Article Highlights
Just Ask Happy: Manufacturing Issues From a Designer’s Viewpoint
07/23/2020 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
With App Notes, Trust But Verify
07/20/2020 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
Book Excerpt: Power Integrity By Example, Chapter 5
07/16/2020 | Fadi Deek, Mentor, a Siemens Business
What Is the Proper Role of App Notes?
07/15/2020 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
But Wait, There’s More Happy-ness: Happy Holden Wants Your Questions
07/15/2020 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team

Latest Articles

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

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

Flex Workshop Update With Joe Fjelstad and Anaya Vardya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find the Perfect Employee With D.B. Management Group

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

Selling in a Post-COVID Environment, Part 2

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


Selling in a Post-COVID Environment, Part 1

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

With App Notes, Trust But Verify

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

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

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

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

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

Book Excerpt: Power Integrity By Example, Chapter 5

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

What Is the Proper Role of App Notes?

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

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

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

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

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

I-Connect007 Leadership Survey: Valuable Lessons From Grandma

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

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

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


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

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

Just Ask Happy: Integrating Design Processes With IEEE HIR

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

Understanding MIL-PRF-31032, Part 1

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

Chris Hanson: New Ventec IMS Dielectrics Rated for Higher Temps

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

Just Ask Happy: Calculating Trace Temps in a Vacuum

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

Just Ask Happy: Mechanically Drilled Blind and Buried Vias

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

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

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

Just Ask Happy: Two-Layer Low-Speed PCBs

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

Catching Up With Fane Friberg: Supply Chain Management Expert

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

Materials for Automotive Applications: Thermal Management Issues

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


IPC: Shawn DuBravac and Chris Mitchell on USMCA

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

Just Ask Happy: PCB Design For EE Undergrads?

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

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

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of "The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Thermal Management With Insulated Metal Substrates," written by Ventec International Group’s Didier Mauve and Ian Mayoh. In this free eBook, the authors provide PCB designers with the essential information required to understand the thermal, electrical, and mechanical characteristics of insulated metal substrate laminates.

Just Ask Happy: Stacked Microvia Reliability Issues

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

Just Ask Happy: The Future of 3D Printing

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

App Notes: What Are They Good For?

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

Just Ask Happy: Ground Reference Planes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Book Excerpt: Signal Integrity by Example, Chapter 3

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

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

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

Ex Officio: Advice From Designers Who Recently Began Telecommuting

Most PCB designers are now working from home as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. In a recent Design007 Magazine survey, we asked the following question: What lessons have you learned since you began designing PCBs from home? Here are just a few of the comments, edited slightly for clarity.

Happy Holden Is Taking Your Questions Now

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

Elmatica’s Didrik Bech Accepts Role as IPC Cybersecurity Task Group Vice-Chair

On June 18, Nolan Johnson spoke with Didrik Bech, Elmatica CEO and I-Connect007 columnist, who was recently selected as vice-chair for IPC’s Cybersecurity Task Group. During their conversation, Didrik outlined the task group’s mission statement and the target audience for its work. He also shared specific examples where cybersecurity is increasingly important to the electronics manufacturing industry globally.

Book Excerpt: Producing the Perfect Data Package, Part 2

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

Dana Korf: What Fabricators Expect From Designers

Andy Shaughnessy and Barry Matties spoke with Dana Korf, former chief PCB technologist for Huawei and currently principal consultant of Korf Consultancy, about the breakdown in communication between manufacturers and designers. Dana discusses exactly what a fabricator expects from a PCB designer, why these expectations are often not met, and the need for designers to make mistakes so that they can learn from them.

DownStream Technologies Update With Joe Clark

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

Book Excerpt: Thermal Management With Insulated Metal Substrates, Part 2

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

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

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


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

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

Book Excerpt: Signal Integrity by Example

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

Dan Beaulieu, Part 2: Marketing in Uncertain Times

Dan Beaulieu, president of D.B. Management and an I-Connect007 columnist, and Nolan Johnson return for a second conversation on sales and marketing in the current business environment. In this conversation, Nolan asked Dan about the “wait and see” attitude some industry professionals have been leaning on during the second quarter of 2020.

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

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

Book Excerpt: Power Integrity by Example

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

The iNEMI 2019 Roadmap: Optoelectronics

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

The Survey Said: Designers' Tips for Working Remotely

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

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

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

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

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

Design007 Survey: Show Us Your Workspaces!

Since the COVID-19 lockdown began, more and more PCB designers and design engineers have moved into home offices. In this survey, we ask our designer and design engineer readers to share their thoughts on working from a home office: the dogs, the crying kids, everything. Best of all, we want to see photos of your workspaces!


Book Excerpt: Producing the Perfect Data Package

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

SpaceX Manned Mission Promises More Success for Milaero and Electronics Manufacturing

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

This Month in SMT007 Magazine: Leaning on Leadership

It goes without saying that in times of crisis or great uncertainty, we often look to those in leadership positions to guide us and give us direction. In this interview with Barry Matties and Nolan Johnson, Tom Forsythe, executive VP of KYZEN, shares his insight on leadership and what he believes makes a good leader.

