Printed Circuit Design & Fab Circuit Assembly Magazine April 2020
April 2020
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PCB design done right
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With a modern, easy-to-use interface and advanced capabilities to automate your layout process, Pulsonix can be the key to a critical reduction in your design time. That’s PCB design done right!
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Advanced PCB Design Features
  • Intuitive placement and routing
  • Dynamic copper pour
  • Full rules engine for automatic DRC
  • High-speed design rules
  • Heads-up display length matching
  • Rigid-Flex, embedded components, and chip-on-board
  • Revision control and PLM integration
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April 2020 • VOL. 37 • NO. 4
First Person
Covid-19 tests supply chain strength.
Mike Buetow
money matters
Chatting over corona.
Peter Bigelow
Crisis communications.
Susan Mucha
Tech Talk
AI and 5G at Nepcon Japan.
E. Jan Vardaman
Assembly “gotchas.”
John Burkhert
Standards updated make high-performance materials more accessible.
Alun Morgan
Understanding time and frequency domains.
Bill Hargin
Making flex stiffer.
Mark Finstad
Cleaning small PCBs.
Clive Ashmore
PCB manufacturing equipment advances.
Akber Roy
April 2020 • VOL. 37 • NO. 4
Area Arrays
Array pitch has profound implications for the printed circuit board industry, which must continually develop newer methods to route dense, high-I/O packages with increasingly finer pitch. A look at how array technology influences processes from board routing to drill to test.
by Todd MacFadden
Up Media April 2020 cover
iNEMI Roadmap
Aerospace and defense products face several challenges unique to this particular market segment, including the extreme environments in which they operate, need for security, desire for reworkability, long duration storage requirements and the functional lifetime over which the products are expected to perform and be supported.
by Peter M. Carter
Vapor Degreasing
The steps involved in manual and automated contamination removal.
by Emily Peck
IN the Digital Edition
The latest happenings of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association.



EMS in India
with Sreeram Srinivasan
Troubleshooting Electronic Assemblies
with Phil Zarrow and Jim Hall
Crisis Communication Strategies
with Susan Mucha
Cleaning Processes and Materials
with Dr. Darren Williams
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to
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Akber Roy, Peter Bigelow, John Burkhert, Mark Finstad, Bryan Germann, Bill Hargin, Nick Koop, Greg Papandrew
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Caveat Lector
Mike Buetow Editor in Chief Image
Will Mass Shutdowns Spur More Action?

emember 2010? That year, a massive earthquake in the Pacific Ocean led to a tsunami of biblical proportions. Much of Japan’s semiconductor and electronics manufacturing industry was taken offline for nearly two months.

About 12 months later, it was Thailand’s turn in the wringer. The so-called 100-year floods swamped most of the country, causing nearly $50 billion in damage. In doing so, they took out key assembly operations at Fabrinet, Benchmark Electronics, Kimball and SVI, among others, upsetting a key link in the auto electronics and optical component supply chains.

Covid-19 has hit the electronics supply chain with all the force of those two natural disasters. The industry response will be fascinating.

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Around the World
PCDF People

Dyconex named Dr. Selcuk Mentese head of quality management.

IPC presented Mike Carano, Bhanu Sood and Udo Welzel with the Dieter Bergman Fellowship award.

Susy Webb in June will lead Design Essentials for PCB Engineers, a two-day workshop covering parts placement, routing, fine-pitch BGAs, fanout, controlling impedance and high-frequency energy, and stack-up and power issues, in Austin, TX.

Frank-Ralf Mayer Headshot
Taiyo America announced Frank-Ralf Mayer as European sales manager. He was a logistics and sourcing consultant with Cronos for 18 years prior to joining Taiyo.
Troy McNulty Headshot
Uyemura named Troy McNulty Midwest technical sales manager in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. He has held technical sales positions with OMG/ MacDermid and was business development manager for Paradigm. He has more than two decades’ experience in research/formulation, sales, and technical service related to electrochemicals.
Around the World
TTM Opens New Manufacturing Facility in WI
CHIPPEWA FALLS, WI – TTM Technologies in January opened a state-of-the-art PCB manufacturing facility here, its second in this Midwestern US state.

