Feb 14, 2017

Circuitnet's Ask The Experts

Circuitnet's Ask The Experts
Circuitnet covers news and information from the world of electronics manufacturing. Circuitnet publishes a daily email newsletter with links to the most important and timely news for people involved in Electronics Manufacturing Industry. In addition, Circuitnet provides an on-line "Ask the Experts" forum to educate and help people involved in the electronics manufacturing industry challenged by daily manufacturing problems.

Background - "Ask the Expert"
Circuitnet's on-line question and answer forum was initiated in 2006. To date, there are some 200 industry volunteer experts who have answered approximately 800 submitted questions!

The experts work in industries ranging from military, aerospace, telecommunications, to consumer products. Many are active members of relevant industry organizations (e.g., IPC, SMTA, IEEE).

If you have ever asked yourself "What do I need to know about electronics manufacturing" or if you have a specific electronics manufacturing question - don't be surprised. Many who work in this industry face the same or similar questions. A large number of engineers and technicians work diligently to solve problems every day. "Ask the Experts" is a source of information that provides answers, responses and solutions to various electronics manufacturing issues.

Circuitnet's Ask The Experts
How to submit a question to "Ask the Experts"?
From the Circuitnet homepage, the reader can click on the "Ask the Experts" link. This will navigate to the "Ask the Experts" question submission page.

From here the reader can page through the "Questions Index" for questions previously submitted. You can drill down on each question excerpt to see the question in its entirety and the comments from the experts who have responded. By clicking on the "Experts Panel" link, the reader can scroll through the individuals who have provided responses. There is also a link to submit a question. We are also continuously looking for new volunteers to "Join the Panel."

IPC - Electronics Assembly & Design Standards Conventions
Looking at all the "Ask The Expert" questions submitted to Circuitnet (to date), what issues are of greatest concern? What are the most common questions and topics? To help categorize the questions, we turned to the IPC Standards Tree (April 2016), which is a graphic representation of how IPC standards work together and categorizes the IPC standards according to assembly and design technologies and processes used in the electronics manufacturing industry.

Each question was analyzed and grouped according to the categories in the IPC Standards Tree and another category, Test, which is not called out in the IPC Standards Tree diagram. For purposes of this exercise, the Test category was used to group questions pertaining to AOI (Automated Optical Inspection), AXI (Automated X-Ray Inspection), ICT (In-circuit Test), FP (Flying Probe), EOL (End of Line Test), ESS (Environmental Stress Test), Counterfeit Authentication and Failure Analysis. The categories are outlined below, for reference.
Circuitnet's Ask The Experts
IPC Standards Tree
  1. Terms and Definitions
  2. Technology Roadmap*
  3. Design
    ▪ Assembly
    • Interfaces
      • Printed Board
  4. Electronics Assembly
    ▪ Acceptance
    ▪ Assembly
    • Solderability
    • Packages
    • Cables & Wire Harness
    • Optoelectronics
    • Assembly Support
    • Assembly Materials
      • Flux/Solder
      • Adhesives
      • Coat/Mask/Marking
    • Printed Electronics
    • EHS/Management
    • Printed Board/Acceptance
      • Laminate
        • Rigid
        • Flex
        • HDI
        • Foil
        • Reinforcement
      • Embedded Technologies
    • Components
    • Surface Finish Specs
    • Cleaning/Cleanliness
    • Electronics Enclosures
  5. Test
    • AOI/AXI
    • Counterfeit/Authentication
    • Failure Analysis

Most Common Topics for "Ask the Experts"
The submitted questions and topics were analyzed and categorized to identify which issues are most inquired about. A list of the most common topics submitted to "Ask the Experts" was generated. The top five most common topics are as follows:
  1. Solder Issues
  2. Cleaning/Cleanliness Issues
  3. IPC Specifications
  4. Components - specifically Ball Grid Array (BGA) Issues
  5. Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Issues

Conclusion to be drawn - from "Ask The Expert" data
One could conclude that because these issues are frequently asked about, these problems continue to occur and solutions are sought. There are various strategies that abound in the Electronics Manufacturing Industry which may be built into an organization's *technology roadmap:
  • Industry 4.0
  • SMART Factory
  • Six Sigma/Lean/KPI
  • DFx - Design For x
  • Automation
  • ERP - Enterprise Resource Planning
  • IPC Training
  • Analysis Laboratory
  • Adding Experts?

This feature article was written by:

Mark Northrup, VP of Technology
IEC Electronics
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