She shares a variety of tips and tricks that designers can implement early in the design process to help optimize fabrication and assembly later on and keep small issues from becoming big problems downstream.

Albert Gaines: Design All Comes Down to Documentation

During SMTA Atlanta, I spoke with Albert Gaines of HiGain Design. We discussed Albert’s belief that everything starts with design and that too many engineers and designers focus solely on the final board at the expense of the documentation, which is a designer’s most important product. Do you consider your documentation to be a critical product?

Words of Advice: Making Life Easier for Fabrication and Assembly

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

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.

Design for the Unknown

Our industry loves DFx, also known as the “Design Fors.” As PCB designers, we not only design for manufacturability (DFM) but we design for assembly, reliability, cost, test, and many more factors which we like to lump together as DFx. But now, I think it’s time we embrace a new DFx: Design for the Unknown, or DFU.


AWE 2019: Go XR, Be Awesome

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

K&F Electronics Hiring Young People for the Future

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

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.

Words of Advice: Will 5G Affect Electronics Manufacturing?

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

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.

ICT 45th Annual Symposium Review

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

Words of Advice: Planning a New Design

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

Design Rules Recipe: Solvability, Manufacturability, and Performance

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2019 Recap: Leaders Call for Action on USMCA Trade Deal

Top executives from electronics companies across the United States were in Washington, D.C., last week to call on the Trump administration and Congress to support policies that will drive the electronics industry’s future growth in North America and worldwide.

Collaboratively Creating Wearable Medical Products

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

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

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

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.

XNC Format: Gerber Takes Data Into the Future

The problem is that so many NC files are of deplorable quality because the NC format was never designed as a data transfer format. It has always been a machine driver and contains all sorts of information that a drilling machine needs, but that is irrelevant and confusing for data exchange.

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.

Words of Advice: Your Company’s Design Process

In a recent survey, we asked PCB designers to describe their company’s design process: Is it a rigid workflow they follow to the letter, or a process that allows for their individual techniques? Of course, the comments were illustrative. Only one respondent said, "We just wing it."


Learning to Be More Flexible: Case Studies on Improving FPC Design

As miniaturization requirements force manufacturers to pack more functionality into ever-smaller packages, it becomes more difficult to conform to IPC construction recommendations. Achieving robust FPCs requires frequent, iterative interaction internally among the mechanical, electrical, and PCB design teams, as well as with the fabricators and assemblers. The sooner in the design cycle you can engage the supplier and assembler, the better.

Automation and the Smart Factory: Introduction to Industry 4.0

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

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!”

Words of Advice for New PCB Designers

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

Words of Advice: Long Component and Laminate Lead Times

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

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.

IPC Asia President Phil Carmichael on China Trends

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

Youth in the Industry Putting Training to Work

At a job fair on campus at George Fox University, Nolan Johnson sat down with Jake Whipple, a computer engineering senior, to discuss the GFU engineering program. This is one of the few engineering programs in the U.S. that gives students experience designing PCBs before they enter the work force.

Patty's Perspective: From Start to Finish

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


PCB Designer Survey: Everything Starts With Design

Recently, a variety of technologists who fabricate and assembly PCBs have made the following statement: “Everything starts with design.” We want to get your thoughts on this. What are some of the steps you take early in the design process that can affect your downstream partners? Let us know!

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.

George Fox University: Teaching PCB Design to EE Students

Gary Spivey is director of engineering projects at George Fox University, a Christian college in the Pacific Northwest, and his students learn to design and fabricate a PCB while also giving back to the community. Not surprisingly, these graduates get snapped up quickly. In this wide-ranging interview, Spivey discusses GFU’s engineering curriculum, their cutting-edge lab facilities, and the need to teach students to think critically.

Words of Advice: Flex Design Challenges

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

PCB Design Is All in the Family With Nicole Pacino

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

Project MARCH Students’ Exoskeleton Helps Paraplegics Walk Again

Project MARCH student volunteers design and build futuristic exoskeletons that can help paraplegics walk. The students do most of the work themselves, including designing the various PCBs. I saw their latest exoskeleton up close at AltiumLive in Munich, and I had to find out more about this program. Delft Students Martijn van der Marel and Roy Arriens sat down with me to discuss their work on the exoskeleton, including their PCB design experience, and whether they plan to pursue PCB design as a 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.

Words of Advice: Combating Component and Material Shortages

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

Sunstone's Terry Heilman Discusses the Evolving Industry

For the last 14 years, CEO Terry Heilman has been one of the key leaders in driving the expansive growth at Mulino, Oregon-based Sunstone Circuits, growing from a traditional PCB manufacturer to a PCB solutions provider with online ordering and a free PCB design tool. At IPC APEX EXPO 2019, Terry discusses the importance of serving the customer, how customers are shaping companies today, and the impact this will have on companies in the future.


ITEQ’s Tarun Amla Discusses 5G Inflection Points

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

Words of Advice: Obstacles to Getting Designs to Fab

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

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.

Staying Current on Flex Manufacturing is Smart Business

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

Dan Gamota Discusses Flex and Alternative Substrates

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

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.

