Magazine Cover

November 2022

Beating the banks.
Mike Buetow
Staffing: the most pressing problem?
Peter Bigelow
What’s up, doc?
John Burkhert, Jr.
Ready for 6G
Alun Morgan
Two ways to solve a problem.
Filemon Sagrero
Machine learning gets personal.
Robert Boguski
Magazine Cover
NOVEMBER 2022 • VOL. 39 • NO. 11
Will a “universal” footprint work for various-sized passives?
(Hint: It can.)
Statistics is a branch of mathematics that deals with collecting, analyzing, interpreting and presenting numerical data. But it’s not merely the science of analyzing data, but the art and science of collecting and analyzing data. A guide to the five practical statistical tools the process engineer should be familiar with.
LOW-HEAT SOLDERING (cover story)
Safi Tech is an Iowa-based startup that is creating no-heat and low-heat soldering and metallic joining products. They call these supercooled molten metal products and they have direct application to electronic soldering.
IPC workmanship standards are getting a definition revamp.

PO BOX 807

Stephen Chavez, CHAIRMAN
Justin Fleming, SECRETARY

Michael Buetow
Tomas Chester
Michael Creeden
Douglas Dixon
Richard Hartley
Scott McCurdy
Anaya Vardya
Susy Webb
Eriko Yamato


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Bank Shots


he world’s largest tech companies are masters of their domains: Apple in phones; Google in search; Facebook in social media.

Why stop there? All three are going into financial services, and if past is prelude, they intend to dominate the space.

To date, Apple appears to have a leg up on the others, by virtue of its omnipresent hardware. It has also, according to some sources, been the most aggressive. If you use an iPhone, you must use Apple Pay, for instance (even though legally you shouldn’t have to).

The company launched a credit card backed by Goldman Sachs in 2019, and in mid-October announced it will allow users to park rebates earned from use of said credit card – named, not surprisingly, Apple Card – in a savings account, also from Goldman Sachs.

around THE WORLD

PCDF People

Winonics named Connie Herring vice president of sales.

Isola named Mike McMaster director of high-speed digital materials.

NCAB promoted Howard Goff to vice president sales and named Benjamin Klingenberg to head Segment Europe.

Summit Interconnect named Ramsin Davoodi general manager and Jordan Wines engineering manager.

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Marshall Lewis, owner of Holaday Circuits, and Meyer Averbuch, founder of ZOT, have passed away.

Ventec named Chad Wood director OEM Sales and business development, focused on the Western US. He is an experienced technical sales leader who has worked in the electronics and semiconductor industries for more than 28 years.

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around THE WORLD

Printed Circuits, All Flex Merge

NORTHFIELD, MN, AND CHASKA MN – Flex circuit fabricators Printed Circuits and All Flex have merged and have begun operations under the name All Flex Solutions. The merger closed Aug. 31, following two years of collaboration and integration. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Chaska-based Printed Circuits primarily offers rigid-flex PCBs, while and Northfield-based All Flex produces flexible circuitry and assemblies.

“With marquee customers in medical, aerospace, and defense end-markets, the combined company will provide both life- and mission-critical solutions,” the firms said.

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around THE WORLD

EC Expected to Add TBBPA to RoHS Directive

BRUSSELS – The European Commission is currently reviewing recommendations to restrict tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) under the EU RoHS Directive. A decision on the recommendations from Oeko-Institut is expected by year-end.

TBBPA is found in brominated epoxy resins used as flame retardants in printed circuit board laminate, among other uses. The restriction would be adopted as an amendment to the RoHS Directive.

around THE WORLD

Foxconn Acquires Majority Stake in Juarez EMS Firm

TAIPEI – A Foxconn subsidiary is purchasing a majority share in PCE Technology de Juarez, an electronics manufacturing services company focused on consumer electronics, for $361 million.

ECMMS Precision Singapore has obtained an 84.5% stake in PCE Technology, Foxconn said.

PCE was founded in April 2008 and is located minutes south from the US border and El Paso, TX.