The world’s second largest fabricator invested $15 million in the new plant. It spent seven months converting the site from a warehouse.

“We took a 20-year-old, 40,000 sq. ft. building that was being used as a warehouse, and we turned it into the most technology advanced PCB building in the United States,” said TTM Technologies president and CEO Tom Edman, in a statement.

The plant was outfitted in part with equipment and assets from TTM’s acquisition of Endicott, NY-based i3. The company told local media it wanted to keep the acquired technology in the US.

About 40 staff members now work in the advanced technology center, along with some 600 employees at the 240,000 sq. ft. site nearby, which TTM acquired from Honeywell in 2002. That site was expanded in 2004.

Production began at the new plant Jan. 4. – CD

Around the World
PCB West 2020 Exhibition Floor Sold Out for 9th Year in a Row
ATLANTA, GA – The exhibition floor for PCB West is sold out for the ninth straight year, UP Media Group announced. The annual show, the largest conference and exhibition for printed circuit design, fabrication and assembly in the Silicon Valley, returns to the Santa Clara (CA) Exhibition Center on Sept. 8-11.

The event includes a four-day technical conference and one-day exhibition. The September 2019 event attracted more than 2,500 registrants.

“We are pleased to announce the exhibition floor for PCB West is sold out for the ninth straight year,” said Frances Stewart, vice president of sales and marketing, UPMG. “Our exhibitors continue to count on us every year to deliver an outstanding event and targeted audience.”

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Now in its 29th year, this year’s show will feature 110 booths showcasing the leading companies in the PCB industry, including the top CAD and CAM vendors and top names in printed circuit fabrication and electronics assembly.

For information about attending, visit – MB

Around the World
Report: Large-Area FO Remains ‘Hot Topic’
AUSTIN, TX – Large-area fan-out remains a hot topic in the industry, according to TechSearch International.

The main driver for large-area FO panel development is cost-reduction because more parts can be processed in a batch, according to the firm’s recent report, which divides the panel market into high-density RDL (≤2μm L/S with multiple RDLs) versus low-density (>5μm L/S with ≤3 RDLs).

The report discusses FO-WLP panel activities at major companies and reports on consortia progress and future plans. Applications for large-area panels are discussed. A market forecast is provided for low-density panels, and panel capacity is included.

The report examines the packages inside Huawei’s Mate 30 5G to see how Huawei has been able to use fewer US components. Recent announcements of high-performance package offerings from TSMC are described. Trade-offs in high-performance packaging are discussed.

Quarterly and annual OSAT financial trends are presented. One section examines EMI shielding offerings and applications. – CD

Around the World
Toyota Devises Novel Power Electronics Cooling Method
ERLANGER, KY – A pair of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing engineers have been issued a US patent for a novel method for cooling power electronics inside printed circuit boards.

In the filing, Yuji Fukuoka and Ercan Dede describe an electronics assembly that includes a cooling chip structure with a target layer and a jet impingement layer coupled to the target layer. The jet impingement layer has one or more jet channels disposed within the jet impingement layer. Further, one or more through substrate vias are disposed within the jet impingement layer, where the substrate vias are electrically conductive and electrically coupled to the target layer.

A fluid inlet port and a fluid outlet port are fluidly coupled to the one or more jet channels of the jet impingement layer.

Around the World
CA People
Asscon named Tobias Tuffentsammer head of sales in Germany.
Joe Barber
Inovar named Joe Barber chief engineer, Logan Aerospace & Defense division. He held senior technical and leadership roles in electrical systems engineering and manufacturing for 40 years at Raytheon.
IPC presented four volunteers with its annual President’s Award: Michael Ford, Aegis Software; Dale Lee, Plexus; Joe O’Neil, Green Circuits; and S. Manian Ramkumar, Ph.D., Rochester Institute of Technology.
IPC presented Gaston Hidalgo, Kate Stees, Stephanie Rodgers, and Zhiman Chen with its Rising Star Award.
Duane Mackleit
KeyTronic promoted Duane Mackleit to vice president of operations. He has been with the EMS company since 2008.
MicroCare promoted Jerald Chan to managing director, MicroCare Asia.
Around the World
CA Briefs
A provision that allows the use of standard datasheets for electronic components when reporting to the automotive industry’s material declaration system, IMDS, will be removed on Jul. 1.

