Seven Takeaways from IPC APEX EXPO 2019

By Chris Mitchell, IPC Vice President of Global Government Relations

IPC’s most recent annual conference and trade show, IPC APEX EXPO 2019, took place in late January, and by all indications, it was among the best IPC shows ever! The overall success and quality of IPC APEX EXPO is a testament to the innovation and growth taking place in the electronics industry, as well as our members’ passion and commitment to standards development, learning opportunities, and pro-industry initiatives.

Here are my top seven take-aways from IPC APEX EXPO, from the perspective of someone whose job requires translating our highly technical industry into everyday language that policymakers and their aides can understand.

1. IPC Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) Takes Center Stage
IPC-CFX is an industry standard designed to serve as the digital backbone of electronics manufacturing companies. By simplifying and standardizing machine-to-machine communications, CFX is establishing a foundation for “Industry 4.0” applications. The surest sign of CFX’s success were the dozens of exhibitor booths sporting “CFX Supporter” placards. You couldn’t miss them on the showroom floor, nor could you miss the interest in the two full-scale CFX demonstration lines which hosted hourly tours throughout the week. To learn more, please visit or contact IPC Vice President of Standards and Technology David Bergman.

2. Sector-Specific Initiatives Paving Way for New Innovation
In a sign of how critically important electronics are in supporting the growth and innovation of other industries, IPC APEX EXPO was the venue for a well-attended executive forum on the future of automotive electronics and a separate “buzz session” on e-textiles, as well as standards committee meetings related to both. As the automotive and textile industries integrate electronics into their products in ever more creative ways, they will rely on partners like IPC to establish the necessary standards to ensure high reliability and performance. Contact Sanjay Huprikar, IPC Vice President of Solutions to learn more about our work with the automotive industry, and Chris Jorgensen, Director of Technology Transfer, about our work with the textile industry.

3. IPC-1791 QML Program Poised for Significant Growth
Also at IPC APEX EXPO, the US Department of Defense’s Executive Agent for Printed Circuit Boards hosted its annual meeting, and IPC Director of Validation Services Randy Cherry was on hand to update participants on the development of IPC-1791, Trusted Electronic Designer, Manufacturer and Assembler Requirements and its associated Qualified Manufacturers List (QML) program. The IPC-1791 standard and QML program aim to establish a trusted supplier program focused around the design, fabrication and assembly of PCBs. The existing standard will get its first revision this month, and seven companies are now participating in the beta test audits. As DoD seeks to strengthen the security and reliability of its supply chain, the IPC-1791 standard and QML program will serve as a model for DoD-industry collaboration. To get involved, contact Randy Cherry.

4. IPC Launches Education Foundation and Inspires More Than 100 San Diego-Area Students
Perhaps the most fun event of the week came when IPC hosted more than 100 San-Diego-area high school students to APEX for panel discussions, hands-on training in soldering PCBs, and tours of the expo floor. These students were so inspiring—smart, curious, and attracted to careers in STEM fields. The IPC Education Foundation, which was launched during IPC APEX EXPO, will strive to help these students succeed. As two of its first initiatives, the foundation will be partnering with several organizations to distribute a basic electronics curriculum to hundreds of high schools, and it will be creating IPC student chapters at universities and community colleges across the country. Many thanks to the IPC member companies who helped make this event a huge success, including Calumet Electronics and Weller Apex Tool Group. To learn more and get more involved, contact Colette Buscemi, IPC senior director of education.

5. Tesla CTO and Co-Founder JB Straubel Offers Insights on Growth and Innovation
JB Straubel offered IPC APEX EXPO participants a captivating recounting of the Tesla story. Four big themes stood out. First, Tesla’s founding combined the profit motive with a desire to advance environmental sustainability. Second, developing its first roadster meant Tesla had to challenge every automotive norm, with little room for fallback options. Third, improving its cars today means weighing financial and technological trade-offs. And fourth, Tesla is focused on making smart strategic investments that leverage its technological leadership in markets that can be scaled up. All four of these points are relevant to IPC members who are looking to build upon their growth and technology leadership in a very competitive global economy.

6. 2019 Looks Good for the Electronics Industry
What’s the outlook for the electronics industry in 2019? A growing number of economists are voicing concerns about the possibility of major economies edging into recession as early as this year. Political turmoil in the U.S. and Europe, coupled with global trade disputes and a slowdown in China, are doing nothing to calm fears. However, the industry members I spoke to at IPC APEX EXPO felt pretty good about 2019. Sales remain strong, companies are hiring, and the supply chain is slowly adjusting to global uncertainty.

