Crowded Congressional Calendar Affects Industry Priorities

By Chris Mitchell, vice president, global government relations

More than five months remain in 2019, but U.S. congressional leaders are already running out of time as they face a long list of must-pass bills before year’s end. Although some of these bills do not affect the electronics industry, some of them do, and the overall agenda does affect the opportunities and risks we face.

Twelve annual appropriations bills, providing funding for various government agencies and programs, top the list of must-pass legislation. But first, Congress needs to approve new budget caps. Without such a deal, automatic budget cuts known as sequestration could take effect on October 1. The White House and congressional leaders have reportedly agreed on a two-year budget deal and hope to have it approved before the August recess.

The package to raise the budget caps is related to an effort to increase the nation’s debt limit. The U.S. Treasury is currently taking extraordinary measures to finance U.S. government operations and cover debt obligations, although most experts believe the Treasury can manage the situation through the end of this fiscal year, September 30.

Once the budget caps are established, congressional appropriators can get back to finalizing their spending bills. IPC is pushing for passage of regular, full-year spending bills for 2020, both for the certainty they provide and because we want Congress to carve out funding for lead-free electronics R&D.

On another front, the Trump administration is pressing Congress to act on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Like many other industry associations, IPC is urging Congress to approve the USMCA because it would help our industry grow by expanding market opportunities and supply chain integration.

The U.S. Trade Representative is working with Congress to address various concerns, and I believe the agreement may come to a vote in November or December. However, House Speaker Pelosi is unlikely to give President Trump a win on USMCA without concessions on a budget deal and/or other issues.

Here’s a rundown of congressional priorities that could see action this fall:

National Defense Authorization Act: Expect passage this fall, including several provisions of interest to the electronics industry.

Taxes: A hodgepodge of leadership-supported, tax-related bills are floating around, which could come together and create momentum to get a bill done.

Healthcare/Drug Prices: Congressional leaders are negotiating a bill to address surprise medical bills, pay-for-delay, Medicare negotiations, rebates, and more. Piecemeal reforms have bipartisan support, but any such bill could easily be derailed by partisan divisions.

Immigration: We could see enactment of legislation to adjust or eliminate the per-country caps on “green cards.” The House has already passed such a bill, and a bipartisan companion bill has been introduced in the Senate. But we should not expect to see anything more ambitious on immigration given the chasm between the White House and congressional Democrats.

Infrastructure: There is plenty of bipartisan support for the idea of an infrastructure bill, but differences on financing are likely to derail this effort as they have in the past.

Higher Ed Reauthorization: This effort is moving slowly, but bipartisan negotiations are taking place, and this is the kind of bill that Congress could take up next year despite election-year tensions.

Congress also needs to deal with several “must-pass” items just to maintain the status quo, including:

September 30, 2019 Deadline:
o Flood insurance
o Ex-Im Bank
o Highway rescission
o Secure Rural Schools program
o Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
o Delaying cuts in the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program
o Community health center funding, and other public health programs

December 31, 2019 Deadline:
o Health insurance tax
o Medical device tax
o Alcohol Beverage Tax
o Paid family and medical leave tax credit
o New Markets and Work Opportunity tax credits
o Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Authorization expires

As always, your IPC Government Relations team will continue to monitor all policy developments that affect the electronics industry and will keep you informed. Please let us know if you have any comments or questions.

A Conversation with Karen McConnell — An Emerging Engineer Program Mentor

by Linda Stepanich, multimedia writer, IPC

IPC’s Emerging Engineer program, launched in 2016, provides early career professionals an opportunity to learn from dedicated industry volunteers who participate in IPC standards development. IPC’s editorial staff had the opportunity to talk with one of those dedicated volunteers, mentor Karen McConnell, Senior Staff Engineer CAD CAM, Northrop Grumman, about why she participates as a mentor in IPC’s Emerging Engineer program.

EB: Do you think it’s important for companies to mentor new engineers? Why?

