Chemical Processing in PCB Manufacturing

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: December 13, 2022
Chemical Processing in PCB Manufacturing

Young blood in the PCB industry, Christopher Bonsell talks about process engineering–the chemical involved in the PCB, etching and encouraging the young generation to the “cool-tech” aspects of PCB design and manufacturing.

Watch this episode through the end, and check the show notes and additional below.

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Show Highlights:

  • Chris Bonsell published articles on i-Connect007
  • What kind of services does Chemcut offer related to PCB manufacturing and the role of a process engineer
  • Chris talks about his career journey and how he landed his position in Chemcut
  • Misconception about the circuit board industry, does it belong to tech industry?
  • The grand challenge – Moore's Law
  • What is the Peri Etch Process?
  • The lack of interest in the chemistry of circuit boards might be what’s blocking the PCB industry from moving to the next level of processing capability
  • The US is 20 years behind in the PCB industry
  • Is fully additive circuit board could be the big game changer in the industry?
  • Workforce shortage industry – how to involve students and the younger generation to become interested in the PCB industry?
  • Chris explains etching uniformity

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Transcript:

Christopher Bonsell:
Just the printed circuit board in and of itself, I don't think a lot of people realize how much work goes into making that piece. Everyone always has the interest in semiconductors. I mean, don't get me wrong. That is a very respectable field and it has a lot of its own challenges, but even just the board itself has a whole difference to the challenges that still need to be addressed.
 

Zach Peterson:
Hello everyone and welcome to the Altium On Track podcast. I'm your host, Zach Peterson, and today I'm happy to be speaking with Christopher Bonsell, Chemical Process Engineer at Chemcut. If you've been paying attention to I-Connect007 at all, then you may have read a couple of his articles. I think they're very interesting and, of course, they've given me an opportunity to learn about some of the process engineering that goes on in PCB manufacturing.

Chris, thanks so much for joining us.
 

Christopher Bonsell:
Hey, thank you for having me on. Also, it's great to hear that you enjoy the columns I put together. It's always good to get some feedback from someone that actually reads them.

Zach Peterson:
Yeah, well, I've said many times, one of my New Year's resolutions, I guess, for 2022 was to learn more about manufacturing, and I continue to be impressed with the expertise that goes into it. In fact, I think there's a bit of a perception that, especially in a technologically advanced area, that manufacturing is something where you walk into a room, you flip a switch and all the gears start turning and then finished products spit out the other end of a line, and I'm sure it's not actually like that.

Christopher Bonsell:
Yeah, of course. There's a lot of inputs that have to go into manufacturing, a lot more than really meets the eye. That is for sure.

Zach Peterson:
So as a Chemical Process Engineer working in a manufacturing facility, what is it that you're actually doing all day?

Christopher Bonsell:
Okay. So first let me explain what Chemcut is because it doesn't tie into a lot to what I do. So Chemcut is a manufacturer of web processing equipment. So in relation to manufacturing of printed circuit boards, we make the equipment that etches, develops and strips all the printed circuit boards. Now, what I do as a Chemical Process Engineer is a little bit different from what most process engineers would do. I'm a little bit more on the research and development side of things.

What I mostly do, is I will actually run tests to try to improve our web processing equipment. But another thing that we do is some of our customers, if they want to see how our equipment works, they'll actually send us some samples so that we can run tests for them. And since we have probably the most knowledge in how to actually work our machines and what processes would be best to achieve their goals, we are the ones that will take their samples and try to actually make it happen. We kind of do a little bit of a proof of concept for them.

Zach Peterson:
So when you say "Samples," what exactly do you mean?

Christopher Bonsell:
Okay. So, for example, sometimes companies will send us, let's say, an 18 by 24 panel of copper with a in the middle. So they'll tell us they want to achieve certain parameters on their lines and spaces and we'll run them through our machines and see what we can do.
 

Zach Peterson:
I see. So they may be looking for a specific slope on the edge of the trace-

Christopher Bonsell:
Exactly.
 

Zach Peterson:
... or something like this?

Christopher Bonsell:
So by "Samples" I'm, essentially, saying panels that they want to get certain parameters on.

