PCB Chat: Flexible Circuits

We have a new podcast available, this one with Mark Finstad and Nick Koop. Alert readers will recognize them as the authors of our popular “Flexperts” column on flexible circuit design and manufacturing. They discuss real-life flex circuit struggles and how to overcome them in this week’s chat.

Also, listeners who want to learn more about flex circuit design and manufacturing are encouraged to come listen to Mark and Nick on Thursday, Sept. 13, from 9-11 at the Santa Clara Convention Center during PCB West.


Dont’ Forget PCB West Next Week!

Next week is the 26th annual PCB West, the preeminent trade show in the Silicon Valley for the electronics supply chain.

As those who have attended before know – and there are quite a few of you – PCB West focuses on the design and manufacture of PCBs, HDI, electronics assembly and printed circuit board test, and gives engineers, designers, fabricators, assemblers and managers an opportunity to improve skills, increase knowledge and network with peers, colleagues and experts. With an emphasis on training – half the presentations
are at least 2 hours in length – there is no place better to get real, practical, in-depth information.

Our three-day conference features:
• More than 70 presentations on the hottest topics, including noise control, flex circuits, and diagnosing assembly defects. This is our largest conference yet!
• More than 15 day-long tutorials or half-day seminars

• Sessions for all levels of experience and training, from novice designer and engineer to seasoned pro
• Speakers from Analog Devices, TTM Technologies, NXP Semiconductor and many more top companies
• The ever-popular Rick Hartley, Doug Brooks and Susy Webb
• An all new PCB/EMS Management track with special sessions aimed at helping executives make the capital investment and hiring decisions that shape their companies
• Three free day-long tracks on Sept. 13, with topics ranging from signal integrity and IoT PCBs to 3D printing technologies.

Also next week, a special 2.5-day IPC Designers Council Certification Program powered by EPTAC.

All conference attendees receive free admittance to the one-day exhibition Wednesday, Sept. 13, which includes a complimentary luncheon and evening reception, both on the show floor.

For more information or to register, click here.

Looking forward to seeing you at the show! And as always, please feel free to share your thoughts.

PCB West Next Week

I’d like to remind readers to register now for PCB West, the Silicon Valley’s largest trade show for printed circuit board design, fabrication and assembly.

The show takes place next week at the Santa Clara Convention Center. It includes a three-day technical conference, featuring nearly 70 presentations, which on average run more than 2 hours apiece. PCB West has always been different from other conferences in that regard. Founder (and UP Media Group president) Pete Waddell, a former designer himself, recognized that there was big hole where in-depth training for board designers should be. PCB West fills that hole.

The conference runs Sept. 15-17. There is also a trade show featuring more than 100 leading suppliers to the electronics industry on Sept. 16. The exhibits are free, and there will be a free lunch on the show floor, plus a happy hour starting at 5 pm.

The show also includes 11 free sessions covering everything from laminates to signal integrity to board assembly. We strongly encourage anyone involved in the electronics supply chain to stop in.

Visit pcbwest.com for more details and to register.

Wilk the Winner

Congratulations to Edward Wilk of Facts Engineering, who won the incentive prize for filling out a recent survey of PCB West 2014 technical conference attendees.

Edward, a $50 AMEX gift card is headed your way. Thanks for your support, and thanks to everyone who took the time to respond!

Wave of Innovation

Old friend Jeff Miller (some readers may remember him from his ACT and Wise days)

3D printed car

took this photo of a 3D printed car this week while at IMTS in Chicago.

Meanwhile, while at PCB West earlier this week, we saw the row of Tesla demo cars on display and waiting for test drives in San Jose. A designer from Telsa’s Palo Alto R&D center (the former HP semiconductor plant) was at the show and was visibly excited talking about the range of electronics he gets to work on.

No one will confuse Tesla’s elegance with the admittedly rough model at the right, but there are some amazing things happening with both board technology and form factors right now, and we are lucky to get a front row seat for this latest wave of innovation.

Why Soldering’s Loss was Design’s Gain

Catching up on your summer reading? Consider Dickie: Memoirs of a Mad Scientist, by Richard Nedbal.

Though not seen around the industry much anymore, Rich, many longtime readers will recall, revolutionized CAD and CAM software as founder of P-CAD, which at one point boasted the world’s largest ECAD installed base, and Advanced CAM Technologies (ACT), which developed the still popular CAM350.

Rich has spent the better part of his post-ACT days working on bettering engine injection systems. (He also was inducted into the Dieter W. Bergman PCB Design Hall of Fame last year at PCB West, which coincidentally takes place in September at the Santa Clara Convention Center.) In his spare time, he has written a startlingly funny and self-deprecating book about his childhood and early adult years.

Rich spins great yarns about growing up in Chicago, his occasionally inspiring parents, learning about electrons (which he mastered) and soldering (which he butchered), first jobs, monkey races (seriously), starting college, and joining the Air Force, where he escaped the hated “Dickie” moniker of his youth, only to be recast by an angry Air Force sergeant as “Airman Kneeball.”

A lifetime love of math and science took him to Carnegie Mellon, where an engineering manager tapped him to help with digital logic design, launching his Hall of Fame career in electronics.

Rich’s wit, intellect and most of all, never-say-die attitude are on display in spades throughout this charming tale, released this summer by Strategic Book Publishing and available via Amazon. I would have expected nothing less.

Fun and Sun in Santa Clara

Just a terrific week at PCB West in Santa Clara last week. It was great seeing old friends like Gary Ferrari, Susy Webb and Rick Hartley, and of course, for the first time in a few years, Doug Brooks. The weather was great, the show was even better –attendance was up 10% over last year (take that, stupid economy!) and the sold-out floor was bursting at the seams much of the day.

And I couldn’t be associated with a finer, harder working group of people than my colleagues at UP Media.

I’ll have more up soon on the show itself, but for now, it’s all smiles here.

PCB West Next Week

As most of you (hopefully) know, PCB West is next week. The annual conference and trade show, now in its 21st year, is the biggest and best event for the electronics design, fabrication and assembly in the Silicon Valley.

Here’s what Dave Ryder, president of Prototron Circuits, has to say about PCB West: “We have been coming to this show for a number of years now and we never fail to pick up some very good and productive leads. In fact, last year we were so busy that we barely had time to eat lunch. With all of the PCB designers attending the conference it makes this a great show for us who are in the quickturn prototype business.”

PCB West takes place Sept. 25 to 27 at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The exhibition, which is free to attend (be sure to preregister at pcbwest.com), is Sept. 26. The show floor is sold out. Check it out!

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.