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NOVEMBER 2022 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 73 the rigid-flex circuitry. Well, that metallization layer must make contact with the trace layer below it. You must create exposures on the sol- der mask between them to allow contact with ground on the trace layers. rough working with one of our customers, we developed a very complex set of analyses that allows them to do layer-to-layer analysis in rigid-flex. is is where some of the weak- nesses in other tools are. If you put a metalli- zation layer on top of a solder mask on top of a trace layer, and you have to bond them, you need to have mask openings and make sure those openings are the right size to prevent glue squeeze-out. at's an example of where we've been focused in phase one. Shaughnessy: We haven't seen much written about rigid-flex interlayer analysis. Gallant: It's really helped a lot of our custom- ers that are doing complex flex. But again, the rigidized flex, where they have a piece of FR-4 that exists on top of or in combination with other layer materials, requires a layer-to-layer specific analysis. ese are examples of the complex challenges that you won't encounter in a traditional trace analysis DFM. I call this phase one because we're working to expand our analysis to create even more efficient tools to analyze rigid-flex designs. As customers work with our tools, we're fortunate that they're giving us the feedback to help us create the next generation of DFM tools for rigid-flex. Shaughnessy: You talked about phase one. What is phase two? Gallant: ere's much more that we can do for rigid-flex. We already provide analysis for vias, bends, and trace corners in bend areas. We currently analyze for other potential fracture situations such as traces with corners or width transitions in a bend area. ere's the I-beam- ing effect—having two layers with parallel traces, one on top of the other. In rigid-flex, that's a fracture potential. Rigid-flex designers need to be able to detect the condition where you have an I-beam and you need to separate traces layer to layer. at's just one example of how we can expand our analysis. As custom- ers start to implement our tools, we're betting they'll come back looking for further enhance- ments to our analysis capabilities. Shaughnessy: It sounds like you're becoming an analysis tool company. Clark: Don't tell anyone. It's been part of our growth and responding to the needs of our customers. Shaughnessy: What other trends do you see in PCB design right now? Clark: One big challenge that many compa- nies have is their traditional PCB designers are retiring, and companies are asking, "What do we do now"? We see that the trend is for more and more of the EEs, the upstream engineers, to be doing more analysis and layout and we believe this trend will continue and even accel- Mark Gallant

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