Category Archive: Uncategorized

An American (Manufacturing) Dream Come True

For those of us who have been born and raised in the United States, we sometimes disregard, or take for granted, the many opportunities this nation has to offer.

I, personally, was reminded of them after a conversation I had with Prathima Kapa, president of E-Fab, Inc. in Santa Clara, CA.

Prathima was born into a middle-class family in South India. Her father was an ambitious man with a hard childhood and her mother had an elementary level of education. It was important to Prathima’s parents that all their children received a higher education.

“My mom was our greatest inspiration and role model,” explains Prathima. “She made sure we had our own identities and encouraged healthy competition among us.”

Breaking from Cultural Traditions

By the time Prathima turned 16-years old, she was due to get married and start a family — a cultural tradition that is still practiced today in India.

She explained how her mother convinced her father to allow her the same opportunities as her brothers in terms of education and pursuing her dreams. So, instead of walking down the aisle at 16, she attended and, later, graduated from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad, India.

“Chemical engineering is not a common choice for girl students. We are perceived as delicate creatures within our society, and the overall impression is that we cannot compete with boys or succeed in the harsh work environments pertaining to this field,” says Prathima. “Out of 40 students in my class, only ten were girl students. I am the only girl student left working in my related field. All my other friends shifted to different career options.”

After receiving her B.A. in chemical engineering, Prathima realized that opportunities for growth in India for female engineers were slim to none. “There were not many opportunities for women in the chemical engineering field at that time. We were destined to do desk jobs or stay dedicated to the labs. Most of the challenging and in-the-field jobs preferred male candidates. I always wanted to work in industrial or a manufacturing-type setting, so I started looking for other options,” explains Prathima.

Prathima’s brother was able to help her financially and convinced her to go to the United States.

Pursuing the American Dream

At 21, Prathima left India to pursue her dream in America. “It was a BIG culture shock for me, but I stuck to it with the amazing support of my friends,” she says.

Her research focused on Molecular Sciences and Nanotechnology at the Institute of MicroManufacturing in Ruston, LA. After two years, she received her master’s and then went on to pursue an internship at Kemac Technology, Inc. in Azusa, CA. Kemac provides photo-etched thin metal components used in medical, electronics, aerospace, and wireless telecommunication devices.  “This is where I met my amazing boss who helped me to realize my full potential at work and encouraged me to take up new challenges. His support and encouragement stuck with me for the rest of my life”.

After Kemac, Prathima accepted an Associate Scientist position at Acree Technologies, Inc., a physical vapor deposition (PVD) coating specialist located in Concord, CA.

She then became a Process Engineer at Elcon Precision, LLC in San Jose, CA. She was quickly promoted to Production Manager, which laid the pathway to her current position of president at E-FAB, Inc. in Santa Clara, CA. “At Elcon, I was able to bring out my best version,” says Prathima. “I started loving more of the manufacturing challenges, and I was able to bring out my creative side to solve those problems. Wal Disney’s quote: ‘Dare to dream and try to achieve’ is my favorite.”

Overcoming Adversity in the Land of Opportunity

Prathima’s story of success did not come without its challenges.

Despite the U.S. being considered the “land of opportunity,” women still face adversity in manufacturing regarding career opportunities, compensation, and growth.

study done by the Manufacturing InstituteAPICS (global leader in supply chain certification), and Deloitte reported that half of its female survey respondents listed the following reasons of why they considered leaving the manufacturing industry:

  • Poor working relationships
  • Work-life balance
  • Low income/pay
  • Lack of promotion opportunities
  • Lack of challenging or interesting assignments

Prathima attested to experiencing some of the reasons stated above in her personal journey working in manufacturing.

“Being a woman in a male-dominated industry caused me to work ten times harder than my male counterparts,” explains Prathima. “I had to prove myself on a daily basis to gain their respect and get to where I am today.”

Prathima explained how 15 to 20% of the men she worked with supported her journey and provided guidance, but a portion of them tried to demoralize her and presented many obstacles. “Women tend to be more emotional than men,” says Prathima. “My advice: Put in 100% of yourself at work, but leave your emotions out of it, and don’t carry your work home with you.”