Absolute EMS purchased a Sayaka SAM-CT23S tabletop router from Seika Machinery and a Nordson Dage Quadra 3 x-ray inspection machine.

AIM Solder expanded its research and development laboratory in Montreal.

Asymtek expanded distributor Neutec Electronic’s territory to the French-speaking areas of Switzerland.

AW installed a Yamaha YSP screen printer.

Celestica will lay off some 450 people at its Romanian subsidiary, according to reports.

CheckSum is partnering with the Adaptsys Group to sell its in-circuit test solutions in Europe.

Computrol purchased an Asys Serio 4000 solder paste printer.

Critical Manufacturing appointed Process Automation & Tool representative in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia.

Cyient opened a wire harness lab in Peoria, IL.

Around the World
U of I Researchers Demonstrate New Capability for Electronics Cooling Using Additive Manufacturing
URBANA, IL – For decades, researchers have considered the potential for cooling hot electronic devices by blowing on them with high-speed air jets.

However, air jet cooling systems are not widely used today. Two of the biggest obstacles that prevent the use of these systems is their complexity and weight. Air jet systems must be made of metal to be able to handle the pressure associated with air jets whose speed can exceed 200 miles per hour. And the air handling system can be complex with many discrete components that manage the air flow and direct the air onto the hot spots where cooling is required.

Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated a new type of air jet cooler that overcomes previous barriers to jet cooling systems. Using additive manufacturing, the researchers created an air jet cooling system in a single component that can direct high-speed air onto multiple electronics hot spots. The researchers manufactured the cooling system from strong polymer materials that can withstand the harsh conditions associated with high-speed air jets.

Around the World
EMS Companies Stifled by Pandemic
TAIPEI – Foxconn founder Terry Gou said return to production at the company’s factories in China has “exceeded our expectations” after the coronavirus outbreak temporarily shut down manufacturing, according to reports. But other major ODMs and EMS companies are reporting weaker near-term results.

Gou said supplies to factories in China and Vietnam have returned to normal levels. However, weak consumer demand has resulted from Covid-19, which the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic. Gou said the US market is now particularly concerning.

The Foxconn founder said he’s concerned about the electronics supply chain in Japan and South Korea and cited rising prices for DRAM memory and supply issues with display panels.

“When Foxconn communicated that they would have their factories back to 100% capacity by the end of March, that was very encouraging as it relates to Q2 output,” Christopher Stansbury, chief financial officer, Arrow Electronics, said on an investor call. “But for Q1, we’re still monitoring it daily and it’s too early to call.”

In March Foxconn reported revenue would fall 15% in the first quarter. Taiwan-based competitors Compal and Wistron reported February sales were down 27 and 21%, respectively, from a year ago. The latter firms added that concerns remain over component supply and lower demand in their key consumer end-markets.

Most ODM factories in China were running at about 60% capacity as of mid March, DigiTimes reported.

Meanwhile, Sanmina does not expect to meet its second quarter fiscal 2020 financial outlook due to the impact of Covid-19, and Jabil announced its affected factories were operating at five to 10% below optimal level. Likewise, SigmaTron said its factory headcount was at 60% as of the end of February and “steadily increasing,” but warned supplier decommits could swing up in the coming weeks, putting pressure on deliveries.

Not all companies were playing catchup, however. Note said its plant in Tangxia, China, which reopened Feb. 10, was running at full capacity by the end of February. – CD + MB

Around the World
IPC Releases 5 Standards Revisions
BANNOCKBURN, IL – IPC released five revised standards covering several areas of the supply chain: IPC/WHMA-A-620D, “Requirements and Acceptance for Cable and Wire Harness Assemblies”; IPC-2223E, “Sectional Design Standard for Flexible/Rigid-Flexible Printed Boards”; IPC-2591-Version 1.1, “Connected Factory Exchange (CfX)”; IPC-1791A, “Trusted Electronic Designer, Fabricator and Assembler Requirements”; and IPC-6012E, “Qualification and Performance Specification for Rigid Printed Boards.”

