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128 I-CONNECT007 I REAL TIME WITH... IPC APEX EXPO 2023 SHOW & TELL MAGAZINE "It all begins with design." Designers and design engineers have been saying this for years. But at IPC APEX EXPO 2023, PCB design and design-related issues were the focus of many committee meetings and conference classes covering manufacturing challenges. I spoke with process engineers who now spend much of their day working with their design teams to head off potential DFM and DFA problems early in the design cycle, before they become budget-busting missteps. Like- wise, designers are learning how to best opti- mize their processes for DFM and DFA. Even the classes that focused on process optimization covered some aspect of PCB design. Hearing designers and manufacturers talking to each other was refreshing; maybe this is the start of a new trend? Another topic that I heard constantly: micro- vias. Designers and fabricators, particularly in aerospace, are still having issues with micro- vias failing during reflow and then "self-repair- ing," only to fail in the field. For now, stag- gering vias seems to be the only workaround. Staggering, of course, reduces available real estate, which is counter to the reason you'd select microvias in the first place. There are many trade-offs in high-speed design now. In fact, "trade-off " was a buzz- word that I heard from designers, fabricators, and assembly providers alike throughout the week. While trade-offs are a given in the PCB community, even process steps we once took for granted now have to be closely assessed. Despite these challenges, everyone I inter- viewed or talked with off the record was A Design for the Times by Andy Shaughnessy • I-CONNECT007 show review

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