KM: When you’re a new college graduate, you have an ideal version of what design really is. You typically do not have manufacturing experience – how we build, what is needed to build it, how to navigate the requirements of manufacturing – including government requirements, EPA, foreign trade requirements – all the things that can get a less experienced engineer in trouble. These concerns can be minimized when you have a mentor. When you have a problem and need a reference, you can go to your mentor for resources and connections within your corporation. The same goes with IPC standards, information about committees – who is the right person to talk to? Without a mentor, it can take at least 5 years to figure out just how IPC works and have the connections to resolve your issue.

EB: Why did you become a mentor?

KM: Very easy – when I started my career, I was looking at IPC specs and told to design boards to them. There was nobody to talk to about what the specs meant, or what IPC was. Fast forward to my job at Lockheed Martin, where I got involved in the IPC Task Group where IPC standards were explained to me.

This task group provided guidance with navigating the IPC committee and standards. This Lockheed Martin corporate wide group shared what was going on at IPC meetings, which standard were being discussed, and made sure that all the pertinent groups were covered. As a part of this group, I covered standard meetings on topics that I was a novice. I was fortunate to be mentored by Don Dupriest and Linda Woody on what to look for during committee discussions. To really understand the committee meetings, you need someone to instruct you, to introduce you to people, and to show you how things work. I wanted to do that for someone else.

So, when the opportunity for mentorship through the IPC Emerging Engineer program became available, I was able to mentor Kevin Kusiak at Lockheed Martin, even though I’m a Northrop Grumman employee. I was able to do this because of my long involvement with IPC and history with the Defense & Aerospace industry.

I was excited about the IPC Emerging Engineer program because I like to discover new things and meet new people. When attending the networking lunches. I don’t sit with my group of friends. I learn more through osmosis at lunchtime, just listening to the conversations around me. The first year I was a mentor, I would grab Kevin to sit with me at IPC lunches, and he got involved in the discussions and met new people, which helped him tremendously in enabling new leadership roles.

EB: How was the mentoring experience? (pros and cons) What would you change about the program?

KM: Pros – I was able to create a leadership role for Kevin with the IPC-2581 User Group. The first meeting I served as Kevin’s co-chair with Gary Carter so he could have a path into leadership. My mentee assumed the leadership role of the committee his second year.

Cons – The busyness of our jobs (two different companies) didn’t allow for us to coordinate our time together. But Lockheed had two emerging engineers – Kevin and Jimmy Baccam – and they helped each other. They understood one other and they connected at IPC. I could see it happening. Unfortunately, my committee meetings were almost always scheduled when mentors and mentees were supposed to be on the show floor.

EB: Where do IPC standards fit into the mentoring process?

KM: IPC standards are the body of knowledge for printed boards. It is where you can find the information – “how do I do this? What are the rules?” All of that is contained in the IPC standards. Do I read them cover to cover? No. I understand how they link together and how they provide information on best practices. I know how to migrate through the standards to find a solution to a problem or an answer to a question. Standards provide the path to success. I am a data driven individual and standards provide me with the data and guidance I need. When you are involved in IPC committees, you get hands-on experience in understanding and changing standards, and an emerging engineer can become an innovator earlier in their career.

EB: Can you provide some insight into what is was like to be a woman in a male-dominated field?

KM: Looking back at my history, too many women were told “you can’t do that” too early. Too often women are still told “no” today. When I graduated high school, I wanted to study Electrical Engineering at Villanova. I was told that companies do not hire women engineers. So I decided to study Math, and I was told, “Schools don’t want women math teachers.” So I didn’t go to college after high school. I married and was raising my son when I enrolled in the local community college to study engineering. Nineteen years after graduating high school, I graduated from Villanova with an BSEE.

As an Electrical Engineer, I would go to conferences with attendance dominated by men. At IPC, I was able to meet women that helped me by sharing their stories and experiences – fantastic, unsung women who have paved the path. I was fortunate in my career to work for 3 companies that valued women employees. My advice to a new engineer is to find a place that encourages women – Northrop Grumman certainly does. Get to know engineers from other companies.

