Printed Circuit Design & Fab Circuits Assembly September 2020 Cover
October 2020
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Pulsonix PCB
Design Software
PCB design done right
Maximum Productivity in Minimal Time
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!
Pulsonix PCB Design Software
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
Try Pulsonix yourself at
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October 2020 • VOL. 37 • NO. 10
Printed Circuit Design and Fab Circuits Assembly logo
First Person
Driving out the fakes.
Mike Buetow
money matters
Meeting of minds, if not bodies.
Peter Bigelow
Covid has been the ultimate organizational stress test.
Susan Mucha
No service, no customer.
Greg Papandrew
Tech Talk
A robust design will lend itself to touch-up and rework.
John Burkhert
Research for research’s sake.
Alun Morgan
Embedded clearance.
Nick Koop
Long live the stencil!
Clive Ashmore
Solder joint corrosion causes.
Bob Willis
October 2020 • VOL. 37 • NO. 10
Printed Circuit Design and Fab Circuits Assembly logo
Because electronics engineers are forced to use a 1mm pitch package, we live with tradeoffs. A slight increase in the pitch size, however, could satisfy the needs for today’s high I/O pin count designs.
by Gerry Partida
Up Media October 2020 cover
Product Ramp
Too many design projects go to waste or must restart from scratch because manufacturing at scale wasn’t a building block of the development plan. Here are five things OEMs and EMS companies should do to better ensure a seamless transfer of programs from proto to volume.
by Paul Robertson, Ian Hardy and Mathieu Kury
Parts Verification
A study of test methods for MLCC compliance verification, including the effect of DC bias on capacitance, capacitance temperature characteristics, high-voltage testing of DCW (dielectric withstand voltage) and IR (insulation resistance), cross-section (dielectric layer and terminal comparison for flex types), and electron microscopy (EDS) material analysis to match with known good device chemical composition.
by John Sammut
IN the Digital Edition
What is the PCEA Educational Committee’s role in education?
The SMTAI Women’s Leadership Program
Updates in silicon and electronics technology.
by Priyanka Dobriyal


X-Ray Technology
with Bill Cardoso, Ph.D.
Millennials in Manufacturing
with Moriah Root
Factory of the Future
with Matt Kelly
The Charles Hutchins Award
with Andrew Daya
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Caveat Lector
Mike Buetow Editor in Chief Image
Fake Parts Still a Real Problem


f there is one takeaway from the Symposium on Counterfeit Parts and Materials sponsored by SMTA and CALCE that took place in August, it is that the problem is getting worse. This should be alarming, given the amount of attention that has been paid to the presence of “fake” parts in the supply chain.

Discussion of counterfeits in the supply chain usually starts with the military. It’s the one sector that has both the budget and the concentration of sourcing to effect change.

It was less than a decade ago that the US found fake electronic parts in military aircraft. The discovery spurred a yearlong investigation resulting in bipartisan legislation (remember what that is?) establishing new policies and practices for counterfeit avoidance.

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Around the World
PCDF People

Cadence named Patrick Davis product manager director. He has nearly 25 years’ experience as a PCB designer and manager with Rocket EMS, Summit Computer and Millennium Design.

PCDF Briefs

Aotco Metal Finishing has acquired Plating for Electronics, a provider of specialty anodizing, electroplating, and laser marking services based in Waltham, MA.

All Flex has developed etched foil heaters for medical diagnostics, DNA testing, P.O.C. instruments and cancer diagnostics.

Around the World
IPC Task Group Edges Toward Finish of OSP Spec
BANNOCKBURN, IL – An IPC task group is making progress on a new standard for organic surface protectants for printed circuit boards.

The committee is developing a series of test methods to enhance the assessment of an OSP’s ability to meet performance requirements of high-temperature soldering. The latest document is in draft form and should be ready for a membership vote by spring, the task group chairman said.