For printed boards, IPC-2223E will provide designers of flexible/rigid-flexible designs with updated figures, new sections and comments on microvia stacking, back-drilled holes and dual-row zero insertion force connectors.

IPC-6102E provides new acceptance criteria for back-drilled holes, discussion on reliability issues for microvia structures in Class 3 products and establishes new requirements for copper wrap plating of holes in new designs.

IPC/WHMA-A-620D provides some new acceptability criteria, figures and graphics on target conditions, solderless wrap section revisions, and a new section added on overmolding of flexible flat ribbon.

The connected factory exchange (CfX) standard provides changes made to message sections and message structure sections. Appendix A was added with a short description of all changes from V1.0, and Appendix B provides acronyms and abbreviations.

IPC-1791A provides a new Appendix D covering requirements for trust certification of non-US electronic design, fabrication and assembly organizations. Several sections have been updated as well. – CD

Market Watch
EMS M&A Fell in 2019, Market Watcher Says
CHICAGO – M&A activity in the electronics manufacturing services sector slipped slightly in 2019, falling two to a total of 29. The market for such deals remained strong through the year, said Lincoln International, an investment bank advisory group that tracks the market.

There were 14 consolidations, four vertical/horizontal convergences, 10 private equity investments, and one “diversification” into EMS, Lincoln said. No OEM divestitures took place last year.

Stranded by Covid-19? Let’s Talk
Will the latest pandemic spur mass change in communications?
Global events sometimes become the catalyst for widespread change. In the world of technology, Covid-19, also known as the coronavirus, may be such an event.

Over the decades our industry has been an integral part of developing, refining and establishing many cost-effective and reliable technologies, perhaps best illustrated by improvements in communications. These improvements have not just been about broadcasting voice with higher fidelity in smaller packages, or integrating photography into word processing software, with easier user interfaces. Thanks to technology, the world of communications has been developing into much more: real-time, interactive, and transportable.

The combination of higher capacity data storage in smaller and far less expensive packages and fast and reliable wireless bandwidth, available virtually anywhere, matched with camera and microphone technology that makes the smallest device sound crystal clear and picks up the smallest sound or sight from incredibly long distances, is just part of the dramatic evolution of communications technologies.

Focus on business
Communications Lessons to Learn from Covid-19
Or how not to make a (potential) problem bigger than it is.
One of the challenges of writing a column a month before it gets published is material based around breaking news can become dated. As I write this (Feb. 28), the spread of Covid-19 within the US is still very limited in terms of numbers of confirmed cases. That said, it is already creating a large body of communications lessons to be learned that will remain relevant a month from now. The stock market has tanked, and people are fearful of what’s next because there is a lot of speculation on worst-case scenarios. Cases are growing worldwide, and the media is uttering the words “will have an impact on the supply chain” every other sentence.

The basic problem with this or any other evolving crisis (be it pandemic, material allocation or natural disaster) is, at the beginning, it can be difficult to assess what will happen. Will this be an H1N1-type event, where business continues with heightened attention to employee health in impacted areas, or will it require the draconian quarantine measures already seen in China that created significant supply-chain disruption? The answers may be unclear for weeks. The natural impulse is to say as little as possible. The problem is when only the media is talking, people imagine worst-case scenarios. Hence the huge selloffs in the stock market.

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Nepcon Japan
Nepcon Japan Highlights AI, 5G, and Packaging and Assembly Trends
ADAS auto electronics require zero-defect components.

With construction of a new venue for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the annual Nepcon show was split into two parts this year. There were 67,169 visitors to see more than 2,100 exhibitors. A reported 24,323 people attended the conference presentations. Exhibits included automotive and electronics. The electronics R&D and manufacturing exhibits included IC and sensor packaging, LED and laser diode technology, PCB, SMT, test and measurement, components, devices, and materials. Many highly attended conference sessions focused on 5G, AI, and automotive electronics (FIGURE 1).