IPC encourages women, recognizing that women work as well, if not better, then men. I had a great mentor in Linda Woody, who told me not to worry about training an engineer who might replace me but to embrace the person who wants my job, since helping them do well will help my company in the long run and will ensure my retirement. She told me to train the young engineers to take your job. This allows you to branch out to other adventures in technology. This way we all help each other. I am so encouraged by all the young ladies participating in STEM programs.

IPC’s Women in Electronics event is a great opportunity for networking with other women. I still remember my first event. It was a breakfast and the topic was how far women have come from 1943. See 1943 Guide to Hiring Women. This annual event at IPC APEX EXPO has been moved to the evening. The number of women attending IPC meetings has increased exponentially since I first attended, and I want to encourage all women to join us at the conference and committee meetings.

EB: What advice do you have for engineers starting their careers?

KM: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. IPC Members love to share their experiences. Attend a standard meeting on a topic that you have little knowledge about. It might open the door to a future opportunity or spark an interest for a new career path. Don’t be afraid to try something different – you might like it.

For more information on how to become and IPC Emerging Engineer or Mentor, visit www.ipc.org/emerging-engineer.

 

EPA, Industry Come Together in Visit to TTM Facility

By Kelly Scanlon, director, EHS policy and research

IPC member TTM Technologies is proud to show off the new wastewater-treatment system at its Sterling, Virginia plant, which is helping to enhance the company’s pollution prevention and resource recovery performance.

Last week, a group of staff members from the U.S. EPA’s Smart Sectors Program and Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention toured the Sterling site to see the new system and learn about printed circuit board fabrication. The visit, arranged by IPC, was designed to build relationships, improve mutual understanding, and reinforce our industry’s role as a trusted source of expertise on environmental leadership.

The Smart Sectors Program, located within EPA’s Office of Policy, serves as an ombudsman across program offices within the EPA. They provide a platform to collaborate with industry and develop sensible approaches to environmental regulation. The Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention implements the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and works to reduce waste and promote cleaner, safer workplaces, homes, and schools.

From IPC’s perspective, the visit was valuable because the electronics industry is involved in the Smart Sectors Program and is regulated under TSCA. The gathering even helped break down silos between the offices at EPA, which do not meet on a regular basis.

During a briefing and a walk around the facility, the attendees learned about TTM’s ongoing practices to minimize water use, minimize generation of hazardous wastes, and increase recycling. They also saw the wastewater-treatment ion-exchange (WWT-IX) system, which went online earlier this year, resulting in even cleaner wastewater and greater reclamation of valuable metals.

IPC has long advocated for streamlining data reporting requirements for PCB fabricators whose byproducts are recycled offsite, as is the case with TTM. IPC praised a recent EPA proposal to reduce such burdens but called for further refinements to achieve greater efficiencies.

Charles Nehrig, Director of Environmental, Health and Safety for TTM’s Aerospace & Defense Specialty Business Unit, said TTM sees its responsibility to provide accurate data to regulators as critical to its company-wide lean management system. As the visitors saw displayed in huge letters on the EHS wall of the facility’s “war room,” TTM prioritizes EHS activities and results and recognizes employees for their efforts to reduce EHS risks.

Nena Shaw, EPA Smart Sectors Program Director, said the site visit was “super helpful” in gaining “an on-the-ground understanding of the printed circuit board manufacturing processes as well as an improved understanding of specific issues such as metals byproducts reporting.”

Thanks again to our friends at TTM for hosting and at EPA for coming!

Does your company have a great story to tell? Let us know. IPC sponsors site visits for policymakers to build greater understanding of our industry and its challenges and opportunities.

Help Us Help You: Does Your Company Use Any of These Chemicals?

By Kelly Scanlon, IPC Director, EHS Policy and Research

IPC is seeking insights from its members regarding the use of several specific chemicals in their operations. From now through the end of December, the U.S. EPA will release draft risk evaluations for 10 chemicals. IPC will have opportunities to engage with policy makers during this period and submit comments for the public record.