IPC-4555, Performance Specification for High Temperature Organic Solderability Preservatives (OSP) for Printed Boards, is a reboot of an effort begun more than a decade ago. In 2008, the task group attempted a similar standard, but was undone when a key OEM disputed the results of the solderability data. Unable to reach consensus, the task group disbanded the effort.

Around the World
Ucamco Releases Gerber Job Format Specification

GENT, BELGIUM – Ucamco released a Gerber job format specification that includes a schema that provides support for Gerber job format software developers.

The schema provides a definition of what can and cannot be inside a Gerber job file. It can be used programmatically to check a Gerber job file for errors and is mainly intended for reading or writing Gerber job files.

Any JSON schema reader that can parse a draft-07 schema can be used to read it and check Gerber job files against it for errors. (CD)

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Around the World
CA People
Sandipan Halder Headshot

Cogiscan appointed Sandipan Halder key account manager. He previously worked for as an account executive, and also spent nearly three years in channel sales at Honeywell.

Dan Oh headshot
Dan Oh, Ph.D., vice president of engineering of Samsung’s Test & System Package (TSP) unit, will keynote the International Wafer-Level Packaging Conference and Expo in October.

Enics named Mahmut Bertan chief business officer and Rami Aro director, services.
Andy Mackie headshot

Indium promoted Andy Mackie to principal engineer and manager, thermal interface materials applications.

Kent Johnson headshot

Inovar named Kent Johnson senior director of quality assurance. He has significant experience in defense, medical, aerospace, and nuclear power across a range of industries and a technical MBA from the University of Utah.

Around the World
US PTO Publishes Apple Patent Application on Smart Fabrics
CUPERTINO, CA – The US Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that discusses the manufacture of smart fabrics with specialized equipment that could be used to form fabric with integrated electrical components, according to reports.

Apple’s patent application notes it may be beneficial to incorporate electrical components into fabric, but since fabric is flexible, new techniques are required. The company’s invention covers interlacing equipment: for example, weaving equipment, knitting equipment, and braiding equipment.

Woven fabric may include insulating and conductive material, and conductive strands may form signal paths through fabric, coupled to electrical components such as light-emitting diodes and other light-emitting devices, ICs, sensors, and haptic output devices.

End products for next-generation fabric intertwined with electronics could relate to smartphones, computers, or other portable electronic devices, Apple says in the application.

Apple’s patent application was filed in March, but some of the original work dates to 2019. (CD)

Around the World
East West Goes North, Buys Universal Electronics

ATLANTA – East West Manufacturing in September announced the acquisition of Universal Electronics in a deal between privately held contract electronics manufacturers. Terms were not disclosed.

Whitewater, WI-based Universal Electronics builds printed circuit board assemblies, box-build assemblies, and performs testing and new product introduction. It was founded in 1980. It has nine SMT lines across its 87,000 sq. ft. plant in Whitewater and 40,000 sq. ft. plant in East Troy. It has estimated sales of more than $60 million, according to the CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY Directory of EMS Companies.

UEI advances East West’s strategic focus on growing its domestic electronics manufacturing capabilities and expanding its US manufacturing operations, the company said in a press release. The acquisition extends East West’s geographical reach in the Midwest, where the site is close to many current customers.

The purchase of UEI continues an acquisition plan by East West that includes prior buys of Team Manufacturing in 2018 and General Microcircuits and Adcotron in 2019.

“We are excited to partner with UEI to expand our manufacturing operations to the Midwest,” said Scott Ellyson, cofounder and CEO, East West. “UEI has an incredible reputation for putting its customers first and has an established presence in a variety of high-growth sectors such as medical, industrial, telecommunications and defense. This acquisition allows us to offer greater domestic, higher mix, lower volume, quickturn electronic manufacturing services. Our collective design, manufacturing and supply chain capabilities will enable us to provide even greater levels of service and support to customers on a global basis.”