Zach Peterson:
Okay. So this could be a materials company, someone like this.

Christopher Bonsell:
Exactly. Because Chemcut not only does stuff inside of the accredited circuit board industry, we also are involved in the chemical machining industry, which can go into a lot of other different sectors. So if people want to make small sheet metal parts or if they want to make just normal signs or printing equipment, you can do that.

Zach Peterson:
Okay. Interesting. Now, the customers that are buying your equipment, I mean, it sounds like larger EMS companies or is it all the way down to the small board houses that maybe do faster on prototypes?

Christopher Bonsell:
It really is a wide range. It could be the big board manufacturers and it can also be little mom-and-pop shops. We really serve a wide range of customers.

Zach Peterson:
And, I mean, are you providing support all the way down to the process level for those customers?
 

Christopher Bonsell:
Yes, we are. A lot of the times our customers will actually send us emails or sometimes we'll even actually go out to visit their facilities to help them with their process.

Zach Peterson:
That was the next thing-

Christopher Bonsell:
A lot of people,-

Zach Peterson:
... I was going to ask is if you're actually making house calls?

Christopher Bonsell:
... surprisingly, whenever they get involved in the industry, they don't know as much as you would think they would getting into the industry. So a lot of times they know what they want to do, but they need to know the steps to make a product and that's kind of where we come in.

Zach Peterson:
Okay. So you're really guiding them through the automation part of it and, of course, I think with the process engineering in this respect, it's more teaching them, I guess, the right mix of inputs into a chemical etcher system in order to ensure they hit their parameters?

Christopher Bonsell:
Exactly. And there's also some other factors too, like sometimes it's not just running a machine and making products, it's also about taking care of their equipment. And that's a factor that a lot of people seem to neglect. But we always try to hound the customers, "You've got to take care of the equipment. If you take care of the equipment, it'll take care of you."

Zach Peterson:
Oh, sure. I mean, there's a lot of capital that gets invested into some of this equipment and so, of course, that comes with a maintenance expenditure. And I totally agree with you. The maintenance is what keeps you competitive.

Christopher Bonsell:
Yeah, for sure.

Zach Peterson:
So, I mean, do you see the capabilities of some of this equipment degrade over time if it's not properly maintained?

Christopher Bonsell:
Yeah, if it's not properly maintained you will start to see some issues. It's more like you'll notice some things are not coming out the way that they should be. Sometimes you can get matters where some parts need to be replaced very soon. The lifetime of certain parts will actually expire and then you'll have to order more parts and it's just a whole domino effect.

Zach Peterson:
I see.

Christopher Bonsell:
And if a lot of your parts are falling apart in your machine that translates to, well, your machine not lasting overall as long.

Zach Peterson:
Sure, sure. But, I mean, in the chemical etch machine, I mean, is the inputs that you're actually putting into the machine degrading it over time, is what it sounds like?

Christopher Bonsell:
Yeah.

Zach Peterson:
Okay.

Christopher Bonsell:
Well, whenever it comes to maintenance, it really is. If you're not keeping it clean, if you're not frequently checking on certain parts, it'll just kind of like, ... Like I said, it's a domino effect. As things get worse, if they don't get the attention they need, it'll get much worse much later.

Zach Peterson:
So with some of that diagnosis of maybe what needs to be maintained or what needs to be repaired, I'm going to assume that you guys also help with that kind of thing. This is an issue?

Christopher Bonsell:
Oh, yes.

Zach Peterson:
So these issues, they can call up the company, whether it's Chemcut or another company, they can call the company and get help with this diagnosis and then, of course, ordering spare parts and all of this?

Christopher Bonsell:
Yes, very much so. We actually have a whole team of field service. Their entire job is just to make house calls with customers. If they're having an issue, they'll come visit. We even do them a scheduled preventive maintenance. So if you want to make sure that your equipment's running well, we'll also do that for you.

Zach Peterson:
Okay. This sounds like it mirrors a lot of what goes on with semiconductor manufacturing equipment and, in fact, when I was younger I almost got a job as a technician before starting graduate school. But I almost got a job as a technician working on semiconductor equipment and it was just like you said, you have to go out and make house calls, you have to get clearance to go onto a site, you have to learn how to work a clean room because you're probably going to be maintaining something in that room.

