Article Highlights
DFM 101: Final Finishes—Electrolytic Nickel/Gold
01/30/2023 | Anaya Vardya, American Standard Circuits
Advanced Packaging Means Advanced Routing Issues
01/26/2023 | Kris Moyer, IPC
Scaling Beyond Silicon
01/26/2023 | Ashutosh Mauskar, Cadence Design Systems
Everyone Wants Change: Who Wants to Lead the Way?
01/25/2023 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
01/20/2023 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine

Latest Articles

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2023: EMS Leadership Discussion

Guest editor Geoff Leeds meets with John Vaughan of Summit to discuss his participation representing the PCB industry on the supply chain panel at EMS Leadership Summit and at the DoD roundtable, as well as trends he’s seeing in those market segments.

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

It’s Feb. 3, 2023—2/3/23—and now we know the results of yesterday’s Groundhog weather forecast straight from Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania. Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks of winter. If you’re watching the ongoing ice storms blanketing much of the United States at present, that seems like a safe bet. Also a safe bet is that the most-read news this week is IPC APEX EXPO related. Additionally, this week IPC published its EMS and PCB numbers for December. All told, lots of industry news to read this week.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2023: Wise Continues Expansion With Technica Partnership

Andy Shaughnessy sits down with Massimo Passerini, founder of Wise, and Technica's Jason Perry, to discuss Wise's latest PCB manufacturing automation. They also focus on the company's distributor partnership with Technica, which is moving into the PCB fab market. If you were unable to attend IPC APEX EXPO 2023, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events in San Diego, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

DesignCon 2023 Opens With Strong Attendance

As George Costanza would say, “DesignCon is back, baby!” The show opened Wednesday morning, and it really felt like old times again. The aisles of the Santa Clara Convention Center were busy, and the classrooms for the technical conference were nearly full. And I spoke—or tried to speak—with quite a few engineers who spoke almost no English. That’s a good sign; in recent years, there were very few attendees from outside the U.S. because of Covid restrictions. The Pacific Rim is well represented this year.

Don't Blink: The IPC APEX EXPO Time-lapse

It’s a tradition here at I-Connect007 to set up a time-lapse for IPC APEX EXPO. There’s something satisfying, mesmerizing even, to watch the show floor build out and see the moment when the doors open and visitors fill the exhibit hall. Based on what others have said over the years, I know I’m not the only one whose favorite part is when the carpet gets rolled out and the whole character of the exhibition changes. This time lapse starts on the Saturday prior and continues through the Thursday tear-down phase.

DFM 101: Final Finishes—Electrolytic Nickel/Gold

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

IPC APEX EXPO Wrap-up

IPC APEX EXPO 2023 is over, and I think it was a successful show no matter how you slice it. There was barely a break in traffic on the show floor on Tuesday and Wednesday, and even on Thursday I saw people sprinting to close one more deal. Some committee meetings had nearly 200 participants; the meetings I sat in on were anything but boring.

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

This week, the IPC APEX EXPO event has cast a long shadow across the news feeds. No, that’s not the right metaphor. No, not a shadow; shadows are dark. It would be more accurate to say IPC APEX EXPO cast a beam of illumination upon the news feeds for the electronics manufacturing industry. To that end, the APEX EXPO news makes a prominent appearance in this week’s editor’s picks.

Advanced Packaging Means Advanced Routing Issues

In today’s ever-shrinking world of electronics designs, the use of BGA parts with very fine pitch features is becoming more prevalent. As these fine-pitch BGAs continue to increase in complexity and user I/O (number of balls), the difficulty of finding escape routes and fan-out patterns increases. Additionally, with the shrinking of silicon geometry leading to both smaller channel length and increased signal integrity issues, some of the traditional BGA escape routing techniques will require a revisit and/or adjustment to allow for not only successful fan-out, but also successful functioning of the circuitry of the BGA design.

Scaling Beyond Silicon

Technology has always invoked radical changes, but unlike today, there used to be one major revolutionizing technology trend at a time. The world is becoming increasingly connected, more automated and more intelligent, driven by generational drivers—hyperscale computing, 5G, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), industrial IoT (IIoT), and autonomous vehicles—which are invoking disruptive technological forces on vertical markets, unfolding varied levels of microelectronics and digital transformation across the globe. The increasing demand for miniaturization and higher speed is changing the dynamics of the semiconductor components needed to store and process data.


Bright Lights, Big City: STEM Event Kicks Off

The San Diego sun was warm and bright on Wednesday afternoon, but it didn’t stop the crowds from filling the aisles at IPC APEX EXPO 2023 for the trade show’s second official day. Technical conferences, professional development courses, and a keynote from IPC President and CEO John W. Mitchell kept attendees busy. But the real highlight of the day was upstairs where approximately 300 high school students from the local San Diego area rode buses to the San Diego Convention Center for a day full of activities meant especially for them.

IPC APEX EXPO 2023: Face-to-Face Not Mask-to-Mask

It was a bright, sunny California day as IPC APEX EXPO officially opened its doors on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at the San Diego Convention Center. The Technical Conference began on the same day, while the program of standards meetings and professional development courses had been in progress since Saturday, Jan. 21. During the hustle and bustle of the show build-up over the weekend, it was clear to see that so many exhibitors had the confidence to bring so much major equipment and to invest in such spectacular booths to display it.

A Challenge Facing Aerospace Designers In 2023

As the aerospace industry has been tasked with fitting increasingly complex electronics in existing airframes the demands on PCB substrates have begun to overtask the existing state of the art in PCB fabrication. Recently, I was called in to troubleshoot some reliability problems with a very dense PCB that had components on both sides and required the use of stacked blind vias and buried vias. The usual name for this kind of design is “build-up fabrication,” requiring many trips through the lamination, drilling, and plating operations at a fabricator.

Monday Recap: Optimism and Economics at IPC APEX EXPO

It was a packed house for two large events at IPC APEX EXPO 2023 on Monday, Jan. 23, as the EMS Leadership Summit was wrapped in the pale veil of caution, meanwhile hundreds more gathered to hear from IPC’s chief economist, Shawn DuBravac. At the EMS summit, the morning presenters from IPC all shared silver linings they saw inside the fading clouds of uncertainty.

It’s Here: The Launch of IPC Community Magazine

IPC Community Magazine launches today at IPC APEX EXPO 2023, both in digital and print form. It is now widely available for download at no cost. This magazine helps tell the stories of IPC, particularly for IPC members who use and interact with the trade organization. IPC worked closely with I-Connect007 (IPC Publishing Group) to develop the concept for the publication, and asked John W. Mitchell, president and CEO of IPC, to share a few thoughts as he looked at the magazine for the first time in print.

Classes and Meetings Under Way at IPC APEX EXPO

IPC APEX EXPO 2023 doesn’t officially kick off until Tuesday, but there’s plenty of action going on here at the San Diego Convention Center. Booths are sprouting up on the show floor, and exhibitors are starting to arrive. Upstairs, committee meetings have been taking place all weekend; the IPC-J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610 Joint Task Group, and IPC-A-600 and IPC-6012 Joint Task Group meetings, were abuzz with activity. The Professional Development classes began on Sunday, covering everything from design through assembly processes, flex and rigid-flex, and technologies of the future.

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

We’re in the middle of show season, and it certainly “shows.” Thank you very much. I’m here all week. Don’t forget to tip your wait staff. This week, we published a variety of articles, columns, and news items, and much of it centered on trade shows. Technical Editor Dan Feinberg brings us a report from CES 2023. IPC announced the winners of the Best Technical Paper awards for IPC APEX EXPO 2023. And we have an interview with Altium’s Rea Callender about the company’s educational efforts at APEX and around the globe.

Setting Expectations for IPC APEX EXPO's Women in Electronics Reception

Emily Calandrelli, IPC APEX EXPO’s opening keynote speaker and featured speaker of our Women in Electronics Reception, is an MIT-engineer turned Emmy-nominated science TV host. She’s the host and co-executive producer of “Emily’s Wonder Lab” on Netflix, she's featured as a correspondent on Netflix’s “Bill Nye Saves the World” and an executive producer and host of FOX's “Xploration Outer Space.”

Altium Focuses on Design Education

Altium keeps its eyes on the designers of the future. The company has been working with colleges and universities for years, providing free seats of Altium Designer for the next generation of PCB designers and design engineers. At IPC APEX EXPO 2023, Altium will be providing software for the finalists in the IPC Design Competition just as it did last year. They offer a variety of other educational programs as well, including Upverter classes and a design competition that aims to address environmental change. Here, Rea Callender, Altium’s VP of education, discusses its educational programs and plans for the week of the show.

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

“New year, new you.” That tagline seems to be everywhere right now. All five must-reads this week reflect this theme. Does this apply to you and your company? We have quite a duke’s mixture of articles. We’ve got AT&S outlining their market position on advanced packaging, and Auburn University doing research on smart manufacturing processes. Keysight is coordinating practical 6G research in Europe, Technica shares where they see the market growing, and SEMI adds new members to a key board responsible for market guidance. These five stories drew a lot of reader attention this week.


The Battle of the Boards

Last year, IPC held its first-ever design competition at IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego. PCB designers from around the world competed in a series of heats during the months before the show, culminating in a showdown on the show floor between the top three finalists. Rafal Przeslawski, now with AMD, took home the top prize last year. This year, the competition is back for its sophomore year. I asked Patrick Crawford, manager of design standards and related programs for IPC, to “layout” the details on the design contest, including lessons learned in 2022 and what’s new for the 2023 competition.

Shawn Dubravac: What’s New in Tech

As the world grapples with issues like climate change, consumers and manufacturers are increasingly looking for ways to reduce environmental impact. This has led to a focus on fostering innovation in sustainable materials, renewable energy sources, and recyclable components. One example is CarbonX, a new carbon material composed of nano-sized carbon filaments that could help tire makers meet the increasing demand for sustainability. Technology will play a pivotal role in this transformation and one sector set to see tremendous change is the auto industry.

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

The youngsters are back in school, and we’re all back to work. The water is back on for most of us in Atlanta; when temps dropped down to 8 degrees Fahrenheit, our pipes started bursting left and right. After a Christmas dinner with no water, I have a new appreciation for H2O. It’s been a busy week, and we published a variety of articles, columns, and news items. In this week’s top five, we have news about the market in Southeast Asia, a look at what the CHIPS Act really entails, a deep dive into CMMC, and a peek at how printed electronics developers are using flexible circuit concepts to facilitate PEC. We also say goodbye to a Top Gun PCB designer who left us way too soon.

ICAPE: Solutions With No Limits

Over the past five years, ICAPE Group has strongly focused on analyzing the complex needs of the market to provide worldwide solutions for customers whose needs range from simple to very complex technologies. The services provider has done this by putting offices in key strategic locations—particularly China—with staff that understand the nuances of language and culture. These types of decisions make an important difference when it comes to getting customers exactly what, and when, they need it. Yann Duigou, CMO, and Bingling Li Sellam, VP of Northern Europe, share their secrets for success.

Where Exactly is the Signal?

