February 2023

This issue of PCD&F / CA brought to you by:
PCBTrace Circuit Board
Hack back.
Mike Buetow
Exclusively staying ahead or behind the technological curve can lead to misfortune.
Peter Bigelow
Eight things you should do when your PCB vendor has been acquired.
Greg Papandrew
The fear-based sell.
Susan Mucha
Preparing for 5GHz.
John Burkhert, Jr.
What a good flex circuit drawing should include – and what to avoid.
Nick Koop
The LED printing challenge.
Clive Ashmore
february 2023 • VOL. 40 • NO. 2
Not leaving enough clearance is a design oversight that can have costly consequences.
Quality control
Statistical process control charts are powerful tools, but it can be confusing to determine the appropriate data collection parameters. Understanding how to choose the proper sampling frequency, subgroups, and plans are crucial. Statistical process control sampling frequency, subgroups, and plan methods are reviewed.
SMT Soldering (cover story)
Until recently, reflow oven manufacturers had little choice in the design of flux collection systems due to cost, cooling efficiency, filters and space limitations. But the tried-and-true concepts of distillation and condensation are driving new innovation.
Who has time to take the necessary steps to prepare a company for sale? A checklist for showing your company in its best light.
ON PCB CHAT (pcbchat.com)

PO BOX 807

Stephen Chavez, CHAIRMAN
Justin Fleming, SECRETARY

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New Cyber Policy a Shot in the Arm … but for Whom?

FOR MANY MANUFACTURERS and suppliers, Covid-19 is only the second-most feared pandemic. The ongoing threat of having internal systems hijacked and held for ransom – colloquially known as a ransomware attack – will surely outlive the specter of the virus shutting down a facility.

We know of a few instances where this has occurred in the printed circuit industry. A few years ago, a publicly traded board fabricator saw almost all its sites in North America hit, with the hijacked sites taken offline for a few days to a few weeks. Sales and deliveries were affected. In late 2020, Foxconn, the big daddy of the electronics industry, suffered a ransomware attack at its plant in Juarez, Mexico, where attackers stole some files, deleted others, and encrypted the manufacturer’s servers. The hackers sought a reported $34 million to release the data. Compal, another top 10 EMS/ODM, was also hit. In all likelihood, it’s happened more often than has been publicized.

Around the World

FTG to Acquire Holaday

TORONTO – Firan Technology Group announced on Dec. 28 an agreement to acquire Holaday Circuits, a Minnetonka, MN-based printed circuit board manufacturer focused on the aerospace and defense markets. Closing is subject to approval by US regulators and other customary closing conditions and is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2023.

Under terms of the deal, FTG will acquire 100% of Holaday for cash consideration of approximately C$24 million ($17.8 million), subject to typical closing adjustments. There is also an earn out provision of up to C$6 million ($4.4 million) based on future performance. Holaday had reported annual sales of over C$40 million ($29.6 million) in its audited financial statements prior to the pandemic, dropping to C$30 million during the pandemic.


Doosan Starts Work on New Flex CCL Plant

GIMJE, NORTH JEOLLA, SOUTH KOREA – Doosan in late December broke ground on a plant for manufacturing flexible copper-clad laminates. The company is investing nearly $50 million in the new campus, which is which is being built on a 13,000 sq. m. (140,000 sq. ft.) site.

According to the company, it will be complete in the second half of 2024. Article ending bug

Fastprint to Buy Ibiden’s Beijing Unit

SHENZHEN – Chinese PCB manufacturer Fastprint Circuit Tech will be acquiring a Chinese subsidiary of Ibiden, a Japanese PCB maker, at a price of JPY17.7 billion (US$129 million).

Fastprint will be financing the acquisition itself, and plans to bring new investors to the Beijing-based subsidiary while also boosting its development efforts and increasing investments to upgrade the production process and equipment, the company said in a statement.

Ibiden’s Beijing subsidiary has more than 1,300 employees and makes motherboards for leading smartphone suppliers, and its acquisition will open Fastprint to the high-end smartphone market and improve existing partnerships, the company said. Article ending bug

EV Consortium to Build Site in Ohio

WARREN, OH – The Mobility in Harmony Consortium, an initiative by Foxconn, will establish an Innovation Hub near Foxconn’s facility in Ohio.