The chemicals are:
• Asbestos, Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CASRN): 1332-21-4
• 1-Bromopropane, CASRN: 106-94-5;
• Carbon Tetrachloride, CASRN: 56-23-5;
• 1,4-Dioxane, CASRN: 123-91-1;
• Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD), CASRNs: 25637-99-4; 3194-55-6; and 3194-57-8;
• Methylene Chloride, CASRN: 75-09-2
• N-Methylpyrrolidone, CASRN: 872-50-4
• Perchloroethylene, CASRN: 127-18-4
• Pigment Violet 29, CASRN: 81-33-4
• Trichloroethylene, CASRN: 79-01-6

The EPA will use the information received from the public – including IPC and its member companies – to inform the final risk evaluations for these chemicals as required under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Section 6(b). The purpose of a risk evaluation is to determine whether a chemical presents an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment under normal conditions of use. To that end, each risk evaluation includes hazard and exposure assessments, risk characterization, and a risk determination.

Please help IPC’s government relations team help you by letting me know how you use these chemicals in your electronics processing activities. Thank you!

Economic and Market Conditions Drive Industry Optimism While Labor Force Issues Lead Negative Drivers

By Sharon Starr, director, market research

IPC’s second-quarter 2019 Pulse of the Electronics Industry survey results indicated a bump in the positive impact of economic and market conditions. Sixty-one percent of the respondents’ open-ended comments about what is driving industry growth cited economic, market or demand growth. Some of these comments mentioned the impact of tariffs and reshoring. On balance, however, trade and tariff issues were far more often cited as conditions that are increasing costs and limiting growth. Among negative impacts on the industry, trade and tariff issues are second only to labor force issues.

The third-quarter survey is now online and open until July 19.

Saying Yes to Opportunities: IPC’s Emerging Engineer Program Offers Career Growth for Electronics Industry Newcomers

What makes the IPC Emerging Engineer Program a premier networking and career enriching program? IPC staff spoke to Emerging Engineer Kate Stees, materials & process engineer, Lockheed Martin, about her experience in the program and why she recommends it to other engineers.

IPC: Why did you choose to enroll in IPC’s Emerging Engineer program?

Stees: I attended an IPC committee meeting for the first time in 2017. As a newcomer, it was challenging to follow what was happening in the meetings, as well as a little intimidating with so many industry experts in the room. Nonetheless, I knew I wanted to get involved in the IPC standards development process, so I volunteered for an action item. Shortly after, I was approached by the IPC liaison from that committee. She told me about the EE program, and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to learn about IPC standards development from experienced IPC members.

IPC: What have you learned about IPC standards and your role in creating/revising/ them?

Stees: I knew that IPC standards are created and updated by committee members, but I didn’t realize how much power each committee member has in the standards development, until I joined the EE program. All you have to do is get involved!

IPC: How has meeting and working with a mentor helped you in your career?

Stees: I was lucky enough to have two very knowledgeable mentors. My first year of the Emerging Engineer program, my assigned mentor was unable to make IPC APEX EXPO. I was concerned, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because another experienced IPC member volunteered to be my substitute mentor. Both mentors are very highly respected individuals both at the company I work for and in the IPC community, and it was an honor to learn from them. They were very proactive in helping me navigate the committee meetings and introducing me to the key individuals. I now have a better understanding of the IPC standards, as well as two great resources at work– one on the printed wiring board side and another on the circuit card assembly side.

IPC: What is the most valuable aspect of the Emerging Engineer program?

Stees: The most valuable aspect of the Emerging Engineer program is that it ‘forces’ you to network with anyone and everyone at the IPC events. For example, for our first year in the program one of the program tasks was to take selfies at different events. This included taking selfies with IPC members, IPC committee liaisons and other IPC employees, show floor vendors, technical presenters, etc. I do not like selfies, especially selfies with people I just met – how awkward is that! However, I am so glad I did it. The selfies forced me to break the ice — I now had an excuse to form valuable connections with others at the IPC events.

IPC: Having learned from the program, what advice would you give to engineers who are just starting their careers?

