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112 I-CONNECT007 I REAL TIME WITH... IPC APEX EXPO 2020 SHOW & TELL MAGAZINE representing varied specialties in the industry. It will be exciting to continue offering this pro- gram and seeing it grow." I was also involved with the community of interest meetings discussing semi-additive PCB processes. This session was by invitation and included a cross-section from all areas of the electronics supply chain: OEMs, designers, fab- ricators, EMS companies, and materials suppli- ers. This semi-additive PCB process is enabling PCB fabricators to provide previously unat- tainable line width and space of 25 microns and below, effectively resetting the technology curve. And, as with any new emerging tech- nology, this has impacts and opportunities throughout the supply chain. The format for this session was a bit unique. The first 20 minutes featured an overview of the technology itself, the industrialization progress, and a discussion of the need for these capabilities from the DoD Executive Agent for PCBs and a large DoD prime contractor. Fol- lowing this technology introduction, the group was broken into smaller topic groups to facili- tate discussion. Although you could see that the concept of smaller group discussion was a little unexpected, the chatter in the room was quickly evident as everyone was actively involved in their discussion groups. In fact, it was challenging to cut off that chatter to finish the session with a large group discussion. Two primary discussion areas emerged. First, there is a definite need for this technology for next-generation electronics. Today's complex pinouts are pushing PCB technology to stacked microvias and multiple lamination cycles. This drives up the complexity of the PCB fabrication, which drives cost, but perhaps as importantly, the continued microvia reliability issues are of considerable concern throughout the industry. The semi-additive process enables much finer feature sizes and opens design opportunities previously unavailable. Just scratching the surface on application potential, the resulting reduction in layer count and lamination cycles is garnering much attention, and the opportu- nities for improved RF performance are being reviewed and considered. Second, there is a need for rapid industri- alization. There were four PCB fabricators in attendance who are actively implementing this technology within their facilities: Calumet Electronics, American Standard Circuits, Firan Technology Group (FTG), and the PCB fabrica- tion facility at NSWC Crane. The message from OEMs in attendance to accelerate this industri- alization process was clear. They are ready and willing to investigate and invest in the devel- opment of this technology. Although changing the way the copper traces are created, this pro- cess integrates well with traditional subtractive etch processes such as electroless and electro- less copper tanks. The fabricators in atten- dance were also clear that they were searching for designs to build and utilize to gather reli- ability test data throughout the implementa- tion process. All welcomed conversation and the opportunity to work collaboratively with designers to navigate this learning curve and develop best practices. Flying home from the IPC APEX EXPO, I found myself excited about the new things I have learned, the time spent with industry friends, and introductions to new friends with the prom- ise of continued discussion. Thanks to IPC for all the hard work and effort that goes into creat- ing this content-rich technical program, hosting and coordinating standards committee sessions, and providing networking opportunities for the electronics supply chain. S&T Tara Dunn is the president of Omni PCB, a manufacturer's rep firm specializing in the PCB industry.

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