“The leadership team and associates here at UEI are excited about becoming part of the East West family. Our culture, capabilities and customer-first focus align perfectly,” said Rick Jensen, owner and president, UEI. “We expect the new combined company to help our customers continue to grow.” (MB)

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Around the World
Creation Technologies Breaks Ground on EMS Plant in Hermosillo
HERMOSILLO, MEXICO – Creation Technologies has broken ground on a high-volume electronics manufacturing facility here that will nearly triple its Mexico footprint. The company is expanding its North American footprint to better serve aerospace and defense, medical, and tech industrial customers.

The new facility will provide more capacity, with a total of 205,000 sq. ft., bringing total capacity of Mexico operations to 330,000 sq. ft., including existing capabilities in Mexicali. It is scheduled to be operational in the third quarter of 2021.

“We are thrilled to announce our plans for a significant expansion of our manufacturing capacity in Mexico,” said Stephen P. DeFalco, chairman and CEO, Creation Technologies. “This expansion builds on our current Mexico operations, where we have over 700 dedicated employees focused on providing outstanding service to our customers’ high-reliability needs.”

The site will have space for up to 12 automated SMT lines and will be a purpose-built greenfield facility designed for Lean factory flow.

The facility will provide dedicated areas for PCB assembly, system integration and test, as well as forward and reverse logistics. (MB)

Around the World
Gowanda REM-tronics to Close EMS Plant in NY

DUNKIRK, NY – EMS firm Gowanda REM-tronics will shutter its plant here Nov. 15, eliminating 69 jobs, according to reports.

Staff received a letter stating Gowanda Components Group and its affiliates have been “adversely affected” by economic factors. The company said trouble in the avionics and fiberoptic sensor markets led to the “shutdown of entire industries,” affecting orders.

The factory supplies to the aerospace, industrial, medical and military industries. (CD)

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Market Watch
TVs Turned On

Trends in the U.S. electronics equipment market (shipments only).

Computers and electronics products
Storage devices
Other peripheral equipment
Nondefense communications equipment
Defense communications equipment
A/V equipment
Nondefense search and navigation equipment
Defense search and navigation equipment
Medical, measurement and control
rRevised. *Preliminary. 1Includes semiconductors. Seasonally adjusted. Source: U.S. Department of Commerce Census Bureau, Sept. 2, 2020
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Meeting of Minds: Are Company Events ‘Virtually’ Never-ending?
As communication shifts online, time management becomes a group effort.
TIME MANAGEMENT, THE operative word being management, is never easy to master. Scores of books and lectures elaborate on how to stop the interruptions, focus on the important, and liberate one’s ability to get things done. Even so, the challenge has become even more elusive over the past year.

Until recently, time management focused on how to reduce interruptions from various activities and events, such as unwanted phone calls, perpetual cubicle chats, and the length and focus of conference room meetings. Historically, those were leading contributors to inefficiency and wasted time. That was then; this is now.

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Hindsight is ‘2020’: The Organizational Stress Test
The big lesson from this unpredictable year is infrastructure planning pays.
“HINDSIGHT IS 20:20” refers to a vision measurement, not this crazy year. But from a planning standpoint, the year “2020” has rewarded electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies that built resilience into their operational plans. As I write this, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spur an era of new normal. The introduction of vaccines will hopefully drive a return to something close to the old normal. While this challenge is ongoing, however, it is important to look at some of the operational investments that have proved most beneficial.

Here are five areas that stand out to me:

IT. Companies that were already supporting employees working remotely as a result of business travel, remote home offices or a need to work in multiple time zones more comfortably had an edge in converting a larger portion of the workforce to work-at-home scenarios. VPNs, internal systems capable of supporting secure and fast access to remote users, videoconferencing tools, seamless transfer of work phones to mobile phones, and existing policies/training on maintaining security in home office environments are all key elements enabling employees to effectively work at home. Companies with these in place simply had to scale up to accommodate a larger user base. Systems strategy has also been integral in managing the supply chain and forecasting disruption driven by Covid-19. Companies with systems that can quickly assess inventory levels, material availability and production status globally were better off than those with facility-specific systems or systems that required much manual interpretation to gather that information.