When I first got involved in printed circuit board design in the early 1990s, fast rise/fall times were just starting to become an issue. Prior to that we had been pretty much a “connect-the-dots” kind of technology. But as rise times got faster, it became necessary to worry about (electromagnetic) fields. One manifestation of that was EMI, and the increasing need to pass FTC compliance testing.

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

Just because it’s a holiday week doesn’t mean the news is slow. Okay, maybe a little bit slower than normal, but “slower” can also be the same as “fast, just less fast.” We’re going a bit deeper into the list for our must-reads looking for high-impact hard news. I mean, you’ve all read the curated stuff already, no sense rehashing that. In fact, I’ll even throw in a bonus news item just because there was some good stuff this week. Have a great New Year’s weekend.

'Happy New Year' Celebrations Around the World

New Year’s Eve is tomorrow, and 2023 is around the corner. Where did the time go? That’s the $64,000 question. We celebrate New Year’s Day, in part, to help us mark the passage of time—sort of a shared experience for the human race. Humans have been celebrating New Year’s Day for thousands of years, but the party really took off in 45 BC, after Julius Caesar revamped the Roman calendar. From that point until the middle of the 18th century, New Year’s Day in Europe fell on a variety of days, including Dec. 25, March 1, and March 25. Andy Shaughnessy gives us the details.

Happy Holden on Gerry Partida’s ‘Significant’ Microvia Reliabilty Paper

Gerry Partida, vice president of technology at Summit Interconnect, authored a technical paper, “Next Progression in Microvia Reliability Validation—Reflow Simulation of a PCB Design Attributes and Material Structural Properties During the PCB Design Process,” at IPC APEX EXPO 2022, and it’s worth revisiting. This significant paper on microvia reliability validation provides a summary of what’s been happening in the microvia fabrication arena, especially regarding the issue of latent defects in stacked microvias.

DFM 101: Final Finishes ImmSn

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

A Sneak Peak with Jim van den Hogen

Jim van den Hogen has been teaching PCB designers and design engineers about fabrication processes for decades. Twenty years ago, I had the opportunity to see a class of his at PCB West; even back then, the room was jammed with designers eager to learn more about DFM techniques. Now Jim is bringing his teaching expertise to IPC APEX EXPO 2023 this January with a similar class directed at PCB designers. I asked Jim to give us a sneak peek into his curriculum and to share what he hopes attendees will take away from his class, as well as his thoughts on how to best bridge the gap between design and fabrication.


Designing a Sustainable Future

While it may be traditionally considered a PCB fab and assembly show, IPC APEX EXPO is quickly becoming a destination for PCB designers and design engineers. Flipping through this year’s schedule, I counted 15 Professional Development and Technical Conference classes that focus on PCB design, as well as several fabrication classes that many of you should probably take. I checked in with Carlos Plaza, IPC’s senior director of educational development, to discuss the organization’s drive to present more PCB design curriculum at the upcoming show and how the show can give designers the tools they need to overcome the many challenges currently facing the industry.

The Five Most-read Design007 News of 2022

Each December, we like to look back at the most popular articles of the past 12 months. You never know which article is going to blow up like a Harry Styles album. So, grab some leftover ham and hang out with us for a while. For your holiday enjoyment, here’s a blast from the past: the top five most-read Design007 articles of 2022.

The Five Most-read Design007 Articles of 2022

Each December, we like to look back at the most popular articles of the past 12 months. You never know which article is going to blow up like a Blake Shelton album. So, put on your ugliest holiday sweater and prop up that iPad. For your holiday enjoyment, here’s a blast from the past: the top five most-read Design007 articles of 2022.

The Most-read I-Connect007 Articles of 2022

Each December, we like to look back at the most popular articles of the past 12 months. You never know which article is going to blow up like an Avril Lavigne album. So, grab a cup of eggnog and curl up by the fire! For your holiday enjoyment, here’s a blast from the past: the top five most-read I-Connect007 articles of 2022.

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

In this week leading up to Christmas, we have a little bit of everything. Pete Starkey has a review of the most recent EIPC Technical Snapshot, while Tom Kastner discusses the dwindling number of PCB companies in North America. Are we really down to 170 companies? IPC reports that North American PCB sales up 26.1% in November YOY, and the book-to-bill is dead-on at 1.00. Cybord CEO Zeev Efrat explains how his company can provide 100% component inspection. And I have an interview with a student I ran into at PCB Carolina who is working toward his “dream job” on being a technician. As Alex Barile says, he’d hate to work at a desk all day; he likes to install equipment.

Workflow Challenges in Fabrication

Paul Cooke, the senior director of business development for Ventec International Group, is presenting a class at IPC APEX EXPO 2023 that looks at workflow challenges in fabrication, and the myriad drivers that can affect yield, reliability, and cost. Here he discusses the details of this Professional Development course, what he hopes attendees will take away, and why designers and design engineers would benefit from this class.

PCB Carolina: Alex Barile Studying for His Dream Job

Visitors jammed the aisles at PCB Carolina, but I noticed someone who stood out from the crowd: Alex Barile, a student at Wake Tech, a community college in North Carolina. Alex loves the physical and mechanical aspects of machinery, but learned pretty quickly he doesn’t want to be sitting behind a desk all day. He’s found a major that fits both his personality type and professional interests.

Physics, Electrical Engineering, and PCB Design

When I was a sophomore in college, I had an amazing professor for Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism. He made a series of complex topics fun to learn, and his personality and way of teaching were almost tailor-made for the way I like to learn. He explained new concepts through practical examples, and always kept students engaged throughout the class, making sure everyone understood the lectures. Physics II was an engineering prerequisite, and I didn’t mind taking the class since I really enjoyed the material. However, I did find myself wondering a few times, “Will I ever use any physics in real life?” It turns out that the answer to the question was yes.

Tim Haag Celebrates 10 Years as a Columnist

I ran into columnist Tim Haag at PCB West, who was visiting the show with co-workers from the technical writing company First Page Sage. We discussed Tim’s years as a Design007 Magazine columnist, and some of the drivers affecting the technical writing market, such as the retirement of many PCB subject matter experts who were also go-to writers within their companies.

The First India Pavilion

For the first time, IPC APEX EXPO will host an “India Pavilion,” showcasing 16 Indian companies promoting India’s electronics manufacturing capabilities. The initiative was undertaken by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, and implemented by the Indian government agency, Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) India.


Taiyo: Reopening Europe for Solder Mask

Nolan Johnson and Stuart Down discuss Taiyo’s partnership with Ventec and how both companies are leveraging their expertise to blaze a trail into the European PCB market. Stuart shares his outlook on the market and the unique challenges posed by global political instability and supply chain constraints, as well as how Europe’s evolving chemical regulations have impacted solder mask formulation. With their sights set on ramping up manufacturing capabilities, Taiyo sees a secure path forward to establishing a sizeable market presence in this promising region.

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

The holiday season is in full swing for most of us; no matter which holiday you choose to recognize here in the second half of December, it’s almost certain that your routine has some level of interruption to it right now. Chances are, you might not be consuming as much of your usual diet of industry news and information, what with all the holiday treats and traditional meals to be consumed instead. That, gentle reader, is why we bring you this week’s Top 5 editor’s picks–your slimmed down version of the news, leaving you more time for the other delights of the season. So without further ado, we bring you the five news items you really should make room for this week.

NCAB Creating a New Culture of Success

NCAB has been one of the most active companies in the industry when it comes to growth through acquisition, building an extensive global network over time. During the electronica show in Munich recently, Nolan Johnson met up with Greg Nicol and David Grant, both managing directors with NCAB’s UK organization. Greg and David had number of interesting insights on NCAB to share.

A New Gathering Place for Designers

IPC APEX EXPO started out as a show for the PCB manufacturing community, but it’s grown beyond that. This year, there’s more design curriculum at the show in San Diego than ever before. IPC instructor Kris Moyer has been instrumental in leading the organization’s efforts around PCB design and design engineering curriculum. So, I asked him the million-dollar question.

Industry Innovation Starts Here

If it isn’t clear already, your money, time, and effort will be well spent attending IPC APEX EXPO in January. Here, we’ve outlined the top six reasons that this event will be the highlight of your year. We’ve done all we can to make the event not only memorable, but a show that allows you to connect with industry peers, learn how to enhance your skills, help advance the industry, and discover new insights on products and strategies from industry innovators.

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

We’re into December, and the new year is around the corner. Things are looking pretty good for our industry. Trade show attendance is back up to pre-COVID levels, and a lot of companies are having banner years. Has the virtual trade show gone the way of the dodo bird? Let’s hope! This week, our must-reads include articles and news items on the decline of R&D, STEM education for kids, why vias do not heat up, the need for more DFT, and the lack of movement toward intelligent data transfer. Designers just love their Gerbers, but Dana Korf has a few ideas about how to make Gerbers obsolete.

Polar Instruments: Simulating PCB Potentialities

Nolan Johnson checks in with Polar’s Martyn Gaudion on the evolving needs of global PCB manufacturing markets in a post-pandemic world, where generating accurate PCB specification documentation is essential to successfully navigating today's rampant supply chain constraints. Polar has positioned itself to meet these needs through agile software product developments that allow OEMs and fabricators to simulate material interactions and end-product specifications, including in-demand features like a comprehensive "structure view" that allows users to visualize all the transmission lines on a given a PCB. Though keeping pace with the demands of a rapidly growing industry has been challenging, Polar's commitment to innovation has kept its software suite ahead of the curve.

The Test Connection: Spreading the Word About DFT

As signal speeds continue to increase and feature sizes decrease, PCB designers are beginning to pay greater attention to test and design for test (DFT) strategies. Bert Horner, president of The Test Connection in Hunt Valley, Maryland, is spearheading this drive to show designers the benefits of a solid DFT plan, as well as the downside of not having a test strategy. I met with Bert at PCB Carolina, where he was exhibiting and presenting a paper during the conference. We discussed his presentation, as well as why designers need to understand test and DFT issues, and why we need to see the PCB as one small—but very important—part of the entire system.

Electronics vs. Physics: Why Vias Don’t Get Hot

Most of are aware that when we pass an electrical current through a trace (conductor), the trace will heat up. This temperature increase is caused by the I2R power loss dissipated in the resistance of the trace. The resistance of a copper trace is mostly determined by its geometry (cross-sectional area), and there are lots of studies trying to look at the relationship between the current down a trace (of known size) and the resulting temperature of the trace. But the situation is much more complicated than this. There are physical properties that exist that result in helping to cool the trace. These properties are usually a combination of conduction of the heat away from the trace through the material, convection of the heat away from the trace through the air, and radiation of the heat away from the trace.

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

Normally, the holiday season is a slow(ish) news time, but this year just feels different. My opinion is that the technology industry banked up a whole bunch of innovations and new products during the pandemic disruptions, which are coming to market as quickly as possible. The November/December news is full of technology discussion, as my selections this week clearly demonstrate.


Randy Faucette Discusses PCB Carolina’s Explosive Growth

One of the fastest-growing tabletop shows is PCB Carolina, which is held at NC State University in Raleigh. Each year, the show draws more exhibitors than the venue hall can hold, pushing some exhibitors out into the lobby. And this year, the number of registered attendees broke the 1,000 mark for the first time. At PCB Carolina, I spoke with Randy Faucette, the founder of the Research Triangle Park design bureau Better Boards, which organizes this annual tradeshow and conference, and I asked him to share the secret to this show’s expansion.