Automotive electronics. Automotive electronics, autonomous driving and electric vehicles (EVs) were the main focuses of the presentations in Automotive World. Nissan described the evolution of advanced automotive technology and described how the need to reduce CO2 emissions is driving the movement toward electrification. Evolving technologies such as the electric vehicle battery, including cell-energy density and volume, have improved cruising range and charging.

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Common Design for Assembly ‘Gotchas’
DfM means design for money. If it can’t be built, that’s a waste.
Great ideas come together with great timing; what’s left is great execution. Flipping the switch that sets the factory in motion causes a few pain points. These “opportunities for improvement” will dictate your agenda down to the minute with all the little things that go wrong. Let’s say there is a factory downstairs from you. Further, the factory is doing slow and laborious rework on old printed circuit boards, aka PCBs. There is a solution! New PCBs. We’re going from P0 (zero) to P1 (one). That’s where we, the designers, come in.

At new PCB time, the first order of business is improving the electronics in some way. The fix could be better performance, lower cost, higher reliability and, in some cases, all the above. Venturing into wireless technology and gaining FCC approval to play in its allocated spectrum is no slam dunk. Beefing up the power grid is a typical step. A good power distribution network has been known to cover for otherwise iffy routing. Every engineer will have some considerations carried forward.

The Foundation of the PCEA is Laid
The Orange County chapter joins up, and a new PCEA chairman is named.
In this month’s column, I highlight the Orange County Chapter’s recent meeting and its transition from IPC to Printed Circuit Engineers Association affiliation, recent PCEA activities, and the evolution of this column, including introducing Kelly Dack, CID+, PCEA’s new communications officer.
Orange County Chapter

Scott McCurdy, president
The Orange County Chapter is doing very well in Southern California and has been active for 18-plus years. We are proudly the largest active chapter in existence, based on attendance at our quarterly meetings. We average 50 to 65 attendees at our meetings, and occasionally have 80 or more in attendance. In our most recent meeting, held Jan. 21 at the Harvard Athletic Park multipurpose room, we had an outstanding crowd of 80 people in attendance to hear the educational presentation by Gerry Partida, a senior field application engineer for Summit Interconnect.

PCB West 2020
Connecting Design to Fab to Assembly
Conference: September 8 – 11
Exhibition: Wednesday, September 9
See you in September!
  • 1-day Free Expo with 100+ suppliers
  • Free Technical Sessions
  • 4-day Technical Conference featuring Eric Bogatin, Rick Hartley, and Lee Ritchey
  • Professional Development Certificates
Who’s Exhibiting

Accurate Circuit Engineering

Aculon, Inc.

Advanced Assembly

Advanced Circuits

AGC Chemicals Americas, Inc.

AGC Nelco America Inc.

All Flex Flexible Circuits & Heaters

Altium, Inc.

American Standard Circuits, Inc.


Arlon EMD Specialty

Bay Area Circuits, Inc.


Bittele Electronics Inc.

Bowman XRF

Cadence Design Systems

Cicor Group

Clear Blue Engineering


Dino-Lite Scopes (Big C)

Downstream Technologies, Inc.



Dynamic Electronics Co., Ltd.

Elgris Technologies, Inc.


EMA Design Automation

EM Solutions Inc.

Firan Technology Group – FTG

Fischer Technology, Inc.

Flex lnterconnect Technologies

Flexible Circuit Technologies

Freedom CAD Services, Inc.

Fujipoly America

Goal Searchers Co., LTD Zhuhai

Green Circuits


GTS Flexible Materials Ltd.

HIE Display Limited



lmagineering, Inc.


Integrated Technology Ltd. (ITL Circuits)

IPC-2581 Consortium


JS Electronic Co. Ltd.

Kinwong Electronic Co., Ltd.

Krypton Solutions

Kyocera International, Inc.

Leader Tech, Inc.

LPKF Laser & Electronics

Medcadtron GmbH

Mentor, A Siemens Business


Minco Products, Inc.