Christopher Bonsel:
Yeah, that's for sure. I don't necessarily know too much about how semiconductors are made, but from what I've seen it is very similar.

Zach Peterson:
Yeah, I think we get a lot of our cues in what we do with PCBs from the semiconductor industry. At least that's what was said to me from another guest.

Christopher Bonsell:
Yeah, very interesting.

Zach Peterson:
So anyone that's watching this right now is probably going to look at you and say, "You're pretty young."

Christopher Bonsell:
I get that a lot.

Zach Peterson:
I know I'm older than you. But one of the things that I'm always happy to see is when we have younger people who are getting into this industry and getting into manufacturing. And I'm always interested to know people's journey as far as, not only how did they get into electronics or how did you start yourself down this career path, but why manufacturing and maybe not some other area of technology?

Christopher Bonsell:
Okay. So my journey kind of begins back whenever I was in college. So, overall, I really didn't have a good idea of what I wanted to do with my chemical engineering degree. So I got involved in some research and that kind of involved manufacturing or just trying to create some prototypes for a certain separator. But whenever I was going out into the workforce, whenever I started looking for jobs, I was having a little bit of difficulty. I didn't have the internship experience that most other students had. So I spent a good bit of time looking around for jobs, and one of the jobs that I came across was actually recommended from a lady that I used to work with. She said that her husband worked here at Chemcut and said that they're looking for a chemical engineer. So I gave my resume, sent it to him and it all worked out pretty well. So really in that situation it really was just about who I knew.

But, overall, as I started working here, I didn't realize how much in depth this really gets. I never really realized whenever it comes to making things like printed circuit boards that there is a chemical engineering aspect to it. Whenever I was applying, I never saw that ... Well, I noticed that process engineering has a very wide span but whenever it came to electronics I always kind of assumed that process engineers and electronics, they want electrical engineers, not chemical. But I was very wrong on that and now I learned that whenever I came here.

But as I kind of worked here ... So around about a year after working, after I got hired at Chemcut, I went to the IPC show, so APEX EXPO, and then I started talking to some people there and my interest just grew. And, honestly, going to APEX really flipped around my career a little bit and really opened my eyes to what there is in this industry.

Zach Peterson:
Well, just in terms of the depth of capabilities that are involved in all these different areas within the industry?

Christopher Bonsell:
Yes, it really is about just the overall depth of it and also the amount of ... What's the word I'm looking for? How much more progress there needs to be made, how much more work there is to be done, because I feel like even people that are aware of our industry, they're not fully aware of the actual challenges it comes to when it comes to manufacturing things like printed circuit boards.

Zach Peterson:
That's very interesting that you say that. Whether someone is technical or not, I don't think that people associate printed circuit boards with higher levels of technology or even with the word "Tech." In fact, if you go out to a lay person who maybe is not technical and you ask them, "What is tech?" They're going to say, "Google and Facebook," and these software companies that they know a lot about and they're going to say, "Well, my iPhone," stuff like that. What we do with circuit boards is kind of in the background enabling everything and people don't realize it or they're just not conscious of it.

Christopher Bonsell:
Just the printed circuit board in and of itself, I don't think a lot of people realize how much work goes into making that piece. Everyone always has the interest in semiconductors. I mean, don't get me wrong, that is a very respectable field and it has a lot of its own challenges, but even just the board itself has a whole different set of challenges that still need to be addressed.

Zach Peterson:
When I was younger and when I was in university, there was never any discussion of the circuit board at all. I mean, even in an electronics lab class, everything was breadboards and you just cared about wiring logic gates up to each other to make sure that this thing you were building would work. And then when you start talking about design and manufacturing, it was constantly on the challenges with semiconductors and getting over the next hump of Moore's law, things like that. That's what everybody talked about.