The Innovation Hub will bring together global supply chain partners to share expertise and collaborate on electric vehicle (EV) and mobility projects, as well as new technologies and solutions for automakers. The plan for the effort is to accelerate EV innovation and revitalize American manufacturing by creating an EV ecosystem that spans the entire development process. Article ending bug

SwellFox Launches Educational Engineering Platform

BOISE, ID – SwellFox in January announced the launch of its educational engineering platform CircuitBread.com. CircuitBread aims to make electronics, embedded systems, and electrical engineering easily accessible to anyone – from the general interest hobbyist or student to the seasoned expert – through the creation and publication of free electrical engineering resources ranging from content to tools.

“At SwellFox, we share a passion for education. We ultimately uncovered a common desire to create a free, easy-to-use engineering platform for students and engineers of all levels. We wanted CircuitBread to be among the highest quality singular sources for people to become familiar with electronics,” said Joshua Bishop, CEO and lead engineer at SwellFox. “We bootstrapped the entire operation, drawing on our experience developing creative and marketing solutions for technology companies.”


FIT to Acquire Prettl SWH Group

TAIPEI – Foxconn Interconnect Technology has entered into an agreement to acquire Prettl SWH group, a German developer and manufacturer of sensor, connectivity and electrification solutions, as part of the company’s effort to expand its electronic vehicle development.

In a statement released by FIT, the company said it would be bringing Prettl wholly into its corporate umbrella as a subsidiary, and the 186 million euro ($198 million) acquisition should be completed by the second quarter of this year.


StenTech Acquires Advanced Tooling Design, Expands to California

CLEVELAND — StenTech in January acquired fellow stencil and fixture designer Advanced Tooling Design for an undisclosed amount.

ATD designs and manufactures stencils, tooling, fixtures and related accessories used in the electronics assembly industry, with applications across a range of end-markets. Headquartered in San Jose, ATD expands StenTech’s facility footprint into California, the largest market for stencil and pallet manufacturing in the US.


APCT to Buy Advanced Circuits

santa clara, ca — APCT has agreed to purchase Aurora, CO-based PCB maker Advanced Circuits from Compass Diversified for around $220 million.

The deal is expected to be completed in February and is subject to certain working capital and other adjustments. Compass expects to realize a pretax gain on the sale of Advanced Circuits of $100 million to $110 million. Net proceeds will be used to pay off outstanding revolver borrowings.

Around the World


Aurubis is expanding its Augusta, GA, metal recycling plant to increase production of copper for PCBs, among other materials.

PCB distributor Confidee has announced its entry into the printed circuit industry, with a stated focus on developing, documenting and proving compliance in the supply chain.

Read Full Article


Apple is reportedly close to entering an agreement with Luxshare to produce iPhones.

BTU appointed Assembly Resource exclusive distributor for reflow soldering systems in Northern California and Northern Nevada.

Cicor Technologies acquired German electronic components manufacturer AFT Microwave.

Read Full Article
Around the World


Jack Fisher

Jack Fisher

Justin Fleming

Justin Fleming

Jack Fisher, former engineer at IBM and later the technical director for ITRI and HDPUG, passed away.

Biamp named Justin Fleming PCB design developer. He has 20 years’ experience in electronics design, manufacturing and engineering with LiveWire, Harley Davidson, FL:IS and Celestica, among others, and is a director of PCEA.

Garmin promoted Aaron Parker to senior printed circuit board designer.

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Joel Eterovich

Joel Eterovich

AIM appointed Mehak Sharma Canadian national sales manager. She holds a bachelor’s in electronics and a master’s in microelectronics, and has over 10 years’ sales and support experience in electronics.

Arch Systems appointed Joel Eterovich VP, global sales. He has 25 years of operations and sales experience across multiple global industries. He started his career at Rockwell Automation, working in its electronics manufacturing factories.

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PCEA current events

Technical Conference Program Set for PCB East 2023

PEACHTREE CITY, GA – The PCEA Conferences Task Group on Jan. 20 announced the technical program for PCB East 2023, featuring more than 60 hours of in-depth electronics engineering training.

