Tag Archives: pcb

Is it “Just a Board”?

I was out with friends one night, a table full of people holding many different conversations at one time. I clearly hear the words, “but it is just a board”.   The background noise dimmed and I suddenly became laser focused on that particular conversation.   I felt an adrenaline rush and the unstoppable need to defend the product I have chosen as my area of expertise.   I took a deep breath and calmly asked, “Why do you say that?” The result was a lively discussion about the function of the PCB in today’s electronics.

In fairness, this person’s background is in the component design side of the industry and his limited experience with PCB’s involved 2 and 4 layer, standard technology designs. So, yes, I get where he was coming from. You can buy a simple PCB at most shops and have good quality product. BUT, today’s electronics require the PCB to be so much more!

We are in a time of amazing developments in our electronics products. Electronics are required to be increasingly smaller, faster, lower power, lighter weight and feature rich. As consumers we can all appreciate this. The primary function of the PCB, other than being a solid base for components is to provide the interconnect between the components that are accomplishing these things.

Electronics today push PCB designs well past “standard technology”: specialty materials, finer lines and traces, microvias, both stacked and staggered, multiple lamination cycles, heat transfer, impedance matching, electromagnetic shielding, embedded components, etc. The phrase, “it is just a board”, just doesn’t apply.

PCB fabricators are continually developing new processes, pushing their technology limits and tightening process controls to meet these requirements. PCB designers need to understand the new materials, manufacturability constraints and cost drivers. The electrical, mechanical and fab people working together can create amazing things.

We rarely use this format to “get on our soap box”, but we are really curious……what does everyone think?

Is the PCB, “just a board”, or is it a critical aspect in the electronic assembly?

Send me a note and let me know you thoughts!   tarad@omnipcb.com

Ormet Paste – Making Z-Axis connections during lamination

Paste instead of plating ~ something to think about…..
We have been part of several discussions recently regarding Ormet paste and thought others might be interested as well.

Ormet Paste is a product that has been around for a while and it seems that the market is just starting to catch up with the technology.

These products can be used for several different applications, but today we are focusing on using the product to make Z-axis connections during lamination.

In other words, the Ormet Paste 700 series materials allow you interconnect electrically while bonding layers mechanically.

Possible Applications:
Thick boards – layer reduction: 

  • Overall thickness reduction; reduction of aspect ratio by splitting a board into separate builds and joining with Ormet paste which can improve plating and drilling quality.
  • Elimination of back drilling and/or flip drilling

High Speed Cap – Mixed Dielectric Builds:

  • No hole plating of high speed layers.
  • Separate fabrication of high speed layers results in smoother outlayer surface resulting in improved RF performance.

“Any Layer” HDI using Paste:

  • Z-axis conductors applied prior to lamination.
  • Paste interconnects used to connect 2-layer cores in a single process step)

Why is Ormet Paste Different?

Transient Liquid Phase Sintering – Compositions comprising powder metallurgy (90% by weight) mixed in particulate form.

 During thermal processing:

  • The alloy becomes molten and reacts with metal to form new alloy compositions and/or intermetallic compounds
  • This reaction continues until one of the reactants is fully depleted (reaction starts at 150C, normal lamination temperatures).
  • This is unlike most silver pastes which are held together by the polymer.
  • This also forms a metallurgical bond with metals it comes in contact with.

Ormet does not cure, it sinters into a metal mass.

This is very basic information taken from the Ormet literature.  If you are interested in more detailed information, please let us know.  Contact information is included below.

Remember, designing and purchasing printed circuit boards does not have to be difficult!
Tara Dunn – tarad@omnipcb.com – 507-332-9932
Elizabeth Foradori – elizabeth@omnipwb.com – 856-802-1300

PCB Cost

Do you ever wonder what drives the cost of your PCB design? 

PCB Cost is a very common discussion.   With the push for miniaturization and the need to do more in less space, designers are frequently performing a cost vs. benefit analysis for increasing the technology requirements in their PCB designs. 

The list below should in no means be considered an all inclusive list of cost drivers, but it should cover the basics and spark discussion.

