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52 The PCB Design Magazine • October 2017 ery time it gets smoother, obviously, signal loss improves substantially and measurably, so we continue to drive that down. We also work with other suppliers who have offerings that help miti- gate the roughness in the cop- per, which improves the loss and it mitigates skew. We've done a lot of research and we do present it. We presented this a number of times to IPC Design- ers Councils and have been invited to speak in front of many design groups to help provide that information in an effort to mitigate the problems they're going have with their designs once they become real time and real life. Shaughnessy: Like the saying goes, if you don't have signal integrity problems now, you will. Berry: That's true. I saw that in print actually. Because of that, we've become an asset to many of our fabricators, where their sales and front- end engineering groups are working with de- signers, CMs, OEMs, and we've been invited many, many times this year to travel with them and present and support some of their offerings to designers who have this skew or loss issue. Shaughnessy: Now we see all these boutique and hybrid materials coming out. I know mate- rials like PTFE are hard for the fabricator to work with, but they have really low loss. Hunrath: PTFE has been a good ma- terial for signal integrity, but me- chanically it's not very good. It comes with a lot of baggage. As Norm mentioned, the trend to go to smoother coppers has its trade-offs too, because the adhesion is not the same. Our customers need to understand that. If there's a work-around or a way of making a mixed-materi- al package to get what they need, but still also have the board manu- facturable and have it built for as- sembly without any problems, you need to put all that together. Shaughnessy: So, where do you think are some of the big op- portunities in the future for In- sulectro? Hunrath: Well, certainly the higher-performing materi- als from Isola and DuPont are a growing part of our business. We've been working hard to make sure our customers have access to a quick ac- cess. We do a lot of same-day deliver- ies for those materials, but that's a growing part of our business. We're putting a lot more variety in our inventory, so we can get these materials out there. Shaughnessy: Designers and signal integrity engineers sometimes complain that materials companies release these new materials without fully testing and characterizing them. But still, it can take companies 18 months to get one ma- terial set ready and out the door. Berry: Well, when you consider the require- ments of a laminate set, first of all, it has to be thermally robust. It has to be able to be as- sembled in a lead-free environment. In addition to that, it has to be manufacturable. The board shop has got to be able to laminate it, drill it, clean the holes out, and do it cost-effectively. It all boils down to the cost of ownership, so that you have something that is manufactur- able, that the board shop can use. One of the points you called out was hybrid construction. On some of these more expensive low-Dk, low-Df products, they're very expensive, so wherever possi- ble people are putting in lower cost FR4 for the power planes, so that they can reduce the cost. Now you have a hybrid. You've got to make sure that those are all compatible with each other. Isola has spent an extraordinary amount of time working to make sure that Chris Hunrath Norm Berry INSULECTRO TEAMS WITH ISOLA TO ADDRESS SIGNAL INTEGRITY NEEDS

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