Lee Ritchey, Rick Hartley, Susy Webb and Dan Beeker are among the headliners of this year’s show. The conference will be held May 9 to 12 at the Boxboro Hotel and Conference Center in Boxborough, MA. It features classes for every level of experience, from novice to expert. 

The scope of classes ranges from basics on design engineering and circuit grounding, to EMS, power delivery systems, board stackup, RF and flex circuit design and fabrication, thermal management, and materials selection.

Read More
pcea current events

In January, we welcomed the addition of Jacqueline Bress, our new events manager. She is a CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) with more than 10 years’ experience planning conferences and shows of all sizes, and is based in Georgia.

Committee Updates

Membership. Corporate membership is currently 15, up six from last month.

Mike Creeden and Mike Buetow were guests on the Altium OnTrack podcast on January 4. We promoted membership and the conferences, among other things.

Read More
Market Watch

Report: Sustainability, Mobility to Drive Semi Growth

Three-quarters (76%) of semiconductor executives expect the industry’s supply chain challenges to ease by 2024, yet companies need to be prepared to withstand other market pressures by focusing on investments that will help drive future growth, according to a new study from Accenture. The firm’s “2022 Technology Vision” report, based on feedback from 300 global semiconductor executives, found 45% believe the metaverse will have a transformational impact on their organization, and 90% believe it will be in the next four years.

“Traditional” vehicles are undergoing a renaissance, and autonomous vehicles could be mainstream for mass transportation by 2024, according to 32% of respondents. Some 41% of respondents indicated that almost a third of their capex/opex budgets are dedicated to sustainable programs. And 21% of respondents believe that increased health education and literacy is the most important aspect enabled by semiconductor innovation. 



Striking a Balance in Capex Decisions

Exclusively staying ahead or behind the technological curve can lead to misfortune.

OVER THE PAST decades, it has been my experience that there are two basic categories of technology: “cutting-edge” and “behind the curve.” Electric (rechargeable) automobiles, for instance, would be considered cutting-edge while hybrid (gasoline and battery) automobiles are behind the curve.

Interestingly, when it comes to technology adoption, there also seem to be two types of users. There are those who must be ahead of the curve, always first with the latest technology regardless of how well it may work or how much it costs. And there are those who use only proven technology that is reliable, cost-effective and offers value.

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What Keeps Your Customers Up at Night?

Embracing the fear-based sell.

IN TIMES OF uncertainty, the fear-based sell can be very effective in the electronics manufacturing services industry. There is no question that the past two years – and the current one – qualify as times with a lot of uncertainty. The difference between the prior two years and this one is that the uncertainty factor was so high in 2021-22, many customers were afraid to rationalize their EMS supply-chain strategy due to component availability concerns. OEMs are shopping now, however. The question becomes: How do you differentiate your company from the rest of the industry? The solution lies in the fear-based sell. In its barest form, the fear-based sell advertises a fear that keeps customers up at night and then discusses how your company keeps that from happening. The differentiating value proposition can be more elaborate, however.

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board buying


Protecting Your Supply Chain

Eight things you should do when your PCB vendor has been acquired.

YOUR PRINTED CIRCUIT board supplier has been acquired. Will this acquisition benefit you as a board buyer? Or will it lead to higher prices and a reduced level of service?

The reality is that your relationship with the supplier and the level of service will likely change. Here are steps you can take to protect your PCB supply chain.

  1. Don’t wait to be visited by the new supplier team, especially if the acquired firm was a big part of your PCB spend. Request a meeting sooner rather than later. Pay attention to how receptive the new supplier is to the meeting and be ready to ask as many questions as you need to get the lay of the land.
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Designer’s Notebook

Burkhert, Jr.

A PCB Designer’s Guide to Wi-Fi

At 5GHz, take additional care with transmission lines.

CUTTING THE CORD has been a liberating step for we the people. Wireless technology under the aegis of the IEEE 802.11 specification has been around for some time now. It’s been so long, in fact, the standards body has adopted more protocols than there are letters in the alphabet. One by one, standards have been improved or regionalized to the point where the newer technology gets two initials instead of just one. For Wi-Fi, 802.11a/b/g/n (FIGURE 1) is a typical combination of different standards, while 802.11ac refers to a single standard. That’s the one you’re likely to find in a new mobile device if there is only one type on board. There’s a lot to unpack here so let’s get started.

