Features Articles

Mike Buetow

Have you looked at the H.R. 5515, better known as the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019? 

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David BernardAt the highest magnifications, the differences between the two types of targets become clear.

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Mike BuetowThe exploding maker market has brought thousands of new designers to the field.

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Robert Boguski Can our columnist outlast a shy customer in the ritualistic convention dance?

Trade show time in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. One of those one-day, tabletop affairs. Cheap to exhibit. Easy logistics. No extortionate setup fees from the event promoters, like you see at the really big shows with the four-letter acronyms and the five-figure expense, just looking out for the betterment of our industry. (You know who you are.) Pristine setting a bonus. (Who doesn’t like traveling to the Pacific Northwest?!) Those who fancy salmon are rewarded.

Ten-minute teardown at show close at 3 pm, leaving time for beerful reflection at day’s end. Good risk/reward ratio if you snag one new customer; life is really good if you land two. A high incidence of engineers and technicians in attendance, our target crowd. An infrequent opportunity to reconnect with existing customers, too, in a relaxed setting. Comfortable surroundings afford productive time to share gossip, spread rumors, and hatch conspiracies with friends and colleagues, both esteemed and otherwise.

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Yousef HeidariA PCB carrier can reduce variations on solder joint geometries.

Eliminating defect opportunities by minimizing process variation is a key concept of Lean manufacturing. Fixturing is often a key ingredient in that. However, many contract manufacturing customers see fixturing as an unnecessary non-recurring engineering (NRE) expense. The reality is fixturing does add cost, but it can also save money in production. More important, printed circuit board (PCB) technology is driving the need for greater use of fixturing. Consequently, the decision on whether to fixture or not is being made more frequently.

Use of a printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) carrier for fixturing has several benefits, including:

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Peter BigelowAre otherwise global companies putting all their R&D eggs in one basket?

Buying cars is not what it used to be. I was recently kicking the proverbial tires in search of a new automobile. This was the 18th time I underwent this process, one I approached with mixed emotions. It’s always interesting to see what new technology, appearance and driving experience has been packed around an engine riding on four tires. Yet it’s also concerning, as the cost always triggers a rethink of my priorities and change in my expectations.

This time around, the two biggest areas of technological interest also provided the greatest areas of concern. One was the lack of familiar knobs, dials and gauges. For the seasoned driver, this can cause initial, if not ongoing, confusion while navigating heat, air conditioning, music, and all the other things cars can do. The second was the lack of a spare tire. Many cars (or their manufacturers) are being touted as so reliable, spare tires are no longer necessary. Just deploy the tire repair/inflator (if you can find it on the knob-less dashboard) and away you go.

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