Stees: This is my third and final year of the Emerging Engineer program. I am currently a vice-chair and an A-Team lead for a large committee. I did not envision this three years ago; I just said yes to the opportunities that made me feel uncomfortable and challenged me. My advice to the engineers that are starting their careers is to take the opportunities that make you step out of your comfort zone because that is the only way one can grow.

IPC: What, if anything, would you change about the program?

Stees: The Emerging Engineer program is catered towards the individuals with less than five years of industry experience. I think it would be great to have a similar program for those individuals that are in the mid-career range but have not had an opportunity to get involved with the IPC until recently.

IPC: What opportunities does IPC’s Emerging Engineer program afford you that you could not have experienced on your own?

Stees: The opportunity to kick-start your participation in IPC standards development. In addition to all the valuable knowledge and connections, the program also provides you with a complimentary All-Access Package registration to IPC APEX EXPO for three years and complimentary IPC SummerCom registration. This gives an engineer early in their career valuable leverage when trying to justify the initial travel to such events.

Now accepting applications for the 2020 Emerging Engineer Program and a limited number of University Student positions are available! If you’re interested in applying for or learning more about the Emerging Engineer program, please email us at careerdevelopment@ipc.org. Deadline for applications is November 15, 2019.

Seven Highlights from IPC’s SummerCom from a Government Relations Perspective

By Chris Mitchell, Ken Schramko, and Kelly Scanlon, IPC government relations team

Last week, IPC hosted SummerCom, our semi-annual standards development committee meetings, in Raleigh, North Carolina. The event brought together thousands of technical experts from around the world to shape the product, manufacturing, and supply-chain standards that guide our industry.

The three of us – U.S.-based members of IPC’s Government Relations (GR) team – participated in some of the meetings and had seven top take-aways.

1. Industry volunteers are the heart of IPC. IPC standards are developed through the collaboration of thousands of industry volunteers. Their expertise, insights, and support are essential to the success of IPC’s standards, and it is always great to see IPC leaders come together, especially when we have the opportunity to honor those who have made significant contributions to the industry.

2. IPC standards are key to helping member stay on top of environmental and supply-chain regulations. IPC standards committees are on the front lines of understanding and complying with the dizzying array of ever-changing environmental regulations that affect global and domestic supply chains. The Supplier Declaration Subcommittee and the IPC-175x task groups are working to ensure that our members are able to comply with these regulations in the most efficient manner by building flexible frameworks and data exchange models.

3. Industry is tackling microvia reliability concerns. Industry representatives discussed concerns related to microvia reliability and agreed to share the work of understanding the scope of the issue and advancing solutions and standards. Interested in getting involved in this important work? IPC Contact: Chris Jorgensen

4. IPC task group moves closer to final conflict minerals data exchange standard. The IPC 2-18H task group addressed comments received on the standard’s final draft, and now it plans to vote on a final revision this summer. IPC will be working to see that this standard is recognized by the European Commission as an applicable “supply chain due diligence scheme.” Separately, IPC is in talks with the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM) to promote collaboration on this issue.

5. The U.S. Executive Agent (EA) for PCBs affirmed the importance of “trusted supplier” programs. IPC, the EA, and the defense contractor community worked together to create a “trusted supplier” standard, known as IPC-1791. Based on this standard, IPC is now providing validation services for members of the IPC-1791 Qualified Manufacturers List (QML). The EA detailed efforts to grow the importance and value of the 1791 program, which coincides with wider efforts within the U.S. DoD to ensure reliable supply chains. To learn more about IPC-1791, contact our colleague Randy Cherry.

6. Workforce shortage remains top industry challenge. No matter where we travel, we hear the same refrain from industry colleagues: The shortage of workers is restraining growth and opportunity. IPC is working to address this issue through our jobs task analysis, credentialing, and STEM education programs. The IPC GR team is advocating for public-private career, technical and adult education (CTE) programs, as well as the expansion of industry-recognized apprenticeship programs. IPC members are also undertaking their own innovative programs. Be sure to tell us about your company’s efforts to bolster the workforce so that we can recognize and share them with the rest of industry. Also, don’t forget to mentor or be mentored in IPC’s Emerging Engineer Program.

