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40 FLEX007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2018 Interview by Barry Matties I-CONNECT007 Barry Matties recently spoke with Proto- tron President Dave Ryder and General Man- ager Kim O'Neil about their Tucson, Arizona, shop's transition to flex and rigid-flex boards. They discussed the process that this move has entailed, what services OEMs are seeking in a flex manufacturer, and some of the biggest challenges and successes they've seen so far with flex circuits. Barry Matties: Kim, tell us a little about your background. Kim O'Neil: This is my 40th year in printed cir- cuits. I started out at Sperry Flight Systems as a laminator and a plater. I moved to Digital Equip- ment Corporation in the Tempe, Arizona area when they bought a facility there, and I was a part of the startup team for that. Then I had a short time at a shop in Stockton, California. From there, I went to work at Continental Cir - cuits Corporation (C3) in Tempe. It was a great experience participating as that company grew. After 12 years, I went to Teradyne in San Diego, where they were starting up a back-panel shop. I thought we were going to stay there, but unfor - tunately in 2001, the crunch came, and they closed the shop. In 2003, I got a call from Jim Simpson, the GM at Prototron, and he offered me this position. I've been here for 15 years. Matties: Please tell us a little bit about Proto- tron Tucson. O'Neil: Prototron Circuits in Tucson has been open since 1999. One of our niches is that about 30% of our orders are on specialty material in the RF microwave world. We've run polyimide almost every day, and we thought that flex and rigid-flex would be a natural evolution for us. It turns out they were, and we've had some great success. Matties: What are the challenges that you've bumped into regarding producing flex? O'Neil: I think it's just working with these thin- ner materials. We had to adapt some of our equipment to work with the thinner materials,

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