The Growing Need for UHDI

Jan Pedersen of NCAB Group is deeply involved in IPC standards development surrounding ultra HDI and keeps his finger on the pulse of the industry surrounding this type of fabrication. With Asia still dominating this area, Jan sees the need for U.S. and European PCB fabricators to make the investment if they want to stay competitive.

An Opportunity to Give Thanks

I-Connect007 wants to take this opportunity to give thanks to so many people that make "the magic" happen day in and day out. Thanksgiving is a time, of course, to give thanks for the bounty that we enjoy, and that couldn't be truer each day for the support we receive in editorial, advertising, and marketing of our daily, weekly, and monthly publications. It's a pleasure to contribute to the industry—and to receive contributions. Read our Thanksgiving message and then enjoy your turkey day.

My Experience With Maxwell

I was first introduced to James Maxwell in 1967 as a college student. I had to decide whether I would take the Maxwell fields course or the switching and coding course. Being a chemical engineering major with a co-major in control theory, I had heard about the trials and tribulations of the infamous Maxwell fields course.

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

We’re heading into the holiday season, and tradeshow season is in full swing. Managing Editor Nolan Johnson and technical editor Pete Starkey have spent the week in Munich covering electronica, and apparently the attendance was wunderbar. COVID still persists, but everyone is ready to return to some normalcy. There’s a lot going on in our industry. In this week’s roundup, we have articles on everything from rigid-flex to the supply chain, as well as a primer on the role of physics in PCB design. As we move into the new year, you should check out this Top 10 list of tech trends for 2023, courtesy of Gartner.

The Physics of PCB Design

In this wide-ranging interview, Dr. Eric Bogatin discusses the relationship between physics and electrical theory, and why it’s critical for designers and design engineers to understand the laws of physics. As he points out, the math is important, but designers shouldn’t let the principles of physics “hide behind the math.” Eric discusses some points of physics that designers need to understand, the physics resources available, and why it’s so important to have some understanding of Maxwell’s equations, even if you don’t have a strong math background.

DownStream Flexes in Rigid-Flex

During PCB West, I caught up with DownStream Technologies co-founder Joe Clark and Senior Product Marketing Manager Mark Gallant. We discussed some of their latest tool updates, including a greater focus on bringing post-processing functionality, such as inter-layer analysis capability, to rigid-flex circuits. Joe also offered a look at global design trends going into 2023, as more engineers take on PCB designer roles while senior designers are retiring.

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

The industry news cycle seems to be picking up speed lately. Of course, 30 days into the quarter is about when public companies announce their results, and in the midst of this worldwide financial situation, we’ve got all eyes on anything coming out from our counterparts in the industry. I’ve noticed that global corporate results (Nan Ya PCB and TTM, in particular) do seem to be on everyone’s radar. In addition to financial news, trade shows are popping back up around the world—Europe, India, and a special report from editor Andy Shaughnessy, who took his own road trip to Raleigh, reporting on PCB Carolina, which had its own heyday this year.

PCB Carolina Breaks Attendance Record

PCB Carolina has been growing consistently for the past decade, and this year the show reached a milestone: more than 1,000 attendees. Yesterday, the show was the busiest I’ve ever seen it; I almost had to park off the NC State University campus. Fortunately, I’m an expert at “the parking lot game.” I waited until a guy was leaving and then I sniped his spot. Bam!

IPC to Unveil New Member Magazine, ‘IPC Community’ at IPC APEX EXPO 2023

IPC, in partnership with IPC Publishing Group (I-Connect007) will unveil an exciting new publication, "IPC Community," at IPC APEX EXPO 2023, as a continuation of its commitment to better serve the electronics industry and provide additional value for IPC members.


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

We’re officially in show season and Managing Editor Nolan Johnson just got back from SMTA International. As he says in his review, the show drew a sizeable crowd this year. With the pandemic in the rear-view window, let’s hope our trade shows are getting back to normal.

The Printed Electronics Roundtable, Part 3

We recently conducted a roundtable with a team of printed electronic circuit experts from companies that run the gamut: John Lee and Kevin Miller of Insulectro, Mike Wagner of Butler Technologies, Tom Bianchi of Eastprint, and John Voultos of Sheldahl Flexible Technologies. In this third and final installment of the roundtable, these experts discuss some of the differences and similarities between PEC and traditional PCB processes, the future of printed electronic circuits, and why the best way to learn about this technology is through networking with veterans of this segment who are eager to share their expertise with the next generation.

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

Halloween is next Monday and parties will be taking place over the weekend, I’m sure. Here in the United States, at least, the “any-holiday-is-an-excuse-for-a-party” crowd has integrated Halloween, along with Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Cinco de Mayo into wide-ranging opportunities for themed revelry. The news this week has been a bit crazy as well, though certainly not alcohol-fueled. There was a lot of important news and narrowing it down to just five was thought-provoking yet ultimately rewarding. Here then, are the five top pieces of news you shouldn’t miss this week.

Sunstone’s Matt Stevenson Shares Insights From New PCB Design Book

There’s designing the “perfect” circuit board and then there’s designing a board that is “perfect for manufacturing.” While seasoned designers and design engineers understand many of the nuances, PCB fabricator Sunstone Circuits has just published a new book specifically for new designers who have the knowledge of design but are still learning what it means to get the board manufactured. Sunstone’s Matt Stevenson takes the reader through a series of situations that should help clarify what’s happening in the fabrication process and how to adjust a board design to be better suited for manufacturing.

HDI, A-SAP and mSAP: A Designer’s Point of View

HDI—high-density interconnect—designs require some different thinking on the part of the designer. One of the first things to consider is whether you need HDI, and if so, how much. The HDI option comes into play as soon as you purchase any components with 0.5 mm pin pitch. The number of these components and other specifications of your design will determine the amount of HDI you will need. Here’s a quick list of HDI options.

Forming Standards for Ultra HDI

To get the latest news about ultra high-density interconnections (UHDI), we checked in with Jan Pedersen, NCAB Group’s director of technology. Jan is co-chair of IPC D-33AP, and a great source of overall DFM expertise as well. We asked him to give us a snapshot of UHDI in the industry, where we’re headed, and what this means to PCB designers.

Sunstone and I-007eBooks Launch Book on Designing for Reality

I-007eBooks is excited to announce the release of the latest title in its series for designers, The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Designing for Reality. This book covers both written and unwritten rules for how to create a realistic, manufacturable design.

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

Where did the year go? I can’t believe we’re planning our January and February issues now. It was 84 degrees most of last week in Atlanta, and now it’s 31. I guess I should take my Hawaiian shirts out of rotation! This week we have quite a variety of articles for you. It’s officially show time and the industry is back in business in a major way. We have some news coming out of last week’s advanced packaging event in Washington, D.C., and an article about navigating SMTA International, which opens on Halloween this year in Minneapolis. We have a great column on avoiding EMI with good routing strategies, and an article on electrically conductive inks. To top it off, I-Connect007 has published a new book, written by Matt Stevenson of Sunstone Circuits, that posits a new “design for”: Designing for Reality. If you’re a designer, isn’t designing for reality what it’s all about?

EMA Helps Ease Designers’ Supply Chain Woes

Supply chain issues are continuing to cause disruptions in our industry, though lead times have dropped from astronomical to merely troublesome. In this interview, Chris Banton, EMA Design Automation’s director of marketing, explains how Cadence’s software has evolved as designers’ needs have changed in the past few turbulent years, including providing designers with component availability data early in the process.

Q&A: The Learning Curve for Ultra HDI

For this issue on ultra HDI, we reached out to Tara Dunn at Averatek with some specific questions about how she defines UDHI, more about the company’s patented semi-additive process, and what really sets ultra HDI apart from everything else. Do designers want to learn a new technology? What about fabricators? We hope this interview answers some of those questions that you may be having about these capabilities and what it could mean for your designs.


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

I’ve been in Washington, D.C., most of this week, attending and reporting on the IPC Advanced Packaging Symposium. You’ll see more content from me in the weeks and months to come as I sort through and highlight the varied aspects of this ground-breaking event. If you’re in this industry, advanced packaging will affect you, make no mistake about it.

Ultra HDI Primer

We recently spoke with Herb Snogren, an industry veteran and consultant with Summit Interconnect tasked with leading the company’s ultra HDI efforts. Herb is co-chair of the IPC ultra HDI subcommittee, IPC D-33-AP. In this interview, Herb discusses the current state of UHDI, how designers and fabricators can get started working in this new frontier, and why the U.S. must invest in UHDI technology now to counteract Asia’s near dominance of the UHDI segment, which has left some of our critical industries vulnerable to supply chain disruptions.

Microvias Can Be Stacked in Certain Package Densities

Summit Interconnect’s Gerry Partida recently spoke with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team about his research into root causes of weak microvias. Rather than a single manufacturing process cause, Gerry suggests that microvia reliability is the culmination of several material interactions and that contrary to popular belief, microvias can still be stacked in small, tight packaging densities. He highlights the need for simulation, as well as some of his findings that he plans to publish in a paper at IPC APEX EXPO 2023.

IPC Symposium: U.S. Must Address Critical Gaps in Advanced Packaging Needs

There is a significant capability gap in advanced substrate packaging in North America, forcing all semiconductors to be packaged in Asia and leaving North America at risk in its supply chain. This was a common theme during a two-day IPC Advanced Packaging Symposium, which launched yesterday at the Kimpton Monaco hotel in Washington, D.C.

Lessons Learned: Breaking Down the Four Types of Communication

Kelly Dack and Nolan Johnson explore the silver linings from the past two years, especially the importance of good communication. These skills are—as they have always been—key to the success of the project. But how do you define the best methods for communication? Kelly breaks down four personality types and why it’s important to recognize how one person differs from another. When you better understand how a person thinks, your level of effective communication increases exponentially.

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

It’s been a busy week for I-Connect007. Managing Editor Nolan Johnson and I covered PCB West at the Santa Clara Convention Center, and, as you’ll see in my article below the place was packed. We have an article about SMTA International, scheduled for the end of October. I think the trade show season is looking good into 2023. People are done with COVID shutdowns and ready to get back to live trade shows and conferences. We’ll be in Minneapolis to bring you the latest news and technical information. We also have a news report about the European Union committing to craft its own version of America’s CHIPS Act. There’s a great interview with Dana Korf and John Strubbe about the latest innovations in materials at TUC. And columnist Paige Fiet explains why she is committed to making manufacturing “cool” again to help recruit and retain young technologists.

PCB West 2022 Draws Biggest Attendance in Years

There were more attendees at PCB West 2022 than I can remember in the time that it’s been held in this wing of the Santa Clara Convention Center. The show floor was busier than I’ve seen it in years. For the first couple of hours, the aisles were jammed with attendees, even on the outside aisles. You couldn’t walk without squeezing past other attendees. It was a topic of conversation all day: “How about this crowd? Wow.”