7. IPC Government Relations poised to better support standards committees. IPC’s standards committees are taking on many daunting challenges, some of which are related directly or indirectly to public policy. For example, the Halogen-Free Materials Subcommittee is beginning the revision of a seminal white paper on halogen-free alternatives, which is related to EPA’s implementation of the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act. Halogenated, flame-retardant chemicals like decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE) and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) are being considered for risk evaluations and risk-management strategies. IPC’s Government Relations team is working to provide policy expertise to this committee and others that are undertaking equally meaningful projects.

Check out the photos from this event, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us about the interplay of IPC standards and public policy, or any government relations matter.

What Every Electronics Company Needs to Know about Environmental Product Requirements

By Kelly Scanlon, IPC Director of Environment, Health and Safety Policy and Research

The task of monitoring and complying with environmental, health and safety (EHS) rules that affect electronics companies and their products requires a watchful eye on all levels of government: local, state, national, and international. EHS policies typically carry significant penalties for non-compliance but great rewards for high performance and proactive leadership.

To help our members navigate this landscape, IPC recently partnered with the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) to offer three, day-long educational conferences in Massachusetts, Illinois, and California on “Critical and Emerging Environmental Product Requirements.”

The policies covered were an alphabet soup of those affecting chemicals, waste management, and enforcement, including:

• EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation);
• RoHS (Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment)
• WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive);
• The Circular Economy action plan;
• Regulations affecting batteries; and
• California’s Proposition 65, officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, administered by the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).

Across the three conference locations, 120 attendees heard from industry-leading experts from ITI, Oracle, the U.K. Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment.

Attendees also had the chance to engage with colleagues from the event sponsors, including Assent Compliance, Compliance Map, Compliance & Risks, GreenSoft Technology, IHS Markit, iPoint, SiliconExpert, and Total Parts Plus.

Two major takeaways emerged:

• All jurisdictions need to work towards harmonized and simplified environmental regulations and the enforcement of those regulations, with a “stretch” goal of a globally harmonized approach to the life cycle management of chemicals and products, no matter what country, region, or state is involved.

• Industry leaders need to make proactive engagement with policy makers a routine and positive part of business; and in turn this cooperation and collaboration will promote good business and the protection of human health and the environment.

Giuseppina Luvarà, a policy officer with the Sustainable Chemicals Unit of the European DG for Environment, briefed attendees on the second REACH review, which was completed in 2018; as well as current efforts to harmonize REACH and RoHS implementation and enforcement across the EU. Luvarà highlighted new efforts to develop comprehensive frameworks on endocrine disruptors and the cumulative effects of chemicals.


How can you ensure you’re complying with the RoHS Directive? Paul Tennant, BEIS, educates attendees at the IPC and ITI Emerging & Critical Environmental Product Requirements Conference.

Paul Tennant, an enforcement manager from the Office for Product Safety and Standards within the U.K. Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), described how EU Member States are working together to address common compliance challenges for the RoHS and WEEE regulations. Tennant stressed the need for ongoing communications among Member States and between regulators and companies, with an emphasis on early consultations and dialogues.

Carl Magness, an enforcement team leader with BEIS, provided examples of how that office helps companies achieve compliance with RoHS, WEEE, and Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) regulations. He used examples of recent enforcement efforts to demonstrate how collaboration with regulators enabled the development of champions. Instead of compliance notices or prosecutions, the BEIS team favors business improvement plans to remedy problems and promote sustainable business practices.

Alexa Lee, Senior Manager for Policy from ITI, and Jennifer McLaughlin, Program Manager for Product Environmental Compliance from Oracle, highlighted changes in the RoHS, WEEE, and plastic waste management regulatory requirements and how they apply to companies who manufacture or place EEE on the market in China, Hong Kong, India, and Bangladesh. Varying equipment labels, reporting requirements, product categories, and concentration or threshold-volume “triggers” are creating an uneven and challenging landscape for companies to navigate.