And I was in school at the tail end of the PC revolution. So this is right around the time that, literally, everybody had a PC with the big CRT monitor in their house. And so I think it's understandable that at that time everyone was focused on chips. The Intel inside campaign was like ... Intel inside was a household thing, everybody knew the little jingle and so that's what everybody focused on and no one really cared about the circuit board. And I almost feel like we're still living with the remnants of that time even into today.

Christopher Bonsell:
I fully agree. And part of the whole idea of just taking on Moore's law and just trying to get that next improvement in computing power, I feel has really overshadowed some of the challenges that occur in this industry. I feel a lot more people would be interested in this kind of manufacturing if they were just aware of some of the technical issues that we have to try to overcome, some of the hurdles that we have. And so whenever I'm writing my columns I like to try to highlight some of those issues and maybe raise some more interest into it.

Zach Peterson:
I totally agree. I absolutely agree. Because you just mentioned the grand challenge of Moore's Law, at the time when I was younger was the grand challenge. I think when you communicate the challenge of Moore's law to people who like to solve complex problems, that's where their focus goes and that's where their energy goes and they say, "Well, this is such an amazing thing. It's very consequential to technology and human development. I mean, I want to focus on that." And so I think it's natural that when you illustrate the challenges and opportunities in some of these areas, it really drags students in, but it is at the expense of other areas that are very important supporting technologies.

Christopher Bonsell:
Very true.

Zach Peterson:
So was that kind of the experience that you had when you were younger at university? Because I ask this because there's a little bit of a time delta between my experience and your experience and so I'm wondering how long that has persisted and if that's really still the case?

Christopher Bonsell:
Yes, I'll admit that is still pretty true right now in the university. Whenever I was taking computer science, that is whenever I was first really introduced to Moore's law and what it really means. But outside of that I never really came across it. I knew some of my professors were involved in some research and development for semiconductors, but that was all I ever really knew about. I never got involved in that research and I didn't really have anybody I knew that was involved in that research either.

Zach Peterson:
So, I mean, on the chemical processing end and bringing it back to circuit boards, I mean, can you ever see a time where we start pushing circuit board design to smaller and smaller line widths on this kind of, I'm going to call it an arbitrary doubling of density on boards over a certain time period and that just becomes this arbitrary milestone for the industry going forward?

Christopher Bonsell:
Yes, I certainly do. Well, the problem here is that we really need to get more people with a just normal chemistry background getting involved on this because it really is a chemistry issue. So one of the things that I'm very interested in is trying to improve the etch factor. So currently whenever we're etching printed circuit boards, we have a very limited etch ratio. So for every, let's say, units of etch downward, there's always going to be a give to the etched sideways and we have to get that ratio really nailed down if we want to get to doubling the definitions of our printed circuit boards. But we're very limited to it based on the chemistry and that is where we need the chemist involved.

One thing that I did a little bit of research on that really interested me and I talked a little bit about it in one of my columns was that we got pretty close to it at one point in our printed circuit board manufacturing and it was called the PERI etch process. It's a very old process that probably no one's heard about, but what's funny is I have a printed copy of the handbook from the PERI Committee that developed this and it was given to be by one of my colleagues. And I was looking at it and we had pretty straight side walls whenever we were using this process, but the problem was with that etch process was that it was a little bit difficult to maintain and also it was using the wrong etchant. It was using an etchant called ferric chloride, which is not normally used in copper etching, but this process was made for copper etching.

So you don't get the optimizations you get with other etchants in the industry, but you did get the straight side walls. So it makes me think that it is very much possible for us to do that again, but with the right etchants that we want. It's just it's going to take a little bit of time and research.

Zach Peterson:
So what do you think is blocking everyone from, I guess you could say, focusing their efforts collectively across different companies to maybe moving towards adoption of a process that gives you that type of etching result? What's the big blocker? Because it seems like the semiconductor industry got really good at doing these types of collectivized, yet distributed efforts, towards higher and higher densities, and we, of course, look at this and say, "Scaling and Moore's law and whatever other scaling laws are out there as kind of the benchmarks for what targets companies should hit." And it's like everyone just does it. Why don't we have that in printed circuit boards?

