New EPA Proposal for “High Priority” Chemicals

by Kelly Scanlon, director, EHS policy and research

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes to designate 20 chemical substances as High-Priority Substances for upcoming risk evaluations. Several of the proposed chemicals are relevant to the manufacture or production of electronics: phthalates, flame retardants, and formaldehyde. The EPA is asking for comments on the proposed designations by November 21, 2019 and IPC will work with you to coordinate comments from the electronics industry and to represent the electronics industry in briefings with members of the TSCA office in Washington, D.C.

The table below lists the proposed candidates for High-Priority Substances. Highlighted text indicates that the EPA has identified uses that may be relevant to the electronics sector. If your company manufactures (including imports), processes, distributes, uses, or disposes of any of these chemical substances, then you will want to consider providing information regarding the chemical’s conditions of use. The EPA will use this information to determine whether the proposed designation as a High-Priority Substance is appropriate.

Please consider the following questions when determining whether to prepare comments to the EPA in conjunction with IPC:
• Did the EPA accurately identify this chemical substance’s use based on your knowledge of electronics manufacturing and production processes?
• What function does the chemical perform in the process or the product?
• What is the chemical’s criticality to the process and the product?
• How would you describe the scenario of use for the chemical substance including potential human or environmental exposure?

The proposed designation of the chemical substances as a High-Priority Substance is not a finding of unreasonable risk, rather this designation will initiate a risk evaluation for the chemical substance. The risk evaluation will determine whether the chemical presents an unreasonable risk to health or the environment under the conditions of use. Risk evaluations will inform risk management actions that impose restrictions on the chemical. We will have opportunities to engage with the EPA at several points during any future risk evaluations, but early engagement and frequent knowledge-sharing with the policy makers will enable development of policies that accurately reflect the uses of these chemicals.

If you have any questions, please contact me at KellyScanlon@ipc.org, +1 202 661 8091.

IPC Names Shawn DuBravac, Global Tech Trends Expert, as New Chief Economist

Today, IPC announced Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., CFA, will serve as the association’s chief economist. In this role, DuBravac will expand IPC’s research program and provide insights on the biggest issues facing the $2 trillion global electronics industry, including supply chain resiliency/uncertainty, trade wars, skilled workforce shortage, and the expanding role of electronics in the global economy.

“The electronics industry is at the heart of thousands of essential products and services, as well as millions of jobs across the globe,” said DuBravac. “I look forward to working with the leaders and members of IPC to uncover actionable insights about the most pressing issues impacting the health of the electronics industry.”

For more than a dozen years, DuBravac served as chief economist for the Consumer Technology Association, a U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer tech companies. More recently, he has provided consulting, research, and advisory services to clients on topics including digital transformation, business model disruptions, and global supply chains. He is also the author of the New York Times best seller, “Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate,” and has appeared in Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Washington Post and more. DuBravac is a member of the National Association of Business Economists and currently serves as the president of the Conference of Business Economists.

“Shawn’s expertise in providing insightful analysis on the technological and economic trends shaping our world is perfectly aligned with IPC’s role as a trusted source of industry information,” said Chris Mitchell, IPC’s vice president of global government relations. “He will be an asset to IPC and our members as we look to expand our research, education, and advocacy efforts.”

In Memoriam — Thomas Gardeski

by John Perry, director, printed board standards & technology

It is with deep sadness that IPC announces the passing of one of its valued and storied committee members and leaders, Thomas Frank Gardeski, president of Gemini Sciences, LLC. Tom passed away on July 28, 2019.

Over the course of his career, Thomas furthered the advancement of flexible circuit, chip scale package (CSP) and high density interconnect (HDI) technology while at Sheldahl, 3M, DuPont and finally his own company, Gemini Sciences, LLC.

Thomas joined several IPC standards development task groups in 1999 related to flexible and rigid-flexible printed board technology. In 2003 Thomas assumed the chair position of the IPC D-10 Flexible Circuits Committee. In doing so, Thomas led and supported numerous efforts to develop and revise such IPC standards as IPC-2223 for flexible circuit design, the IPC-420X series for flexible materials performance, IPC-6013 for flexible printed board performance and the various IPC-TM-650 Test Methods related to these documents.

Outside of work, Thomas was a 9th degree Black Belt and was inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2003. Thomas was also an expert-level big wave surfer and was known to surf at the legendary Banzai Pipeline in Oahu, Hawaii.

His energy, enthusiasm and valuable contributions to the industry will be missed by many. On behalf of the electronics industry, IPC offers its condolences to Thomas’ wife Carole Ann Gardeski and their family.

