Article Highlights
productronica 2017 Means Connecting to Global Customer Base for Circuit Automation
01/18/2018 | Patty Goldman, I-Connect007
In Terms of Experience, a 10,000-foot View of China
01/17/2018 | Barry Matties, I-Connect007
The Benefits of Coming Together to Form a Global Reach
01/16/2018 | Patty Goldman, I-Connect007
CES 2018, Augmented Reality and Much More
01/15/2018 | Dan Feinberg, FeinLine Associates, Inc.
It’s a Long, Winding and Exciting Road for Automotive Electronics
01/12/2018 | Patty Goldman, I-Connect007

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productronica 2017 Means Connecting to Global Customer Base for Circuit Automation

Circuit Automation’s Tom Meeker joined me for a conversation at productronica 2017 in Munich, to update me about what the company has been doing in solder mask coating equipment.

In Terms of Experience, a 10,000-foot View of China

In the past 30+ years of PCB manufacturing in China, you would be hard-pressed to find someone more connected to the pulse of the Asian market than Gene Weiner. Barry Matties met with the industry veteran at HKPCA to get his take on the show, the current and future market conditions of China, and any effect the new U.S. administration might have on trade relations going forward.

The Benefits of Coming Together to Form a Global Reach

At productronica, MacDermid Enthone Electronics Solutions and Alpha Assembly Solutions had one large combined booth to promote the companies’ integration. Over a buttered pretzel (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it), we talked about the newly amalgamated company, something everyone in the company is quite enthusiastic about.

CES 2018, Augmented Reality and Much More

The actual CES show is spread across many locations in Las Vegas. The main exhibit halls are at or near to the Las Vegas Convention Center with three buildings, two floors each, all filled with hundreds of booths. Then there is The Sands Convention Center with multiple halls filled to the brim and hotels with their own convention centers and floors of exhibitor suites. With almost 200,000 in attendance, all locations are very busy.

It’s a Long, Winding and Exciting Road for Automotive Electronics

It was truly a delight to talk with Alun Morgan at productronica this year. He may be the most enthusiastic person in the field of electronics that I have ever met, as you will certainly understand as you read this interview.

Getting the Heat Out

Increasing consumer demands for high performance and the need for high reliability in sectors such as automotive, LED lighting, and renewable energy mean that thermal management is now front and center on the priority list for PCB manufacturing.

CES 2018 Showstoppers: Launchit and Press Event

“ShowStoppers LaunchIt is about giving innovative entrepreneurs a shot at getting the attention of angel investors on the lookout for innovation and new ventures. It’s also about gaining additional visibility with other industry influencers and dealmakers, as well as with the press who are always looking for the ‘what’s new’ story at CES.”

Preview: CES 2018 Unveiled

The official CES events started only about 15 hours ago. I have already been to CES Unveiled, an amazing (but somewhat long) NVIDIA press event, and now the Panasonic press conference is soon to begin, launching the Press Day activities. So far, it’s been amazing!

Schmid: Bringing Integrated Solutions to the Market

With China’s recent shift towards quality, the next generation of PCB fabrication equipment must target yields and include the ability to track those yields, says Schmid’s Laurent Nicolet and Demitry Kostouros. Barry Matties recently sat down with these two gentlemen to talk more about the market shift and Schmid’s introduction of their new vertical line aimed at carving a niche in the market.

Lamination to Drilling in Minutes: It's New and it's Not

Barry Matties met with Lino Sousa at productronica to check out Pluritec’s new Pluricut HPL machine, which offers an all-in-one solution for flash routing, beveling, measuring, and corner routing. See this machine in action by viewing the attached video content.


Weiner’s World—December 2017

Hold on to your seats! 2018 will be a year full of rapid changes, surprises, and growth. M&A activities will flourish. The supply chain will suffer shortages and changes as demand increases, copycats will rush to market, and new markets and potential suppliers will vanish before they are established.

Automation and Traceability Critical for High-Throughput Probe Testing

Peter Brandt, atg’s director of sales for Europe, India and Japan, joined Barry Matties at productronica to share his views on regional variations in electrical testing requirements, automation, traceability, and how to anticipate and satisfy the future demands of the market. Group general manager Dr. Jochen Kleinertz also comments on the need for close cooperation with customers to guide the R&D effort.

Isola: Evolving with the Market

In this interview from productronica 2017, Isola’s Karl Stollenwerk discusses the decline of the laminate market in Europe over the past 17 years, current demands on raw materials, and Isola’s new strategy to remain competitive.