Multek Technologies, Inc.

MV Circuit Technology Co., Ltd.

MVINIX Corporation


Oak-Mitsui Technologies LLC

Ohmega Technologies, Inc.

Oki Printed Circuits Co., Inc.

Optiprint AG

Panasonic Electronic Materials

PCB Power Inc.

PFC Flexible Circuits Limited

Polar Instruments, Inc.


Printed Circuits

Pulsonix PCB Design Software




Rogers Corporation

Royal Circuits

San Diego PCB Design

San-ei Kagaku Co., Ltd.

Sanmina Corporation

Screaming Circuits

SEP Co., Ltd.

Shenzhen Danyu Electronics Co. Ltd.

Shenzhen JDB Technology Co., Ltd.

Shin Yi PCB Co., Ltd.

Sierra Circuits, Inc.

Slingshot Assembly

Somacis Inc.

Summit Interconnect

Sunshine Global Circuits

Sunstone Circuits

SVTronics, Inc.

Taiyo America Inc.

Tempo Automation

Ticer Technologies

Ultra Librarian

Varioprint AG

Vayo Technology

Ventec International Group

Victory GiantTechnology (Huizhou) Co., Ltd.

VYCOM Global Sources Ltd.

Xiamen Bolian Tech. Co., Ltd.

Zuken USA Inc.

Conference: September 8 – 11
Exhibition: Wednesday, September 9
Material Gains
New IPC Standards Emphasize Performance over Composition
Changes in standards and supply chain are making high-performance materials more accessible.
5G is expected to revolutionize many aspects of work and life, as a critical enabler for connected cars and self-driving vehicles, autonomous factories, remote medical surgery and the diffusion of smart “things” throughout cities, infrastructures and our homes.

Within the automotive sector alone, its influence will be huge thanks to attributes like ultra-low latency that will enable time-critical use cases such as V2X. The 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) is excited about the prospects for cellular V2X (C-V2X) to consolidate vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, vehicle-to-pedestrian, and vehicle-to-network modes, combining direct communication, communication with cell towers, and links to cloud services.

An Ode to Pi
Understanding key differences between time and frequency domains.
As March approaches each year, I can count on the bullfrogs around our neighbor’s pond to be out in force, memories of days coaching baseball and softball, my wife’s birthday, and on March 14, “Pi Day,” which has been celebrated by geeks around the globe since 1988. I take the day seriously due to pi’s prevalence in almost every field of science, ranging from astronomy, electromagnetics, physics, to probably several other fields I’m not even thinking about. How did pi find its way into so much science, and what are the implications for electromagnetics?

Before we go into details regarding the time and frequency domains, it’s beneficial to discuss the “unit circle” and radians. A unit circle is simply a circle with a radius of 1 (regardless of units). The circumference of a unit circle is 2π, meaning that one cycle would be 2π, and there would be 2 x 3.14 radians required to complete the circle. This is illustrated in FIGURE 1.

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The Flexperts
I Need a Stiffer Flex Circuit. What Do I Do?
Material choices are often based on the planned assembly.
Many different materials are used to rigidize flexible circuits. Likewise, the reasons for stiffening an area on a flex board are many. The “best” stiffener material is tied to exactly why you are stiffening your flex circuit.

Rigidized SMT or through-hole component areas. Providing a rigid, stable surface for mounting components is probably the most common reason for stiffening an area on a flexible circuit. If components are mounted on a flex, which is then bent in that area, there is a very good chance the solder joints or solder pads will be damaged. The industry standard is to rigidize any area on a flex that has soldered components. If components are all SMT, install the stiffener on the side opposite the components. If through-hole components or connectors are used, mount the stiffener on the same side as the components. If components are on both sides, rigid-flex construction is probably needed, but that is a topic for a future column. By far the most common (and least expensive) stiffener material is epoxy-glass laminate (FR-4). This inexpensive sheet material comes in a range of thicknesses and is machined to size and shape by the flex circuit manufacturer. The machined stiffeners are then applied with either a pressure-sensitive or thermosetting adhesive (see below). Another material for stiffening a component area is 0.003″ to 0.005″ polyimide film. This material is common and cost-effective, since these stiffeners can often be added in panel form. This option is typically specified when overall thickness is a concern. The material is a bit more expensive than FR-4 but offers significant time savings during stiffener mounting. This material will not provide the same level of stiffness as a thicker FR-4 stiffener, so operators must exercise care in handing and forming during installation.