IPC E-Textiles Europe 2019 to Bring Technical Education to European E-textiles Community

IPC E-Textiles Europe 2019, a two-day technical education conference for innovators, technologists and brands/OEMs, will provide a platform for education and collaboration among a diverse group of professionals interested in producing e-textiles technologies and products. Developed by the e-textiles industry for the e-textiles industry, IPC E-Textiles Europe 2019 will also provide technical insights of interest to myriad market segments, including fashion design, health monitoring, medical, automotive, aerospace and military. The conference will take place in Munich, Germany, November 12-13, 2019.

Presentation highlights of the technical conference agenda include:
• Design and Fabrication Techniques of Textile-Based Embroidered RFID Tags for Apparels
• Reliability and Washability of Textile-Based Circuit Boards
• Warp Knitted Solutions for E-Textile Applications
• Conductive Patterns on Textiles by Laser Welding
• Printed Electronics – Electrifying Textiles for Smart Applications
• The New Drug Delivery frontier – Textiles
• Wearable Sensors for Your Favorite Sports
• E-Textiles as an Enabling Technology to Create More Discreet and Desirable Assistive Technology for Older Adults
• Advanced Inkjet Printed E-Textiles for Health Monitoring in Military Applications
• Design in Confidence in E-Textiles

“Smart textiles, encompassing electronics combined with textiles (e-textiles) have a very promising realm in science and technology,” said Vladan Koncar, ENSAIT, GEMTEXT, University of Lille and IPC E-Textiles Committee Europe chair. “Numerous materials, systems and devices are available for e-textiles applications, but there are challenges to making these materials, systems and devices compatible as a full e-textiles product. As a conference where scientists and people from the industry can meet and exchange experiences and knowledge, IPC E-Textiles 2019 is, therefore, tremendous.”

Unique to any other e-textiles event in Europe, IPC E-Textiles Europe 2019 will also include an IPC E-Textiles Committee in Europe meeting, where participants will be able to collaborate on IPC international standards for e-textiles.

For questions about the conference or joining the IPC E-Textiles Committee in Europe meeting or any other IPC international e-textiles standards activities, contact Chris Jorgensen, director, technology transfer, or visit www.ipc.org/E-Textiles-EU19.

IPC Welcomes Trump Apprenticeship Program but Calls for Clarifications

By Ken Schramko, senior director, North American government relations

The Trump administration deserves praise for taking steps to encourage new apprenticeship programs, but the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposal to do so needs further refinement, according to IPC comments submitted to the department this week.

IPC welcomes the administration’s focus on workforce development, because a shortage of skilled workers is our industry’s top business concern. More than two-thirds of IPC’s U.S. members report that an inability to find and retain skilled workers is limiting their growth and competitiveness.

In response to our industry’s needs, and spurred on by President Trump’s Pledge to America’s Workers, IPC is making unprecedented investments in its education and training programs to create 1 million new skilled workforce opportunities over the next five years. As part of that effort, IPC plans to introduce new “earn and learn” programs, and thus we are interested in the administration’s apprenticeship push.

In its comments to the DOL, IPC agrees that the private sector is best suited to identify the occupational skills that workers need to succeed, as we are doing under our Job Task Analysis project. However, the qualifications for the entities that would be empowered to set standards for apprenticeship programs are not sufficiently defined to ensure that the most appropriate entities will be given that role, IPC says. IPC recommends that the standards-setting entities be limited to well-established, industry-recognized associations or non-profits.

IPC also calls for apprenticeship program credentials to be portable, competency-based, and industry-recognized, not just certificates of completion.

The DOL proposes to recognize standards-setting entities in sectors that lack significant registered apprenticeship opportunities today. IPC is concerned about the exclusion of any industries from the program, which could result in uneven incentives and results.

For more information, check out IPC’s comments on the proposal and explore our education and training and certification programs. Then let us know what you think.

Names to Know: Up and Comers in U.S. Congress

By Ken Schramko, IPC Senior Director, North American Government Relations

When major news occurs in the U.S. Congress, you usually hear the names of top congressional leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

However, it’s a mistake to focus only at the top. There are 435 voting members of the House and 100 senators, all of whom pay attention to their local constituents and issues that affect all Americans.

That is why IPC cultivates relationships with legislators at all levels of seniority, including more junior members who are looking to have a positive impact.

In that context, here are snapshots of eight junior members of the U.S. House with whom IPC is working because of their pragmatism, their familiarity with our industry, and their potential to make positive contributions based on their records and committee assignments.