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Made in America is Great – If You Can Do It
American manufacturers are throwing away business opportunities. Are you?
According to a recent statement by US Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord, national electronics procurement is at a crossroads.

“[America] can no longer clearly identify the pedigree of its microelectronics,” she said. “Therefore, we can no longer ensure that backdoors, malicious code, or data exfiltration commands aren’t embedded in our code.”

According to Lord, a variety of price pressures – ranging from government regulations to labor costs – have driven manufacturing of electronics offshore and created not only an economic imbalance but a security threat as well. “That’s what we need to reverse,” she said.

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Design for Rework: Extending the Usefulness of a PCB
Anticipate the assembler’s needs in placement and routing.
We already design for fabrication, assembly and test. DFx can be extended to thinking about future uses of an assembly. Sometimes a printed circuit board needs to be revised right away. There are things we can do to facilitate rework. Clearly marking all the components is a good start. A robust design will lend itself to touch-up and rework scenarios. Let’s dive into some techniques.

Breadboarding for “science projects.” Ever seen a breadboard? In PCB design terminology, a breadboard is a rectangle with a grid of plated through-holes set on the same pitch as a DIP package (FIGURE 1). The holes will accept axial-leaded components as well as the odd transistor package. Notice the rows of pins are tied together but can be cut as required by the mad scientist in the lab. Jumper wires on the leads create the rest of the circuit. Development boards can usually afford a slimmed down version of this.

Material Gains
Human-Augmentation Technologies are Worth the Risks
Advanced prosthetics highlight the value of pure research, with or without a business case.
I have said this before, but I am a huge fan of technology’s potential to help humanity, and particularly the opportunities to improve quality of life and restore impaired physical capabilities.

In my last column, I enthused about using augmented and virtual reality to create experiences and environments that help people interact and enhance their well-being. Physical augmentation, with technologies such as powered exoskeletons, have industrial and therapeutic applications and could also be used to help people with mobility problems get outdoors to tackle activities such as hill walking. Lack of mobility can have negative effects on the state of mind, as well as physical condition, so an assistive technology that tackles both these challenges could help us establish healthy approaches to aging and help us all keep engaged with the world around us for longer.

The Flexperts
How Big is Your Moat?
If the clearance is not at least 10 mils, yields may drop.
One of the often-overlooked aspects of a board design is the moat. Perhaps this conjures up images of Monty Python’s Holy Grail, but moat does not refer to the ring around a castle. Instead, this is the clearance between pads and a surrounding copper plane, sometimes also referred to as embedded clearance.

These clearances often are 0.004″ to 0.005″ wide. This may seem like plenty of room, but Pareto analysis tells us this can lower overall manufacturing yield. These clearances often lead to unexpected yield loss, depending on certain design and processing factors. Believe it or not, etching these moats or clearances is difficult, due to the closed-ended, circular nature of the clearances. They do not image or etch well and are prone to shorting.

Education Unlocks the Golden Door to Freedom
“Education is the key to unlock the golden door to freedom.”
– George Washington Carver
This month I speak with the PCEA Educational Committee regarding the team’s take on the PCEA’s role in education. What do they have in store? Next, PCEA Chairman Steph Chavez weighs in on the strength of the Education Committee and why it is crucial to the PCEA’s mission. Finally, with our normally provided list of professional development opportunities and events, I give a preview of next month’s column.

PCEA updates. The PCEA Educational Committee discusses the importance of well-rounded technical curricula, as well as how they started in the industry. It covers PCEA educational resources, including technical books, papers, and lunch-and-learn webinars, as well as chapter presentations and field trips. Upcoming presentation topics include materials, high speed, advanced placement and routing, power distribution, and flexible circuits. You will also learn more about the PCEA’s mentor pairing program.