Consulting in the Electronics Industry: Meet Francesca Stern

One of the best things about productronica was meeting people who I have corresponded with and those whose articles or presentations I have read or seen but have never actually had a chance to chat with. Francesca Stern is one such person, and it was a true pleasure to sit down and chat with her in the EIPC booth.

A Unique Norwegian Approach to Serving Customers

I met a lot of interesting people at productronica, with an assortment of different products on display. Such was my visit with Oyvind Tafjord, CEO of Visitech. His purpose at the show was to meet with his customers, so nothing unusual about that. But his customers also had booths (or stands, as they call them), which is an advantage for him, as he explains here.

AGFA: From Film to Inkjet Solder Mask

The productronica show was indeed filled with new technology, and it was great to meet with people and learn about it. This is precisely how I met AGFA’s Frank Louwet, who filled me in on the Dipamat inkjet solder mask they have been developing. It seemed an odd choice to go from film to solder mask, but as Frank explained, it makes perfect sense.

Ventec: Eye on the Future, with Automotive and Lighting Front and Center

Ventec’s Thomas Michels and Didier Mauve sat down with I-Connect007 Editors Patty Goldman and Pete Starkey and enjoyed an upbeat and enlightening conversation. Among the topics covered were the importance of working partnerships in maintaining supply chain continuity, market drivers for thermally conductive materials, and development of enabling technologies to support the automotive electronics revolution.

A Fresh Look at Outsourcing Solutions in Electrical Testing

In this interview conducted at productronica 2017, Gardien Group COO Roland Valentini describes to Pete Starkey the limitations of the traditional outsourcing model for electrical testing and explains the need for customised solutions directly catered to customers’ individual requirements.

Viking: Covering the Globe with Value-Added Services

In the final hours of productronica 2017, Barry Matties met with Jake Kelly of Viking to discuss the company’s value-added services, their growth in the India and America markets, and the UCE manufactured line they displayed at productronica.

Institute of Circuit Technology Harrogate Seminar 2017

A return to the historic spa town of Harrogate in Yorkshire, England for the Institute of Circuit Technology Northern Seminar, to enjoy a diverse programme of presentations on safety standards, research in selective metal deposition, and developments in imaging and inspection techniques.


Full-Service Plating at Hofstetter

While strolling the aisles at productronica, I happened upon the booth of Hofstetter Plating. I was not familiar with this PCB company so I stopped to chat. It turns out they aren’t exactly a PCB fabricator, but provide a comprehensive plating service in Europe and occasionally beyond that, offering several exotic and unique plating processes.

RTW…HKPCA & IPC Show 2017 Highlights With Canice Chung

Canice Chung, chairman of the HKPCA, speaks with Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias about the record-breaking show, held this week in Shenzhen, China.

RTW HKPCA & IPC Show 2017: IPC Asia’s Philip Carmichael on the Changes in PCB Value Chain

During the 2017 International Printed Circuit & APEX South China Fair (HKPCA & IPC Show 2017) in Shenzhen, IPC Asia President Philip S. Carmichael speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias about the move in the value chain that’s driving the electronics manufacturing industry forward.

Pluritec Wants to Remove Human Factor from Solder Mask

Solder mask remains a relatively hands-on task, which can result in human error. But equipment manufacturer Pluritec wants to change that. At PCB West, I spoke with Pluritec Vice President of Sales Lino Sousa about the company’s new spray technology that can turn solder mask application into what is essentially a push-button operation.

HDI: Today, Tomorrow and the Future

For the November issue of The PCB Magazine, our editorial team interviewed some of the top HDI experts in the PCB supply chain. Joining us on the conference call were Steve Bird, PCB/flex technology manager at Finisar, and Tony Torres of APCT.

35 Years of HDI Fabrication Processes and Obstacles for Implementation

The electronics industry is the world’s largest and most robust market. It is also a bulwark of American creativity, with Silicon Valley as its origin and fortress.

A Conversation with EIPC Executive Director Kirsten Smit-Westenberg

The EIPC booth was a busy place during productronica, with several members and other organizations headquartered there, resulting in a constant stream of people stopping by to visit, get information and study the upcoming conference agendas. Overseeing the big, and even the little things, was Executive Director Kirsten Smit-Westenberg, who made sure important questions got answered, people stayed hydrated, and EIPC’s magnetic pins found homes on shirt collars.

Papandrew Leads Advanced Circuits’ New Offshore Division

Advanced Circuits is one of the largest PCB manufacturers in the United States. Now, the company is expanding the range of its services with the launch of its new Offshore Division. Recently, the company hired PCB veteran Greg Papandrew to lead the new division and help the company meet buyers’ demand for offshore PCB sourcing.