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) is in his third term representing the northern suburbs of Chicago up to the Wisconsin border. Schneider has 14 IPC member facilities in his district as well as IPC’s world headquarters in Bannockburn. In Congress, he serves on the Ways and Means Committee and the Small Business Committee. His prior experience as a management consultant makes him knowledgeable about the challenges faced by all businesses. He has met with groups from IPC several times and worked with us on issues including tax and trade.

 

Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) is also in her third term and represents the western and northern parts of New Hampshire including Nashua and Concord. Kuster has 19 IPC member facilities in her district and serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has wide jurisdiction. Most recently, she worked with IPC in support of federal funding for R&D into the performance of lead-free electronics in high-reliability sectors such as aerospace, defense, automotive, and medical equipment.

 

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) is in his second term representing the northwestern suburbs of Chicago, including portions of Kane, DuPage, and Cook counties. The congressman has 23 IPC member facilities in his district and is well known at several of them. He serves on the House Oversight Committee, where he is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, as well as on the House Intelligence Committee. In addition, he serves as a junior member of the House Democratic leadership, positioning him for broader influence if he continues to be re-elected.

 

Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) is a freshman representing upstate New York including Utica and Binghamton. Brindisi sits on the House Veterans’ Affairs and Agriculture Committees, and he is a Co-Chair of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition and a member of the moderate New Democrat Coalition. He is a leading centrist voice on trade issues, serving on the Problem Solvers Caucus’ USMCA Working Group.

“The people of Upstate New York sent me to Congress to get things done. I’ll work with anyone to find a trade deal that works for businesses, farmers, and workers, bring down prescription drug costs, rebuild our infrastructure, and expand rural broadband. I don’t care what party someone is from, if you are willing to work, I will be at the table with my sleeves rolled up,” said Brindisi.

 

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) has served Alabama’s 5th congressional district, centered on Huntsville and northern Alabama, since 2010. He has 25 IPC member facility sites in his district and is familiar with IPC member company STI Electronics, making him knowledgeable on our industry. In Congress, he serves on the highly relevant House Armed Services Committee as well as the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

 

Among other House members of interest to IPC, Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA) has 25 IPC member facilities in her district, which covers Massachusetts’ Merrimack valley including Lowell, Lawrence and Haverhill. She serves on the Armed Services and Education and Labor committees. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) has 16 IPC member facilities in his district, covering Pinellas County on Florida’s western coast from Clearwater to St. Petersburg. Crist serves on the all-important Appropriations Committee, as well as the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. And Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) has 15 IPC member facilities in her district and serves on the Education and Labor Committee.

IPC recognizes and thanks each one of these members for their leadership, and we hope to have many opportunities to work with them on policies to create more jobs and spur more innovation in the vitally important electronics industry.

Green Circuits Hosts Latest IPC Video Production on Selective Soldering

Joe O’Neil, CEO of Green Circuits and IPC Board member, invited IPC into Green Circuits’ San Jose, Calif. facility to shoot footage for three new IPC videos including: Selective Soldering, Print Reading and Soldering Iron Tip Care.

“It was a busy week, and everyone at Green Circuits was most gracious and accommodating. Staff went way out of their way to help us and made us feel welcome and fully supported,” said Mark Pritchard, IPC video producer. “It worked out perfectly, in that they had multiple machines and we were able to shoot everything we needed to show without holding up production.”

Hai Ma, Andy Nguyen and Michael Nguyen of Green Circuits in San Jose, CA help create new IPC Training video on Selective Soldering.

Michael Nguyen hosted the production, with support from Ty Le and Shawn Pham. Machine technicians Hai Ma and Andy Nguyen provided the technical simulations.

IPC sincerely appreciates this contribution to the educational advancement of our industry. If your company would like to host an IPC video production, please contact Steve Donaldson at SteveDonaldson@ipc.org.

The Exciting Details Behind IPC’s Pledge to America’s Workers

By Chris Mitchell, vice president, global government relations

In the nine months since IPC joined in President Trump’s “Pledge to America’s Workers” and committed to creating 1 million new skilled workforce opportunities over the next five years – a fair question has been asked: Are we taking credit for actions we would have done anyway? Was this motivated by politics?

The short answer is “no,” and the longer answer is worth sharing.

As a longtime leader in education and training programs for our members, IPC was already on track to help thousands of people qualify for new and better jobs. A chronic shortage of adequately skilled workers is one of the most difficult challenges facing our industry, and we are not waiting for someone else to solve the problem.

That said, when President Trump challenged the private sector to step up and do more in this area, we took it as an opportunity to review, improve, and expand upon our educational offerings.