Just minutes east of PCE, Foxconn also operates a massive campus in Juarez and its FIH Co. subsidiary is expanding in Mexico this fall.

around THE WORLD

Pegatron Opens $135M India Assembly Plant

CHENNAI, INDIA – Pegatron has inaugurated an electronics assembly facility here that could employ up to 14,000 workers at full capacity. The ODM will invest about Rs 1,100 crore ($135 million) in the unit, which will build products for Apple.

Apple is expected to move at least a quarter of its manufacturing facilities to India by 2025, according to published reports.

“The fact that Pegatron has started production within 18 months of signing the MoU highlights the investor-friendly climate in Tamil Nadu,” said M K Stalin, chief minister, Tamil Nadu. “China is where new cellphone models are manufactured in bulk. We are working to change that and make Tamil Nadu such a manufacturing hub.”

around THE WORLD
around THE WORLD

Electronics Companies Take ‘Split Manufacturing’ Approach to Combat Counterfeit Components

MUNICH – A consortium of Fraunhofer institutes and German industrial companies is developing a split-manufacturing approach for semiconductor production in the project “Distributed Manufacturing for Novel and Trustworthy Electronics T4T.” This will enable the secure assembly of subsystems in Germany and safeguard supply chains.

The €16.44 million project was launched in January and is scheduled to be completed in March 2025.

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around THE WORLD

EC Expected to Add TBBPA to RoHS Directive

BRUSSELS – The European Commission is currently reviewing recommendations to restrict tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) under the EU RoHS Directive. A decision on the recommendations from Oeko-Institut is expected by year-end.

TBBPA is found in brominated epoxy resins used as flame retardants in printed circuit board laminate, among other uses. The restriction would be adopted as an amendment to the RoHS Directive.

Market Watch

Survey: Supply Chain Optimization Remains Challenging


LONDON – How emerging tech is used in supply-chain operations varies greatly, as do future investment plans. But 80% of respondents to a recent survey conducted by PwC say technology investments haven’t fully delivered expected results. Furthermore, many reasons are to blame, respondents say.

Indeed, many challenges remain to fully optimize supply chains, says PwC’s annual Digital Trends in Supply Chain Survey. Some 244 operations and information technology leaders, C-suite executives and other supply chain officers responded. Key findings:

  • While companies focus on supply chain basics like increasing efficiency and managing costs, they’re missing value creation opportunities in digitization, sustainability and transformation.
  • Most respondents cite multiple supply attributes as moderate or major risks, yet few see increasing the number of suppliers, transforming procurement practices or increasing responsiveness and resilience as priorities – a significant disconnect.
  • In digitizing their supply chains, companies need the most help stretching their budgets, but having the right talent and the right tech are issues as well.
  • Many companies – 58% of respondents – are seeing higher-than-normal turnover among supply chain employees, and only 23% fully agree they have the necessary digital skills to meet future goals. Most also expect to make changes to their operational systems in the next year.
  • Responding to regulatory changes and identifying supplier risks are top environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges, but fewer companies are focusing on ESG reporting and metrics.

All Worked Up

Widespread critical staffing needs call for a cross-industry effort to promote manufacturing.

WITH THIS TIME of year come many opportunities to attend industry gatherings, catch up with industry colleagues, and find out what’s happening in the macro circuit board supply chain. Over the past couple months, I have seen many old friends. And, I have had more than a few opportunities to reflect on our industry, the state of the supply chain, and what is “critical” versus just “important.”

For the record, I have been in the “printed circuit board” industry for over three decades. Each decade had a distinct – and different – feel. During the 1990s our industry was in a go-go stage, and everyone – from designer through material and equipment supplier to fabricator to assembler – shared an attitude, perhaps even a swagger, that the future was limitless. Back then, some companies invested heavily in capacity and capability with the blind faith that if you build it, customers will come.

