The Top 10 of 2016 — PCD&F

As we did with CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY, each year we review the 10 most-viewed features.

Keep in mind that the counts are not adjusted by the date of publication. Therefore, an article published in January has an advantage over one published in December. The month of publication is listed in parentheses.

10. “Designing PCBs for DDR Busses,” by Nitin Bhagwath (June 2016)

9. “Ensuring Reliable Products with New Rigid-Flex Design Rules,” by Jim Frey (September 2016)

8. “Empirical Confirmation of Via Temperatures,” by Doug Brooks, Ph.D. (February 2016)

7. “6 Pillars of PCB DfMA Success,” by John McMillan (March 2016)

6. “Insertion Loss Modeling,” by Jeff Loyer (January 2016)

5. “Price vs. Function in Today’s EDA Software,” by Chelsey Drysdale (December 2016)

4. “IPC-1782: The New Dawn of Electronics Traceability,” by Michael Ford (December 2016)

3. “5 Common Mistakes in Board Design,” by Arbel Nissan (December 2016)

2. “DC Analysis of PDN: Essential for the Digital Designer,” by Jeff Loyer (March 2016)

1. “Via-in-Pad Design Considerations for Bottom Terminated Components on PCB Assemblies,” by Matt Kelly, Mark Jeanson and Mitch Ferrill (March 2016)

Thanks, as always, for reading!

The Top 10 in PCD&F

Yesterday, we reported the top 10 best-read articles published by CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY in 2015. Today we list the best-read articles from PCD&F.

The list includes features that were published for the first time in calendar 2015. Rankings are based on web site hits, and do not include — for obvious reasons — the number of reads in the print version of the magazine.

1. “Embedded Passive Technology Materials, Design and Process,” by Hikmat Chammas
2. “Beyond the Vault: The Evolution of PCB Design Archiving,” by John McMillan.
3. “01005: Size Does Matter,” by Arbel Nissan.
4. “Trace Current/Temperature Relationships,” by Douglas G. Brooks, Ph.D. and Johannes Adam, Ph.D.
5. “Microsectioning of Laminates,” by Karin Rudman Prieto, Ph.D., Peg Conn, Lizabeth Lagos and Charles Lehmann.
6. “The Changing Face of the Hardware Design Engineer,” by Steve Hughes.
7. “Refining Lean NPI at Optimum Design Associates,” by Randy Holt.
8. “The 3 Challenges Facing the Future of PCB Design,” by David Wiens.
9. “How Hot Is My Via? (Cooler Than You Think!),” by Douglas G. Brooks, Ph.D. and Johannes Adam, Ph.D.
10. “In Search of Greater Tolerance,” by Peter Bigelow.

There was a definite advantage for articles that were published near the beginning of the year. If we adjust for timing, a feature on field solvers authored by Dr. Eric Bogatin and published just last month more than likely would have made the top 10. And although not reflected here, there was tremendous and perhaps disproportionate interest in flex circuits, given the smaller audience involved to-date in flex, with pieces by Mark Finstad (“Designing Flex Circuits For Wearable Electronics“) and Ben Jordan (“Designing a Successful High-Speed Rigid-Flex PCB“) just missing the top 10.

As always, we are grateful for our loyal readers and the many authors who contribute their expertise each month.

The Best-Read PCD&F Articles in 2014

As we did with CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY on Monday, here’s the list of the best-read new articles at this year.

Leading the pack was IMI president Peter Bigelow, whose piece “When ‘Scaling Up’ Leads to ‘Belly Up’ ” received the most hits of his 10-year career as our columnist.

Next up was “A Two-Team Race?” Dr. Hayao Nakahara’s annual list of the largest PCB fabricators.

Coming in third was “Design for Reliability with Computer Modeling.” Dr. Randy Schueller and Cheryl Tulkoff, both with DfR Solutions, explained a new CAD tool that imports design files and quantitatively predicts product life.

They narrowly beat out “Magnification vs. Resolution in Visual Examination Specifications,” by Louis Hart of Compunetics and consultant Robert Simmons.