As a result, over the last year we have:

• Added new training courses and credentials programs to train and certify more entry-level and mid-career workers, aiming to benefit an extra 100,000 or more workers over the next five years;
• Established the IPC Education Foundation, which will invest more than $5 million over the next five years to provide curriculum tools, resources and industry-recognized credentials at the high-school and post-secondary level;
• Under the Foundation, created 14 new university-based chapters, with a goal of reaching 50 chapters in 2020, and eventually reaching thousands of future electronics specialists;
• Created a new scholarship program for students and educators who are interested in electronics subjects;
• Introduced Project Owl, a hands-on learning activity for middle and high-school students, who will receive basic training and an IPC certificate that could pave the way to an electronics career. This one project alone could educate and inspire more than 350,000 students across the U.S.;
• Commissioned new research into the needs and gaps in high-school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula, which will inform our future efforts; and
• Launched the IPC Workforce Champions intiative, in which nearly three dozen member companies have pledged to do more.

In short, IPC and our members are making unprecedented investments in education and training programs and expanding them to cover all aspects of skills building from middle school to adulthood. Incidentally, we’re also expanding our workforce education efforts in the European Union.

Would we have done some of this anyway? Yes. We were already planning to educate about 250,000 people over the period 2019 to 2023. But on our new course, we are expanding our total effort to benefit more than 1.1 million people over that period. (See chart.)

The President’s challenge – and the opportunity to win White House-level recognition for our efforts – certainly catalyzed us to do more. It heightened the excitement and ambition in our discussions and plans.

And mind you, we are not doing this for political reasons; we’re doing it to address our industry’s top business challenge.

Ultimately, it’s about building a larger, stronger pipeline for millions of people to enjoy better careers and lives through our industry.

IPC’s Hand Soldering Competition Program: A Brief History

By Philippe Leonard, Director, IPC Europe

The history of the IPC Hand Soldering Competition (HSC) grew from the 2010 Scandinavian Electronics Event which saw the first Swedish Championship in hand soldering organized by Lars Wallin IPC Europe, Lars-Gunnar Klag and Krister Park.The first IPC organized competition was held at IPC APEX EXPO 2012 and was created to celebrate the outstanding skills and professional achievements of talented manufacturing floor workers. With interest in HSC competitions in Europe and China growing, IPC launched the World HSC Championship to further prove the value of these professionals within the electronics industry.

With regional competitions in the Americas, Europe and Asia, IPC Hand Soldering Competition participants compete to build a functional electronics assembly within a 60-minute time limit. Assemblies are judged on their soldering quality in accordance with the current IPC-A-610 Class 3 criteria, the speed at which the assembly was produced and the overall electrical functionality of the assembly. IPCA-610 Master Instructors serve as independent judges for the competitions.

Competitions are held in two categories: professionals and beginners. The beginners category was added in 2016, to encourage the younger generation to the value of improving their highly specialized and rare hand soldering skills, which are needed in the electronics industry.

The winners of regional competitions receive cash prizes and the opportunity to compete in the World Hand Soldering Championship, held each year in various cities worldwide in conjunction with highly prestigious electronics trade shows.

“The IPC Hand Soldering Competition highlights the skills of the best hand soldering talent in the world,” said Dave Bergman, vice president, IPC standards and training. “The competition provides members of the electronics industry a chance to demonstrate their know-how to their customers as well as to champion and reward their skilled workers internally. Hand soldering competitions foster a successful work dynamic, fully compliant with stringent IPC requirements, on their manufacturing floor,”

The first World Hand Soldering Championship was held on February 21, 2013, in San Diego, at IPC APEX EXPO 2013 with competitors representing 9 nations who competed in a very strong competition. With a cheering crowd and enthusiastic participants, this first World Championship set the scene to what has become a true electronics industry tradition that is supported by the leading suppliers of hand soldering products worldwide.

The hand soldering competition started out as a showcase event in Sweden to highlight the importance of hand soldering skilled professionals. It has continuously grown to now include six regional competitions in Europe, regional competitions in India and several regional competitions in Asia Pacific.

This past year at IPC APEX EXPO 2019 saw the world championship grow to 12 competitors coming from Britain, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. Watch for an IPC Hand Soldering competitions near you to celebrate these highly skilled professionals.

For more information, view IPC’s Hand Soldering Competition web page.

IPC CFX/Hermes Standards – The Future of Electronics is Here

John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, describes how IPC Standards IPC-2591 and IPC-HERMES-9852 are providing the electronics industry the building blocks for machine-to-machine and machine-to-ERP communications.