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38 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2022 It makes a lot of sense: During times when the supply chain is stretched to the breaking point—and the last few years certainly qual- ify—what if PCB designers created boards that used fewer components and less laminate? Do PCBs still have to be 0.062" thick? Why not reduce layer count while they're at it? Andy Shaughnessy and Nolan Johnson spoke with I-Connect007 columnist Dana Korf about the idea of designing a PCB with material con- servation in mind. Is it a great new idea, or are we opening a whole new can of worms and a separate group of problems? Andy Shaughnessy: Dana, our August design issue focuses on material conservation, which has become a topic of conversation during the supply chain snafu. It seems simple—let's just use fewer components and less laminate, right? What are your thoughts on that? You were working at this huge volume level in China, where saving a few ounces of copper or a few components here and there could mean millions of dollars. Was conserving materials something on your radar screen? Designing for Material Conservation Means Changing Attitudes Dana Korf: Actually, I just saw an interest- ing email this morning that included Happy Holden on that subject. e one comment that struck me was someone saying that boards don't have to be 0.062" thick anymore; that was set in the 1950s. Can we make thinner boards? Use thinner materials? Consume less of everything? at's a very interesting com- ment. But they're right; we're stuck on a 1950s architecture, basically. And in a regular FR-4 board, traditionally the material cost is about 16-20% of the total cost. With high-performance boards, it could be 80% of the board cost. People drive to use lower-end materials because as performance goes up, that ratio goes up. Could we use thin- ner materials and consume less? at's one of the big advantages of 3D printing for circuit boards—we don't waste anything. You don't rout out a panel. You don't use layers. You print your trace of any X, Y, Z fashion you want, so you don't need to drill holes and you don't con- sume drill bits, copper plating chemistries, etc. at very topic is one nice advantage about the 3D world; it's one of the side advantages. Feature Interview by the I-Connect007 Editorial Team

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