To Bake or Not to BakeThis article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of SMT Magazine.
I’ll always remember the summer of 2004 as the “Summer of Lead-Free.” Finally, Pb-free circuit boards were going into standard production mode. Assemblers focused the majority of their efforts (often at my behest) on final finish and proper laminate selection. What none of us saw coming, however, was the rash of delamination that would burn the entire industry during that long, hot lead-free summer.
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Lessons in Leadership from My Father
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of PCB Magazine.
When I was asked to contribute an article for this issue on leadership, I thought it was an opportune time since my Dad, Nagji Sutariya, had recently passed away. I had spent nearly every daylight hour with him since I started working with him at Saturn in 2001. Along the way, I picked up what drove him as a businessman, a father, and a member of our community. I am proud to share the lessons I gleaned along the way.
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Case Study: Reducing Defects Caused by Excess Handling and MishandlingThis article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of PCB Magazine.
Most folks associate quality improvement initiatives with upfront expenses and ongoing cost increases. Fortunately, when done efficiently and with enough forethought and planning, quality improvement programs can pay for themselves in the form of increased throughput, reduced labor steps, and reduction in materials consumption.
Reducing Defects Caused by Mishandling
Domestic Fabricators: Round 10 and Still Standing!This article originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of PCB Magazine.
Reshoring may be real, but fabricators still need to understand that the conditions driving it have nothing to do with mandates or politics. This article defines five skill sets driving the targeted reshoring campaign. Does your company possess these capabilities (p.12).
Keys to Growth in 2013
TCO: From Buzzword to RealityThis article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of PCB Magazine.
The New Millennium saw a dramatic shift in PCB procurement from North America to Asia (primarily to China). Consequently, domestic PCB fabrication revenue declined 66% which, in turn, closed more than half of North American fabricators.
TCO for PCBs
PCB Reliability: Cleaning Up Your ActThis article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of SMT Magazine.
I’ve written in the past regarding PCB reliability from a pure fabrication standpoint. Examining the backbone procedures in the fabrication process, we asserted that adherence to mechanical guidelines insured steadfast boards in the field. What I did not address, however, is the impact of surface cleanliness on long-term reliability in the field. The cleanliness of a completed PCB is crucial.
Bare Board Cleanliness
Built Board Tough: What is PCB Reliability and How Can We Test for It?This article was originally published in the July 2012 issue of The PCB Magazine
Simply put, PCB reliability is the length of time a PCB functions under a given set of conditions (often denoted as “via life”). Typically, the most intensive tests focus on via hole-wall reliability. The following tests are the most commonly used. PCBs are electronic real estate. Establishing the foundation for assembly, there is a direct correlation between the reliability of a final electronic product and the bare printed circuit board. There is much to knowing what it takes as both a buyer and a producer of PCBs to ensure high-reliability PCB performance. Ensuring your bare board continually performs throughout the product’s life expectancy relies on PCB production processes that serve as the backbone processes to PCB reliability. These are led by lamination of materials, drilling hole-wall quality, and copper plating characteristics.
Let's Make Circuit Boards Out of FR-4!This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of SMT Magazine.
Testing the Performance of PTH and Copper Pour in Lieu of Metal Core PCBs in LED Applications. Back in 2009, Yash consulted Clemens Lasance, a thermal management guru, who began teaching the ways of the (thermal) force. Now, Yash is curious: Are brand-name thermal dielectrics on metal core printed circuit boards more effective than traditional FR-4 PCBs with Cu-plated vias? "Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it." - Steve Jobs. Like the rest of the industry, I was swept up by the high-powered marketing campaigns promoting the performance benefits of cutting-edge dielectrics for LED PCBs. I thought it was kind of cool making a PCB from sheet of metal. Appealing to total cost of ownership, the wave informed us that the dielectric's reliability performance justified the higher (purchase) cost. The wave had seemingly short-circuited that part of my brain responsible for basic physics.
Making PCBs out of FR-4
Right Recipe Can Cut Pb-Free PCB Costs
This article originally appeared on July 1, 2008 on Printed Circuit Design & Fab .
The right combination of materials, finishes and solders can have a marked effect on bare board cost and reliability. Indeed, according to Jim Kelch, director of marketing, at PWB fabricator Saturn Electronics Corp., the right recipe can cut board costs as much as 30%. In a Webinar Monday, Kelch, along with representatives from Isola Group and Florida CirTech, laid out how. The move to Pb-free creates a host of indirect cost drivers, said Kelch, including increased scrap rate (due to delamination and decreased solderability) and the need for additional storage and handling steps (generally, pre-baking). The response, according to Kelch, is designers are calling out FR-4 laminates with 180° Tg and 340° Td (time to decomposition at temperature). But while FR-4 is RoHS compliant, it is not always right for Pb-free assembly, he explained, while 180° Tg does not guarantee adequate Td. Saturn’s proposed solution: mid-grade Pb-free capable laminates that meet IPC-4101/99 (filled) or IPC-4101/124 (unfilled), with a minimum 150° Tg and 325° Td.
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Budget DC Copper Plating for High-Reliability and Increased Capabilities
This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of The PCB Magazine.
In last year’s reliability issue for The PCB Magazine, we touched on three “backbone” processes that are critical in yielding high-reliability PCBs. I’m going to focus on the copper plating portion of that article in this issue. Remember the conversion kits that made a Fiero look like a Ferrari with new outer skins and decals? While nice on the outside, they still performed like the 4x-cylinder roadster they were made to be. Or, for you baseball comedy fans, who can forget Willie Mays Hayes’ Rolls Royce “beetle” from “Major League?” Well, we’re going to discuss a project with quite the opposite outcome: Converting your old DC copper plating setup to a setup that produces high-reliability as well as higher aspect ratio copper plating for vias.