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Web vs. Direct Imaging

As flexible printed circuits (FPC) continue making waves in PCB manufacturing, the Altix team of Alexis Guilbert, Damien Boureau, and Alexandre Camus look at today’s use cases for FPCs, and detail the finer points of roll-to-roll technology vs. direct imaging. For example, how long can a flexible circuit be? Which technology works best with extremely long circuits, and how does a customer know which one to use? The I-Connect007 Editorial Team explores these trending topics and what it means for PCB manufacturers.

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.

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.

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?


Market and Tech Convergence: Electrically Conductive Inks

It’s no secret that electronics products are being asked to do more, pushing the boundaries of technological capabilities. Next-gen consumer products like flexible wearables and foldable mobile devices are proving themselves to be more than a fad, with start-ups and major companies alike booming on the market for the past few years.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

The CHIPS Act continues to captivate the attention of industry insiders, as evidenced by the reader interest in our U.S. legislation coverage. When talking with all of you, we hear a wide range of opinion regarding the CHIPS Act funding, ranging from enthusiasm to cynicism—sometimes in the same conversation with the same person. You can expect ongoing coverage as news continues to unfold. Advanced packaging and the CHIPS Act are increasingly being linked together on the printed circuit side of the industry conversation. Perfect timing, then, that IPC is hosting a symposium on advanced packaging October 11-12 in Washington, D.C.

FCT: Powerful Growth in the Flex Segment

After the initial impact of the global pandemic led to a somewhat flat 2020, Carey Burkett, vice president of Flexible Circuit Technologies, explains how the company’s growth took off in 2021, positioning it well for industry trends that continue to show great promise in medical, automotive, consumer, and more. In this interview, Carey breaks down the reasons behind the company’s recent success and how R&D, and a new Zhuhai facility, have positioned them for continued growth.

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 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.

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.


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 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.

FLEX Conference 2022: If You Build It, We Will Buy It

Key presentations from companies like Boeing highlight FLEX Conference and Exhibition 2022, held in concert with the annual SEMICON West show this week in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. SEMICON West claims to be “North America’s premier microelectronics exhibition and conference,” uniting players across the entire electronics manufacturing and design supply chain.

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.

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.

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.

Review: Institute of Circuit Technology 2022 Annual Symposium

The British Motor Museum in Warwickshire, housing the world's largest collection of historic British cars, was venue for the 2022 Annual Symposium of the Institute of Circuit Technology on June 8, which attracted a substantial gathering of manufacturers and suppliers from the UK printed circuit industry. ICT chair Emma Hudson reflected upon lessons learned during the pandemic lock-down and how the industry has successfully adapted to circumstances. She commented that the UK’s PCB fabricators are extremely busy, as she introduced an outstanding conference programme including a keynote from the incomparable Happy Holden.


PCB Technologies' Subsidiary iNPACK to Exhibit at IMS Show

Jeff De Serrano, president of PCB Technologies USA, discusses the launch of their new company, iNPACK, which focuses on high-tech substrate technologies, microelectronics assembly, and electronics packaging. He details his plans to continue expanding InPack over the next year and to meet with customers and exhibit at the International Microwave Symposium Show in Denver June 19-24.

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.

Catching Up With Alpha Circuit’s Prashant Patel

There is plenty of evidence that the American PCB industry is going through a revitalization. While a few new companies are being established, others are being rejuvenated as investors gain more interest and confidence in domestic PCB companies. I reached out to Prashant Patel, owner and president of Alpha Circuit I LLC in the greater Chicago area. I wanted to hear about his investment and the unique path he took to owning a PCB shop.

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.

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.

Institute of Circuit Technology: A Novel Approach to Recycling PCBs

A two-year project funded by an Innovate UK SMART Grant aims to reduce the impact of e-waste using naturally derived, biodegradable and nontoxic products. Those attending the webinar for the Institute of Circuit Technology’s annual meeting on March 2 learned more about the project, as well as statutory paperwork obligations of the UK REACH regulations. Following the formal business, ICT Chair Emma Hudson introduced and moderated this technical webinar.

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.”

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2022: Rigid-Flex Specialists

As flexible circuit specialists growing their world-wide business, Flexible Circuit Technologies is planning to expand its workforce. Chris Clark, senior applications engineer, discusses the company’s 25% growth in the last year, as well as its new plant in Zhuhai, China, which will focus on rigid-flex circuitry. Chris just joined the company in the past year, but he has spent 31 years in the industry wearing whatever hat was required, and he lays out the company’s plans for the next year.