From the Floor at PCB West 2022

Though the organizers of PCB West had soldiered through in delivering a conference every year during the pandemic, the virtual and hybrid models just did not quite meet the requirements for a technical conference. To be fair, the limitations weren’t PCB West’s fault; the shortcomings came from the show’s virtual environments, not the host. All the more encouraging, then, that the 2022 edition of PCB West was back in bloom.

Book Excerpt: 'An Introduction to The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Stackups'

To give readers a sample of 'The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to... Stackups—The Design within the Design,' by Bill Hargin, we are providing the book's introduction. He writes, "Another book about stackups? If you’re asking this question, I’d like to know the book you’re thinking of, as I was looking for it a few years back. I have a pretty good PCB signal integrity (SI) library, and I’ve only found one chapter on stackup design so far."

The Chip Shortage Leads to Innovation

The chip shortage is by no means over, with estimates expecting it will last into 2023. Some could see it taking even longer, such as Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, who expects it to see shortages into 2024 due to those now impacting electronics production equipment. But if there’s any bright spot to be had, it’s that a crisis often leads to long-term solutions. In this case, it’s the increase in government funding for semiconductor production in the United States. Once the CHIPS Act proceeds, we can significantly accelerate building semiconductor fabs in the United States and work toward preventing future chip shortages that would put us back into our current situation.


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

This week, our five must-reads include the IPC report on the EMS industry and a report on ICs for the automotive market. Add to that Lockheed’s highest powered DoD laser yet, IPC’s APEX keynote announcement, and—for you conference and expo junkies—a calendar of upcoming industry events. I can’t help but notice that much of our news is about, well, something new. In this case, my editor’s picks for the week capture new technology, new perspectives, new ways to communicate content, and new developments that we can expect to see in our future daily life. To borrow a phrase from the TV show “Firefly,” everything is “shiny” this week. I will be at PCB West, the IPC Advanced Packaging symposium, SMTA International, and electronica. If you see me, say hello, and share something cool about the part of the industry you’re in.

DFM 101: Final Finishes—ENEPIG and IAg

One of the biggest challenges facing PCB designers is not understanding the cost drivers in the PCB manufacturing process. This article is the latest in a series that will discuss these cost drivers (from the PCB manufacturer’s perspective) and the design decisions that will impact product reliability. Final finishes provide a surface for the component assembler to either solder, wire bond, or conductively attach a component pad or lead to a pad, hole, or area of a PCB. The other use for a final finish is to provide a known contact resistance and life cycle for connectors, keys, or switches. The primary purpose of a final finish is to create electrical and thermal continuity with a surface of the PCB.

Catching Up With John Johnson, New Director of Business Development at ASC

It’s always good to catch up with old friends, especially when you can start working together. I recently spoke with my friend John Johnson, who has joined American Standard Circuits as the director of business development. At ASC, John will be using the Averatek A-SAP process that he was previously involved with. He shares some of his background and provides insight on the best ways to use this semi-additive PCB fabrication process that opens the capability window for forming trace and space.

Book Excerpt: The Electronics Industry’s Guide to… The Evolving PCB NPI Process, Chapter 1

The Electronics Industry’s Guide to… The Evolving PCB NPI Process is the first book in I-Connect007’s new The Electronics Industry’s Guide to… technical series. This valuable resource is for all segments of the electronics interconnect industry. What follows is an excerpt from Chapter 1: 'How the NPI Process Has Changed and Where We're Going'.

Some Relief, But Hold Off on the Party

To help PCB designers and design engineers get a clearer picture of the stress points in the industry, particularly from a company that deals directly with EMS providers, we reached out to CalcuQuote CEO Chintan Sutaria with a list of questions. The following Q&A explores trends in the PCB supply chain and heady advice for dealing with long lead times and counterfeit parts.

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

It’s officially fall now, and in Atlanta the temperature has plummeted to the mid-80s. We’ve all bumped our air conditioners up to 74 degrees. That means it’s trade show season, and I’ve been busy looking for my suitcase. This week, we have an assortment of news about associations, education, and advocacy, as well as another installment of our Printed Electronics Roundtable. And if you’re looking for a job, you are in luck; our jobConnect007 section is chock-full of open positions at all levels in this industry.

Pack Your Bags! We’ve Got Your Trade Show Calendar Here

It’s officially fall, and that means it's time to start planning your trade show attendance. To help you make decisions about when and where to go, we’ve put together a list of industry trade shows. It has been two long years with no or few in-person trade shows, and we’ve felt it. So, now we’re back in business and ready to hit the road. Do you have a show or conference to add to our list? Let us know!

Part 2: The Printed Electronics Roundtable

We recently held a roundtable with a team of printed electronic circuit experts from companies that run the gamut: John Lee and Kevin Miller of Insulectro, Mike Wagner of Butler Technologies, Tom Bianchi of Eastprint, and John Voultos of Sheldahl Flexible Technologies. In the first part of this roundtable, the team dispelled a variety of myths surrounding PEC. In this second part of the roundtable, the participants discuss what designers and fabricators need to know to jump into printed electronics, and some of the drivers behind this growing technology.

IPC: Companies Are Intentional About Tracking Environmental and Social Risks

Leading companies in the electronics manufacturing industry are highly intentional about their environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities, with climate change and energy use among the most closely scrutinized issues, an IPC analysis shows. As part of IPC’s ESG for Electronics initiative, IPC is interested in developing resources for members on the most common ESG methods and priorities of leading companies across the electronics value chain. In support of this, IPC has preliminarily analyzed the ESG reports of approximately a dozen companies in selected portions of the industry.

A New Sourcing Paradigm

We’ve seen many changes over the past few years, and nowhere are they more evident than in the world of sourcing components. Sourcing has become one of the biggest challenges facing PCB designers and design engineers today. Gone are the days of procuring parts from a single source, and communication between stakeholders and distributors is critical. But as we learned in a conversation with I-Connect007 columnist Kelly Dack, PCB designers can use certain layout strategies to plan for the unexpected, such as leaving extra real estate so that smaller components can be replaced by larger, readily available parts if the originals become “unobtainium.”


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

“You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with.” This saying is attributed to Jim Rohn, and I couldn’t help thinking of that quote as I put together this week’s listings. Hear me out: 1) There are five items on our list; 2) These items zoomed to the top based on reader interest; 3) Every single one of these news items has an “association” association—IPC, iNEMI, SMTA, and NextFlex are all represented in what you, dear reader, chose to explore this last week.

Altium’s EDDI Report Tracks Components’ Availability—Today and Historically

There’s one lesson that all designers have learned over the past few years: Components might be here today and gone tomorrow, so tracking your parts is more important than ever. Any resources that help you keep tabs on your required parts are invaluable in these days of 40-week lead times. Earlier this year, Altium released one such resource: the Electronic Design to Delivery Index (EDDI) report. Assembled from millions of bytes of data gleaned from the Octopart search engineer and the Nexar platform, the monthly EDDI report provides part availability histories going back years, as well as a real-time snapshot of global inventories.

Designing Through Supply Chain Pain

Engineers are accustomed to the demanding challenges of designing for miniaturization, cost reduction, cross platform compatibility, and harsh environments. What has proven to be the most painful experience of my career (and for many of my colleagues) is the sheer lack of components from which to build our designs. Development cycles—commercial, industrial, medical, avionics—have been severely impacted, from large enterprise corporations to small design/integration companies. Awareness of the situation is the first step to understanding the underlying problems faced by today’s design engineers industry wide. Here are a few of the situations I have faced in the last year alone.

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

It feels like the first day of school. It’s September, and we’re all officially back at our desks, workstations, or kitchen tables. Even Les Vacances is over. Oui, c’est vrai! But instead of facing new teachers, we have to deal with diverse market forces, supply chain issues, and technology that never seems to stop evolving. Of course, that’s what makes this industry so interesting, isn’t it?

September 2022 Issue of Design007 Magazine Available Now

Supply chain management is a dynamic situation, with a number of global forces that can create pain for PCB designers. In this issue, we speak with a variety of experts and bring you up-to-the-minute insight about designing PCBs in this ever-changing environment.

Ventec Thermal Management Book Excerpt: Chapter 1

Regarding basic principles of thermal dissipation there are three ways of dissipating energy: Conduction, convection, and radiation. The integrated metal substrate (IMS) printed circuit boards rely predominantly on heat conduction all the way through the different layers of the substrates from a hot point (the base of the component) to a cold point (the furthest surface of the metal base) and, usually, thereafter, through a dissipator.

Material Conservation: The PCB Designer's Role

During these times of supply chain uncertainty, many product developers are considering new ways to conserve materials—from laminates to components, layer reduction, and everything in between. Barry Matties and Happy Holden recently spoke with Alun Morgan, president of EIPC and technology ambassador for Ventec, about material conservation strategies for today’s PCB designers and design engineers. Alun explained why this may be the perfect time to educate PCB designers about conserving materials: When a model is broken, the people involved are much more open to new ideas.

Designing for Material Conservation Means Changing Attitudes

It makes a lot of sense: During times when the supply chain is stretched to the breaking point—and the last few years certainly qualify—what if PCB designers created boards that used fewer components and less laminate? Do PCBs still have to be 0.062" thick? Why not reduce layer count while they’re at it? Andy Shaughnessy and Nolan Johnson spoke with I-Connect007 columnist Dana Korf about the idea of designing a PCB with material conservation in mind. Is it a great new idea, or are we opening a whole new can of worms and a separate group of problems?

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

This week we have quite a variety of articles for you. There has been so much electronics industry news coming out of Washington, D.C., that it can be hard to keep track of what’s going on. So, Editor Michelle Te compiled a handy-dandy reference guide to recent legislation news, including our exclusive coverage. We need to keep an eye on these senators and representatives. They’ve been talking about the importance of our industry for the past year, but this is an election year, after all. They’ve been known to say one thing and do another.

I-Connect007 eBook Introduction: The Evolving NPI Process

Thanks to marketing and advances in technology, we have all come to expect that the electronic products we buy will be closely aligned to our individual and specific lifestyle or business requirements. This expected variability, in personal function and style, as well as regulatory compliance and a changing global economic landscape, has made designing and producing new products a challenging prospect. And, on top of the resulting “high-mix, low-volume” production cycles, increasingly more products contain electronic components in varying levels that heighten the complexity of design and manufacturing.


Design Tips for Lowering Costs of Fab and Assembly

This is the million-dollar question of every project: How can I cut the cost of the PCB? There are about a thousand answers to this question. There are a few simple guidelines that everyone can follow to reduce costs. I talk about them in my IPC CID and CID+ courses. Designers, fabricators, and assemblers talk about them in a variety of articles. Some professionals who have published some great articles on cost-saving strategies include Tara Dunn, Happy Holden, Chris Church, Kella Knack, Judy Warner, Julie Ellis, Lars Wallin, and many, many others.

Happy’s Design Tips for Material Conservation

For this issue, Happy Holden provided a range of options for designers who are seeking to conserve materials in their next design. He also offered an example of the relative cost index, or RCI, that he developed at HP exclusively for PCB design. With this RCI, designers can figure out the relative cost of a new design compared to an eight-layer through-hole board. We hope you can use this handy formula on your next design job.