Joe O’Neil: Green Circuits Running Strong Under Current Social Restrictions

On May 28, Joe O’Neil, CEO of Green Circuits, updated Nolan Johnson on how the company continues to operate during the COVID-19 restrictions. O’Neil reflects on the rapid chain of events this past March when lockdowns were instituted in the San Francisco Bay area. After a brief but rapid shutdown, Green Circuits was back up and in production.

The iNEMI 2019 Board Assembly Roadmap

iNEMI continues to publish chapters of its 2019 Roadmap and recently presented an overview of its Board Assembly Roadmap Chapter in a webinar prefaced by Grace O’Malley, vice president of global operations. The new chapter is just the latest addition to this global effort from 23 working groups contributing expert input from all aspects of the electronics industry.

Autodesk’s Fusion 360 Merges ECAD, MCAD

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

Ventec Book Excerpt: Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates

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

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

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

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish: Same Industry, New Look

Learning a lesson from challenges is one thing, but implementing changes based on those lessons is quite another. I-Connect007 regularly surveys leaders in the electronics industry to bring you important and relevant information that helps you make better decisions. What lessons have you learned during the COVID-19 crisis, and what changes have you made?

A Design Economics Primer

When you start a new design, do you begin tracking costs right away, or do you wait until you have a functioning product before you start looking at the dollars and cents? Chris Young begins cost-aware design before the design cycle has even begun. Andy Shaughnessy and Nolan Johnson recently interviewed Chris, an engineer with The Goebel Company and founder of Young Engineering Services, and asked him to explain his approach to design economics.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Patrick Crawford, I-Connect007 Columnist

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

The Cost of Inefficient Production of PCB Documentation

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

Freedom CAD’s Expert PCB Design Tips, Part 2

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

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 3

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

A Design Economics Horror Story

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

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

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

iNEMI’s PCB Roadmap Explained

In an informative and enlightening webinar, iNEMI Project Manager Steve Payne was joined by Isola Group CTO Ed Kelley to explain, review, and discuss the details of the recently published “iNEMI 2019 Roadmap for Organic PCBs.” Pete Starkey provides an overview.


Freedom CAD’s Expert PCB Design Tips, Part 1

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

Porticos: Designing Everything From Handheld Electronics to Guitar Parts

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

Counseling Startups From Design Through NPI

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

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

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

Happy’s Smart Factory Protocol Primer

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

Photography Slideshow by Columnist Mehul Davé

At I-Connect007, we like to work hard, play hard, and highlight our contributors. Mehul J. Davé is a great example of someone who is passionate about the industry as well as his other interests outside of work—especially photography. Here, we feature some of his work.

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

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

What It Takes to Be a Milaero Supplier, Part 3

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

I-Connect007 Survey Details Concerns About Future of Industry

I-Connect007 continues to monitor the current worldwide economic situation by seeking input from our market leaders. Here’s what we discovered: If you’re feeling the pressure, you’re not alone. In a recent survey, we asked about your primary concerns for the future of our industry. The number one concern (26%) indicated a belief that sales will be affected negatively in the coming months.

MFLEX Increases Growth

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


IPC Europe Shares Technical Education and Standards Awareness

Against a background of COVID-19 uncertainty and unprecedented challenges, but recognizing the vital importance of continuing to educate engineers and share the knowledge and skills required to manufacture boards and assemblies of the highest yields and reliability, the IPC Europe team hosted a technical webinar for the European electronics industry, featuring the expertise of two of I-Connect007’s regular columnists: Mike Carano and Jan Pedersen. Pete Starkey provides an overview.

Accurate Circuit Engineering Staying Ahead of the COVID-19 Curve

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

Koh Young Update With Quintin Armstrong

In this video interview from the show, Quintin Armstrong, Americas service and applications senior manager for Koh Young, updates Guest Editor Dick Crowe on Koh Young America's Technical Services Team, where the focus is on AOI of components and materials on the stuffed board, as well as demonstrations and training at their new facility in Duluth, Georgia.

Flexible Circuit Technologies: ‘We Do it All’

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

Dr. John Mitchell: IPC’s Ongoing Efforts Related to COVID-19

On April 14, IPC president and CEO, Dr. John Mitchell, described IPC’s ongoing efforts related to COVID-19 with I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties. From a standpoint approximately 30 days into the U.S. shutdown, Mitchell reported that 94% of the executives attending the executive forum are expressing concern. He also outlined many of the chaotic drivers and influences in the industry, including shifting over to different, mandated products; supply shortages; potential declining demand for normal products; and increased shipping costs. Worker and staffing shortages have also become an emerging concern.

Ucamco Harnesses Power of Artificial Intelligence

In this video interview from the show, Luc Maesen, Ucamco director, and Technical Editor Pete Starkey discuss how AI has been applied to help automate the CAM/CAD process, resulting in the company's IamCam system. This platform enables intelligence-aided manufacturing designed to lower costs while achieving fewer errors and faster delivery.