As one millennium passed to the next, harsh reality set it. Just after we ushered in Y2K, the party crashed to an end. Customers migrated production en masse to Asia, which offered comparable quality at a much lower cost. As manufacturers shuttered operations in Europe and North America, talent departed to other industries that offered more security, if not growth.

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Designer’s Notebook

Creating a Documentation Package

Communicating the design intent, clearly and concisely.

THE CAD SYSTEM can do a lot for you; then you’re on your own. Eyeballing the layers two or three at a time will help you find the hidden traps. A camera-ready board is just the beginning. Documenting the PCB requirements with dimensions and other details, including hole chart(s), stack up diagram(s), a list of intentional shorts, etc., puts the necessary guardrails around the fabrication and assembly.

Fabrication notes will change with the technology used for the PCB. The general thrust of this list of example notes is for a multilayer board targeted for consumer electronics with components on both sides and controlled impedance on inner- and outer layers.

Flex circuits or high-reliability boards would have significantly different callouts. In any case, all the attributes of the drawing need traceability. When calling out a specific process, such as cleaning with “ultra pure water,” it should be accompanied by a requirement for a Certificate of Conformance. Otherwise, who could tell if the process was followed?

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Material Gains

What Will 6G Bring to Our Lives?

While 5G has only shown a fraction of its potential, will the world ever be ready for the next generation?

MUCH OF THE world seems to have changed beyond recognition since the pandemic began. With numerous economic and environmental uncertainties, however, one thing remains constant: our appetite for what comes next – and our impatience – are undiminished. The rollout of 5G cellular networks has barely begun – after a huge development effort to define the standards and do the engineering – yet, already, excitement is building around 6G. The first standardization phase for this will begin in 2023 and services should be available around 2030.

Some of us remember the arrival of the first digital cellular networks, in 1993. This was the point when MNOs were able to begin offering data services in addition to voice. Data rates were laughable by today’s standards, starting at about 9.6 kbaud. Some of today’s dominant trends, however, such as remote working, can trace their origins back to here. With these primitive data services, we were able to use our phones to connect remotely to factory data systems and do rudimentary work wherever we were.

Today, 2G data services are perfect for connecting IoT devices and for M2M communication, although network operators are keen to switch off legacy infrastructure to concentrate resources on 4G and 5G services for consumers. It’s likely that 3G turnoff will be completed first. Certainly it will in Europe, where 2G services could be maintained until 2030 or beyond.

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The Electronics Industry’s East Coast Conference and Trade Show

EXBHIBITION: Wednesday, May 10

Boxboro Regency Hotel & Conference Center, MA

PCB Layout

Designing an LVD/IR for Printed Circuit Board

Will a “universal” footprint work for various-sized passives?

This details the design of an LED constant-current driver PCB. I am trying to make this design as “universal” as possible. Described here are some of the features and reasons I created the layout as I did.

The outside dimensions of the PCB are 3.35″ x 2.175″. The PCB was designed so that all surface mount (SMT) parts are mounted on the topside (FIGURE 1) and through-hole (PTH) parts mounted on the bottom (FIGURE 2).

The PCB was designed to fit into a single-gang plastic electrical box. A box this size permits easy use in home construction. (Not to mention that plastic boxes are inexpensive and readily available at any hardware store that carries electrical supplies.)

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Process Engineers

A review of five useful tools and the basis for using each.

What is the prominent skill process engineers are on the payroll for? It’s their problem-solving skills. Therefore, the process engineer’s function is to solve problems and add value. The better the process engineer becomes at doing this, the more valuable they become. The scientific method is a structured approach to problem-solving that can aid the process engineer in this endeavor.

The scientific method involves looking at the process around you, coming up with an explanation for what you observe, testing your explanation to see if it could be valid, and then either accepting your explanation (for the time being, something better might come along!) or rejecting the explanation and trying to come up with a better one. There are five steps to the scientific method: 1) make observations, develop a theory, 2) propose a hypothesis, 3) design and perform an experiment to test the hypothesis, 4) test your data to determine whether to accept or reject the hypothesis, and 5) if necessary, propose and test a new hypothesis. Let’s define the first four steps in scientific terms.