Christopher Bonsell:
Well, I think from the very base level it comes down to the interest that is actually involved in printed circuit boards. There's not a lot of chemists that are going to be interested in printed circuit boards so they're not going to put their focus towards that. And whenever they get involved in the industry, there is a little bit of a thing that I've noticed in the industry that a lot of people, they're not exactly susceptible to change. A lot of it is just doing things as we've always done it kind of attitude.

Zach Peterson:
Is that an age problem?

Christopher Bonsell:
I kind of want to say yes, but, I mean, it really isn't because people my age can be still susceptible to that kind of thinking.

Zach Peterson:
Okay, that's fair. I guess that was a little stereotypical of me to say that, but I think there is maybe a little bit of a propensity for once you get older you get a little more set in your ways and you take a, if it isn't broke, don't fix it, attitude towards processing.

Christopher Bonsell:
I mean, if you are manufacturing many circuit boards, maybe that's another reason why you don't want to change it up so much because if it messes up, then that's a lot of product you have to remake.

Zach Peterson:
Oh, sure. I mean, you know what works and you're taking the lowest risk path to ensuring that whatever is coming in the door is going to get built with the highest possible yield so you can maximize profit. I mean, I understand that approach. I think maybe we're just a little too risk averse in this industry sometimes. I mean, the semiconductor-

Christopher Bonsell:
Yeah, 

Zach Peterson:
... industry regularly bets the entire company on what the next big thing is going to be and they go for it. In fact, I think it's been described repeatedly, many of the advancements that companies like Intel have been made by, literally, betting the company in terms of the capital expenditure and the investment involved in getting to that next level of processing capability. They're betting it all and it's paid off over and over again. And we don't do that, I guess, in printed circuit boards?

Christopher Bonsell:
Yeah, no. I mean, that does make sense. I haven't really heard too many cases where a printed circuit board company was trying to take a little bit more of a risk in their etching chemistry just so they can get slightly better side wall etching. I could see why some companies wouldn't do that, but maybe that is what we need.

Zach Peterson:
Well, maybe that's a scale issue. Just the size of the companies involved in making those investments. If you have the scale as a company to divert, let's say, a hundred million dollars to this big grand investment, if you have enough scale, that hundred million dollars is inconsequential. But if you're like the typical PCB manufacturer, that's a lot of money relative to your income.

So I think that's a separate issue involving how the industry has evolved over the last 20 years with a lot of the big players going overseas and then a lot of the shops closing down and you got two sides of the industry in terms of the size of the producer. You've got the smaller rapid prototyping house, the smaller CN, and then you got these huge companies, like maybe TTM, Sanmina, some of the others, that handle a lot of volume, but it's all overseas.

Christopher Bonsell:
Whenever I was reading in one of the copies of PCB007, actually it's the most recent one on ... What was it? UHDI. And it's just the idea that because of this idea that we ship so much of the PCB work overseas, we are almost fundamentally 20 years behind on the curve whenever it comes to actually focusing in on how we can actually obtain those kind of features.

Zach Peterson:
You're not the first person to make that kind of remark. We had John Mitchell on from IPC, we've had Travis Kelly from Isola. They've both made the remark that, "The US industry is something like on the order of 20 years behind the times." And I think I recall reading actually in 007 that if you walk into a PCB factory today, it looks a lot like it did many decades ago.

Christopher Bonsell:
Yeah, that doesn't surprise me. Maybe there's a little bit of a different factor now. Maybe they have a robot on the end of the machines now. That doesn't really change too much. If you look at pieces of equipment involved in printed circuit board manufacturing from 20 years ago, it looks about the same as it does now. There's just not too much that really does change. And I think it comes back to the idea that we were talking about. We need to see more risk taking involved if we want to actually get some rapid growth.

Zach Peterson:
Well, I've thought that one of the big game changers could be additive, and not just like mSAP or ASAP, what Ameritech is doing and a lot of other companies are doing, but fully additive printed circuit boards. Or at least some sort of hybrid like rigid plus additive type of construction on a circuit board where you can print these really unique features. You can print perfect lines, you don't have any etching, you lose all the material waste and you get a lot more design freedom from that. And I've talked about this with Nano Dimension repeatedly and they have this grand vision of eventually you can scale additive all the way up to complete assemblies and it almost seems like a pipe dream.

