Jan Pedersen at APEX

What was the “talk of town” during this years APEX? We sent our Senior Technical Advisor Jan Pedersen, to receive two awards and bring back home the latest news in the industry. This is his experience.

This year Elmatica visited APEX for the first time. The expectations were high. Teaming up with all the big players in the world’s electronic industry, we were thrilled. It also helps that a sunny San Diego, is not the worst place to spend some days when it´s snowing back home. After all, APEX EXPO is recognized as the main event for IPC committees and task groups. Group members and leaders come together to discuss technical solutions, share information, learn from leading technical experts and participate in training sessions.

So what was it like and what did we learn?

Well, for one, starting the days with light jogs on the beach, certainly was inspirational not only for the body but also the mind.

As Chair in several committees, I knew what to expect, but it´s always a  joy to meet other industry-colleagues, that share the same passion and knowledge in this jungle of standards, rules and regulations. The days followed with committee-meetings, revisions, discussions, lunches, dinners and awards.

I experienced that the trend in the PCB industry, is to head towards more dedicated standards. We have brought Automotive focus into IPC, and as I see it they use the 6012DA as a stepstone into the automotive world.

I think the medical initiative will be the same. Besides that, IPC has finally taken the steps to include printed electronics, wearables and IOT. This is the future, and the whole industry is changing to attract and embrace these new technologies and product segments.

3D printing and rapid changes
The whole business has realised that sharing knowledge between industries, focus on rapid changes, and a ability to turn around fast and adapt changes into standards, are more important than ever.  

3D printed PCBs and included components are already at the doorstep. Standards must come faster to meet new trends and development. IPC has introduced a max 3 years deadline for developing a standard – next step will probably be less, and going towards limited editions – addendums like those I develop. These smaller documents goes faster and can be more dedicated and flexible.

Personally I see an increased focus on global thinking from IPC. Thus, contribution for global companies as Elmatica is important and vital.

Quite often when sharing your knowledge and passion, new doors and possibilities opens up. This happened at APEX as well. I was asked to join a brainstorming session to propose and discuss new opportunities for IPC. One of the questions raised, was new industries that could be subject to a new addendum. My first thought was Railway. An area where our customers requests approved materials and certificates. A natural segment for a new addendum, or at least a white paper.

Monday morning started with board storage committee – IPC-1601. I had a few questions to the committee and provided a suggestion for MSL levels for PCBs. We also discussed how Humidity Indicator Cards worked, and I presented some examples of how wrong it can be if we follow the levels mentioned in IPC-1601 and with good HIC. This gave a good discussion and the group will evaluate to change HIC levels in the “approved“ cards.

Then it was time for the first Luncheon with awards. I got an award for my job with the Automotive Addendum to IPC-6012D. Awards are always appreciated and fun.

In the afternoon I held my Medical Addendum committee meeting. The result was good discussions and the establishment of a sub group to develop medical application criteria description. Great engagement and eagerness to continue the work.

A giant for breakfast and actress before lunch
Tuesday – the big day for awards started with breakfast where one of the IPC giants – founder of IPC, Ray Pritchard held a speech linking the foundation of IPC 1957 up to 2017. That man has a 60 years experience with IPC and is still able to attract the audience. Amazing!
After breakfast we headed for one of the APEX highlight, Keynote speech by Dr. Mayim Bialik, a scientist and famous actress from US comedy series Blossom and The Big Bang Theory. She required no recording, which is a shame. I would love to hear that speech again. What a lady!

From the keynote I headed to the IPC-610 Automotive Addendum group. This group is of course interesting for me as a link up to the 6012DA revision. The group is chaired by Mr. Udo Welzel from Robert Bosch, who also is a member of my 6012DA group. We started up discussing “how to start”. We decided a characterisation of automotive applications as a platform to build on, could initiate the process. I will bring the result of the ongoing revision of 6012DA into this group as a suggestion. After all this new group comes as a result of 6012DA, which I find quite amusing. :)

One shocking phone call and a famous mentor
Then came the Hall of Fame Luncheon, where I received the Rising Star Award. A great honor, that was brought to my attention by a phone call from the President of IPC himself.

A few months earlier I was surprised by a call from USA, an unknown phone number popped up on my iPhone. I hesitated a few seconds before I accepted the call. “Good morning, my name is John Mitchell” . Well, it was afternoon and I was in my home office. My brain started to search for the name, it took me a few seconds to realize it was the CEO and President of IPC.  He asked if I had in plan to visit APEX, which I confirmed, before he told me he had the privilege to tell me I had been elected to win the Hall of Fame Rising Star Award! What could I say. ”I am honored sir”!

At Wednesday evening IPC held their 60 years celebration party. I met Joseph Fjelstad, author of the book “Flexible Circuit Technology” and The Guru of Flexible Circuits. He noticed I was Norwegian and could tell he had a relative in Norway called Sverre M. Fjelstad, a wildlife photographer, which I confirmed has been a wildlife celebrity in Norway for decades (at least known by “dinosaurs” like me). We agreed to keep in touch and he was willing to be a mentor for me in the medical addendum for 6013!

So to summarize some hectic, interesting and fun days, what did I learn from this years APEX?
For one, it seems that quite a lot of people have had an awakening when it comes to IPC and the importance of standards. It also seems that IPC has realised that the time it takes to adapt and create a new standards or addendum, needs to be reduced.
Standards needs to be more specific towards the issues that could influence the qualities, of the printed circuits they address. There is a lot going on in the PCB industry now, lots of new components, printing possibilities and challenges with laminates. With a will to adopt these formats and create standards that both include and specify, I am sure we will see an even more efficient IPC and task groups in near future.

Jan Pedersen, Senior Technical Advisor