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the flexperts


Completing Your Drawing

Know what details to include – or not include – in the flexible circuit drawing.

SINCE OUR MOST recent column covered drawing notes for flexible circuits, this may be a good time to go over many of the other features a good flexible circuit drawing should include, and maybe a few things to avoid.

Along with the drawing notes, the rest of the drawing features help define the details of the part as well as some of the acceptability requirements.

For starters, drill tables are important to help describe via structures. The manufacturer needs to know which holes are which. If there are filled vias and/or via-in-pad-plated-over (VIPPO), for instance, they are identifiable with a flag note, or segregate filled from non-filled holes on the table.

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quality control

Statistical Process Control Charts: Sampling Frequency, Subgroups and Plans

Taking the confusion out of determining appropriate data collection parameters. by PATRICK VALENTINE, PH.D.

In 1924, Dr. Walter Shewhart was working at Bell Telephone Laboratories. On May 16 of that year, Dr. Shewhart wrote a memorandum in which he presented and proposed the process control chart to his superiors. Bell Telephone Laboratories believed this memorandum gave it a competitive advantage and held this paper internally. In 1931, Dr. Shewhart published his book Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product. In this book, Dr. Shewhart explained in detail the fundamental concepts and benefits of statistical process control. This seminal work laid the foundation for the modern quality control discipline, and the process control chart became the bedrock of quality control systems.

The most critical assumption made concerning statistical process control (SPC) charts, i.e., Shewhart Control Charts, is that of data independence from one observation to the next (not autocorrelated).1,2 The second assumption is that the individual observations are approximately normally distributed.1,2 The tabled constants used to calculate the SPC chart limits are constructed under the assumption of independence and normality.

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display graphic
who is list left
smt Soldering

Flux, Reflow Ovens, NASCAR and Moonshine

The connection between flux and reflow ovens is obvious, but are there ties to stills and race cars too? by FRED DIMOCK

When my wife and I moved to Raleigh, NC, we soon realized we landed in the center of the universe for NASCAR fans. Richard Petty, Richard Childress, Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Dale Jarrett, Austin Dillon, J.D. McDuffee, Bobby Isaac and Rick Hendrick are a few of the well-known figures from NC. NASCAR race shops are all over the state. Towns such as Level Cross, Welcome, Kannapolis, Charlotte, Mooresville, Concord and Randleman are on every fan’s destination bucket list. Racetracks such as Bowman Gray, Charlotte, Rockingham, Asheville, Caraway, Fayetteville, North Wilkesboro, Orange County, Hickory, South Boston (VA), etc. are within a couple hours’ drive of our NC home.1

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on the market

Is Your Company Ready to Be Sold?

What owners should do to ensure an attractive price when they sell their company. by Bob Rossow

It’s not easy owning an EMS company these days … if it ever actually was. And by all reports it’s getting even harder. Covid, the dysfunctional supply chain, inflation, tight delivery schedules, just finding qualified employees – all these problems and others have combined to challenge even the most seasoned owners. Given all this, who has time to take the necessary steps to prepare a company for sale?

The bad news is this article won’t give you more hours in the day or more days in the week to do it. But it does list some of the things, maybe improvements, needed to show your company in its best light when you are ready to sell. And one thing to remember is that these goals are best accomplished over time. Trying to do it all at once as some kind of crash project is not the method of choice.

Read Full Article

Protecting Connectors on Zero Edge Clearance Boards

Not leaving enough clearance is a design oversight that can have costly consequences. by Akber Roy

As PCB designers, fabricators and assemblers, we wear a lot of hats at Rush PCB. We’re always working to design and build PCBAs that are the best they can be. But sometimes we are consigned product to assemble that wasn’t designed by our team, and every so often we get boards that tempt us to say, “The designer clearly wasn’t thinking about how we are going to build this!”

Design for manufacturing (DfM) principles are critical, and can make the difference between an assembly that is easy to build and one that is nearly impossible. As SMT PCBs become more compact, and components are large or odd-form, designers need to account for the special needs and limitations of the automated assembly equipment in the workstations, because few – if any – assemblies can be cost-effectively assembled by hand. It’s always important for electronics designers to talk to the manufacturing engineers at the assembler where the parts will be consigned. Working together saves a million headaches.