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Area Arrays
BGA Pitch Impacts on Bare Board Fabrication
A look at how array technology influences processes from board routing to drill to test.
“Miniaturization has made it possible for electronics to penetrate society more widely and deeply than ever before.”1 That sentence is as relevant today as when it was written in 1984. It embodies the core tenets of Moore’s law, and the associated manufacturing technologies that have enabled performance improvements in electronics at a predictable cadence for 55 years: 1) decreasing feature sizes, 2) increasing functionality, 3) decreasing cost. One of the most important innovations to accommodate increasing densification of chip technology has been the ball grid array, introduced in the early 1990s, which permits high pin counts per area relative to peripheral lead and no-lead packages such as QFNs and DFNs. The evolution of array packaging has moved from BGA to chip-scale package, to wafer-level CSP to flip-chips, defined by a steady march toward smaller balls and finer-pitch arrays (FIGURE 1).
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Can Tomorrow’s A&D Designs Handle the Heat?
New 3-D technologies with robust interconnects and thermal solutions are on the way. by PETER M. CARTER
Ed.: This is the fifth of an occasional series by the authors of the 2019 iNEMI Roadmap. This information is excerpted from the roadmap, available from iNEMI (
Aerospace and defense (A&D) products face several challenges unique to this particular market segment, including the extreme environments in which they operate, need for security, desire for reworkability, long duration storage requirements and the functional lifetime over which the products are expected to perform and be supported.

The critical issues for the A&D sector can be reduced to a list of 11 challenges that need to be resolved for efficient manufacture and reliable use of current and emerging commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies in military form factors on military platforms. These are:

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Vapor Degreasing
Cleaning and Drying before Conformal Coating
The steps involved in manual and automated contamination removal. by EMILY PECK
Printed circuit boards are subjected to many harsh environmental conditions, including extreme temperatures, strong chemicals, corrosive salts, dust and moisture. Encapsulating them with a protective conformal coating makes sense. Conformal coatings keep harmful elements from touching delicate components and degrading performance of the boards. However, for optimum PCB longevity, functionality and reliability, it is imperative boards are perfectly clean and dry before conformal coating.

PCB contamination comes from many sources: transport, handling, storage and manufacturing. The most common examples of PCB contamination are fingerprint oils and salts, flux residue, tape or other adhesive residue, solder balls, and even some inks or chip bonder.

Any contaminants or soils on PCBs may interfere with the proper bonding of the conformal coating to the PCB substrates. Salts or oils from fingerprints left on the boards can cause defects in the conformal coating (Figure 1). These include uneven coverage, pinholes, craters, blisters and fisheyes.

SCREEN printing
Screen Printing Hacks: Cleaning Small PCBs
Is a wet cycle necessary after every print? Maybe not.
In the previous installment of screen printing hacks, we discussed some proven workarounds for alignment issues. This month – and based on some recent customer observations – the advice centers on understencil cleaning, how lack of control can adversely impact this sub-process of printing and the overall result, and a few suggestions for correcting the problems.

Here’s the backstory: A customer printing very small dimensions – 200µm square apertures with spaces of 130µm, on average – was experiencing sub-4 Sigma results on some NPI designs. Transfer efficiency was low, and there was a large standard deviation across devices and the PCBs, so a lot of inconsistent paste-on-pad volume. Our team developed new stencil designs and tested them in a lab environment with our SPI, yielding excellent results. After making some machine calibration adjustments onsite at the customer and integrating the new stencils, however, there still wasn’t tremendous uptick in the process; improvement was observed but not at the expected level. Let the troubleshooting continue! We turned our attention to the cleaning process.

tech tips
Recent Advances in PCB Manufacturing Equipment
More lasers and improved and integrated software have factories humming.
The methods and equipment used to fabricate PCBs are becoming increasingly advanced and centralized. For example, computers, lasers, and AI are ever more common in all areas of PCB processing. In recent years, a considerable number of PCB manufacturers have invested heavily in the integration of the complete shop, with all equipment controlled by one central computer. The interconnection enables quicker file processing, higher accuracy, and improved yields.