Coming in fifth was “Design Practices for Panelization and Depanelization,” by Phil Lerma, fabrication manager at NexLogic Technologies.

In sixth was Patrick Carrier’s “Maximizing Capacitor Effectiveness,” the first of multiple contributions from Mentor Graphics.

Next was “Power Electronics Packages with Embedded Components – Recent Trends and Developments,” by Lars Boettcher, Stefan Karaszkiewicz, Dionysios Manessis and Andreas Ostmann, who summed the work of a cross-industry team’s development and testing of a PCB-based embedded chip technology for an under-the-hood automotive application.

They were followed by “Qualification vs. First Article Inspection,” authored by Charles Hill and Karen Ebner of Raytheon.

The ninth most-read piece was “Effectively Managing PCB Design Constraints,” by John McMillan of Mentor Graphics.

And closing out the Top 10 was yet another Mentor offering, “Passing Electrical Signoff,” by Rod Dudzinski and Minoru Ishikawa.

The top written staff articles were “The One-Stop SoCal Shop,” senior editor Chelsey Drysdale’s look inside Murrietta Circuits, and “Good Values in Vegas,” our staff writeup of the 2014 IPC Apex Expo trade show.

We want to thank all our contributors from last year, and especially our loyal readers. Happy new year!

The December Issue of PCD&F/CA

Our December issue hits the digital streets today and features a cover story from Terry Munson at Foresite, who performed a comparison of analytical techniques using 25 conformal-coated no-clean assemblies after environmental testing for 40°C/90%RH for 168 hr. Terry found FTIR, SEM/EDS and ion chromatography need an assist when determining the true source of contamination.

Another major feature reviews system design methodology for complex PCB designs.

Other highlights include discussion of pad-to-via clearance’s effects on solder joint strength, minimizing bottom termination component voiding, printer tooling, controlling solder paste slump and how to deal with an unhappy OEM.

As always in December, we look back at our industry friends and colleagues who passed away this year.

Finally, is free CAD a good thing? That’s the question I ask in my editorial this month.

The March Issue of PCD&F/CA

… is now out.

The cover story, “Bridging Technology between Conventional 3D and TSV 3D Stacking,” looks at two new multi-die DRAM packages with thin profiles that minimize wirebond length.

Among the other features:

  • My recap of the Apex Expo trade show in February.
  • Some key areas of the Benchmark Electronics’ Robotics manufacturing process, from a prototype or new-build stage to steady-state production.
  • The new IPC-2221B design standard.
  • Designing high-speed, small area boards.
  • Determining whether a process generate an electrostatic charge, and if so, how much.
  • We answer the question, Can a flex circuit be made with platinum or gold conductors rather than copper?
  • Selective soldering dwell times.
  • And the latest in a yearlong PCD&F series highlighting promising new enterprises in printed circuit board design looks at startup CircuitHub’s user-driven parts library.

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.

Money Talks

Designers, start checking your in-boxes for the annual PCD&F Salary Survey. In the next few days an email from UP Media will be go out containing the link to the survey.

Let me know if you don’t get the survey; we really want your input.

January Issue Now Available

Hi, and Happy New Year!

Our January issue is now available. Highlights this month include a profile of APCT, the Silicon Valley board shop; a recap of Productronica (including highlights of the new fab equipment); a fabricator’s take on rebuilding America’s manufacturing base; plus some great technical columns on centroid files and designing flex boards.

Here’s the link to the online version, or if you’d prefer the digital version, click here.

Happy reading!

Fire Away!

We at long last have added a comments section to the PCD&F website. Specifically, readers may now add their two cents to all articles, op-ed pieces and news items.

We are using the Disqus platform for comments, a popular and robust tool for comment boards. Disqus is used by many, many newspapers around the country, and any readers with a Disqus profile may begin adding comments immediately. Those without one will need to register: it takes about 15 seconds and a valid email address.

For now, I’m not moderating comments before they are published. Hopefully, we never will need to. Fire away, folks!