Kris Moyer Discusses New IPC Design Role

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

Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2022: High-Tech Rigid-Flex Boards and More

Jeff De Serrano, president of PCB Technologies for North America, and Editor Andy Shaughnessy discuss Jeff’s current quest to acquire a PCB fabrication facility. Just six months into his new position at PCB Technologies, Jeff explains his plans for the next few years, including the company’s focus on rigid-flex boards and their plans to invest heavily into high-tech substrates and microelectronics assembly.


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.

Testing Flexible Circuit Assemblies

I recently spoke with Bert Horner of the Test Connection Inc., about the current state of flex and rigid-flex assembly testing. He explained some of the differences between testing flex and rigid PCBs, the requirements for testing specialties such as high-voltage flex, and the added demands of handling flexible circuits.

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.

All Flex Discusses Merger and New Medical Applications

I recently spoke with Jamin Taylor, vice president of sales and marketing at All Flex Flexible Circuits in Minnesota. We discussed the company’s recent merger with Printed Circuits Inc., and some creative new flex applications, including flexible heaters and catheters for the medical field. As Jamin explains, "It’s always interesting to see different technologies amongst different companies. We’re working on a few new applications and products, like being able to do some fine lines and flex materials, but with large format, a longer format than usual. Some of their capabilities with lasering and fine features really help with our long flex capability; when we merge the two, we see a new market being created for that technology."

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.

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!

Taiyo Discusses New Inkjet Technology and Solder Mask for Flex

At PCB West, Nolan Johnson spoke with Brian Wojtkiewicz of Taiyo about some of the company’s new inkjet technology, which will be manufactured in the U.S. Brian also discusses a new solder mask that has been developed especially for the flexible circuit segment of the industry. "They basically want to keep all the same specifications with regular solder mask, so we’re trying to keep all of that: the printability of it and how it looks. We’re getting a lot more interest on the colors. They just don’t want green anymore. They want it to be standard blue, reds, and whites and stuff like that."

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."

Real Time With... SMTAI: Anaya Vardya of American Standard Circuits

Anaya Vardya, president and CEO at American Standard Circuits, speaks with Nolan Johnson ahead of the SMTA International exposition. Vardya shares why American Standard Circuits will be exhibiting at the show, and outlines the topics ASC will be presenting on the show floor.

From DesignCon: FCT Building Fifth Facility in China

During DesignCon, Nolan Johnson spoke with Terrill Schmidt of Flexible Circuit Technologies (FCT) about their exciting facility news and the customer demand that is driving the company’s growth.

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.

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

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

Flex DFM: When All Things Must Be Considered

One of the best ways to avoid flex failures is by communicating with your flex fabricator early and often. Here are a couple key reasons why involving your flex and rigid-flex supplier early in the design of your product will help you save time and money—and produce a more reliable flex circuit.

DFM 101: PCB Controlled Impedance

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

Siemens Webinar: Rigid-Flex Design Without Respins

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


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

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

Averatek Pushing Boundaries of Additive and Semi-Additive Processes

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

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

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

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

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

Catching up With Siber Circuits

Siber Circuits is a Canada-based PCB fabricator doing most of its business in the U.S. and often with defense contractors, proving against the odds that it can be done. I spoke with the owner and president, Simon Etherington, about his company and why his long-time customers love working with them.

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

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

Arlon President Discusses Acquisition by EMC

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

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

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

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

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

With Flex, Sometimes You Gotta Break the Rules

Sometimes in life, we need to break the rules. For example, in junior high I had a curfew but to have my first kiss, I had to break curfew. I got grounded, but it was worth it! My last article was about reasons to follow IPC design and inspection rules. This time, we are discussing instances where, due to complex requirements, customers are not always able to follow the rules. I will also discuss some design options that will hopefully keep you from “getting grounded.”


Rooting Out an 'Us vs. Them' Mentality: An Interview with Laura Kriska

Earlier this year, I-Connect007 columnist Dan Beaulieu submitted a book review on "The Business of WE: The Proven Three-Step Process for Closing the Gap Between Us and Them in Your Workplace." As a follow up to that review, Dan has interviewed the book's author, Laura Kriska.

After Decades of E-Textiles Work, a Rising Star Award

After decades of work in my field, I was awarded the Rising Star award during IPC APEX EXPO 2021. I would like to thank my research team, all the colleagues from the D-75A-EU E-Textiles Wearables Standard Task Group in Europe, Chris Jorgensen from IPC, and Sigrid Rotzler, the Task Group vice-chair. Last but not least, I would like to express my thanks to IPC CEO John Mitchell for this award.

Happy’s Play-by-Play of IPC APEX EXPO

This was the first time IPC had a virtual APEX EXPO. It went well, but I missed seeing everyone. On the other hand, all this material being available for 90 days certainly allows it to fit anyone’s schedule. I spent all week intently listening to the presentations.