Christopher Bonsell:
Yeah, actually, I remember ... Well, I was reading, I believe it was Nano's article in 007 and it really did intrigue me, but I still have a lot of questions. I mean, I would love to have a conversation with them. I don't know how much they'd be willing to tell me, but I just think it would just be so insightful to see what that vision is because I'm personally just ... I'm a little bit biased, I'll admit. I'm on the subtractive side of manufacturing. So I'm team subtractive.
[NEW_PARAGRAPH]So whatever comes to the whole additive manufacturing, it's hard for me to see that kind of process of 3D printed boards. How does that scale up to a high volume production? I guess that's what I'm thinking because I'm trying to think of ... At least this is just based off the diagrams I see. I know it's very limited, but how does that almost inkjet kind of technology translate to high volume production? Like running panels through our etching machines at high conveyor speeds? I'd always like to see that. Maybe there's less faulty in it. So if you're trying to obtain very fine features, maybe then you could justify it, but it's just a lot of stuff that really needs a little bit more. I would need to do more research on.

Zach Peterson:
There are higher throughput processes that are optical. So there's stereo lithography and then there's distributed light printing and those can do 2D layers. I think the challenge, though with those, is that you've got two different materials: You've got the di-electric and then you've got the conductor. And so you almost ... I'm not a 3D printing expert but, to me, it seems like you have no choice but to do inkjet. So just the structure that you're even trying to replicate as a 3D printed product, it almost pigeonholes you into this process that doesn't scale well?

Christopher Bonsell:
Yeah.

Zach Peterson:
So, I mean, this has all been really interesting and it's great to get your perspective on manufacturing PCBs. But one thing I'm wondering and I think is actually very important is what can we do to get more young people involved in electronics, generally, not just in PCBs? Because I ask that because I was actually reading on LinkedIn from someone who I follow that they're seeing the same kind of workforce crunch that we have in the PCB industry now propagate over to the semiconductor industry and there's going to be a huge lack of semiconductor process engineers and designers over the next 10/20 years.

So it almost seems like the entire industry is kind of entering this crisis point, especially as we start to re-shore a lot of that manufacturing capacity, both for economic and security and all these other reasons. So what can we all do to get kids to care about this again?

Christopher Bonsell:
I think the main thing that needs to happen here is we need to just make more of these students aware of the challenges that are actually involved in the electronics industry. The more that they're aware of these challenges that we're facing, the more interest they're going to grow. But a lot of this is going to come down to our company's going to want to reach out to a university and see if they're willing to invest some money to run some ... Do some research projects for them because once the research projects are in, then that's going to help a little bit with that growth. Once the professors are involved, the students are involved, then it just kind of grows from there.

Zach Peterson:
You see, I agree with you. I think that's a good starting point and I like what you say about the challenges. I agree with that, as well because I start to wonder if I had been maybe a bit more aware of the challenges involving PCBs when I was younger, I might've gone down a different path. I thought I was going to be a professor or I was going to wear a bunny suit in a clean room manufacturing chips. So that's what I thought I was going to do. And, like you said, it was communicating the grand scale of the challenges was what drew me into that.

So what are some of those challenges in the PCB industry that maybe, I guess, students and teachers could be more aware of to try and pique that interest for people who like to solve complex technical problems?

Christopher Bonsell:
Yes. I think the biggest ones right now, at least in printed circuit board manufacturing, hands down it has to be the etch factor that I was just talking about, trying to obtain a more straight sidewall whenever you're etching a printed circuit board because the moment you can get a perfectly straight sidewall from just normal etching, you can, pretty much, overcome some of the manufacturing processes such as mSAP and just normal SAP.

So the less plating that you have to do in printed circuit board manufacturing, the better, pretty much, because it's a little bit of a tedious process and it's expensive. So if you can find a way around that, that's going to benefit you greatly. So there's that.

And also, even if it's not perfectly a straight side wall, any changes in how we are getting our undercutting or our sidewall etching, any improvements in that will actually benefit the entire process because we still have mSAP and the semi-additive process.