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low-heat Soldering

The Heat is Off: Could a New Platform

New technology from Safi-Tech means cold solder joints might no longer mean defects. by MIKE BUETOW

I’ve been covering the soldering industry for more than 30 years. During that time, I’ve seen lots of innovations come and go. I remember when an engineer from Hughes was using citric acid from oranges as a flux. And when Bell Labs introduced its first water-soluble flux. I recall when nitrogen was first used in convection reflow environments and when no-clean pastes were rolled out and dismissed as lab curiosities.

Last July, Indium Corporation announced a partnership with Safi-Tech, Iowa-based startup that is creating no-heat and low-heat soldering and metallic joining products.

They call these supercooled molten metal products, and they have direct application to electronic soldering.

Dr. Ian Tevis, president and cofounder of Safi-Tech (, and Dr. Andy Mackie of Indium Corp. ( discussed this supercooling platform with PCD&F/CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY in September.

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The Death of the

IPC workmanship standards are getting a definition revamp.

IPC workmanship standards are used throughout the industry, in particular by OEMs and EMS companies as a way to ensure all those involved in producing printed circuit assemblies agree on what’s acceptable and what’s not.

For decades, the standards called for every solder joint on an electronics assembly to be classified as one of four categories:

  • Target condition. A condition that is close to perfect/preferred. However, it is a desirable condition and not always achievable and may not be necessary to ensure reliability of the assembly in its service environment.
  • Acceptable condition. Indicates a condition that, while not necessarily perfect, will maintain the integrity and reliability of the assembly in its service environment.
  • Defect condition. A condition that may be insufficient to ensure the form, fit, or function of the assembly in its end-use environment. Defect conditions shall be dispositioned by the manufacturer based on design, service, and customer requirements. Disposition may be to rework, repair, scrap, or use as is. Repair or use as is may require customer concurrence. (A defect for Class 1 automatically implies a defect for Class 2 and 3. A defect for Class 2 implies a defect for Class 3.)
  • Process indicator condition. A condition and not a defect. The characteristic of the assembly does not affect the form, fit or function of the assembly.
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FIGURE 1. Changes to the longstanding definition for target condition started with the wire harness standard and were later adopted for PCB qualification criteria.

getting Lean

Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma: Are Both Needed?

Improving problem identification and resolution speed through dual disciplines.

TEAMS AT MULTIPLE SigmaTron International facilities have been trained in Lean Six Sigma philosophy. However, some companies work from a pure Lean manufacturing philosophy without Six Sigma tools. This month, we look at the benefits of integrating these disciplines.

Any company embracing Lean manufacturing philosophy generally focus on eliminating the seven wastes:

  1. Waste of overproducing (no immediate need for product being produced)
  2. Waste of waiting (idle time between operations)
  3. Waste of transport (product moving more than necessary)
  4. Waste of processing (doing more than what has been agreed upon)
  5. Waste of inventory (excess above what was required)
  6. Waste of motion (any motion not necessary outside of production)
  7. Waste of defects (producing defects requiring rework).

Done holistically in a normal materials-availability environment, this improves throughput while reducing inefficiency and the unplanned variations that lead to defects. Adding Six Sigma to the equation gives employees the tools and training to fine-tune this system. Simply put:

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Seeing is Believing

Rating Bonanzas

The AI-driven world of surveys could use a personal touch.

THOSE WHO USE ride sharing apps have doubtless noticed the ride is not the complete part of the story. Once you arrive, your app, somewhat intrusively, insists you complete a survey, rating the driver. The survey is Part Two of the journey. One must take care to answer it “correctly.” Inquiries follow if one doesn’t.

Which makes one wonder…

Deep learning (n, int): Techspeak for making something simple, often intuitively obvious, sound more sophisticated than it truly is. Faux profundity.

And ask this: Who gets to define “correctly?”

Further: What qualifies the person doing the defining?