Electromagnetic Analysis Design Insight: Effects of Meshed Reference Planes on Interconnects

Most of the transmission lines in PCB or packaging interconnects have so-called quasi-TEM waves with the electric and magnetic fields mostly perpendicular or transverse to the propagation direction. Parameters of such transmission lines can be accurately approximated with the analysis of a single cross-section in a 2D field solver. With the cutouts in the reference plane, the waves become non-TEM and not even quasi-TEM due to the presence of the longitudinal components in the electric and magnetic fields.

Words of Advice: What are Your Biggest Design Challenges?

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

Cherie Litson on ECAD/MCAD and Training the Next Generation

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

Todd Westerhoff Discusses His New Position and Much More

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

Accelerating and Disrupting Innovation: The Tesla Story

The time was right for Tesla to bring new thinking into the concept of electric transportation when the company observed the quantum shift in battery technology from lead-acid to lithium-ion that had been driven by developments in portable consumer electronics.

Words of Advice: Component Shortages in 2019

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What components do you expect to be in short supply in 2019? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

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.


Carl Schattke on Stackup Design and Managing the Component Shortage

At AltiumLive, I met Carl Schattke, CID+, a lead PCB designer with an American automaker. Carl and TTM’s Julie Ellis taught a packed class on good stackup practices complete with plenty of slides showing examples of all kinds of stackups. After class, Carl explained why the stackup is often the root of manufacturing problems downstream, and why today’s discrete component shortages are likely to be around for quite some time.

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.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Industry Leaders: IPC STEM Student Outreach Program

At IPC APEX EXPO 2019, I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman spoke with Colette Buscemi, IPC's senior director for education programs, about the success and expansion of the IPC STEM Student Outreach Program, activities and scholarship opportunities for students through sponsor support—including I-Connect007—and feedback she received on the event.

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.

Thinking and Designing in Three Dimensions

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

Natasha Baker: Supply Chain Transparency Inside the CAD Tool

Natasha Baker, CEO and founder of SnapEDA, an online parts library, discusses the benefits of transparency in online libraries to designers, and discusses strategies on how to solve supply chain challenges, and more.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Rogers' Anthony Mattingly Discusses the Advanced Laminate Market

Rogers Corporation's Senior Product Manager Anthony Mattingly and Editor Pete Starkey discuss the ever-evolving market for advanced laminates for technologies such as 5G. Mattingly explains how Rogers has invested heavily in infrastructure for adding about 40% more capacity in the next few years.

A Drone's-eye View of the IPC APEX EXPO Show Floor

If you couldn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego, don't worry. We have full coverage of this annual must-attend event, from the opening ceremony to the close of the final day. To get a sense of the size of this year's show, check out our drone's-eye view of the show floor. Can we name our drone Air007?

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.

Joe Clark Discusses DownStream’s Updated Tool Lineup and IPC-2581

DownStream Technologies recently revamped their entire product line, from CAM350 through BluePrint-PCB. DownStream co-founder Joseph Clark and Guest Editor Kelly Dack discuss some of these updates, including a new GUI and capabilities such as 3D analysis, as well as news about IPC-2581.

IPC APEX EXPO 2019 Show Week Time-lapse Video

From set up to tear down, I-Connect007 captured a 4-day time-lapse video of the show floor from our Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO booth. In addition, this video includes overhead shots of each of our generous premium sponsor's booths.

CES 2019: More Show Floor Favorites

In my final piece covering CES 2019, I will review more automotive technology, updates on 3D printing, and some trending devices such as smartwatches and new computer components for those that either need or just want to have extremely powerful and impressive-looking computers.

IPC APEX EXPO 2019: It's a Wrap!

The IPC APEX EXPO 2019 show floor closed yesterday with applause. After three days of meetings, networking, and tire kicking, if you will, exhibitors head back to their offices with a list of leads, to-do lists, and stories to share. Meanwhile, attendees now head home with important decisions to make about what they learned and who they want to do business with.

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.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: For Elmatica, the Future is All About Data

At this year's IPC APEX EXPO, guest editor Judy Warner sits down with Elmatica CEO Didrik Bech to discuss the company's business model and CircuitData, their award-winning open-source PCB design data language.

The Designers Council: A Chapter Primer From the Ground Up

Thinking it might be a way to make new contacts with PCB designers in Orange County, I attended a couple of Designers Council meetings. The chapter president at that time was Paul Fleming, who asked me to be part of his steering committee because he learned that I had spent decades in fabrication. Within a few months, he had gotten a job transfer to Arizona, so he twisted my arm to take over as the chapter president. I agreed, but little did I know that this would become a major turning point in my PCB career.

Words of Advice: Flex Design Problems

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

AltiumLive Munich: Day 2 Keynotes

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


The Sun Rises on IPC APEX EXPO 2019

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

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.

In the Studio: Real Time with…IPC

It's almost time for IPC APEX EXPO 2019 at the San Diego Convention Center, and that means another Real Time with…IPC video program bringing you interviews with the electronics industry's top movers and shakers, engineers, and managers.

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.

Words of Advice: Advice for Systems Designers

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

AltiumLive Munich Draws Designers from Around Europe

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

STEM: The Future of Our Industry

Facing a growing shortage of talented labor with which to fill the employment positions in America, IPC is working to help solve this problem. Colette Buscemi, senior director of IPC’s education programs, is encouraging IPC members to better engage pre-college and post-secondary college students at the local level. Barry Matties spoke with Colette about the educational programs IPC has put in place to invest in future generations, including the STEM program at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO.

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

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

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.


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