Low Cost Adders:

  • Complex routing and scoring (process time, set-up, tool life)
  • Drilled hole quantity (process time)
  • Thicker or thinner material (>.093”, <.030”)
  • Via Plug – button print

 Medium Cost Adders:

  • Drilled hole size (< .010”, smaller diameters limit throughput and stack height)
  • Embedded Resistor Technology
  • Non-FR4 Materials (Teflons can be 10X to 20X FR4 cost)
  • Laser Drilling
  • Edge Plating
  • Cavities
  • Milled Edges
  • Filled Vias (conductive and non-conductive)

High Cost Adders:

  • Advanced Technologies (< .003” line/ space, .4mm BGA)
  • Number of lamination cycles required
  • Layer Count (> 30 layers)
  • Material/ Panel Utilization (test coupons and board size/configuration)
  • Selective Plating
  • Hole to copper ( < .008”)

 Order dependent considerations:

  • No X-out requirement
  • IPC Class 3
  • Source Inspection

Please contact us if there are ever any questions we can answer.  Buying and purchasing PCB’s should not be difficult!

Visit our website for other PCB Design and Engineering Tips:



PCB Specialist or Generalist? Just a thought.

For regular medical checkups we go to a General Practitioner, for a specific health issue or surgery, we see a specialist.  One is a “Jack or Jill of all trades”, the other, the master of a small area of expertise.    I think you can find similar situations in many industries; retail, law and automobile repair easily come to mind.

Can we draw a parallel in the PCB industry?  When a design uses standard technology, 2-16 layers, class 2 and standard tolerances, many have a list of PCB suppliers they competitively bid and make their decisions based on price, lead-time and ease of doing business.

On the other hand, when you have a flex or rigid flex design, 5+ layers of stacked, copper filled micro vias, or a design with highly specialized RF materials, you search out a facility regarded as an industry expert to meet that very specialized need.

In today’s world of downsizing, time crunches and reduced AVL’s, many are drawn to the larger industry players with multiple facilities, each with a “specialty” that allows a solution to nearly any requirement.    This strategy works well with “larger” PCB users.  Unfortunately, for a mid-size or small company it is very easy to “get lost in the shuffle” with the large PCB manufacturers.  Service is not at all personalized to your needs, there is not a lot of flexibility and you can easily get the sense that your business is just not that important.

Omni PCB provides a solution.   Our customers enjoy one point of contact for both “general” needs AND more specialized requirements.   We specialize in printed circuit boards and represent companies that have complimentary capabilities.   We represent suppliers that offer cost competitive standard technology and suppliers that are specialists in their chosen technology area.   We can recommend the best fit solution for each requirement based on each customer’s unique needs.  Not only does each facility we represent offer great service and flexibility, Omni PCB adds our own level of customer service to ensure our customers have the best experience possible.

Maybe in the PCB world, you do not need to “visit” two different types of suppliers.  Maybe one contact can fit ALL of your needs.

I welcome your thoughts!


Selecting your Final Surface Finish

What is your approach for selecting the best solderable finish for your application?

The selection of your surface finish could be the most important material decision made for the electronic assembly.  

Your surface finish selection influences the process yield, the amount of rework necessary, field failure rate, the ability to test, the scrap rate and, of course, the cost.   

The selection process should be completed with a holistic approach that considers all important aspects of the assembly, not just the cost of the surface finish.


  • Cost Sensitivity
  • Volume of product
  • SnPb or LF process
  • Shock/Drop a concern?
  • Cosmetics a concern?
  • User Environment (corrosion a concern)?
  • Fine pitch assembly (<.05 mm)
  • Wave solder required (PCB > .062”)
  • High yield ICT is important

The surface finish you select will have a large influence on quality, reliability and cost.  It is a complex decision that impacts many areas of the business.  Select a surface finish that is optimal for the business, not just one function. 

Know that there are engineering “tricks” to improve on the weak areas of each finish.

Most importantly, stay current in this field because new developments continue to be made. 

Mike Carano with OMG is a great resource.   Please contact us if we can provide more detailed information on final finishes.  We are here to help!