The other one that I would like to talk about too is etch uniformity and that's a little bit more about what I focus on. And etch uniformity is about whenever you have a panel running through a conveyor and it's being sprayed on top, what tends to happen is the etching will kind of puddle in the middle and that slows down the etching. And so whenever you're making printed circuit boards, even though you have a great sidewall etch, you're going to get hung up whenever there's a puddle effect because no longer are you getting a perfect etch around every part of the board, now you have more etching on the side and less in the middle.

So that's kind of what I'm focusing on right now. And that's a little bit more about the fluid dynamics of etching. So I would say those are the biggest ones.

Zach Peterson:
Okay, but zooming out just for a moment, the 30,000 foot view is this is an electronics density problem?

Christopher Bonsell:
Yes.

Zach Peterson:
So I guess if you want to be visionary about it, the grand challenge is packing more stuff into your electronics has become less of a semiconductor problem and more of an assembly and packaging problem?

Christopher Bonsell:
Exactly. I would completely agree.

Zach Peterson:
So I think this is where the PCB industry needs to take control of the narrative around density and stop leaving it up to the semiconductor guys to have that one and win on it constantly?

Christopher Bonsell:
Yes, for sure. Completely agree.

Zach Peterson:
Well, to all the CMOs out there listening, this is your chance. Take control of the narrative.

Christopher Bonsell:
Right.

Zach Peterson:
And then the other thing I've thought about because I see companies take this approach quite often, but the other thing that I've thought about is to get kids more involved in electronics maybe at an earlier timeframe in high school, it seems like they focus on the cool tech of the time, but make it about electronics. And so recently that's been robotics. There's all sorts of dev boards out there that you can buy and you know can buy the little motor assemblies and everything and you can make a robot and it drives around and does stuff. Do you think that would be a really compelling way to get kids more involved in electronics?

Christopher Bonsell:
Yes, I certainly do. Any way you can introduce electronics or electronics manufacturing, the better, because I remember whenever I was a young age, I was getting involved in just learning to solder just printed circuit boards, and it's such a great time, but really there is a lot to learn from there. And also that's just getting this pure exposure to it and seeing what actually goes into the stuff what we use today, really.

Zach Peterson:
I think that's a great way to get kids to shift their focus from what lay people consider tech into where I consider the real tech to be, which is in electronics. Because, I mean, there's a coding aspect to it. And so now you're making the results of the coding much more tangible because they can see the device, they can feel it, they can touch it, they can interact with it.

Christopher Bonsell:
Yes, exactly. And I think that's kind of a funny thing that occurs whenever we are given technology. If you were to hand somebody an iPhone right now, I mean, they wouldn't think about all the components that are in there. They might mess around with the app and be like, "Oh, that's a cool program," but they don't think about the nitty gritty that goes into making the full actual device, at least not unless they're a person that already does appreciate that kind of stuff.

Zach Peterson:
That's true. I think most people would have absolutely no idea what goes on or would worry even about pondering about what goes on inside of that iPhone case.

Christopher Bonsell:
Exactly.

Zach Peterson:
Well, this has been such an interesting discussion and I like what you've said about getting kids involved in electronics and it's something that I care about. And just from one engineer to another, it's great to see young people get involved in manufacturing. So hope to have you back again at a later date, and thank you very much for joining us.

Christopher Bonsell:
Hey, thank you very much for having me on. It's been a great time.

Zach Peterson:
Absolutely. To everyone that's out there listening, we've been talking with Christopher Bonsell, a Chemical Process Engineer at Chemcut.

Make sure to subscribe to our channel. You'll get updated on all of our tutorials as they come out, as well as additional podcast episodes.

And, last but not least, don't stop learning, stay on track and we'll see you next time.

About Author

About Author

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to companies in the electronics industry. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University and conducted research on random laser theory, materials, and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensors, and stochastics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written 2000+ technical articles on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, American Physical Society, and the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA). He previously served as a voting member on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee working on technical standards for quantum electronics, and he currently serves on the IEEE P3186 Working Group focused on Port Interface Representing Photonic Signals Using SPICE-class Circuit Simulators.

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