7. IPC Government Relations Expands its Global Reach and Grassroots Program
During our IPC Government Relations Committee meeting at IPC APEX EXPO, I shared that our public affairs program continues to expand in breadth, depth and geography. We are taking on new issues, including federal support for lead-free research, and we are doing so with greater support from industry experts and seasoned policy experts in the U.S. and Europe, with additional plans for long-term, strategic engagement in Asia in 2019. To get involved, contact me and/or sign up at the Advocacy Center on our website. You can also follow me on Twitter.

These were my top take-aways from my perch atop IPC Government Relations, but it cannot be said enough: The power of IPC APEX EXPO lies in the thousands of attendees who take part in standards committees, policy committees, executive forums, buzz sessions, and professional development. And of course, many thanks to the hundreds of companies who exhibited their goods and services and brought so much excitement to the show floor.

Political Uncertainties Raise Doubts on Both Sides of Atlantic

On both sides of the Atlantic, the political waters are turbulent, creating uncertainties about the opportunities for meaningful policy actions.

In Washington, D.C., things are getting back to “normal” after a five-week government shutdown that was prompted by President’s Trump demand for a US-Mexico border wall. To end that standoff, the White House and Congress agreed to reopen the government for three weeks – until February 15 – while negotiators work out issues related to border security.

Assuming a compromise can be reached on border security – which is not certain – Congress will devote the next several months to oversight hearings, the FY 2020 budget, the defense authorization bill and annual appropriations bills. Congress could advance an infrastructure bill, but enactment of a bill remains unlikely.

In Europe, 2019 will be a crucial year for EU policy making. The upcoming EU elections will take place without the UK and are expected to lead to a more fragmented European Parliament. New political alliances will affect the leadership of the next European Commission and the policy agenda of the next five years.

Speaking of the UK, the deadline for its exit from the EU is now less than 60 days away, with no agreed-upon deal to cover the many details. Now the EU and its Member States are beginning to implement emergency preparedness plans to address what could become a major disruption in the event of a no-deal exit.

Given the near-term uncertainties, we’re focusing on long-term initiatives, relationship building, and capacity building. As always, we will be monitoring the ongoing action on our key policy issues and advocating for your interests. Please contact Chris Mitchell if you have any questions or suggestions.

Tell Us Your IPC Member Story at IPC APEX EXPO 2019

IPC will soon roll out a new membership campaign that will focus on how the electronics industry builds the electronics that improve the quality of life for billions around the globe.

And we want help from IPC members.

Do you have a story to tell about how IPC membership has helped your organization consistently deliver high-quality, high-reliability products that keep us safer, more secure, improve our health or simply make our lives better? If so, we’d like to interview you onsite at IPC APEX EXPO 2019. We are seeking submissions, from which we will choose 8–10 people to record on camera in one-on-one sessions throughout the day on Monday, January 28.

If you are interested, please complete our online form. IPC will review submissions and reach out to those selected by Sunday, January 27, to schedule your session and provide additional details. Please note: you must already be registered for IPC APEX EXPO 2019 to participate.

Thank you in advance for your interest!

The IPC Membership Team

Become an IPC Workforce Champion

Calling all IPC members in the United States: Become an IPC Workforce Champion — Make your company’s pledge today!

IPC Digital Factory at IPC APEX EXPO 2019 to Spotlight Real-world Implementation of IPC CFX Standard

by David Bergman, vice president, Standards and Training

If you had the chance to align your EMS facility with Industry 4.0, set up seamless data communication between all equipment on your line – even conveyors – and be able to track production on all the equipment from any part of the world, would you do it? If you are a machine vendor, would you like to get out of the business of developing and managing bespoke interfaces for your customer? As an OEM, what would you think about one communication software to provide an added dimension over real-time control of product quality, from board assembly to box build?

What if I told you the entry cost for such a communication-enabling software is available at the low, low IPC price of exactly zero dollars? Would it sweeten the deal if I told you that you could plug this software into your existing line in one day?

IPC CFX communication software for smart production (IPC-2591) and HERMES standard for machine-to-machine communication (IPC-HERMES-9852) are industry-developed standards forming the foundation and backbone of Industry 4.0 Applications. IPC CFX-HERMES simplifies and standardizes machine-to-machine communication while also facilitating machine-to-business and business-to-machine solutions.