Chris Cleet, Senior Director for Policy, Environment and Sustainability at ITI, took us on a tour of California’s unique requirements, specifically Proposition 65 and the Green Chemistry Initiative. He reviewed changes to Prop 65 warning labels and the increased issuance of Safe Use Determinations by OEHHA. In addition, Cleet reviewed several ecolabel and design standards that are intended to spur attention to potential life cycle impacts from EEE products, recognizing that consumer choices often drive change as much or more than regulations do.

It is the responsibility of every company to understand the EHS regulations that apply to them, but IPC will continue to be your educational resource and your advocate. To learn more about IPC’s EHS policy and research work, please e-mail me at KellyScanlon@ipc.org and/or subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter.

IPC Video Wins Five Awards in 2019

IPC’s award-winning library of training videos on electronics assembly has added five new industry awards during 2019:

• Omni Award for Convection Reflow Soldering (120) – Jonathan Vermillion, Ball Corporation/Technical Advisor
• Telly Award for Terminal Soldering (118) – Chris Barrett, Safari Circuits/Technical Advisor
• Communicator Award for How to Inspect Electronic Assemblies (190) – Floyd Bertagnolli, STM Training/Technical Advisor
• AVA Digital Award for Handling During Electronics Assembly (124) – Marg Drouin, Aved Electronics/Technical Advisor
• Omni Award for Component Identification (160) – Dave Stewart, Intervala LLC/Technical Advisor

According to Marg Drouin, training manager, Aved Electronics, “Contributing to the IPC Training Media has become a key part of my professional commitment to helping employees learn and improve their manufacturing skills and techniques. These videos are so effective because many of our employees are either visual learners or English is their second language. These videos overcome language barriers that are typical in manufacturing environments. With technology continuously evolving, I look forward to continuing to contribute to IPC in the coming years.”

IPC training videos are produced in cooperation with our members to help insure technical accuracy and minimize commercialism.

Our sincere thanks to the technical advisors who help develop the contents and review the comments from IPC member circulations.

If you have an interest in working to help create new training videos for our industry, please contact Steve Donaldson, IPC assistant director, education.

All of these new videos are available through the new IPC EDGE learning portal.

IPC’s PCB Technology Trends Study Highlights Trends that Will Impact Board Fabricators

By Michael Carano, vice president, technology and business development, RBP Chemical Technology

The recent publication of IPC’s 2018 PCB Technology Trends study highlighted several significant trends that will impact the board fabricator going forward over the next five years.

Some of the most significant technology trends I see are in the materials segment. We all recognize that laminate materials are the substrates on which circuit boards are built. However, these materials perform critical multiple functions in an interconnect device. Important attributes such as signal integrity, impedance, frequency, ability to withstand high soldering and operating temperatures are just a few.

The 2018 survey results indicated the need for speed and low loss as critical functions of the materials chosen. This is the digital age, and with the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, etc., the need for low-loss and ultra-low-loss materials continues to grow as a percentage of circuit boards fabricated. The OEMs’ responses suggested that applications for frequencies greater than 20 GHz will almost double by 2023 over 2018. Indeed, there is a small group of OEMs pushing 77 GHz currently. There is discussion that over the next 5-8 years we will see 100 GHz. The survey results also showed a significant uptick in the use and specification of liquid crystal polymer (LCP), PTFE and ceramic-filled materials in order to support the need for higher operating frequencies.

These materials must not only provide enhanced electrical properties, but must also provide higher reliability against thermal decomposition, operating temperature extremes and more operating cycles per day. These issues place significant pressure on the material performance. Temperature of decomposition (Td) has assuming more importance going into 2023. As major OEMs continue to push lead-free assembly and require improvements in long-term reliability, thermal decomposition of materials become a significant influence. There is a growing need for Td greater than 340 C.

These trends are significant and will require a change in the way PCB fabricators approach processes used to fabricate these circuit boards. Changes will be required in interlayer processing, lamination equipment and parameters, surface preparation and metalization. These higher performance materials become more difficult to process chemically. Thus, operating windows and the need for improved process controls becomes paramount moving into 2023 and beyond.