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MARCH 2022 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 9 mance is an opportunity. Manufacturers are working on all three key features: performance, manufacturability, and price. is makes the conversation between design team and fabri- cator a multifaceted affair. As we investigated how materials are changing, we spoke in depth with Eddie Mok at WUS. Eddie is an expert in materials selection and shared some of his mar- ket research with us. e more we talked, the more Eddie's comments validated the ideas that there is a symbiosis. Technology is driv- ing materials; materials are driving technol- ogy. And fabs find themselves in the middle. In this issue, you'll find one excerpt from that wide-ranging conversation as it relates to the topic at hand. New designs—and there are a lot of them— have a wide range of choices for materials now- adays. Some materials are optimized for specific applications, such as automotive, high-speed, or RF. While that's been the case for a while now, it's safe to say that materials development to meet application-specific needs has accel- erated. And since these materials now play an active role in delivering on performance speci- fications, the selection becomes a critical engi- neering function. Mok makes the point that fabs must validate a material to add it as an offering. at validation process takes time and resources to complete. With so many new materials, the fabs are hard- pressed to validate even a few, let alone all the likely options. And yet, how can a design team get hard data on performance except to build using that material? For fabs and designers who aren't on the van- guard of high-performance design, things are a bit more stable—or so people think. But are they, really? And should they be? A PCB assem- bly's current material may be good enough, as they say, but what if a tweak in material selec- tion reduces overall manufacturing cost? What if that tweak simultaneously improves the performance of the existing design? And is it worthwhile to redesign to take full advantage of a new material? In the spirit of continuous Nolan Johnson is managing editor of PCB007 Magazine. Nolan brings 30 years of career experience focused almost entirely on electronics design and manufacturing. To contact Johnson, click here. improvement, doesn't it make sense to inves- tigate these new materials? But who to talk to, and which materials manufacturers should you pay attention to? e answers to these questions vary depend- ing upon whether you're a fabricator or a designer/engineer, of course, and on how you've structured your input materials sup- ply line. To add more detail to the applica- tions table that Mok kindly shared with us, we reached out to all the suppliers on the table, plus a couple others not on Mok's radar (as impres- sive as Mok's list of suppliers is, it doesn't rep- resent the entire industry). at is a lot to ask of any one source, to share insight on their cur- rent development activities. e rest of the fea- tures in this issue give those materials manufac- turers who submitted some space to share that work. What appears here does indeed provide a peek into the development and innovation underway. Yes, clearly the technology (both design and fabrication), and the materials themselves, are increasingly interlinked. Materials are increas- ingly becoming a part of the engineering design work. Back in the 1980s, when electronic design tools were an emerging, disruptive industry, logic simulation was one of the first "killer apps" for electrical engineers. SPICE and sophisti- cated timing simulation was right there, too. In IC design, electrical field parasitic effects calcu- lation was an early simulation application that helped design teams improve their work. Doesn't it seem time to bring material per- formance into the PCB simulation and veri- fication space? Is that our next "killer app" in PCB design? It sure seems like that would be the right bowl in which to put our peas and car- rots, don't you think? PCB007

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