HDI: Born in the USA and Making a Comeback

There is no denying that high-density interconnect (HDI) has been around a long time—over 25 years, believe it or not. From almost the moment of its conception in the U.S., the technology was adopted by and used almost exclusively in Asia.

Walt Custer’s Annual Update from productronica 2017

Industry consultant Walt Custer of Custer Consulting sat down with me at productronica 2017 to once again inform our readers with his yearly update and perspective on what’s happening in the industry. And guess what? It’s good news! Pertinent charts referenced in our conversation are included, but if you want more, Walt invites you to click the link at the end of this conversation and email him directly.


Video from productronica 2017: Electra Polymers Updates on the Latest Developments in DI Soldermask

From the show floor at productronica 2017, Electra Polymers' sales manager Ashley Steers discusses the state of the art in soldermask for direct imaging. Sales and marketing director Shaun Tibbals comments on developments in ink-jet soldermask, and opportunities in wafer-level packaging.

Video from productronica 2017: DIS Improves Registration of Flex and Rigid-Flex PCBs

From the show floor at productronica 2017, we stopped by the DIS booth for a conversation with Tony Faraci. Here, he explains how DIS has tackled the challenges of handling and alignment of flex-rigid multilayer builds (especially cut-out pre-preg layers and packing pieces) and automated what was previously an operator-dependent manual process.

Book Recommendation: Find the Fire

This is a fabulous book for whenever you get the blahs! You know what I’m talking about. There are times when you just cannot get out of your own way, and everything you try to do gets stuck in park and you just can’t understand how you ever got anything done in the first place.

Book Recommendation: Becoming Facebook—The 10 Challenges that Defined the Company That’s Disrupting the World

Make no mistake about it: This is not just the story of one company, but rather one that describes the many challenges that all companies face and must overcome to be successful.

Video from productronica 2017: Taiyo America Highlights Ink-Jettable Solder Mask

After a long-term program of cooperative development, evaluation and qualification, Taiyo America’s solvent-free ink-jet solder mask formulation is working successfully in a technically demanding production environment. Don Monn recounts his experiences from the show floor at productronica 2017.

Video from productronica 2017: Rogers Discusses Trends Driving Growth

Dirk Lefelon, European sales manager for Rogers Corporation, discusses his group’s final 2017 results. He also explains what the new year will bring, including increased investment in capacity for the European market, especially for the automotive segment.

Book Recommendation: Profitable Podcasting—Grow Your Business, Expand Your Platform, and Build a Nation of True Fans

There is no doubt that we are living in a world of content marketing. If we want to get our company’s message out there we must not only know how to develop great content, but come up with the best ways to get it out into the stratosphere. Many of more experienced marketing people have missed this meeting.

The PCB Norsemen: Industry 4.0, AI and CircuitData

As automation works its way onto the shop floors, it still struggles to replace humans in the supporting roles, such as designers, purchasers, brokers, and back-office staff. Where automation on the shop floor replaces humans in doing repetitive manual tasks, the supporting roles (at least some of them) require intelligence to understand and utilise information.

Steve’s Particular Set of Skills (to become a World-Class Quality Manager)

Being a quality professional today is nothing like it was 20 or 25 years ago; on a personal level, I can attest to this fact. It is no longer adequate to appoint a quality manager simply based on a person’s command of acceptance criteria and industry specifications; in the 21st century, a truly hybrid executive is needed.

PCB/PCBA M&A Top 10 FAQs

We talk with owners a lot about the possible sale of their businesses. Here are the top 10 questions asked by PCB/PCBA shop owners about the process.


Groundbreaking Developments at liloTree

I was introduced to liloTree and Chief Scientist Kunal Shah by Joe Fjelstad. It seems this small company (with Intel as part of its pedigree) has developed a novel ENIG process that just may shake up the regular chemistry suppliers. This new process is described as cost-effective and ecofriendly while completely eliminating black pad and brittle solder joints.

Leveraging Industry Shows to Create a Presence

At the recent SMTA International show in Rosemont, Illinois, I had an opportunity to meet with Mark Osborn, president and owner of Colonial Circuits, based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Colonial Circuits is a supplier of PCBs, mainly for the defense industry.

New I-Connect007 Team Members Tour American Standard Circuits

Recently, Anaya Vardya, CEO of American Standard Circuits, invited two of I-Connect007’s newest team members, IT coordinator Jonathan Zinski and Editor Kiersten Rohde, to tour his facility in West Chicago, Illinois. Happy Holden, resident PCB expert, also joined the newbies on their field trip to ASC. In the following articles, Jonathan and Kiersten describe their experience touring ASC. Special thanks to Anaya for hosting the I-Connect007 team.