SMTA Europe’s Electronics in Harsh Environments Conference and Exhibition: A Taste of Things to Come

SMTA Europe’s Electronics in Harsh Environments Conference has become a must-attend annual event; unfortunately, it also became another casualty of the COVID-19 lockdown. Scheduled to take place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from April 21–23, 2020, it has now been postponed until December 1–3. Pete Starkey reports on a preview seminar presented by SMTA Europe.

Isola’s Travis Kelly: Maintaining Continuity of Supply

On April 9, Barry Matties spoke with Travis Kelly, Isola president and CEO. Travis gave an update on Isola’s responses to the COVID-19 challenges in materials manufacturing. Travis pointed out that Isola’s products fill a critical need in the switch to medical equipment manufacturing for ventilators and related products. He also spoke to the three keys to maintaining continuity of supply.

Cadence Helping Users to Save Time, Money With Automation

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

Sheldahl: No Plans to Rest on Its Laurels

In this video interview from the show, Enid Kivuti, director of innovation and technology for Sheldahl, and Dan Beaulieu discuss the company's long history as industry pioneers, as well as how they're on the forefront of expanding and pushing the boundaries of flex technology.


This Month in Design007 Magazine: Design Economics With Kelly Dack

Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Kelly Dack—CID, CID+, and a PCB designer and instructor who has worked in the design and manufacturing segments over the years. Thanks to his background, Kelly provides an intriguing viewpoint on cost-aware design and the philosophy of design economics in general.

Jan Pedersen Updates on Automotive and Design Standards Progress

In this video interview from the show, IPC Task Group Chair Jan Pedersen comments on some recent successes in the development of the IPC-6012 automotive addendum and progress with its medical counterpart. Pete Starkey and Jan also discuss ways in which digital specification information could be abstracted from IPC-2581 in a readable form for quotation and sales office purposes.

Stencil Cleaning Update With Tom Forsythe

In this video interview from the show, Pete Starkey and Tom Forsythe, executive VP of KYZEN, which celebrated its 30th anniversary, discuss the practicalities of stencil cleaning and describe the characteristics and capabilities of KYZEN's newest versatile stencil cleaning product.

IPC Education Foundation: STEM and Online Learning Resources

Nolan Johnson recently caught up with Charlene Gunter du Plessis, senior director of the IPC Education Foundation, about how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting the IPCEF, including how they are continuing to connect with IPC Student Chapter members and seek industry support. Charlene also discussed the increased usage of IPCEF’s online educational modules and shares STEM resources.

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

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

Panasonic: From Hardware to Solutions and Data

In this video interview from the show, Managing Editor Nolan Johnson speaks with Sean Murray—director of sales, service, operations, and logistics process automation at Panasonic—about the company's focus on software and information management on top of their long history in hardware and equipment.

IPC Standards Work Continues to Move Forward

On April 3, 2020, Teresa Rowe, IPC’s director of assembly and standards technology, and David Bergman, vice president, spoke with Barry Matties about ongoing standards activities during the global COVID-19 outbreak. Rowe and Bergman reported that, where one might think that standards committees would be negatively affected, standards work seems to be going stronger than ever.

Gene Weiner: Lessons Learned From COVID-19

Barry Matties speaks with Gene Weiner, president and CEO of Weiner International Associates, about the electronics industry’s continued operation under COVID-19 restrictions and some of the lessons learned during this pandemic. One such lesson: Companies and nations must do a better job of sharing information to help prevent this from happening again.

Averatek’s A-SAP Semi-additive Process Enables HDI

In this video interview from the show, columnist Tara Dunn spoke with Mike Vinson, president and COO of Averatek, who described the company's semi-additive process, A-SAP, with 25-micron features sizes and below, which enables high-density interconnections. Vinson also discusses the papers Averatek presented at IPC APEX EXPO 2020.

Freedom CAD's Scott Miller: Taking Care of Customers and Staff

COO Scott Miller explains that Freedom CAD remains fully operational during the COVID-19 quarantine. Staff members have been telecommuting for years, so the company's day-to-day operations are relatively unchanged. He also discusses the company's plans to help employees and customers during this time, and Miller asks anyone with design questions—customers or not—to contact the company any time.


This Month in SMT007 Magazine: Exclusive Interview With Burt Rutan, Aerospace Legend

If you follow advancements in aerospace technologies and expeditions, then you know the name Burt Rutan. Described by Newsweek as “the man responsible for more innovations in modern aviation than any living engineer,” Rutan is a bold visionary with a passion for the advancement of technology, who has designed 46 aircraft throughout his career. Following his IPC APEX EXPO keynote presentation, Rutan stopped by the I-Connect007 booth and shared his thoughts on a wide variety of topics.

When Your Fabricator Is Late

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team recently had a wide-ranging discussion with John Watson, CID, of Legrand. Questions covered include, “What happens when your fabricator is late, whether it’s a prototype or volume production?” and, “What are the costs and ramifications up and down the chain?”

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.

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.


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