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

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 (safi-tech.com), and Dr. Andy Mackie of Indium Corp. (indium.com) discussed this supercooling platform with PCD&F/CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY in September.

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A study of nearly 300 companies reveals shifting approaches to hardware and software.

How are companies addressing digital transformation, ever-increasing design complexity and the effects of a post-pandemic world on tech companies amid the so-called “Great Resignation?” This year, our technology-led analyst firm, Lifecycle Insights, conducted an in-depth independent study to learn more about and better understand what the coming years hold for engineering. The survey collected responses from 274 companies that design products across all major industries, with revenues ranging from $1 million to over $5 billion.

To say the Covid-19 pandemic is having lingering effects on how companies are operating in the “new normal” of a post-pandemic world is a tremendous understatement. Technology continues to advance rapidly in a time of historic levels of digital transformation. Evolving markets for electric vehicles, IoT devices, 6G, miniaturization, and more are increasing the need for systems and product design flows and tool capabilities without pause. Digital twins, artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) are terms we use daily, and product and systems design flows developed to accelerate first-pass design success are continually evolving.

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The annual Women’s Leadership Program offers hands-on mentoring for the next generation of engineers.

 

What is the most recent skill you have added to your toolbox?

As I was sharing recent accomplishments with one of my mentors, she suggested I think of my new skills as new tools in my toolbox. That conversation gave me a different perspective to reflect on the skills I have collected so far and encouraged me to strategically plan the next steps in my career.

I started gravitating toward the idea of this imaginary toolbox and collected skills, which adhered to my core values of creating a sustainable and purpose-driven career. While planning the theme for the 2022 Women’s Leadership Program (WLP), which takes place Nov. 1 at SMTA International, I discussed this idea with the organizing committee, and it was very well-received. We brainstormed on how to bring this idea to reality and enable women colleagues to advance their careers. Taking the time to reflect on the skills in your toolbox makes you self-aware and cognizant of your self-worth. Knowing what you bring to the table helps you build the confidence you need to navigate your career. Hence the concept of a toolbox seemed appropriate for the WLP, as the goal of this session is to empower women to explore technology innovations and career progression in the electronics industry. Now are you ready to think about the skills in your toolbox that could help your career advancement?

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A solution for flux-free formic acid reflow?

 

Growing performance demands for power electronics systems, driven by rapid advancements in application areas such as electric vehicle (EV) technology, present challenges for module design.1 With increased junction temperatures, current densities and complex thermal packaging solutions, engineers must improve reliability through the design phase and material selection process. This requires constant optimization of the power module design and process flow to produce effective and reliable solutions. For successful power electronics applications, however, the production process is equally as critical as the design to achieve the required quality and cost target. One key element is the use of tooling as it affects the design (e.g., distance and tolerances between dies) and manufacturing processes (cycle time, quality and costs). Process advancements of high-quality reflow techniques with vacuum and formic acid have proven effective to achieve reliability targets,2,3 but the focus is shifting toward scalability and efficiency to bring up production levels that meet the aggressive needs for these new applications. Due to the constantly increasing power densities in power modules, soldering processes that avoid use of additional flux are becoming more important. The upfront cost in development of processes, unique equipment, and dedicated fixturing to achieve quality is a growing concern that presents both a significant financial burden as well as a time-to-market impact for power module manufacturers introducing new designs.

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The path to digitize a factory is both closer and cheaper than most engineers realize.

Reshoring has been a buzzword for a few years now. But when supply chains are undergoing dramatic disruption and inflation is raging worldwide, what is the reality?

According to research firm IDTechEx, it’s only a matter of time before an array of sensors and cobots spur far greater automation and flexibility. The firm recently published a white paper titled “Factory of the Future” that summarizes the expected advancements. Indeed, some of these changes are both relatively inexpensive and simple in scope yet open a realm of possibilities for greater process control.

IDTechEx senior technology analyst Matthew Dyson, Ph.D., who co-authored the paper, discussed the key trends in industrial manufacturing and the timeline for adoption with PCEA president Mike Buetow in late July. The following is lightly edited.

Mike Buetow: You just co-authored a white paper titled “Factory of the Future.” Lots of people, of course, are considering what that looks like. What spurred your interest?

Matthew Dyson: It’s the combination of technologies that we see being developed. The white paper is a compelling use case for them. It’s about how you can make manufacturing more efficient to address concerns like reshoring, inflation and so on.

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Data-driven processes require IP coordination among vendors – and that means humans.

We hear a lot these days about smart manufacturing, but is there a broad consensus on what it means, and more specifically, its application in electronics assembly? Brian Morrison, vice president of engineering for Vexos, a mid-tier multinational EMS with manufacturing facilities in the US, Canada, China and Vietnam and more than 900 employees worldwide, explains his views on smart manufacturing to PCD&F/CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY in July.

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