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

Can it be Friday already? Seems like I’ve just barely put away my Tuesday dishes. Some weeks, I wonder where my days went as they fly by so fast I hardly even realize it. As I looked back through the news for the week, it was clear why everything went so fast: There was a lot going on. The news this week had a nice feel to it. It seems like the industry is starting to gain some traction again with shows, mergers and acquisitions, and companies getting to do those “extras” that they wanted to do before the pandemic reared its ugly head. It had a little of that “back to normal” feel, even if we aren’t quite there yet. What do you think? Are we normal yet?

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

There was some good news this week, as Republicans and Democrats managed to cooperate long enough to pass the CHIPS Act. Members of the House and Senate don’t usually act until they get worried about being voted out of office, so pardon me if I’m not ready to sing “Happy Days Are Here Again” just yet. But this is still really good news; the politicians are on the record now, and we can hold them accountable.

Cadence Provides ‘Clarity’ in Design Tool

Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Brad Griffin, product marketing director for Cadence Design Systems, about Cadence’s Matrix solver technology. They discuss its use as a multi-disciplinary field solver as well as Cadence’s focus on thermal analysis and utilizing the power of the cloud.

Myths vs. Facts: The Printed Electronics Roundtable, Part 1

We recently held a roundtable with a team of printed electronic circuit experts from companies that run the gamut: John Lee and Kevin Miller of Insulectro, Mike Wagner of Butler Technologies, Tom Bianchi of Eastprint, and John Voultos of Sheldahl Flexible Technologies. In this first part of the roundtable, the participants dispel 10 common myths that have been floating around regarding printed electronic circuits (PEC). They also discuss the progress that’s been made in PEC development in just the past decade, and what the future may hold for this technology.

John Watson Wants You—to Sign Up for His PCB Design Class

I-Connect007 columnist John Watson is teaching an introductory class on PCB design at Palomar College this fall, but this is much more than a basic design class. But John has hit a slight snafu: He needs a few more students to sign up before Aug. 23, or the class will be cancelled. It’s an online class, so you don’t have to live in San Diego to attend. In this interview, John talks about the genesis for the class and its benefits.

Excerpt Chapter 5: 'The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to... Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates, Vol. 2'

Chapter 5 of the 2nd Volume from The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to... Thermal Managment with Insulated Metal Substrates provides examples of thermally enhanced prepregs and cores now available in the market with the versatility to solve a wide variety of challenges. Included in this chapter you will find examples of simple designs and more complex hybrid assemblies that combine multilayer and single-layer areas on the same board.

August Issue of Design007 Magazine Available Now

We’re seeing all sorts of interesting tactics for dealing with 50-week lead times. One of the most basic concepts that we’ve heard about lately is material conservation—why not just design PCBs with fewer parts? As we point out in this issue, sometimes less is more. Our experts share a variety of strategies and technologies to help reduce your overall material consumption, allowing you to lower costs and add competitive advantage.

IPC's I-Connect007 Acquisition Update With John Mitchell

Editor Nolan Johnson speaks with I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties and IPC President and CEO John Mitchell about IPC's acquisition of the publishing company, and what this means to I-Connect007's readers.


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

The Top 5 list this week contains industry analysis from IPC’s Shawn DuBravac, news on the passage of the U.S. “CHIPS Plus” bill, new materials from Ventec, news about a fab for sale, and a chemistry company completing their acquisition, plus a brand new book in the I-Connect007 eBooks series.

HyperLynx: There’s an App for That

I recently spoke with Todd Westerhoff, product marketing manager for signal integrity software tools at Siemens. We discussed a new capability called HyperLynx Apps that offers a new take on traditional signal and power integrity analysis, and how that fits in with the Siemens plan to put SI and PI tools into the hands of more designers early in the design cycle.

DFM 101: Final Finishes—ENIG and ENIPIG

One of the biggest challenges facing PCB designers is not understanding the cost drivers in the PCB manufacturing process. This article is the latest in a series that will discuss these cost drivers (from the PCB manufacturer’s perspective) and the design decisions that will impact product reliability. Final finishes provide a surface for the component assembler to either solder, wire bond, or conductively attach a component pad or lead to a pad, hole, or area of a PCB.

Q4 Concerns: Hold on to Your Hats

IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac has plenty to share about the state of the U.S. economy and how the electronics manufacturing industry might weather the storms of high inflation, rising interest rates, and low unemployment. It’s an interesting situation to find ourselves in as the flurry of opinion on a 2023 recession starts to take shape. Does it make sense to invest in PCB fab now? And how does the rest of the world feel about it? Shawn gets to the bottom line.

Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to... Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates, Vol. 2'

As the second in this two-part series, The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to... Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates, Volume 2, by Didier Mauve and Robert Art builds on the material presented in the first book by describing up-to-the-minute products and design techniques for thermal management with IMS.

New Book from I-Connect007 Examines Evolution of Electronics Industry NPI

The Electronics Industry’s Guide to… The Evolving PCB NPI Process is the first book in I-Connect007’s new The Electronics Industry’s Guide to… technical series. This valuable resource is for all segments of the electronics interconnect industry.

Webinar Review: Thermal Integrity of High-Performance PCB Design

Electrical and mechanical engineers may be working on the same product development teams, but they speak different languages, and they have completely different objectives. As a result, these folks almost never use the same software tools. But Cadence’s new Celsius Thermal Solver is an exception to the rule. In a new CadenceTECHTALK webinar, “How Static and Dynamic IR Drop Analysis Can Help PCB Designs and Challenges,” product manager Melika Roshandell and SerDes SI/PI engineer Karthik Mahesh Rao explain how the EE and ME can both use the Celsius Thermal Solver to achieve their disparate objectives.

The Practical Side of Using EM Solvers

Electromagnetic (EM) solvers based on Maxwell’s equations have proven invaluable in the advancement of digital electronics and wireline communications. Plain and simple, electrical engineers need to know what a circuit or electrical interconnect will do when excited by a dynamic or varying signal. In the signal integrity world, an interconnect that passes a DC connectivity check can completely fail at higher frequencies. In the power integrity world, a power rail that measures the correct DC voltage could easily go into oscillation when a dynamic load is applied. Learning the basic skills to fire up an EM simulator, obtain qualitative answers in minutes, and higher fidelity answers in a few days, can be the difference between sleepless nights of product failures vs. robust designs with wide design margins.

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

Our biggest news this week: I-Connect007 has been acquired by IPC. Every member of the team, including founder and Publisher Barry Matties, is included in this deal. We’ve enjoyed working closely with IPC for decades, especially at events like IPC APEX EXPO, and we have four IPC columnists writing in our magazines and newsletters. This move makes sense for both parties. It enables us to take our magazine, newsletters, and book publishing to the next level, and IPC won’t have to spend years building a media company from the ground up. It really is a win-win.

IPC Acquires Media Company I-Connect007, Strengthening Relationship to Drive Growth and Innovation in the Electronics Industry

IPC, a global electronics manufacturing industry association, has acquired media company I-Connect007, a global source for news and original content serving the printed circuit design, fabrication and assembly/EMS markets.


The Great Divide in PCB Simulation Software

Today’s PCB design engineers have more layout and analysis tools at their disposal than ever before. Over the years we’ve seen layout tools become more automated, rules-driven, and more integrated. Now we even have integration between design tools from different vendors and ranging across domains, starting with basic circuit design, and spanning up to PLM and ERP integration. It really is a great time to be a designer.

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

It’s always interesting how certain groups of news emerge in our most-read content. This week, reader interest seemed focused on two distinct themes: Mexico and awards. In this week’s list, we find the inaugural award recipients from iNEMI’s Project Leadership Awards. We also bring you the award recipients from the SEMI FlexTech conference held last week in San Francisco. News from Mexico includes a new Atotech facility, and an interview with IPC’s David Hernandez and Lorena Villanueva about IPC’s expanding presence in Mexico. Metcal’s new hot air rework system also got a lot of attention, with an abundance of reader interest.

The Importance of Rigid-Flex PCB Design Guidelines

I have the tendency to try to replicate the delicacies I’ve ordered at restaurants in my own kitchen. One of my latest attempts at creating restaurant-worthy dishes was a Korean pancake that’s crispy on the outside but soft on the inside. With my amateur cooking skills, it proved to be an impossible task—I could either make only a hard pancake or one that was total fluff. While I’m still struggling to figure out the trick to bringing together the different textures of a Korean pancake, I’ve had more success in bringing together the hardboard elements and flexible PCB elements of a rigid-flex PCB. Compared to making Korean pancakes, striking the right balance of flexibility and rigidity on a rigid-flex PCB is easy if you abide by rigid-flex PCB design guidelines.

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

I’m getting a lot of out-of-office replies. Are you all on the beach now? It’s 91 degrees every day here in Atlanta lately, but each afternoon it rains like we’re in a horror movie, and that drops the temperature down to the subtropical arena. Still, I’ll take heat over freezing any day. Things are heating up in our industry too, as we see from my top five choices this week. First-quarter electronic design revenue is up year-on-year, but PCB revenue barely moved the needle YOY. Editor Nolan Johnson spent the week at SEMICON West and the FLEX Conference, and he brings us a review of these conferences, co-located at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. As he notes, printed electronic circuits are beginning to gain a foothold in the market.

Surveying the Land of Field Solvers

Electromagnetic field solvers have traditionally been used by a small slice of engineers—the full-time signal integrity experts—and their use has been limited to the most demanding designs. But as design speeds increase, problems requiring field solvers are becoming more mainstream and field solvers are popping up all over the place, including free or inexpensive solvers available through an internet search. Many companies are claiming that their field solvers can be used by hardware design engineers without the SI background that solvers once required.

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

In more than one conversation while discussing the industry this week, the themes have included industry turmoil, lots of business opportunities, and the urgent need to build out to meet changing demands. In fact, our July issue of PCB007 Magazine, which publishes later this month, will focus on these very topics. It’s definitely one not to be missed! These themes also emerged in this week’s top five news items as well. Top stories include an acquisition in the soldering machinery space, sales and service expansion in Mexico, industry data from SIA on semiconductor global sales data, and strong financial numbers from two China-based manufacturers. Now, with the U.S. Congress putting its focus on the PCB industry, things could really heat up. It’s going to be an interesting year.

What Happens When You Assume?

What is design with manufacturing and what does true DWM look like in operation? In this interview, I-Connect007 columnist Dana Korf explains what it will take to achieve total communication among all the stakeholders in the PCB development cycle. He also stresses the need for everyone involved in PCB design and manufacturing to stop making assumptions, even at the risk of being labeled as “that guy” who asks too many questions.

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

The summer is heating up, and our news this week is on fire, literally. Eltek has resumed making deliveries after a fire at their facility in Petach-Tikva, Israel. There’s never a dull moment in this industry. And we have some good news: EIPC’s conferences are now live events again, and Editor Pete Starkey is back in the saddle, bringing us a review of the two-day conference. I know Pete was getting tired of sitting around his house and watching these events on video.

Rambus Driving a CXL Memory Option

In this interview with Arjun Bangre, director of product for high-speed interface IPs for PCI Express and CXL at Rambus, the discussion revolves around new developments in CXL, PCI Express, and interoperable IP solutions that Rambus has developed.

