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32 The PCB Design Magazine • January 2015 I've been thinking over what 2015 might look like, from my point of view at a PCB fab- rication company. Let me first start out with some broad overviews of trends from 2014 that I see continuing. 1. More RF work. Whether it's phased arrays or waveguides, ID tags or implants, it's not just cell phones and tablets that require this technology; we're seeing more young people gravitating towards careers in RF design and ap- plications. From a fabrication standpoint, I see a lot more people are asking the right questions: • How do I ensure the highest degree of positional accuracy for a given feature? • How do I make sure a fabricator will not trim back any RF launches I may need in an effort to avoid rout burring? By its very nature, RF is different in many ways at the fabrication level. For instance, as fabricators we may be more concerned with space or air-gap issues based on etching, but in an RF world, geometry is everything, in both metal and non-metal areas. All calculations and estimates are based on very specific metal and anti-metal geometries, and they need to be as perfect as they can be. Material substitutions can require an entire rethink of an RF design. Small variations like surface topography post- via fill /planarization can create unwanted vari- ations as well. This applies all the way down to little things that everyone is starting to embrace, like specify- ing a starting or finished copper weight on draw- ings and "read-me" notes. Typically, the word "weight" means a STARTING copper weight pri- or to final plate-up for through-hole continu- ity. The use of the word "finished" means cop- per foil AND the associated electroplated final plate-up. This needs to be clearly understood. Many times customers will run simulations and calculations based on 1 oz finish after plate. Please note: Whereas many offshore fabricators have no problem doing this, remember that IPC feature coulmn by Mark Thompson, CID ProToTron CIrCuITS THE BARE (BOARD) TRuTH What Will 2015 Bring?

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