One of the most expensive pieces of production equipment is the laser-direct imaging system (LDI), which has made significant improvements in accuracy, speed, quality, and in reducing overall manufacturing rejects. The newer models feature multiple cameras to locate lamination holes, compare them to the original Gerber file, then digitally scale the image to fit the panel. Newer laser imagers are capable of imaging down to 15µm line widths and spaces.

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Machines Materials Tools Systems Software
SMD Ceramic Fuse
UMT-W is pulse-proof and has time-lag tripping characteristics. Is suitable as fail-safe device in demanding applications. Cuboid shape (5.3mm x 16mm). Comes in five rated currents from 5A to 20A and reaches rated voltages of up to 125V AC and DC, with breaking capacity of up to 1000A.
Schurter Inc.
TF13 series
Back-flip FPC/FFC Connector
TF13 series features 0.4mm pitch, 0.9mm height, and 3mm mounting depth. Actuator is closed and protected before being mounted to PCB. Combined side-catcher, back-flip design provides greater FPC retention force. Side catcher prevents misalignment and ensures correct mating. Prevents solder wicking and flux penetration.
Z-planner Enterprise 2019.2
Stackup Planner
Z-planner Enterprise 2019.2 field-solver-based stackup planning and material selection software is optimized for front-to-back PCB design and signal-integrity flow. Enables design and validation of PCB stackups. Provides interfaces to common PCB layout and SI design flows, and large dielectric materials library.
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VP-9000 3-D SPI
VP-9000 3-D SPI detects and relays data to printer. Multiple inspection switch has three resolutions (e.g., 15µm/7.5µm/5µm) for detailed and high-speed inspection. Automatic warpage compensation; programming in 3 min.; inspection capacity up to 8900mm2/s.
SAMCT34XJ high-speed router
High-Speed Router
SAMCT34XJ high-speed router supports panels up to 400mm x 300mm. Cutting position is automatically adjustable. Easy-teach programming aided by on-board camera. Router bit height can be automatically switched for longer tool life. Repeatability +/-0.01mm.
Seika Machinery
3-D MX3000
Memory Module AOI
3-D MX3000 final vision inspection system has two high-res multi-reflection suppression-enabled sensors; enables accurate, dual-sided final vision inspection. Identifies and rejects multiple reflections caused by shiny and reflective surfaces. Automation-ready.
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Technical Abstracts
In Case You Missed It
“Weak Bonds in a Biomimetic Adhesive Enhance Toughness and Performance”

Authors: Michael G. Mazzotta, Amelia A. Putnam, Michael A. North, and Jonathan J. Wilker.

Abstract: Developing high-performance adhesives is predicated upon achieving properties including strength and ductility. However, designing tough materials that are simultaneously strong and soft is usually contradictory in nature. Biological materials including shells and wood achieve impressive toughness by using weak bonds to connect larger structures at several length scales. Here, the authors show that this toughness design approach can be applied to synthetic adhesives. A biomimetic adhesive polymer, poly(catechol-acrylic acid), was examined in conjunction with several compounds containing two organic functional groups. In a typical example, the diol ethylene glycol decreased the overall system modulus. Performance was seen to increase significantly. Spectroscopic and physical methods indicated these bifunctional additives created an interpolymeric network of weak hydrogen bonds. Material toughness was enhanced when breakable bonds were available to dissipate mechanical stresses, while leaving the surrounding matrix intact. These discoveries illustrate how a biological materials strategy of interplay between strength and ductility can be achieved with sacrificial bonds in an adhesive. Such an approach may be a general principle applicable to designing higher performance electronics, transportation, and aerospace systems. (Journal of the American Chemical Society, February 2020;

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