The Case for a 1.1mm BGA/CGA PACKAGE
A marginally larger package would cut design times and improve PCB yields and performance. by GERRY PARTIDA
Most electronics engineers know there is no 1.1mm BGA or CGA package. Because we are forced to use a 1mm pitch package, we live with tradeoffs. A slight increase in the pitch size, however, could satisfy the needs for today’s high I/O pin count designs.

This conclusion comes from my observations of building Class 3 and aerospace 1mm pitch products, and the challenges, setbacks, redesigns, returned product, and field failures we all endure.

Ideally, we would have the following allowances in a design for performance, layout, compliance and yield:

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Product ramp
5 Things for Better PROGRAM TRANSFER from Prototype to Volume
Is manufacturing at scale a building block of your development plan? by PAUL ROBERTSON, IAN HARDY and MATHIEU KURY
Beyond conception, bringing a new product to life is a challenge. From the saying that “hardware is hard” to the number of failed product launches and missed deadlines (behind the scenes of all major consumer products we use today), we’ve compiled a few important lessons learned to help founders and engineers on their product development and manufacturing adventures. Too many design projects go to waste or must restart from scratch because manufacturing at scale wasn’t a building block of the development plan. Here are five things OEMs and EMS companies should do to better ensure a seamless transfer of programs from proto to volume:

1. Ensure the build priorities are thought-out and communicated to the team. Don’t assume the team should know your project’s priorities. We like to start development builds by explaining we are not building things: PCBA, subassemblies, or finished units. Rather, we are building information, developing the process, and solving problems. The units being built will never be sold and are not useful on their own; they are a means to an end, not an end unto themselves. Do we want to solve problems 10 at a time or 10,000 at a time? When the team asks if they can move forward, even though the MES system is not set up to collect data, or asks why Lean matters in a build of 40, we ask if their solution meets the stated goals or is just a shortcut to get the units out.

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Parts Verification
Test Methods to Identify COUNTERFEIT MLCCS
Electrical and physical characteristics play a role in high-accuracy detection. by YUNG-HSIAO CHUNG,1 CHENG-HSUN LEE,1 LIWEI XU,1 YUQIAN HU,1 ZONGXUAN WANG1 and STEPHEN E. SADDOW2

Most multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCC) have no marking and cannot easily be distinguished from their package, which gives unscrupulous vendors opportunities for fraud. Here, the authors introduce several test methods for MLCC compliance verification, namely 1) the effect of DC bias on capacitance, 2) capacitance temperature characteristics, 3) high-voltage testing of DCW (dielectric withstand voltage) and IR (insulation resistance), 4) cross-section (dielectric layer and terminal comparison for flex types), and 5) electron microscopy (EDS) material analysis to match with known good device chemical composition.

One important step must be performed before testing Class II capacitors. This is referred to as the “capacitor precondition test.” The standard way to do this, according to Murata, is to perform a heat treatment at 150+0/-10°C for 1 hr., then let the part sit for 24±2 hr. at room temperature, then measure its electrical characteristics.

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SMTAI Women’s Leadership Program Shows ‘Drive’
Annual career development program features talks on automotive safety systems and quality. by PRIYANKA DOBRIYAL, PH.D.

In the wake of Covid-19, SMTA International is virtual this year, and so is the Women’s Leadership Program! It is a challenging time for everyone, but we can concentrate on developing our careers by charting a positive course now. Join the “Road Trip” for a program of technical presentations, speed networking and a connection reception. Although some aspects of the WLP will be different – such as two speakers instead of three, and a completely virtual event – we believe it will still be one of the best platforms to connect with colleagues within our industry.

Virtual networking can be an effective way to build professional relationships. The virtual program this year can be especially beneficial for parents who may have to limit their travel due to family commitments at home and helpful to everyone in overcoming the challenge of obtaining travel funding. (No travel cost is associated with the virtual program this year!)