“Thank you for choosing to enlist the expertise of the team at Abyss Technical Failure Analysis Services (ATFAS). If we could take a few moments of your time to complete the enclosed online service excellence survey, we’d be grateful for your candid feedback. We strive for continuous improvement, and your opinions are integral to that process. The following survey, activated by the link you clicked, will take only a few minutes. Many thanks for your business and, in advance, for your thoughtful answers.”

You’re welcome. Let’s move on.

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PathWave ADS 2023, for high-speed digital (HSD) design, comes with new Memory Designer capabilities for modeling and simulation of next-generation interface standards such as DDR5. Ensures rapid simulation setup and advanced measurements while providing insights to overcome signal integrity challenges. Memory Designer constructs parameterized memory buses using new pre-layout builder, to show system tradeoffs that reduce design time and lower product development risk for DDR5, LPDDR5/5x, and GDDR6/7 memory systems. Predicts closure and equalization of the data eye: minimizes impact of jitter, ISI and crosstalk using single-ended I/O (Input-Output) buffer information specification algorithmic modeling interface (IBIS-AMI) modeling with forwarded clocking, DDR bus simulation and accurate EM extraction of PCB signal routing Shortens time-to-market with a single design environment that enables pathfinding in pre-silicon digital twins to address current integration requirements such as forwarded clocking and timing, IBIS-AMI modeling and compliance tests and future challenges like single-ended PAM4, for exploration of DDR6.

Keysight Technologies


CW-818 no-clean, high-reliability flux-cored wire minimizes cycle times in manual and robotic soldering processes while delivering soldering speed and spread. Is halide-free, with clear/light-colored residue, charring resistance, and spatter control technology. Meets J-STD-004C high-reliability applications or applications where extra wetting power is needed to achieve a higher throughput. Is compatible with Pb-free and SnPb alloys, HASL, immersion silver, ENIG and OSP, and a good choice for legacy processes requiring an RMA-strength product.



Alpha HiTech AD13-9910B is a one-component, ultra-low temperature cure epoxy system. Cures at temperatures as low as 60°C, enabling excellent adhesion strength and a reduction in the defect rate on very temperature-sensitive parts and substrates. Is suitable for plastic parts or substrates that are very sensitive to high temperature exposure and exhibits excellent adhesion strength on stainless steel (SUS), nickel, PCBs and liquid crystal polymer (LCP). The product is recommended for use in camera modules, optical and other applications that are sensitive to high temperature exposure.

MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions

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technical Abstracts

In Case You Missed It

Flexible Electronics
“Layer-By-Layer Printing Strategy for High-Performance Flexible Electronic Devices with Low-Temperature Catalyzed Solution-Processed SiO2”
Authors: Qingqing Sun, et al.

Abstract: Additive printing techniques have been widely investigated for fabricating multilayered electronic devices. In this work, a layer-by-layer printing strategy is developed to fabricate multilayered electronics, including 3-D conductive circuits and thin-film transistors (TFTs) with low-temperature catalyzed, solution-processed SiO2 (LCSS) as the dielectric. Ultrafine, ultrasmooth LCSS films can be facilely formed at 90°C on a wide variety of organic and inorganic substrates, offering a versatile platform to construct complex heterojunction structures with layer-by-layer fashion at microscale. The high-resolution 3-D conductive circuits formed with gold nanoparticles inside the LCSS dielectric demonstrate a high-speed response to the transient voltage in less than 1µs. The TFTs with semiconducting single-wall carbon nanotubes can be operated with the accumulation mode at a low voltage of 1V and exhibit average field-effect mobility of 70cm2 V−1 s−1, on/off ratio of 107, small average hysteresis of 0.1V, and high yield (up to 100%), as well as long-term stability, high negative-gate bias stability, and good mechanical stability. Therefore, the layer-by-layer printing strategy with the LCSS film is promising to assemble large-scale, high-resolution, and high-performance flexible electronics and to provide a fundamental understanding for correlating dielectric properties with device performance. (Small Methods, May 21, 2021;

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