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screen printing


Oft-Forgotten Stencil Solution ‘Lights’ the Way

Multiple advanced printing capabilities converge for next-gen LED technology.

WHAT’S BEHIND THAT TV panel? Light-emitting diodes – or LEDs. LEDs are found in just about every display, from flatscreen televisions to high-end desktops and all kinds of products in between. The most common type of display – the liquid crystal display, or LCD – relies on light from LEDs for illumination, as an LCD pixel cannot illuminate itself, unlike an organic LED (OLED). Behind the LCD screen, areas are divided into zones of LEDs that are switched on to backlight the colors. And, in areas where the screen is to remain black, no light is emitted through those zones. Older designs or lower-end LCDs, however, may suffer from zone leaching. This is when the light in a specific zone may be switched off, but light from an adjacent zone crosses into the black, unlit zone. This results in a haloing effect.

For high-end desktops, ultra-high resolution flatscreens, and other display electronics, black must be black to deliver tight contrast. And, as with all things electronic, the answer seems to come from miniaturization. To overcome the definition dilemma, a newer technology, Mini Backlight LEDs – or Mini LEDs – provide a solution. Ranging in size from 50μm to 150μm, these small devices provide the tight dimensions needed for exceptional contrast and fine lines. Instead of the coarseness of the previously described traditional LED zones, Mini LEDs can be individually turned on or off to provide intense granularity and sharpness.


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Amphenol RF Automate Type A Mini-Fakra Connectors

Automate Type A Mini-Fakra series now includes single and dual-port right-angle connectors, along with straight and right-angle configurations for the existing quad-port version. Offers RF performance up to 9GHz and features color-coded housing to prevent mismating. Manufactured from zinc alloy with a matte tin finish and gold-plated copper-nickel alloy contact. Mechanically keyed for foolproof installation and designed with a secondary locking mechanism to ensure secure mating. Supports data transmission rates up to 20Gbps. Engineered to provide space savings of up to 80% compared with traditional Fakra connectors, and are impact resistant and have notably low engagement forces.

Amphenol RF


Stackpole SM Molded SMD Wirewounds

SM Series of surface mount molded wirewounds offer power ratings from 2W to 4W with compliant terminations that eliminate the issues of cracking and solder joint failure. Also provide superior pulse and overload handling compared to film-based chip resistors, and are ideal for industrial applications, machine automation and control, power supply and motor control, and traffic control, as well as safety and security systems.

Stackpole Electronics


Metcal MSA Series Smoke Absorbers

MSA Series smoke absorbers are space-saving compact workbench fans that use activated carbon filters to extract harmful flux fumes and smoke during hand soldering operations. MSA-35L is a dual-position benchtop fan designed for smaller spaces, which can be used horizontally or vertically for almost twice the airflow efficiency. MSA-25U is a smaller unit than the MSA-35L and features a USB plug that is compatible with any standard 5V USB power supply. Both are said to be very quiet when in use, offer easy filter replacement, and are ESD-compliant.



Technical Abstracts

In Case You Missed It

Nanoscale Printing

“Curvilinear Soft Electronics by Micromolding of Metal Nanowires in Capillaries”
Authors: Yuxuan Liu, et al.
Abstract: Soft electronics using metal nanowires have attracted notable attention attributed to their high electrical conductivity and mechanical flexibility. High-resolution complex patterning of metal nanowires on curvilinear substrates remains a challenge, however. Here, a micromolding-based method is reported for scalable printing of metal nanowires, which enables complex and highly conductive patterns on soft curvilinear and uneven substrates with high resolution and uniformity. Printing resolution of 20μm and conductivity of the printed patterns of ~6.3 × 106S/m are achieved. Printing of grid structures with uniform thickness for transparent conductive electrodes (TCEs) and direct printing of pressure sensors on curved surfaces such as glove and contact lens are also realized. The printed hybrid soft TCEs and smart contact lens show promising applications in optoelectronic devices and personal health monitoring, respectively. This printing method can be extended to other nanomaterials for large-scale printing of high-performance soft electronics. (Science Advances, Nov. 18, 2022; https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.add6996)

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Thanks for reading our February 2023 issue!