Planning a PCB: Signal Integrity and Controlled Impedance Considerations

Knowledge and experience are the two key elements when planning a PCB. Today’s PCB designers must have far more knowledge and understanding of the PCB production process than in the past. This is especially important when they plan and how they plan the stackup, via span, routing and power distribution.

Catching up with…Brigitflex

Today, Brigitflex is building unique custom-made boards for companies all over the world, from large defense and aerospace companies to small incubator companies inventing new products. They have become well-known as the shop to go to when nobody else can solve your problems.

RTW SMTAI: NCAB's Perspectives on HDI and Miniaturization

John Piccirilli of NCAB Group discusses the trends in HDI and miniaturization he's seeing around the world. He also talks about other interesting technologies such as metal-backed PCBs and stretchable materials.

Final Finishes: Taking Gold Thickness into Account

Martin Bunce was one of several people from MacDermid Enthone who presented at SMTA International this year. He sat down with me for a chat about his paper on final finishes, particularly with regard to controlling gold thickness.

Book Recommendation: Lead Right for Your Company’s Type

Why couldn’t a guy who had been successful at Apple be a dismal failure at Penney’s? Why do certain people who were great at one company be terrible at leading another company? Give up? It’s simple: All companies are different and what works with one company will not necessarily work for another.

Rex Rozario’s Next Big Thing, Part 2

In Part 2 of this two-part series, the conversation continues with Rex Rozario and Michael Caines as they discuss the ups and downs of creating their magnificent Lympstone Manor hotel and restaurant. The conversation ranges from dealing with budget and inclement weather to working with investors and the building itself to the joy of seeing the project come together beautifully.

Rex Rozario’s Next Big Thing, Part 1

Barry Matties joins Rex Rozario at Lympstone Manor, one of Rex’s investments outside of the electronics industry. The property, once an old country house in the Exeter countryside, has been transformed into a splendid hotel and restaurant. Joining them is Michael Caines, a Michelin Star chef from the UK who is heading the project.


A Guide to IPC Survey and Report Season

IPC Director of Market Research Sharon Starr found time to discuss the recently conducted and published surveys and research reports and a few others still in the works. These reports are free to survey participants, which is certainly a great incentive for taking the time to complete them. (Hint: That’s a call to action for those of you sitting on the sidelines.)

HDI’s Beneficial Influence on High-Frequency Signal Integrity

The increasingly widespread use of finepitch ball-grid array (BGA), chip scale packaging (CSP), and other evolving technology form-factors means that new fabrication techniques must be used to create printed circuit boards (PCBs).

Strategies for Developing Copper Plating Systems

I-Connect007's Patty Goldman met with Dr. Albert Angstenberger, global technology manager for metallization with MacDermid Enthone Electronics Solutions, while at SMTA International. He presented a most interesting paper on copper pillar plating systems that we hope to publish in The PCB Magazine sometime in the future.

Book Recommendation: The Camino Way—Lessons in Leadership from a Walk Across Spain

When someone sent me this book, I was puzzled. How was reading a book about a religious pilgrimage going to help me with my business? It didn’t take long for me to realize that reading The Camino Way was tremendously helpful to my leadership business education. Author Victor Prince uses the backdrop of his own pilgrimage along the Camino Way to give leadership lessons.

Experts Discussion: Signal Integrity and Impedance Control

When the content gathering for an issue on signal integrity and controlled impedance was officially underway, our I-Connect007 editorial team’s first stop was an “experts discussion” with industry experts: Mike Steinberger of SiSoft, Mark Thompson of Prototron Circuits, and Yogen and Sunny Patel of Candor Industries. This teleconference call was a whirlwind at times, but we captured valuable information that we have distilled here, for our readers.

IPC Status Update: Training, Standards, and More!

At the recent IPC Fall committee meetings that are co-located with the SMTA International conference and show, IPC’s president and CEO, John Mitchell, sat down for a chat with me for an update on what’s happening at IPC.

Update on IPC’s Validation Services and Hints of What’s to Come

SMTA International is the perfect time to get updates on IPC happenings. One that I’m always curious about is the Validation Services programs. At the busy show, I managed to find a quiet spot so Randy Cherry, IPC’s director of Validation Services, could fill me in on the latest.

Patty's Perspective: (Signal) Integrity for All

Our topic this month is signal integrity, certainly a common one in our industry. Signal integrity is achieved by controlling impedance, so my advice is to do that. There, I’m done. Just kidding…of course I’m not done. But if you are in PCB manufacturing and you think this is just a design problem and doesn’t concern you, please think again.

