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58 The PCB Design Magazine • November 2016 we have the right recipe to be very competitive with high quality and support. Matties: If you fast-forward to today, what's the result of all of that? Warren: Well, we've already exceeded our tar- gets in terms of sales on the RF side of the busi- ness for 2016. Like I said, RF and microwave is a different beast—a different material, but Sun- stone has the people to make it successful. Matties: When you talk about RF, are you talking about actually manufacturing RF boards? Because that would be new, compared to what you guys have been doing. Warren: Correct, we have added customers in the communication, testing and wireless space that require the use of high frequency low loss materials. With these designs, there is a lot tight- er dimensional tolerancing for the board and internal routs. Tighter control on line widths, spacing and registration, surface finish require- ments, material movement and more. Matties: All the manufacturing issues come into play, right? Warren: Yes. It's a totally different material compared to FR-4. You have the 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000 materials. Some of the materials are almost like working with Silly Putty. The mate- rial moves when subject to heat and mechani- cal processes, and the thickness of the material presented new and challenging handling and conveying processes. Previously the thinnest Rogers material board that we were building was on 20 mil Rogers 4350, which is a fairly rigid material. Now we're down to sub 3-mil Duroid materials with no rigidity. Matties: How does this change the product mix for you? Sunstone was well known for being an online vendor, but this is not necessarily an online pur- chase. People that are buying RF boards probably need more service or more communication. Warren: The reason we got into quickturn on- line was to differentiate ourselves in a new and disruptive way. We knew we couldn't compete with offshore pricing, especially for volume. We're just not a big facility. On the other hand, we have a great team; the average tenure of our employees is about 13.5 years, and we knew that the offshore people couldn't compete with our extreme customer service, our experience and our ability to rapidly turn quickturn prototypes at a competitive price. They couldn't compete with the short lead times, the service and our ability to do it day after day with world class quality and on time delivery. Now with the ad- dition of the RF product and the complexity of PCBs increasing, we're responding by adding resources to our sales and support teams that will be able to communicate with the engineers and be able to see issues early in the process that could get overlooked in a 'run as sent' online order. Matties: The problem I always see with online cus- tomers is you don't have a great relationship with the customer. You have a relationship with their credit card number. Warren: This is true, but we're taking a different approach now. We're changing our sales and support structure to be more responsive to cus- tomers, adding the personal relationship build- ing with our customers to evolve our partner- ship to a more productive two way street model. From the customer's perspective, when you're doing business with a company, your livelihood is on the line. You want to make sure they're go- ing to get the job done for you. Our quality rat- ing is consistently within the 99.5% plus range. SUNSTONE CIRCUITS MAKES SHIFT IN STRATEGY, OFFERINGS " With these designs, there is a lot tighter dimensional tolerancing for the board and internal routs. "

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