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Keeping Count: Accurately Tracking Stencil Life
An RFID tag can log everything from storage location to print strokes.
Outside of sheer printing machine capability, the stencil is arguably the next most important element of the printing process. Stencil material, thickness, aperture integrity, sidewall smoothness (or lack thereof), and tension all play a role in the quality of the solder paste deposit. And, like all consumables, metal stencils have a lifetime: They do not last forever. Unless a stencil is damaged, tension loss is the factor that most often determines when a stencil has run its course. A properly tensioned stencil enables a good, solid release of the paste deposits onto the board. Alternatively, a stencil that has lost tension and has begun to “sag” may result in defects such as “dog ears”1, bridges, or insufficient paste on pad, to name a few.

Today, stencil tension is more important than ever. Historically, when stencil thicknesses averaged 200µm, one was far more likely to retire a stencil from damage than from wear. Now, however, with the exceptionally thin 60µm foils required for miniaturized designs, tension loss can occur sooner, as repeated stencil pressure during the print stroke eventually reduces stencil elasticity. As has been addressed in this column, there is a proven correlation to changing tension and the output of the printing process.2

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defect of the month
Dendrites on PCB Assemblies
Solder joint corrosion causes.
This month we illustrate dendrites and corrosion on board assemblies. The example in FIGURE 1 is straightforward. Saltwater was found on the surface of the metal board. It caused intermittent operation of the LED before failure at 25 meters. Yes, you guessed it: My underwater light leaked due to a rubber gasket failure. The rubber had been out in the sun too long and hardened, then cracked. The image shows chemical reaction with dendrite formation on the surface of the joints and some green verdigris.

FIGURE 2 is a dendrite under a component that caused intermittent failure. This was the result of not evaluating a new solder paste correctly after a change in solder paste supplier, plus a failure to change the reflow profile.

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Off The Shelf
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Digital Storage Oscilloscope
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Easy Arm 1 and 2
1µm Fume Extraction
Easy Arm 1 and 2 supply a three-stage filter system to clean process air. Pre-filter (class F7) captures particles larger than 1µm size. In combined filter (class H13), micro-particles smaller than 1µm are bound, and activated carbon neutralizes harmful gases. Connect to Ersa soldering stations and rework systems.
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SMT Reel Barcode Decoder
AccuID produces a unique reel ID barcode label for each SMT component reel. Benchtop system has simple UI; operator places reel in system and scan begins automatically. Camera decodes all barcodes on reel in about 2 sec.; sends required data to database based on prefix on each label. Omni-directional decoding.
Metal Stencil Opening Inspection
SCI-MCC (mask condition checker) checks stencil cleanliness and inspects solder residue and particle deposits after cleaning. Inspects all openings in a specified area. Each mask can be traced by registered control number. Preregistration of Gerber data not required.
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Technical Abstracts
In Case You Missed It
Component Assurance
“Assurance: A Data Driven Approach”

Authors: Richard Ott, Ph.D.

Abstract: The push toward globalization, combined with the proliferation of commercial and consumer products containing ICs, has led to rapid semiconductor business growth in Asia. ICs specifically produced for military applications make up a small percent of the total market, ranging from 0.1 to 1%. Due to low-volume requirements, the military is not capable of meaningful influence, resulting in a larger disparity between commercial and military requirements. Most IC fabrication and considerable intellectual property design is performed overseas, while domestic, trusted foundry options are often two to three process nodes (three to eight years) behind state-of-the-art (SOTA), with 50% higher cost. To take advantage of SOTA technologies, US military systems are forced to utilize commercially available supply chains. Offshore design, production, and independent distribution of ICs provide adversarial opportunity for malicious insertion and component counterfeiting, motivated by strategic objectives or economic gain. To combat this, while maintaining access to SOTA technologies, the US military must develop an approach to minimize platform and infrastructure risk, enabling cutting-edge capability to be delivered to the war fighter. Data-driven assurance methods provide an opportunity to deliver such capability, along with an understanding of associated risk. (SMTA Symposium on Counterfeit Parts and Materials, August 2020)

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Thanks for reading our October 2020 issue!