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Design007-Dec2019

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86 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2019 • Metallurgical scientists and engineers must test, evaluate, and bless both the assembly process and the materials used • Laboratory test engineers and technicians must monitor, test, and evaluate the end-product and its fitness for use I can think of a few other disciplines not mentioned, but the short list provided should provide ample testament to the complexity. People of such varied skills were responsi- ble, from the earliest days of the industry, to weave together materials, equipment, and pro- cesses, often with origins far from the tasks they have been adapted and are now being used for. Consider the few following industries that have been drafted into service to make to- day's most advanced printed circuits: • Lamination industry: Lamination presses for flex and multilayer circuits • Graphic arts industry: Screen printing and photolithography used for imaging • Machining industry: NC drilling, routing, punching, and stamping • Plastics plating industry: Electroless and electrolytic plating of vias • Aerospace industry: Vacuum lamination and advanced composites • Shoemaking and paper industries: Steel rule die cutting of flex circuits • Microelectronics industry: Metal sputter- ing and plasma cleaning and etching • Applied physics: NC laser drilling and cutting Over time, these items have adapted to more specifically address the changing needs of printed circuit manufacturers. Today, the PCB materials, processes, and equipment industries constitute multi-billion dollar market. How- ever, the printed circuit is, unfortunately, too often underappreciated in its continuing role as the virtual foundation of all modern elec- tronics. Without PCBs, semiconductor devices would have no means of interconnecting and performing the designed end function and pur- pose/mission. They play a vital and irreplace- able role in all electronics manufacturing. the Korean War. I was a veteran as well, but of Vietnam; thus, we had a common bond that allowed for a friendly and interactive relation- ship. I was also fortunate to have worked in an en- gineering "bullpen" in a manufacturing tech- nology group for the manufacture of electron- ics for Boeing Aerospace. Our shared office space consisted of desks that were three across and eight rows deep, which gave me instant access to an incredible brain trust, who could provide answers to my questions or direct me to a reference where answers could be found (these cherished colleagues were my early ver- sion of the internet but with personalities). Printed circuit fabrication was a primary fo- cus of our group, and as those who fully com- prehend and appreciate the complexity of PCB manufacturing will attest, it took all manner of engineering and technical skills and disci- plines to develop and service the processes re- quired to make the desired products. Printed circuits are arguably one of the most complex and process-intensive products made today—even more so than semiconductors, one could argue. Consider the following skills required today: • Electrical/electronic engineers and skilled technicians must define the functions, design, and layout the product • Packaging engineers and technicians must design the envelope into which the electronics will be placed • Mechanical and material engineers must determine what properties the PCB substrate needs have to function for the application • Chemists, chemical engineers, and skilled technicians must operate and maintain the numerous chemical processes involved in PCB manufacturing • Project and manufacturing engineers must plan the manufacturing flow • Process engineers and skilled technicians are required at every step to execute the seemingly endless number of process steps and variations that might be required to complete the product

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