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12 The PCB Magazine • October 2014 In retrospect, the musings of the controver- sial German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche would have provided some very accurate fore- sight had I considered it in the '80s as I em- barked on a career in military printed circuit manufacturing: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." As anyone who has been in the military cir- cuit board business in the last few decades will attest, it has been both extremely challenging (due to the many obstacles) and wonderfully rewarding (because our collective work sup- ports our country and our war fighters). Along the way there have also been many decisions made by the DoD that have seemed totally mis- guided, counterproductive to our national secu- rity, detrimental to the domestic printed circuit industry and negatively impacted the overall sustainment of our defense industrial base. The commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) initiative comes immediately to mind. When I was a young man entering the U.S. printed circuit board industry in 1981, many domestic shops were bustling with activity in support of our nation's military. While the ex- act numbers are a little hard to pin down, my personal recollection is that there were north of 2,500 domestic circuit shops and hundreds of them were military approved (to the old Mil- P-55110 specification). Today, there are barely 200 printed circuit manufacturing facilities in the United States. A review of the current Defense Logistics Agency database and Qualified Manufacturers Listing (QML-31032) reveals that as of August 2014 there were a total of 31 U.S. printed circuit fab- ricators certified to build military circuitry. For accuracy, it should be noted that Sanmina-SCI, f e a t u r e C o l u m n by John Vaughan CirCuit solutions llC mil/aero markets Up, Up, and Away: Reasons for Renewed Optimism in the Mil/Aero PCB Market

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