Features Articles

David BernardThe target style of the x-ray tube impacts magnification, resolution and quantity.

In last month’s column I explained the impact a transmissive or reflective target style of x-ray tube will have on the available magnification of an x-ray system. The difference between the two target types is shown in FIGURE 1. Not just the magnification is altered by the choice of target, however. The focus, or resolution, of the tube, as well as the flux, or quantity of x-rays, that the tube produces will also be affected. This is caused by the x-ray tube settings.



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Clive AshmoreWhen diagnosing print problems, don’t overlook substrate support.

Substrate support is an important, yet often overlooked, element of the screen printing process. Sure, tooling is top of mind when all necessary parts of a new PCB assembly are being developed. But once it’s in the printer way down in the print nest on the table, we tend to forget about the tooling block. I suppose this out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality is why manufacturers often point to more obvious, visible components of the printing operation as the culprit when the process shows inconsistency. Surely it must be an issue with the squeegee, the stencil or the board fabrication, right? Well, sometimes that’s the case. In many instances, however, a resolution may be as simple as a look at your tooling; something could have changed, or maybe it’s been incorrect from the start.

If the tooling isn’t manufactured properly or has been altered during production, printing inconsistency is the result – either across the board or from board to board. Paste volumes may be noticeably different in various areas of the PCB or panel; one corner may be just fine, and another has too much or too little material. This dynamic could be the first clue tooling is the cause. If the problem were an improperly manufactured stencil, for example, the issues would more likely be consistent across the entire board. Tooling errors can be extremely focused.

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Susan MuchaTrade conditions bring “rain” to everyone. Focus on the customer experience.

As I write this, no relief is in sight in the supply-chain constraint situation, and the US is beginning a trade war with China. I’m reminded of a story my grandmother told me when I got my first marketing position after college. Nana worked at one of Miami’s largest department stores in the days when department stores had huge budgets focused on attracting shoppers via user experience rather than reduced prices. This was the era of department store “wars” for market share, where people would line up outside a store to wait for the doors to be unlocked any time a good promotion ran. Nana had just finished executing her first big fashion promotion campaign with ads in TV, radio and the local papers. She saw this as her “make or break” moment in terms of developing credibility in her new position. As she drove to work the morning of the event, it began to pour. Distraught at the negative impact this would have on shopper traffic, she went upstairs expecting to find an equally disappointed boss. Instead, he looked at her and said, “Cheer up Thera, it’s raining on Burdines and Jordan Marsh, too. And, we have the best ad campaign.”

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Escalating trade wars are causing disorder in the EMS market.

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Peter BigelowWith planning, the integrated supply chain can overcome the negative impacts.

It’s a small world after all, the saying goes. Ain’t that the truth!

For decades those of us in the electronics industry, and particularly those closely involved in the technology, have experienced the many changes and benefits a truly global economy can create and offer. Time was, an ocean, time zone or culture may have made integrated product development and manufacturing difficult and costly, if not totally impossible to achieve. Those days are long gone. And yet today it’s the norm that global companies – or consortia– work almost seamlessly together to bring to market the next cutting-edge, technology-rich, and most of all, cost-effective “must have” new product.

The evolution of the global supply chain involved many phases. First, parts, components, supplies and raw materials could be made in locations that offered either the lowest cost or the most advantageous transportation/distribution alternatives, or be where either the raw materials or end-customers were located – all of which resulted in the most cost-effective value. The evolution continued where R&D began taking place in different parts of the globe, which enabled different cultures and engineers in different end-user markets to incorporate the features, benefits and attributes sought by those different demographics into basic design. That led to a reduction of engineering costs to modify newly developed products to become truly universally successful. In turn, people from all over the world with different cultural backgrounds, different economic statuses and different educational levels began to work together and become friends. When people get to know each other, learn to appreciate and trust each other, and share common dreams and goals, the world truly seems smaller.

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John BornemanOne measures the variability of process outputs. The other assesses the tests themselves.

People often confuse measurement system analyses and capability studies. Far too often, I hear, “When will we run the capability study on the tester?” And while I’m sure those few brave souls who read my column do not fall into this trap, you might know of people who do. Maybe this column will help.

MSAs are for tests and gages. Capability studies are for the processes being measured. Or, to state it another way, MSAs give us confidence we can measure the capability of our process to produce parts to our customer’s specification.

One can talk about the “capability” of a tester, but only when the word is being used in its classic sense,  for instance, “the extent of someone’s or something’s ability.” Let’s review.

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