I-Connect007 Video: A Salute to The Industry

I-Connect007 has produced this new one-minute video to acknowledge nearly 35 years of sharing your stories. In 1987 we launched our first industry publication and we have been dedicated to covering this industry ever since. We did not start out as publishers: in fact, our background was in printed circuit board fabrication. In 1987 there were still nearly 3,000 PCB shops in North America. At the time, profits were goods, trade events included giant industry parties (remember the extravagant hospitality suites in Anaheim?), and the industry was in a state of change.

DownStream Focused on Rigid-Flex and Embedded Component Support

Editor Kelly Dack and Joe Clark, co-founder of DownStream Technologies, discuss trends in PCB design and how this has led to the company's introduction of rigid-flex design support for their tools.

Real Time With… Premium Sponsors Share ‘Top 5 Things You Need to Know’

As part of I-Connect007’s coverage of the IPC APEX EXPO 2021, four premium sponsors share their knowledge and expertise in the following categories.

ICT Webinar: Novel Materials and Methods for Printed Circuit Fabrication

For the first time since its foundation in 1974, the Institute of Circuit Technology had no alternative than to conduct its Annual General Meeting online. The event, which took place on February 25, 2021, was remarkably well-attended, and was followed, as is traditional, by a technical seminar. The seminar became a webinar focused on novel materials and methods for printed circuit fabrication and moderated by ICT Chair Emma Hudson.

2020: A Year of Learning, Innovation for Taiyo America

Pete Starkey has a virtual visit with John Fix, director of Sales and Marketing at Taiyo America, where they discuss the changes taking place because of COVID-19 restrictions, and some of the new products Taiyo will be presenting at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO.

Orbotech Flex Equipment Introduction

Barry Matties speaks with Meny Gantz about the challenges for flex manufacturing, what’s driving the complexity around it, and how Orbotech’s new products will help their customers produce flex in much more effective way.

Your Greatest Competition is Yourself

It really doesn’t matter who you think your external competitors are, because the only competitor that really matters is you. Of course, you will look externally to stay on top of latest trends, but when it comes to competition, just competing with yourself is a win. When you look at yourself as your greatest competitor you will start with a huge advantage: you already have great intel on how “your competition” thinks. Ask yourself, “What can I do to displace my ‘competitor’ and create something much better?”


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

It’s a new year, and time for new resolutions and new beginnings. “New year, new you” certainly is reflected in this past week’s news. We saw several announcements regarding mergers, acquisitions, and organizational changes, plus some government legislation to help kick off the new year. Based on viewing activity, readers were keen to keep up on the changes under way.

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

We always hear that the PCB industry is “mature,” full of people past their prime who don’t know how to change with the times. I think 2020 puts the lie to that idea. I’m honored to be a journalist covering such an amazing group of people. In the words of U2, “I will begin again.” Happy New Year!

I-Connect007 Wishes You a Happy New Year

Could there be a more welcome year in recent memory than 2021? If there’s one thing most of us can agree on, it’s that we want 2020 squarely in our rearview mirror as we speed ahead with a fresh, new start. This past year has brought with it much reflection, change and even some consternation. Thank you for taking this journey with us!

Happy Holidays from I-Connect007

The I-Connect007 team would like to wish you and your loved ones the happiest holiday season. Continue to stay safe and healthy as we head into 2021. Happy Holidays!

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

This week’s mainstream news was dominated—well, my personalized online news feed was, at least—by ballistics. SpaceX was in the news daily for lobbing multiple pieces of iron, even as their CEO took his household suborbital, leaving California and touching down in Texas. Pandemic numbers charts continue their skyward trajectory worldwide. The ever-present military tests and technology demonstrations, seemed a bit more commonplace this week as well. Worldwide political news, in general, seemed to follow parabolic curves like an Australian boomerang, veering off in unexpected ways only to suddenly cut a curving path and return.

Pacothane on the Future of Laminate Technologies

Nolan Johnson recently spoke with the Pacothane Technologies team about the current drivers of circuit board technology and how that has influenced and increased their product development of lamination and lamination assist products.

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

Around the holidays, we often see a slowdown in PCB design and manufacturing news. But this holiday season, there’s been no rest for the newsmakers in our industry! In the last week, our daily and weekly newsletters have been chock-full of breaking news and up-to-the-minute technical information that readers like you rely upon every day.

Just Ask Tara Dunn: The Exclusive Compilation

We asked for you to send in your questions for Averatek’s Tara Dunn, and you took us up on it! We know you all enjoyed reading these questions and answers, so we’ve compiled all of them into one article for easy reference. And if you’d like to hear more from Tara, be sure to view her Flex007 column series “Flex Talk.”