Process Engineering & Defect Prevention

Defects may “manifest” or be detected in or after a specific operation within the printed circuit board manufacturing process, but the underlying root cause may have occurred earlier (perhaps much earlier) in the process.

3D Printed Electronics for Printed Circuit Structures

Printed electronics is a familiar term that is taking on more meaning as the technology matures. Flexible electronics is sometimes referred to as a subset of this and the printing approach is one of the enabling factors for roll-to-roll processes.


Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island Seminar 2017

This year’s event had a well-chosen and varied programme featuring presentations on process chemistry and R&D consortia, a discussion of controversial standards proposals and a review of the experiences of commissioning new technology in a start-up factory.

Catching up with FineLine Global

With locations all over the world and technology offerings covering all technologies, I wanted to see for myself what this “broker on steroids” was all about—how they got started and how they grew. So I was delighted to have a conversation with Eli Ikan, Fineline Global’s General Manager.

RTW SMTAI: What's New at MacDermid Enthone

Jim Hartzell of MacDermid Enthone explains the responsibilities of his new position servicing the end-user as part of a group that deals directly with OEMs. He also discusses MacDermid's steady growth and some of the hotter market segments, as well as a variety of new product offerings.

RTW SMTAI: Prototron Continues its Growth

Dave Ryder and Russ Adams of Prototron Circuits discuss the firm's 30th anniversary and their continued growth. Prototron recently hired several new staff members, and the company still has one open position to fill.

The State-of-the-Art in PCB Pre-production Engineering

If there’s one benefit of old age, it’s being able to remember the introduction to our industry of technologies that may be taken for granted by the present generation, but were revolutionary at the time. I can recall the history of Ucamco as far back as the late 1980s when, as one of the very early adopters of the DISC laser plotter and its associated electronic PCB front-end tooling system, our company gained entry to a spectacular new world of pre-production engineering capability.

The Value of Process Engineering in PCB Manufacturing

The PCB manufacturing cycle involves a series of interdependent processes starting from raw material and ending with the finished product. Successful PCB manufacturing shops coordinate, control and constantly upgrade their processes to meet the ever-changing market demands.

Ventec Shares Their Insights on the Laminate Market, Part II

The discussion on laminates and markets with Ventec’s Mark Goodwin continues as he talks about the importance of service, where Ventec is headed, and offers some advice on partnering with your supplier.

Ventec Shares Their Insights on the Laminate Market, Part I

I-Connect007’s Barry Matties sat down with the COO of Ventec USA/Europe, Mark Goodwin, to discuss the laminate market as a whole, the market segments behind that growth, and how Ventec has positioned itself in the thermal management space.

'Can Do' in CAM Outsourcing

Time-to-market has been the mantra for every successful technology company. The best among them have strong and integrated supply chains that march to the drum of the OEMs and EMS providers that bring that technology to market. A big part of that success, especially in North America and Europe, is the ability for PCB manufacturers to turn around complex PCBs very quickly. The hallmark of PCB production in these higher-tech, higher-cost regions is flexibility and responsiveness.

High-Throw DC Acid Copper Formulation for Vertical Continuous Electroplating Processes

The electronics industry has grown immensely over the last few decades owing to the rapid growth of consumer electronics in the modern world. New formulations are essential to fit the needs of manufacturing printed circuit boards and semiconductors.


Weiner’s World—August 2017

IPC is planning to hold a special meeting on automotive electronics for senior executives during IPC APEX EXPO 2019. The meeting will be planned and produced by the IPC Ambassador Council. Its presentations will feature senior members of the entire automotive electronics supply chain.

Hamed El-Abd: A New Beginning, Part 2

In Part 2 of this interview with Hamed El-Abd, Barry Matties continues the conversation as Hamed recalls witnessing the growth of China through the past 30 years. We also learn what Hamed plans to do in his retirement and it doesn't involve being static!

Hamed El-Abd: A New Beginning, Part 1

While in China recently, Barry Matties joined longtime I-Connect007 friend and contributor Hamed El-Abd of WKK to congratulate him on his upcoming retirement. They reflected on his time spent in the industry, specifically in China, how far it’s come, and where it might be headed next.

Laser Patterning & Metallization to Reduce Process Steps for PCB Manufacturing

This paper details a new methodology for the plating of conductive features onto glass dielectrics. A laser is used to ablate material from a glass substrate in the desired pattern, and copper is “seeded” into these features using laser-induced forward transfer of a copper foil.

IMPACT Interview: Joe O’Neil, OAA Ventures

At the recent IMPACT Washington D.C. 2017, I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman caught up with Joe O’Neil of OAA Ventures to talk about the event. As a veteran of many IMPACT meetings, his was a good perspective of the event.
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