Goldman Moment

Congratulations to my old friend — as in “long-term”; I would never dare call her old — Patty Goldman, who was inducted into the IPC Hall of Fame this week (long overdue). In doing so, Patty becomes the first woman inducted to receive IPC’s highest honor (also long overdue).

I was on the IPC staff when Patty was chair of the Technical Activities Executive Council, which sets the priorities for all IPC standards activities. She ran that group of unruly engineers with an iron fist (well, really a gavel), demonstrating that not only could some sense of order and civility be brought to the Council, but that their meetings didn’t have to last four hours, either.

Way to go, Patty!

Hats Off to Gary

Congratulations to Gary Ferrari, who last month became the 33d person to gain induction to the IPC Hall of Fame. For printed circuit board designers, this is something of a symbolic victory, as Ferrari is just the third designer (after Dieter Bergman and Vern Solberg) to make it in the IPC Hall.

Ferrari, who has been an occasional contributor to PCD&F over the years, needs little in the way of introduction to the current generation of designers, in the US and abroad. He has his name on all the major industry design and fabrication standards, having led the development of IPC-D-275 and IPC-RB-276 (now IPC-2221/2222 and IPC-6011/6012, respectively). He, along with Bergman, helped found the IPC Designers Council and drove the certification program. Along the way, he has trained or taught several thousand engineers and designers on a variety of topics from layout to heat management to standards to fabrication and assembly. While not the person whose name you will see on a book, Ferrari is still one of the first phone calls anyone with an engineering problem is likely to make.

The timing is bittersweet in that it occurred just months after the death of Bergman, Ferrari’s longtime friend and colleague. Still, it is a long time coming for one of the true iron men of the industry. I am thrilled for my friend.


Another federal energy investment has gone South — no, make that West.

Lithium ion batteries have been in the news again following Boeing’s highly publicized Dreamliner battery difficulties. China’s Wanxiang Group has received clearance from the US Committee on Foreign Investment to acquire the assets of America’s battery maker A123 for $257 million. The bankrupt A123, which makes batteries for electric cars and grid storage, was the recipient of $130 million of clean energy federal grants. The Wanxiang Group is an auto parts conglomerate.

Shen Tsai-Sheng of one of the world’s largest PCB makers, Unimicron Technology, stated that utilization rates of Unimicron’s HDI board, PCB, and flexible PCB (FPCB) production will fall below 75% of capacity in the first quarter of 2013, down from 85% to 95% in the 4th quarter of 2012.

Huawei sold 10.8 million smart phones in the 4th quarter of 2012 to become the world’s 3rd largest seller. Samsung was first with 63.7 million and Apple was 2nd with 47.8 million. ZTE, another China maker, shipped 9.5 million units in the last quarter of 2012.

Will the “bounce” last? China’s economy has bounced back. A return to accelerating growth in the fourth quarter 2012 breaks seven straight quarters of declining growth and draws a line under concerns that the world’s second largest economy is heading for a hard landing.
To engineer the rebound, China’s government turned again to boosting credit and investment spending. But beneath the surface, there were also signs a rebalancing toward consumption may be underway.

ASL had its second best year in 2012 and forecasts sales at least as good in 2013. The number one IC lithograph projection printer supplier in the world, headquartered in Holland, has about 80% of the market for advanced exposure equipment (including for 300mm wafers).

An interesting note from the massive CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas this month was the seemingly widespread appearance of nanotechnology coatings to “moisture proof” just about anything.

Updated PWB charts showing use of build up boards and thin PWBs by application in Japan are now available. These have been created and maintained annually by Masamitsu (Matt) Aoki. Several have been published in the Printed Circuit Journal of Japan. Write to us if you would like a copy.

Back to the Future. The “Assembly Processes for Lead Free and Tin-Lead” free BUZZ session at the IPC Apex event in San Diego Feb. 19 chaired by Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame member Don DuPriest has been renamed BZ2 Hall of Famers: Roundtable Discussion. It’s format will be an “open-end” panel discussion by Hall of Fame (HoF) members related to all aspects of the electronic interconnect industry.  The panel, including Bob Neves, Dan Feinberg, Jack Fisher, Vern Solberg, and myself will field questions from the audience ranging from technology, to business, to future changes and requirements, to reshoring. Chairman DuPriest will provide surprise gifts to audience members that ask questions.

New “Kid on the Block.” Taiwan’s MediaTek, which introduced its first chipset in 2011 in a Lenovo phone, has in 18 short months captured 50% of China’s market for smartphone chips. Its chipsets are reported to have greatly reduced the cost and time for manufacturers to introduce new phones to the marketplace.  As a result, the top five producers in China during the third quarter Coolpad, Huawei, Lenovo, Samsung and ZTE. Apple was 6th with just 8% of the market. MediaTek offers guidance on hot to build a phone with its chips. as a result its chips are showing up in new brands in emerging markets in Latin America and India.

Nissan will assemble its new Leaf electric motor in the USA this year for the 2013 Nissan LEAF car to be built in Smyrna, TN. Currently all of Nissan’s electric motors are put together in Japan.

A ‘Hall’ of a Man

We are thrilled to announce the launch (opening?) of the PCD&F Hall of Fame for PCB Design.

Actually, that’s a misstatement: It’s not called the PCD&F Hall of Fame. It’s the Dieter Bergman Hall of Fame. We are naming it for the longtime technical director of the IPC, and perhaps the leading advocate over the 40 years for the printed circuit board designer. Dieter has led the efforts for a number of design standards, including those for bare board layout, land patterns, data transfer and other critical aspects. More important, he was a vital cog in getting designers the recognition they deserve within their companies, helping to launch and promote the Designer Certification program, and teaching hundreds of workshops around the world.

I recall — it was around 1995 — working the IPC booth at the PCB Design West trade show. I came to man the booth one morning, and noticed some of the standards we left in it the night before were missing. I groused about the sticky fingers that apparently were attending the show. Dieter shook his head. “These designers,” he said, “they are just so thirsty for knowledge.” It didn’t matter if they walked off with some materials without paying; they did so because they wanted to be better at their jobs, and that made it OK.

Dieter’s unwavering loyalty and respect for the profession really opened my eyes. He was right then, and he’s still right now.

CAD tools make design easier and faster, but good design is not button-pushing. Rather, it’s understanding the tradeoffs of materials properties and electrical continuity and speed and manufacturability, and getting the right mix in the most expeditious timeframe possible. A former designer himself, Dieter understood this and has always been willing to speak up to help. It’s an honor to name the Hall after him.