During IPC APEX EXPO 2019 in San Diego, California, January 29-31, 2019, IPC will demonstrate two live production lines using this standard software in the IPC Digital Factory on the show floor. One line will utilize both HERMES for machine-to-machine communication and CFX for output messages to the cloud, and the second line will utilize CFX.

The HERMES-CFX line will run printed boards of different sizes through the following process sequence using equipment from a variety of manufacturers. We will use boards of different sizes so you can see the power of HERMES, as it communicates upstream to equipment so it can automatically adjust for the new board size. The CFX line will run the same boards through a separate line, and it will use additional equipment as a demonstration of the compatibility of the software.

You will also be able to follow both production lines—in real time—from your mobile device. This will provide you a real-world view of how you will be able to utilize the data reporting from CFX and HERMES in your own facilities.

HERMES-CFX line sequence
Laser marker – ASYS Group
Screen printer – ASM
Solder paste inspection – Saki
Pick and place – Kulick & Soffa
Reflow oven – Heller
Post-over conveyor – Nutek
Post-reflow AOI – Koh Young
X-ray – Test Research, Inc.
ICT – Keysight
Output conveyor – Nutek

CFX line sequence
Input conveyor – Flexlink
Dispense robot – OK International
Solder paste inspection – Koh Young
Pick and place – Fuji
Reflow oven – Heller
Post-oven conveyor – Flexlink
Post-reflow AOI – Pemtron
X-ray – Creative Electron
Buffer conveyor – Flexlink
Inspection conveyor – Flexlink
Rework center – OK International

Each line will run throughout each day of IPC APEX EXPO, so you will have time to see for yourself the simplicity and power of IPC CFX and HERMES. For instance:

It provides a level playing field for smaller companies
Because this is an industry standard and available at no cost, with very little work to be done to implement, you can use the same software as larger, globally located companies.

All manufacturers will save time and money
Developing your own communications software, especially for multi-vendor equipment lines, can cost upwards or $30,000 and take up to a full business quarter to implement. IPC CFX and HERMES are free to industry and can be implemented in a day.

Reduce or eliminate customer follow-up for software issues
One of the IPC Connected Factory Initiative Subcommittee members, who works on the software development side, communicated the ease of CFX and HERMES implementation. He directed one of his customers to the software and the customer loaded and implemented it without the need for technical support.

The software serves as a building block for enhanced production tracking
IPC CFX and HERMES are written in a way that a company can very easily and inexpensively add app-like functionalities for such things as materials traceability or quality improvement.

Adaptable enough for even hand soldering tools
One of the Digital Factory participants, OK International, found a way to make CFX, which was written for MS .Net, work in Linux. Not only does this present even more possibilities for industry participation, they even implemented it into hand soldering tools.

On-demand, real-time data on any piece of equipment worldwide
EMS companies looking to place orders or report to OEM customers on project statuses will be able to see the activity of any piece of equipment in any facility in any part of the world from their computer or handheld device.

These are just a handful examples of the simplicity, value and power of IPC CFX and HERMES.
Visit the IPC Digital Factory during IPC APEX EXPO 2019 to see these standards in action.

IPC Digital Factory
San Diego Convention Center – Sails Pavilion
Tuesday, January 29, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Wednesday, January 30, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Thursday, January 31, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Join the IPC 2-17 Subcommittee Meeting at IPC APEX EXPO
You can learn more about these two standards and how you can shape their direction by attending the 2-17 Connected Factory Initiative Subcommittee meeting during the show. The subcommittee will meet Monday, January 28, 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM in room 17A at the convention center. The meeting is open to anyone.

For more details about IPC CFX-HERMES, the live production line or the 2-17 meeting, e-mail me at

How is the U.S. Government Shutdown Affecting Your Business?

by Ken Schramko, senior director, North American government relations

You have probably seen news reports about the various ways that the U.S. Government partial shutdown is affecting “regular people.”

So we were wondering: How it is affecting the electronics industry, if at all? How is it affecting your company?

Please help us by taking a minute now to answer an IPC survey on this issue. Your answers will help us understand the situation better and advocate on your behalf. We’ll publish the results here in about 7-10 days and alert you in an upcoming edition of IPC Global Insight, IPC’s weekly e-newsletter.

In the meantime, this two-page document from our colleagues at Prime Policy provides an overview of which government agencies and functions are most affected. To cite just a few examples: About 95% of the U.S. EPA’s staff are on furlough; as are about half the staff at the White House office that reviews and approves pending regulations. The State Department will keep issuing passports and visas until they run out of funds; and taxpayers will not have services to help with taxes.