Master the Art of Communication With Manufacturers

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


EIPC Summer Conference 2022: Day 2 Review

Örebro, Sweden on June 15 brought a bright and early start to Day 2 of the EIPC Summer Conference for those who had enjoyed the previous evening’s networking dinner, but had resisted the temptation to over-indulge or to carry on their long-awaited catch-up conversations with old friends into the small hours. All but a few were in their seats for 9 a.m., awake and attentive for Session 4 of the conference, on the theme of new process technologies, moderated by Martyn Gaudion, CEO of Polar Instruments.

The U.S. Economy Needs the Bipartisan Innovation Act and the PCB Act

In this IPC-created interview between Dale Curtis, IPC Advocacy Communications and Chris Mitchell, IPC VP Global Government Relations, the importance of the semiconductor and PCB manufacturing legislation moving through US Congress is highlighted.

EIPC Summer Conference 2022: Day 1 Review

At last, a live EIPC conference and this time in the Swedish city of Örebro, “where history and contemporary culture converge,” a pleasant and convenient location for an event that included a privileged visit to the Ericsson facility in Kumla. Around 100 delegates made the journey and the Örebro Scandic Grand Hotel was an excellent conference venue for the June 14-15 conference.

Ventec’s Book on Thermal Management: The Summer Sequel You’ve Been Waiting For

I-Connect007 is excited to announce the release of the second title in Ventec’s series on thermal management, "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates, Volume 2." This second volume covers the latest developments in the field of thermal management, particularly in insulated metal substrates, using state-of-the-art products as examples, and focusing on specific solutions and enhanced properties of IMS.

Altimade Puts Designers and Manufacturers Together

Despite all of the talk about the need for communication between designers and manufacturers, many PCB designers still do not talk with their manufacturers for a variety of reasons. Altium and MacroFab aim to change this dynamic. In this interview, Ted Pawela, chief ecosystem officer of Altium and head of Altium’s Nexar Business Unit, and MacroFab CEO Misha Govshteyn, discuss the new Altimade manufacturing service that Altium is introducing in partnership with MacroFab. Ted and Misha provide an overview of the Altimade process, how it links designers to fabricators, assembly providers, and component distributors, and they explain how it could pave the way for true design with manufacturing, or DWM.

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

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

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

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

Assemblers Play the ‘Revise or Wait’ Game With Designers

Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Duane Benson at Milwaukee Electronics and Screaming Circuits. Duane was pointing out a trend in moving designs into production, which he termed “revise or wait.” This excerpt provides a preview of our exploration of similar topics involving supply chain issues, lead times, and proceeding forward despite the supply challenges.

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

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

Producing Diverse Designs in Concert With Manufacturing

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


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

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

Passionate People Can Do Fantastic Things

Electrical engineer Marshall Massengill is the first to admit that he has a pretty sweet gig. Marshall serves as a mentor for the Zebracorns, a robotics team based at a STEM-oriented high school in North Carolina. And he’s not just a mentor: He’s also a graduate of North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, and a former member of one of the earliest robotics teams organized by FIRST. We recently spoke with Marshall about his work with the FIRST robotics team, and what it’s like teaching PCB design to juniors and seniors in high school.

The Survey Said: Designing Around Missing Data

One of the best tools we have for keeping our fingers on the pulse of the industry is the reader survey. When we want to find out what’s going on, we just ask. Fortunately, our readers are not a shy bunch of folks. They don’t mind sharing—the good, the bad, and the ugly. In a recent survey, we asked our PCB designer readers, “What missing information or data (impedance requirements, library data, etc.) do you find yourself having to ‘design around’?”

Designing in a Vacuum Q&A: Nick Barbin

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

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

Things are heating up in the world of PCB design and manufacturing as well. In the past week, we published quite a bit of news—some good, some not so good. Some of the news is mixed, as we see with the EMS industry shipments rising YOY in April, but falling from the previous month. It’s nice to see NASA investing in American small businesses, but they didn’t really have a choice, did they?

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

I know I’m not alone in this behavior: Car advertisements during television commercial breaks are as good as invisible to me, until I’m thinking about getting a new car. Only then do I notice them. Rather, I see each one with all my attention and being. If that extends into our industry, then everybody must be itching to pick up some new equipment. This week’s must-reads includes a smattering of new product announcements, along with the news of the IPC European subsidiary.

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

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

Altium Focusing on Educating Designers of Today and Tomorrow

We recently spoke with Rea Callender, Altium’s vice president of education, and Zach Peterson, founder of Northwest Engineering Solutions and a technical consultant for Altium’s educational programs. They discussed Altium’s curriculum—what drives the content development, the goals of their programs, and why there’s never been a better time to continue your PCB design education.

Pulsonix Collision Avoidance to Bring Mechanical Capabilities Into ECAD

The I-Connect Editorial Team recently spoke with Bob Williams, managing director of Pulsonix. He discussed some of the new features in the upcoming version of the Pulsonix PCB design tool, Version 12, including collision avoidance and other 3D options that allow certain MCAD functions within the ECAD environment.

A Textbook Look: Signal Integrity and Impedance

Believing that I knew a bit about signal integrity and controlled impedance, I was pleased to take the opportunity to connect with an educational webinar that I hoped would extend my knowledge. In the event I was surprised at how little I actually knew, and the webinar was an excellent learning opportunity. The webinar was introduced and expertly moderated by Anna Brockman of Phoenix Contact in Germany.


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

The big news in the industry this week was the new bill introduced to the U.S. Congress in support of the PCB manufacturing industry. The Supporting American Printed Circuit Boards Act of 2022, which was introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Blake Moore (R-UT), incentivizes “purchases of domestically produced PCBs as well as industry investments in factories, equipment, workforce training, and research and development.” The bill is a PCB-oriented complement to the semiconductor-oriented CHIPS Act of 2021.

Designing in a Vacuum Q&A: Mark Thompson

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

Designing in a Vacuum Q&A: Carl Schattke

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

Tips for Designing in—and Escaping From—the Vacuum

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

Additive Manufacturing Requires Additive Design Techniques

Although I am not a designer by trade, I want to share my thoughts on what additive manufacturing means for designers, especially how it relates to solder mask. In this article, you will learn what topics I feel are the most important to address.

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

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

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

It certainly seems that our times continue to be interesting, don’t they? Just how many different flavors of supply chain disruption can we come up with? Investment on the supply side needs to increase, but the size of the labor force needs to increase even more, if we want to accomplish the task of the buildout itself, let alone running the facilities properly.

DFM 101: Solder Mask and Legend

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

Designing PCBs With Additive Traces

Advances in technology have been clear to see within the component packaging industry, as the ball grid array (BGA) package sizes reduce from 1.0 mm pitch to 0.8 mm, 0.4 mm, and even beyond. However, while these improvements have occurred with component packages, it has become increasingly more difficult to break out and route the dense circuitry associated with these parts. Currently, the high-density interconnect (HDI) method typically used for the breakout of such parts has been to create the smallest possible subtractive-etched traces with microvias to allow for connections and escapes on the innerlayers of your PCB.

Designing Additive and Semi-Additive PCBs

With components getting smaller and electronic devices becoming more compact, we are reaching the physical limits of the typical etched fabrication processes. To address these limits, new additive and semi-additive processes are being developed to fit into the current fabricators’ production lines without too much disruption or extra cost.


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

It’s been a busy week in this industry, and we have news and articles from the PCB design, fabrication, and assembly communities. The roller coaster ride continues, with whiplash-inducing news from IPC about March North American shipment—they’re up from February but down from the same period a year ago.

AltiumLive 2022: Tips and Tricks for Supply Chain Management

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

The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Stackups: The Design within the Design

If you have ever contemplated crosstalk, eye closure, power loss, or a list of other issues defined in this textbook, then you also need to understand what, why, and how stackups can and will impact your circuit’s performance. After all, the stackup is one of the few things that directly touches every single part of your design; therefore, you must set yourself up for the highest probability of success by establishing a strong foundation through a well-designed stackup.

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

Welcome to April 15, everyone! There are reasons we tend to cover topics in a continuous conversation. First, there are always developments and news in the industry. Second, you dear readers respond to that content by reading it. This week the news items that drew the most reader interest verify that our industry has ongoing interest in government involvement in industry infrastructure, supply chain issues, cybersecurity, and new technologies like additive in fabrication.

Cadence System Design Solutions Guide Available Now

You already have the I-Connect007 book "The System Designer's Guide to... System Analysis", written by Brad Griffin of Cadence Design Systems. Now, download the bonus companion guide, "The Cadence System Design Solutions Guide" for solutions to all your complex system analysis needs. Put Cadence’s expert knowledge into action!

A Definitive Review of New Expert Guide to High-Performance Materials

I am always surprised when a colleague produces a statement about PCB laminates that seems incorrect or out of date. This need not happen today as the specialists at Isola have written an excellent book about high performance materials, now available for download from I-Connect007. Author Michael Gay, a 25-year veteran of laminate manufacturing, meticulously guides readers through the most pertinent questions regarding rigid laminates. This is essential information for everyone, including the experts, because the materials and applications for laminates in printed circuits are constantly changing.

Altium Invests in Future Designers

While at IPC APEX EXPO, I stopped by the Altium booth to visit with Rea Callender, vice president of education at Altium. Rea shared information about the company’s recent design competition for students around the world, as well as a new curriculum that is drawing interest from some unique locations.

Additive Design: Same Steps, Different Order

We recently spoke with Dave Torp, CEO of Winonics, about the company’s additive and semi-additive processes and what PCB designers need to know if they’re considering designing boards with these new technologies. As Dave explains, additive design is not much different from traditional design, but the steps in the design cycle are out of order, and additive designers must communicate with their fabricators because so much of the new processes are still proprietary.

AltiumLive 2022 - Vince Mazur’s Supply Chain Advice: Always Have Alternatives

I had the chance to speak with Vince Mazur, a technical marketing engineer at Altium, about his AltiumLive presentation, “Avoiding Supply Chain Issues with Variants and Live Part Choices,” which is now available online. Vince discussed some of the high points of his talk, including the need for designers to pay closer attention to the supply chain than ever before, and to always have an alternative part or two as backup—just in case.

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

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


DesignCon 2022: Back to Business as Usual

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

AltiumLive 2022: Dwight Morse Offers a Supply Chain Primer

I recently spoke with Dwight Morse, channel marketing manager for SiliconExpert, about his AltiumLive presentation, “Getting the Information to Create Successful Designs Quickly,” which is available online now. Dwight offers advice to designers who are facing 50-week component lead times, and he discusses some of the trends he sees in the supply chain right now, including a view from the vantage point of the world’s top video game makers, who are having as much trouble finding parts as you are.

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

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

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

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

AltiumLive 2022: MacroFab Unites Design and Manufacturing in One Domain

I recently spoke with Joey Rodriguez, director of product management for MacroFab, which just announced a major partnership with Altium that brings supply chain information to Altium users much earlier in the design cycle. Joey and I discussed his AltiumLive presentation, now available online, which provides details about MacroFab’s efforts to “left-shift” supply chain information, and the need for designers to think holistically about the supply chain as early as possible in the design cycle.