Just Ask Tara Dunn: Will IC Substrates Be Produced in Volume in the U.S.?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Tara Dunn’s turn! Tara is the vice president of marketing and business development for Averatek. Today's question: Do you think IC substrates (BGA, CSP, flip chip, etc.) will ever be produced in high volumes in the U.S.?

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

Well, it’s the last Friday in November. On any normal year in the U.S., this would be “Black Friday” because, for many retailers, the kickoff to the holiday season’s shopping spree is the source for most of the operating income for the year. While it remains to be seen how exactly how much traditional in-store and online retailing will rake in, with the varied pandemic lockdowns, it’s clear that readers wanted to get the latest electronics industry sales numbers!


Our Thanksgiving Wish

As we take time to observe this holiday, the I-Connect007 team wishes to offer our thanks to you, our global readers and contributors: designers, fabricators, engineers, assemblers, quality and process control gurus, chemists, physicists, supervisors, managers, entrepreneurs, business owners, standards writers, industry experts, and more. You breathe life into the vital, thriving, world-changing electronics industry. You are the real story.

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

In my top five picks, we have news about columnist Tara Dunn moving to Averatek to work with their A-SAP additive processes, and an interview with Audrey Sim regarding the “hybrid” model adopted by the HKPCA for its upcoming Electronic Circuits World Convention. We also have a compilation of the questions that readers have asked Joe Fjelstad and news about DownStream Technologies adding support for flex, rigid-flex, and embedded component designs. Finally, we share a review of some of KYZEN’s new training sessions on cleaning electronic assemblies—virtual courses that pack a lot of information into 15-minute snapshots. Knowing how tight everyone’s schedules are now, 15-minute events might be the ticket.

Just Ask Joe Fjelstad: The Exclusive Compilation

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

Tara Dunn Transitions to New Role at Averatek

I-Connect007 columnist Tara Dunn shares the exciting news about the transition from her role as president of Omni PCB to vice president of marketing and development at Averatek, where she will be working primarily with OEMs to break down the advantages of additive manufacturing.

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

My last turn to select the top five editor’s picks was just before the triple-threat Halloween holiday (full moon, blue moon, and on a Saturday). Now that it’s my turn again, it falls the mega-superstitious Friday the 13th. You’re not triskaidekaphobic, are you?

Just Ask Tara Dunn: What Is the Thickest Flex Layer Available?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Tara Dunn’s turn! Today's question: What is the maximum thickness of a single flex layer?

Just Ask Tara Dunn: Maximum Number of Flex Layers?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Tara Dunn’s turn! Tara is the vice president of marketing and business development for Averatek. A regular Flex007 columnist, Tara discusses flexible circuits, rigid-flex, and rigid PCBs, as well as RF/microwave technology, microelectronics, and additive processes. She is also co-founder of Geek-a-Palooza and a show manager for the SMTA Additive Electronics TechXchange event. She has over 20 years of experience in the PCB industry. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Tara.”

Just Ask Tara Dunn: Why Don’t Fabricators Provide More Feedback to Designers?

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Tara Dunn’s turn! Tara is the vice president of marketing and business development for Averatek. A regular Flex007 columnist, Tara discusses flexible circuits, rigid-flex, and rigid PCBs, as well as RF/microwave technology, microelectronics, and additive processes. She is also co-founder of Geek-a-Palooza and a show manager for the SMTA Additive Electronics TechXchange event. She has over 20 years of experience in the PCB industry. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Tara.”

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

This past week, we published a variety of articles, interviews, and columns—and readers definitely made their favorites known. There was good news about hiring and staffing. (In case you were wondering, there are quite a few open positions in this industry right now.) We touched base with a pair of young engineers to get their thoughts on what it’s like for recent grads working in the PCB manufacturing community. We learned about a company’s new program that can help take some of the stress out of NPI. We also launched a new chapter in our “Just Ask” series, this time starring columnist Tara Dunn. And there was sad news that a contract manufacturer’s chairman had just passed away.

Just Ask Tara Dunn: DFM for Flex and Rigid-Flex

First, we asked you to send in your questions for Happy Holden, Joe Fjelstad, John Mitchell, and others in our “Just Ask” series. Now, it’s Omni PCB President Tara Dunn’s turn! A regular Flex007 columnist, Tara discusses flexible circuits, rigid-flex, and rigid PCBs, as well as RF/microwave technology, microelectronics, and additive processes. Tara is the co-founder of Geek-a-Palooza and a show manager for the SMTA Additive Electronics TechXchange event. She has over 20 years of experience in the PCB industry. We hope you enjoy “Just Ask Tara.”


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