Fabrication and Assembly Challenges to be Covered at the Executive Forum for Advancing Automotive Electronics at IPC APEX EXPO 2019

Are you building military boards or circuits for 5G? If so, reliability is of paramount importance and you should consider attending IPC’s Executive Forum for Advancing Automotive Electronics and learn what is being done to improve reliability, what high voltage tests are being conducted, and what new materials and process chemicals have been developed to produce fine lines and dissipate heat.

Tier 1 providers will discuss what is expected and what they are doing to improve reliability. Industry icons from Asia and Europe will join American leaders to provide information to help you meet tomorrow’s fabrication and assembly challenges. This not-to-be-missed event will be held at IPC APEX EXPO 2019 on January 28 in San Diego.

Registration information for the Executive Forum on Advancing Automotive Electronics is available online at

For further information, contact Forum Chairman Gene Weiner at or Tracy Riggan, senior director, IPC Member Support at

Join the Weak Microvia Interface Open Forum During IPC APEX EXPO

The IPC V-TSL-MVIA Weak Interface Microvia Failures Technology Solutions Subcommittee formed in 2018 to identify the need to identify the risks, causes, and mitigation of failures due to a weak interface between the plated copper at the bottom of a microvia and the underlying copper surface.

The subcommittee will hold an open forum during IPC APEX EXPO for industry to discuss this important topic and how industry can come together to address it. Attendees will be invited to share their own issues regarding the weak microvia interface and will learn how to participate on the subcommittee.

IPC Weak Microvia Interface Open Forum
Wednesday, January 30
10:15 AM to 12:00 PM
San Diego Convention Center
Room 11A


10:15-10:20 AM – Introduction and Organization / IPC Solutions Committee Logistics
Chris Jorgensen, IPC staff

10:20-10:30 AM – Background: History of the effort, scope of work, status and organization
Marc Carter, V-TSL-MVIA Chair

10:30-10:45 AM – Presentation: Current Understanding of the Problem/Mitigation Measures
Jerry Magera and J.R. Strickland, Motorola

10:45-11:05 AM – Weak Microvia Interface Project Subteam Reports
• Data Collation and Mining on the Issue
Happy Holden
Using results of tests already conducted by various organizations to establish “knowns” vs. “unknowns” for further study and/or confirmation

• FMEA “Fishbone”

Presentation on what the group has done so far, the categories and that we need volunteer experts to help fill in that information

• Engineering Simulation
Marc Carter

Initial high-level model debugging
Incorporating data collation and Fishbone targets going forward

11:05-11:30 AM – Next Steps and Goals
• Near term:
o Breakout teams (plan for Thursday working meeting based on Fishbone)
Marc Carter
o Published literature and public data “mining” effort
Mike Carano, V-TSL Committee Chair
• Middle term:
o Knowns/Unknowns: Can any intermediate conclusions or improved mitigation techniques be communicated in another white paper?
o Identify Testing Needed: Gaps and confirmation
o Capture suggestions from the floor (continue during Q&A/Discussion)
• Long term: Prevention: Can it be accomplished through design, process enhancements, etc.?

11:30AM-12:00PM – Q&A Session and How to Get Involved

The IPC V-TSL-MVIA Weak Interface Microvia Failures Technology Solutions Subcommittee formed as a result of work done on IPC-WP-023. Order IPC-WP-023, IPC Technology Solutions White Paper on Performance-Based Printed Board OEM Acceptance Via Chain Continuity Reflow Test: The Hidden Reliability Threat – Weak Microvia Interface from the IPC bookstore.

For more information on the IPC V-TSL-MVIA Subcommittee, e-mail me at

Join the IPC E-Textiles Standards Group in Europe

By Chris Jorgensen, director, technology transfer

IPC has received interest from several volunteers in Europe to form an e-textiles standards interest group in Europe. Volunteers from this group would meet to influence IPC standards activities, form working groups to develop new IPC standards and to network under the umbrella of developing standards.

If you would like to be added to the roster for this interest group, so you can stay abreast of its activities, e-mail me at The group is open to anyone and at no cost or obligation.

For more information on the formation of this interest group and potential working groups in Europe, as well as how to participate in other IPC e-textiles standards activities, view the slide deck from the December 13 meeting to the European e-textiles market.

Top Reasons to Attend IPC APEX EXPO 2019

IPC president and CEO John Mitchell invites you to attend IPC APEX EXPO 2019. From the show floor to the class room and all points in between, IPC APEX EXPO 2019 is THE place to be to learn, network, and conduct business.