Setting Goals for Your PCB Design Education

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

AltiumLive 2022: Design for Availability

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

Thank You to the I-Connect007 Team

During IPC APEX EXPO, the I-Connect007 team works very hard to bring you several great interviews that will keep you up to date on the latest industry activity. This year, we had Nolan Johnson, Andy Shaughnessy, Pete Starkey, and Happy Holden of I-Connect007 in front of the cameras. We also send out a very special thank you to our guest interviewers, who sat in the I-Connect007 show floor studio to conduct many interviews. The list includes Tara Dunn, Dick Crowe, Joe Fjelstad, Steve Williams, and Kelly Dack. Their contributions are greatly appreciated.

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

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

Strategizing a Design Education Plan With John Watson

Altium’s John Watson is a veteran PCB designer and instructor, as well as a Design007 columnist. He also recently accepted a professorship at Palomar College in San Marcos, California, teaching basic and advanced PCB design. John and I recently discussed his thoughts on setting up a PCB design education strategy, the need to continue your design education for your entire career, and the kind of attitude that makes someone a successful PCB designer.


Flexible Hybrid Electronics Design: Reducing Time to Market

Emerging innovations in the flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) domain are enabling new applications across multiple industries due to their highly flexible structures and additive manufacturing processes. The smaller form factor, lighter weight, and conformal capabilities are ideal for IoT edge devices in health and fitness monitoring, military asset identification and tracking, automotive displays and sensors, aerospace radar, and soft robotics. Significant industry research led by NextFlex is optimizing the processes from design through manufacture for FHE products.

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

This week seems jam-packed with holidays, both major and minor, doesn’t it? We started with “International Pi Day” on March 14. With all the obligatory pricing specials on most all things “pie” here in the U.S., suffice it to say, I’ve got a short stack bake-at-home pizza “pi” in my freezer, thanks to the one-day-only sales price of $3.14. Personally, I’m glad they didn’t make the promotional price = pizza diameter * Pi.

AltiumLive 2022: Alex Sapp on How to Create a Better BOM

I recently spoke with Alex Sapp, director of API commercial strategy at Octopart, about his AltiumLive presentation, “How Resilient is Your BOM?” In this interview, Alex details the takeaways of his class, and some tips and techniques for creating more reliable BOMs and dealing with the current supply chain uncertainties.

Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… High Performance Materials', Chapter 1

Choosing the right material for your application can be a major challenge. These are “cost to performance” decisions that need to be made to select material that will meet the expected performance requirements and the desired cost targets. Selecting a material that meets cost targets but fails to perform in prototype development testing results in costly revision spins, cost increases and delays to market. Chapter 1 of this book helps readers understand what resin choices to make for optimal electrical performance.

Planning Your Design Education: Keep an Open Mind

Rea Callender is the new vice president of education for Altium. He brings a background in business development and entrepreneurship, along with experience in K-12 education. This seemed like a pretty good combination, so I asked Rea to share his thoughts on the best avenues for design education, as well as strategies for setting up a lifelong PCB design education plan.

Calumet is Bullish on Additive and Semi-Additive

Calumet Electronics has been a domestic pioneer with additive and semi-additive electronics manufacturing processes. We recently asked Calumet’s Todd Brassard and Meredith LaBeau to discuss the state of this technology, which traditional processes that they might replace, and some of the challenges facing OEMs or PCB shops that are considering these options.

RF and Microwave: No Black Magic

I caught up with Ben Jordan after his class on RF and microwave at IPC APEX EXPO. Ben, an electrical engineer, explained how sitting through previous classes on this topic led to him developing his own class. “I wanted to bridge the gap,” he says, “with a class that makes the material approachable and teaches the intuitive nature of fields and waves and how they work in circuit boards.”

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

It’s Friday, and I’ve spent the last few days breaking in my new laptop. It’s a Mac, and it’s been a while since I used one of these. It occurred to me that the last time I used a Mac, there was no email and no internet. I was editor of my college newspaper. I had just voted for Clinton, because that’s what you did in your 20s. We had Apple Classic II monitors with screens the size of a postcard, and we were on the cutting edge of desktop publishing. Students submitted articles on 3.5” loppy disks or on notebook paper, sometimes written in pencil. That’s where I learned to edit, and to do it quickly. We won awards every year. Good times.

AltiumLive 2022: Left-Shifting Modeling and Simulation

Harry Kennedy and Sarmad Khemmoro of Altair recently spoke with Andy Shaughnessy about their AltiumLive presentations, which are now available online. They discuss the need for modeling, simulation, and verification in PCB design, and why these actions should be performed as early in the design process as possible.

Planning Your Design Education Strategy

If you’re a new PCB designer, you might be asking yourself: How do I set up an education and training plan for my career in PCB design? We asked Eric Bogatin to weigh in with his thoughts. Eric has a unique viewpoint: He’s a veteran signal integrity instructor, as well as a professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In this interview, Eric lays out some of his planning strategies and the need for a degree in electrical engineering in the PCB design world.


Happy Holden Reflects on Successful IPC APEX EXPO 2022

The attendance at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO seemed higher than I expected, so thank you all for making the necessary arrangements to attend. However, we sorely missed many of our foreign contributors and friends. One of my cherished reunions was with Pete Starkey, who fought through the red tape of government restrictions to make his way from England for the show. Both of us were able to help conduct interviews with many of the industry’s business and technical leaders. For that, I am grateful.

IPC Student Director: Three Things IPC APEX EXPO Taught Me

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

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

In the news this week we found a synchrony of topics. Much of the world is aware of the speaking points from U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address this past Tuesday. In that speech, President Biden talked prominently about U.S. legislation in process to bring more technology manufacturing back to the states. In fact, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger was not only an invited guest, but was referred to directly in the speech as a positive example. I can only assume that President Biden meant that moment to be a motivator for other CEOs in the industry.

The IPC STEM Event Inspires

Once again, IPC APEX EXPO featured its successful STEM event, organized by the IPC Education Foundation, and sponsored by several companies, including I-Connect007. The event had nearly 80 students in person for a hands-on introduction to our industry. After the welcoming comments, the students broke into groups for different activities. While some enjoyed a guided tour of the show floor, upstairs the other students learned how to solder. Then they rotated so that they all had the same opportunities.

DFM 101: Plating Methods

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

David Pogue Keynote Opens IPC APEX EXPO 2022

There were just a few empty seats in the huge, main lecture hall of the San Diego Convention Center on January 25 as IPC APEX EXPO welcomed the opening keynote speaker, science and tech writer David Pogue. Despite the early time of 8:30 a.m., the crowd enjoyed his topic, “Disruptive technology and how it will affect your business: What’s coming by 2026?” Pogue took us on a short journey through some of the technological innovations that continue to accelerate the transformation of our lifestyles and gave us a preview of how we might succeed in a world we’ve never seen before.

AltiumLive 2022: Robert Feranec Takes Aim at 'Aha' Moments

I recently spoke with Robert Feranec, the founder and CEO of the FEDEVEL Academy. He’s a well-known hardware engineer and something of an industry “rock star” on YouTube; his channel provides tips and techniques on digital design and engineering, with some videos clocking 400,000 views. I asked Robert to discuss his AltiumLive 2022 presentation, “Aha, That’s How it Works.” As he explains, much of an engineer’s life involves making these little “Aha!” discoveries that challenge the way they look at electronics.

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

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

AltiumLive 2022: No Shortcuts to Disciplined Library Management

I recently met with Altium’s John Watson for a discussion about his AltiumLive presentation on coping with design challenges, particularly in library management. As John explains, with library management, there’s no substitute for sitting down and doing the hard work, particularly during times like these, with a supply chain that is erratic at best. He also discusses his new job at Palomar College, teaching basic and advanced design techniques to students who are often seeking the “easy way out” in PCB design.

AltiumLive 2022: Power and Signal Integrity—Return to Sender

I recently spoke with Heidi Barnes and Stephen Slater, both engineers with Keysight Technologies, about their presentations at this year’s virtual AltiumLive. They discussed ways to avoid signal and power integrity challenges later by following simple board design practices early on, how SI and PI are interconnected, and why the return path must be more than an afterthought in high-speed designs.


Finally! A Book About PCB Stackups

‘The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Stackups: The Design within the Design’ is the latest addition to I-Connect007’s comprehensive, educational library. In this book, brought to readers by Siemens Digital Industries Software and I-007eBooks, author and stackups expert Bill Hargin discusses materials, laminate datasheets, impedance planning, and more. This book provides the reader with a broader understanding of stackup planning and material selection in an effort to comprehend what Hargin calls “the design within the design.”

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

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

Kris Moyer Discusses New IPC Design Role

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

AltiumLive 2022: Don’t Phone It In - Reducing EMI in Wireless Applications

I recently spoke with Ken Wyatt, founder of Wyatt Technical Services and an expert on signal integrity and EMC. I asked him to discuss his AltiumLive 2022 presentation, which focuses on reducing EMI, particularly in the wireless arena, where self-generated emissions are often a fact of life.

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

This week’s picks comprise a potpourri of published articles, a hodgepodge of helpful hints, and a brood of business news. Our collection includes several interviews from IPC APEX EXPO; we filmed over 60 of these video interviews that week, all shot with our new anti-COVID protocol. The boom microphones, selected so that we wouldn’t have to attach clip-on mics to each interviewee, gave our booth/studio an air of 60 Minutes. But unlike what we see in most news shows, almost all the news at IPC APEX EXPO was positive as companies emerge from the pandemic with even more innovative software, services, and equipment than before. It’s looking like 2022 is going to be a really good year.

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

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

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2022: AltiumLive Goes Virtual

Kelly Dack gives an update and discusses with Andy Shaughnessy the launch of AltiumLive 2022 Virtual. Kelly was the emcee of this online event, which ran at the same time as IPC APEX EXPO 2022. Kelly was often seen roaming the show floor, followed by his own camera "crew," documenting the activities for his viewers.

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

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

Changes on the Horizon: Is Resistance Futile?

For printed circuit engineers, especially those of us who have been in the industry for some time now, change is inevitable. From customer requirements that lead to design changes and deadlines being pulled in, to decreasing budgets and resource reallocations, change is one area where we must be adaptable if we want to survive and be successful in today’s industry. Engineering change orders (ECOs), schematic/drawing redlines, component placement adjustments, and mechanical features modifications are among the changes that most of us usually deal with at one point or another during a project’s design cycle.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2022: New Materials for Additive Manufacturing

Trevor Polidore of Rogers Corporation and I-Connect007 Guest Editor Tara Dunn discuss the introduction of the new Rogers materials designed for use in 3D printing. They also look at the trends and challenges in materials for additive and semi-additive manufacturing. If you were unable to attend IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events in San Diego, from ribbon cutting to teardown.


