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ATLANTA – After 50 years in electronics, Jim Raby believes the industry’s greatest invention was not the transistor, but the plated through-hole.
 
The guru of electronics, Raby led what an audience member called a “fireside chat” at yesterday’s Atlanta SMTA Expo. He warmly shared stories from the dawn of the modern electronics industry. Raby, founder of STI Electronics, and a few others brought an Electrovert wave soldering machine from Canada with fake “Made in the USA” stickers on it.

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ATLANTA – Lead-free doesn’t seem new, but many myths still pervade industry thinking. One expert tried to dispel them.
 
In a presentation during the Atlanta SMTA Show Thursday, Chrys Shea, R&D applications engineer manager at Cookson Electronics, posted statements about Pb-free and asked whether the audience thought they were fact or fiction. She made some strong points about the myths of Pb-free, showing a distinct passion for her research. Here are the key points of her presentation:

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DANDERYD, SWEDEN Note AB reported first-quarter sales rose 0.5% to SEK 427.3 million, while net profits fell 53% to SEK 5.7 million.
 
For the March quarter, the operating profits fell 44% to SEK 13.8 million on a SEK 10 million restructuring charge. The EMS company turned in an operating margin of 3.2%, down from 5.8% last year. Cash flow from operations was SEK 24 million, down from SEK 45.6 million.
 
During the quarter, Note continued to transfer production to lower-cost countries and cut its headcount in Sweden by more than 150, or roughly 20% of its local workforce. The firm employs 1,200 workers globally.
 
The company also purchased Nearsourcing Centre in the UK, and acquired a domestic mechanical engineering services group.
 
BANNOCKBURN, ILIPC has released IPC-7095B, Design and Assembly Process Implementation for BGAs.
 
This revised document focuses on applications that use both SnPb and Pb-free on the same board, including various solder ball alloys, new laminate materials for Pb-free, BGA trace escape and routing considerations during board design to improve yield and reduce cost,” explained Ray Prasad, task group chairman.
 
“There is also a detailed discussion of reflow solder profiling, void process indicators and ways to improve product reliability,” he said
 
The standard was approved by consensus last month, said Prasad, who is also principal of Ray Prasad Consultancy Group, in a statement. 
 
 
TEDDINGTON, UK – A new approach adopted by the National Physical Laboratory has led to the design and build of the NPL – IPTM (Interconnect Properties Test Machine), says Dr. Chris Hunt and his team.
 
It applies defined deformation under precision control to measure materials properties. The apparatus permits materials data to be obtained from solder samples that have volumes and geometries similar to those of real solder joints, and from joints loaded in shear, mirroring the practical situation in the field.
 
The instrument reportedly can accommodate various solder alloys and surface coatings, and permits direct microscopic examination during the test at temperatures between -55 to 125°C.
 
A four-point measurement system for resistance monitoring also has been embedded and found to correlate well with structural degradation recorded during fatigue testing of solders, says NPL. The resistance measurement is directly related to the development of a crack; resistance data can be used to predict crack growth rates. The results indicate lifetime can be measured using the load decrease and/or the resistance increase. Measuring these parameters directly, for different solders and conditions, and relating them to real assembly performance, will aid modeling of lifetime prediction for Pb-free solders, says the group.
 
Although the mechanical behavior of Pb-free joints is known to be different from that of conventional SnPb joints, there is a lack of data suitable for modeling purposes; the need to generate such data to evaluate likely Pb-free solder performance has assumed some urgency, according to NPL. 
ARMONK, NY -- IBM's systems revenue rose 2% in the first quarter versus a year ago, providing some hope for the company's EMS suppliers.

Hardware revenue was down 7% year-over-year to $4.2 billion. Excluding printers and microelectronics, revenue was up 2% versus a year ago. Storage and System z (IBM's mainframe computing) segments were each up 10%.


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HELSINKI -- Nokia posted strong first-quarter results, reporting revenues of €12.66 billion, up 28% year-over-year. Operating profit rose 20% to €1.53 billion.  Read more ...
CARLSBAD, CA -- Palomar Microelectronics has tripled the size of its cleanroom assembly space and increased its prototyping, applications engineering, process development, assembly, and test services capabilities.

The company, a unit of Palomar Technologies, opened 2,500 sq. f. class 100K and 500 sq. ft. class 10K cleanrooms, said to enable rapid prototyping and turnaround of advanced wire bonding, gold ball bumping, and precision component placement for semiconductor packages, high power LEDs, MEMS devices, microwave and RF components, optoelectronic packages, multichip modules, and hybrids.

“The new cleanroom space allows us to provide microelectronic services for many of the emerging technologies in areas such as MEMS, high bright LEDs, and other advanced packaging applications and to speed delivery of these services to our customers,” said Donald Beck, operations manager for Palomar Microelectronics.

STAMFORD, CT -- Worldwide semiconductor capital equipment spending will drop 19.8% to $47.5 billion this year, says Gartner Inc.

In December, the research firm forecast a 10% drop for the year.

The company blamed lower capital spending for memory chips. “Since our last update in late December, reported DRAM spending plans have declined to the point where we are now projecting a drop of almost 47% in DRAM spending and 29% in total memory in 2008,” said managing VP Klaus Rinnen. The firm expects a recovery will begin in the second half.

Global packaging and assembly equipment spending is now forecast to drop 18.1%, extending last year's 3.7% decline. Automated test equipment is expected to drop 13% this year, following last year's 14% decline. Gartner said market conditions for those segments should begin to turn up this summer.


PHILADELPHIA – Confusion over whether to conformally coat assemblies has, with the increase in Pb-free processing, become a major discussion point, especially for producers of high reliability products.

On May 17, the American Competitiveness Institute will sponsor a free, five-hour seminar on different coating materials and application methods, and will examine the issue of contamination detection and control. Other topics of discussion will include tin whiskering. This is the first in a series of free workshops covering key manufacturing issues.

Presenting will be Graham Naisbitt, who has over 30 years’ experience in coatings, as a user and in application and test equipment. He is co-chairman of the IPC Test Methods subcommittee and SIR task group, and has received multiple IPC Distinguished Committee Service awards for efforts on IPC-CC-830 IPC-HDBK-830 (conformal coating), J-STD-004 (fluxes) IPC-TM-650 2.6.3.7 (SIR), IPC-9201A (SIR Test Handbook) and 2.6.25 (CAF Testing). He also works on IEC TC91 Standards Committee.

The presentations will include explanations of conformal coatings; how to apply , inspect and assess them; new coating technologies; contamination detection and control The event is suited to engineers, design, quality and inspection staff, production and test operators and any member of staff tasked with quality control.

To attend, contact Ken Friedman at 610-362-1200 x 279 or kfriedman@aciusa.org by May 12.

ACI is a scientific research corporation dedicated to the advancement of electronics manufacturing processes and materials for the Department of Defense and industry. The company operates the US Navy’s Center of Excellence in Electronics Manufacturing and is located directly next to the Philadelphia Airport.
SALT LAKE CITY – EMS provider CirTran Corp. reported revenue of $12.4 million for 2007, up 42% year-over-year during what its president and CEO Iehab J. Hawatmeh called “an investment year.”

 
CirTran’s gross profit was $3.2 million, down 3% compared to 2006, as a result of higher than expected cost of sales experienced in entering the online marketplace, along with lower margins on startup marketing services, the company said.

 
For the year, CirTran reported a net loss of $7.2 million, up from 2006’s loss of $2.9 million, which was attributed to increases in selling, general and administrative expenses.

SACRAMENTO, CA – A measure by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to establish a new framework for chemicals management is drawing criticism from electronics industry trade groups.
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