Keep the Change? No, Embrace It

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

High-Voltage Circuit Design Guidelines and Materials

The Hubble telescope, the Cassini-Huygens mission, and other exploratory spacecraft utilize high-voltage DC power supplies for everything from vidicon camera tubes and mass spectrometers to radar and laser technologies. NASA has experienced performance problems with the 1.5 kV supplies because—as a 2006 report stated—“designers did not take the high-voltage problems seriously in the initial design.” The report cited very narrow parts parameters, electrical insulation problems in dielectrics, ceramics, bad geometries, small spacing, the use of the wrong insulating materials, and thermal expansion as causes for the power supply failures.

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

The last time I was in this space, we were busy preparing for our extensive coverage of IPC APEX EXPO, so now I have the honors of compiling the news from the week following the event. We often use the phrase “busy news week” in these compendiums, but this week I have metrics—25% more news items published this week at I-Connect007 than our weekly average. All the more reason to read the website newsfeeds and newsletters, but also all the more reason for me to bring you the best of the best from the past week.

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

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

AltiumLive 2022: Stopping Your EMC Problems Before They Start

Todd H. Hubing has been working with EMC for decades. He began as an engineer at IBM, then served as a professor at the EMC lab at the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri Science and Technology), and later moved to Clemson, where he founded the Vehicular Electronics Library. Now, Todd is focusing on his most recent endeavor, LearnEMC. At AltiumLive 2022, Todd shares his thoughts on how to avoid EMC issues before they have a chance to wreak havoc on your board, simply by making smart decisions early in the design process. As he points out in this interview, this is much better than waiting until you have EMC issues later on and possibly redesigning a board until you pass EMC.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO: Fire Up the Inkjets

Technical Editor Pete Starkey sits down with Don Monn of Taiyo America to discuss the benefits of inkjet solder mask and how it helps streamline the manufacturing process. They also discuss the recent acquisition of Circuit Automation, a manufacturer of solder mask coating and vertical drying equipment. If you didn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events in San Diego, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

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

We just wrapped up IPC APEX EXPO 2022, and I think it went better than anyone could have expected. I wasn’t sure the live show would actually take place. With the COVID protocols in California changing daily, no one knew for sure that a live show would even be allowed to open. But here's my picks for the week, both from the show and from the industry.

Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO: PCB Manufacturing Today

Dick Crowe speaks with Kurt Palmer, president of Burkle North America, about the trends he sees in PCB manufacturing today. From LDI to laser drills, they discuss a wide range of concerns and opportunities. If you didn't make it to IPC APEX EXPO, don't worry. We're bringing you coverage of the week's events, from ribbon cutting to teardown.

Day 3: Lots of Action in San Diego

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

AltiumLive 2022: Keep Your Boards From Screaming with Eric Bogatin’s EMI Tips

I recently spoke with Eric Bogatin, the “signal integrity evangelist,” about his AltiumLive keynote presentation, “How to Keep Your Boards from Screaming Like a Banshee.” Eric explains how attention to board structures during the early stages of PCB layout can keep EMI from becoming a problem in your design. He also discusses a feature of Altium Designer that some designers may not know about—a 2D field solver that's part of the Simbeor high-end electromagnetic measurement tool, but with a simple GUI that most designers can master right away.


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

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

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

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

Day 1: It's Show Time!

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

IPC APEX EXPO: We’re Back, Masked, and Ready for Business

I-Connect007 is here in San Diego, setting up our booth on the show floor for the exhibition portion of IPC APEX EXPO. Technical conferences and programs start today, and the show floor has filled with all the biggest names in our industry. Registration has been smooth and everyone seems to be wearing masks.

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

Next week, we’ll be in San Diego. In fact, I fly down tomorrow morning to start preparations, along with most of the I-Connect007 team. The weather forecast says to expect sunny, with the occasional cloud, all week, with daytime temperatures around 70 degrees. That’ll be nice, as I’m sure COVID-related social distancing guidelines will encourage us to socialize outside as much as is feasible.

Kelly Dack Teases AltiumLive 2022

AltiumLive 2022 is just around the corner! Editor Nolan Johnson chats with Guest Editor and columnist Kelly Dack, one of the event hosts for AltiumLive Connect 2022. Kelly updates Nolan on the latest about the upcoming AltiumLive virtual conference, what's on the agenda, how it's connected with IPC APEX EXPO, and what attendees can expect to find.

AltiumLive 2022: Tamara Jovanovic Discusses Lessons Learned at AltiumLive

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

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

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

New Book From Isola Highlights Importance of Material Selection

In "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to... High Performance Materials," the latest release from I-007eBooks, readers will learn how to overcome challenges associated with choosing the right material for their specific application. Author Michael Gay of Isola provides a clearer picture of what to know when determining which material is the most desirable for which products. PCB materials and DFM expert Mark Thompson says, “I love this book, particularly the sections on the effects of the glass weave, the history of laminate, and the difference between Dk and effective Dk."

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

We’re driving headlong into 2022, and there’s a lot going on in the world of PCB design, fabrication, and assembly. It’s trade show season now. IPC APEX EXPO starts in less than two weeks, and we’re all getting ready for what is, for many, the first trade show in years. Do you know where you put your business cards after your last show in 2020? I keep half a box of biz cards in my glove compartment; I’m not going to make that mistake again.


Living in a Material World: High-Speed Design Strategies

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

CES 2022: Half Virtual, Still Valuable, and Here’s Why

Another CES has wrapped up, and while not fully back to its glittery self, the show still managed to create quite a buzz in the electronics world. Attendance was about half of its typical 150,000 as hundreds of companies still touted their wares and I’m excited to share with you what I discovered. I reported on the show from the safety of my home office, which was a bit of a letdown because I really enjoy walking the aisles of the show, visiting the exhibits of both large and small companies.

A High-Voltage PCB Design Primer

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

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2022: Blackfox Mixes It Up with Training Opportunities

Andy Shaughnessy speaks with Jamie Noland, master IPC trainer and marketing manager for Blackfox Institute, about current and upcoming training opportunities and what you can expect from them at the show. Blackfox has expanded its offerings to reach a wider audience, including some very basic classes for beginners.

High-Voltage PCB Design: Beating Separation Anxiety

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

Happy Holden’s Five Must-Reads of 2021

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

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

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

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

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

If You’re Not Measuring Inductance, Ask Yourself: Do You Feel Lucky?

I recently ran into Dr. Bruce Archambeault at PCB Carolina in Raleigh, North Carolina. He’s retired from IBM now, but as he explains, he’s still teaching. He taught a class at the show that focused on layout considerations and inductance, and why inductance needs to be measured. There weren’t many empty seats in his class. I asked Bruce to discuss his class and why it’s so importance for designers and engineers to measure inductance. Bruce also discusses how he’s linked the study of inductance to the “Dirty Harry” movie franchise.

Field of Dreams: The Art and Science of Designing with Field Theory

For this issue of Design007 Magazine focusing on the art and science of PCB design, we sought input from Dan Beeker, senior principal engineer of NXP Semiconductors. Dan has spent years teaching designers about the need to focus on the electromagnetic fields around the traces, not the traces themselves, as the late Ralph Morrison advised. We asked Dan to share his thoughts on the art of designing PCBs, and how art and science figure into his views on field theory.


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

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

RealTime with... American Standard Circuits: Thermal Management

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

Insulectro Passionate About Educational Programs

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

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

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

The Mission of the New Printed Circuit Board Association of America

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

The Art and Science of DFM

"Education is widely available in art, which implies that it is something that can be taught and learned," said Altium's Vince Mazur. "However, I believe there is a limit to what a scientifically focused person can do in art. While anything is possible, one can pursue fluency in art, but they likely would have a difficult time becoming a Picasso or a Rodin. Just as either of these artists could likely learn more about science, they likely would not become an Einstein or a Tesla. But then there are those outliers that have extreme talent in both domains, such as Galileo."

ICT Autumn Seminar Review: Live in 2021!

Faced with the choice between a real or virtual event, Bill Wilkie took a calculated risk. It has been many long months since members of the Institute of Circuit Technology had gathered together under one roof, but a fair-sized bunch of industry stalwarts braved the weather and the threat of COVID, descended on the Manor Hotel in Meriden, UK, on Nov. 30, and applauded Bill’s decision to go live. They were not disappointed; the program was superb, the atmosphere upbeat, and the networking opportunity priceless.

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

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

EIPC Technical Snapshot Review: Semi-additive Processes

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

Alex Stepinski: A Philosophical View

"My philosophy is to rely more on sensors throughout the process to measure things non-destructively, then build a model for how you’re going to perform, and just validate against the model," said Alex Stepinski. "It’s the next step slowly happening worldwide. For instance, we’ve had 2D AOI for many years. Sometimes, this is complemented with electrical tests. Now, you start to see more 3D AOI happening. You see them putting more sensors on the AOI equipment for direct measurement. Then, you also have the traditional signal integrity testing."


Solid Data Management Key to Accurate Quotes

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving From the I-Connect007 Team

In the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday is a celebration of gratitude and appreciation for the harvest and for the people close to us. Thankfulness, however, transcends just one day of official observance. The fourth Thursday of November is when the U.S. officially celebrates Thanksgiving Day and as we take time to observe this holiday, the I-Connect007 team wishes to offer our thanks to you, our global readers and contributors: designers, fabricators, engineers, assemblers, quality and process control gurus, chemists, physicists, supervisors, managers, entrepreneurs, business owners, standards writers, industry experts, and more. You breathe life into the vital, thriving, world-changing electronics industry. You are the real story.

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

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

New Methods for Quantifying PCB Design Weaknesses and Manufacturing Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

A PCB Design Data Management Overview

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

Pulsonix Discusses New Features, Including Design Reuse and Cross Probing

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

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

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


Honoring Those Who Served

On this Veteran’s Day holiday, the I-Connect007 staff takes a moment to honor those men and women over the years, who served to protect and defend their country. Just on the I-Connect007 staff, we have loved ones who served, ranging from World War I to present-day active-duty military. The holiday isn’t intended to be a political statement, but rather a reflection on service, duty, and personal sacrifice. In some cases, the ultimate sacrifice. Our staff has submitted images of veterans who are near and dear to their hearts. Check them out!

Why Good PCB Data Management is Essential

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

Manage Your Data and Document Everything

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

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

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

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

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

Averatek Moves Ahead With A-SAP™, ASAP

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

DownStream Adding More Flex, Rigid-Flex Functionality

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

Dan Beeker: Follow the Geometry and Control the EM Fields

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

Sunny Patel on Design Data Formats

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

NCAB Discusses Recent Merger with Elmatica

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


The Case for IPC-2581: Interview with Ed Acheson

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

DFM 101: PCB Via Structures

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

Who Selects the Design Data Format, and Why?

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

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

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

Test Strategies and Pain Points

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soldering to Aluminum With Mina

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


Ken Wyatt: Think of Circuit Traces as Wave Guides

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tribal Knowledge and Design Data Formats

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

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

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

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

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

Collaboration by Design: The Role of EDA Tools

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

PCEA Approaches Two-Year Anniversary with New Members and Classes

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

Applying DFM Analysis to Flexible PCBs

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


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

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

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

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

24 Essential Skills for Engineers: The Story Behind the Book

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

EIPC Technical Snapshot: Updates, Methods, and Interconnections

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

From DesignCon: Electro Rent Beats High Cost of Test Equipment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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