Standards of performance are believed to be greater for women than men at lower pay rates. PayScale reported that:

An uncontrolled gender pay gap, which takes the ratio of the median earnings of women to men without controlling for various compensable factors, has only decreased by $0.07 since 2015. In 2020, women make only $0.81 for every dollar a man makes.”

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women earn about 82 percent of what men do; even less during child-bearing years (U.S. Labor of Statistics, 2014). Other research reports gender wage gaps in several manufacturing related roles including first-line supervisors of production and operating workers (70 percent wage gap), production, planning and expediting clerks (72 percent wage gap), and production workers/all others (73 percent wage gap) (Sherman 2014).

Manufacturers across the nation host facility tours that provide students with an intimate view of the latest technologies and available positions they may not have heard of. Such tours help erase the negative stigmas that depict manufacturing as dirty, dark, dull, and dangerous. They also help connect female students to women leadership in their communities.

Manufacturing communities are partnering with their educational institutions to provide academic and career pathways specific to women in an attempt to close the manufacturing skills and gender gaps.

Finally, women leaders in manufacturing, such as Prathima, are being more proactive in recruiting efforts by connecting with their communities and speaking to the next generation of manufacturers. She discussed the importance of support groups withing the work culture so women could talk to each other and be each other’s mentors.

“My advice to any woman considering the manufacturing industry is to keep an open mind and don’t dwell on the negative,” says Prathima. “It’s a fast-paced industry where you can be you, push yourself to great success, and make a monumental impact in everyone’s lives.”

E-Fab Remains Open Amidst COVID-19

 

E-Fab is a Critical Manufacturer per Homeland Security Guidelines

 

Dear E-Fab Customers,

With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation developing quickly, we believe it is important to keep our customers informed. We want to let you know we are open for business. E-Fab Inc. serves customers involved in Communications, Military, and Health-Care industries, which are all considered “Essential Activities”.

Appropriate measures have been taken to ensure the health and safety of our employees and their families, which is of utmost importance. We have implemented steps to avoid disruptions in service by:

  • Educating our staff on virus prevention and protection
  • Providing face masks, cleansers, and sanitizers to all employees
  • Securing our buildings to include employees only
  • Daily and thorough disinfecting procedures for each department
  • Working from home where possible and production/shipping/receiving departments have enlisted working in shifts
  • Efficiently using cross-trained employees.

We have also reached out to our suppliers and, to date, we do not anticipate any delays. There may be a slight disruption with our vendors whom we use for secondary operations such as Plating, Cleanroom packaging, and Heat-Treating. If your parts require Etching only, we do not anticipate any delay in shipment. However, if the parts require secondary operations as listed above there could be a delay. We will keep you informed, remain in constant contact, and will continue to monitor our supply chain accordingly. We greatly appreciate your business and remain committed to providing the exceptional service and quality you have come to expect from E-Fab Inc.

We continue to monitor the situation closely and will keep you posted on any changes. Stay Safe and Healthy! Together we will overcome this crisis!!

Regards,

E-Fab Inc.

Is Photochemical Machining (PCM) Right For You? Yes!

The Basics of Photochemical Machining (PCM)

Photochemical machining (PCM) is an excellent alternative to traditional CNC machining operations. Thousands or millions of high precision parts can be manufactured at one time with substantially reduced tooling costs. Metal parts that are intricate in nature, with complex shapes and geometries, can easily be tooled using CAD/CAM software and printed on a phototool. This minimizes expensive mechanical and manual operation costs and reduces the overall turnaround time.

We know that our customers want quality parts machined to specifications, with on-time delivery, and at the agreed-upon pricing. E-Fab engineers ensure that the processes used are in the best interest of getting you what you want. Whether this is a one-off prototype run or a multi-million production run, we are able to keep costs low and quality high.

PCM Process

  1. Create Phototool – a component containing a negative image of the desired part used to block UV light from reaching specific sections of the workpiece
  2. Prep Metal – cutting, cleaning, and applying photoresist—a light-sensitive compound—to the sheet metal
  3. Exposing – applying UV light to the masked metal, which hardens the exposed photoresist
  4. Developing – washing off the unhardened photoresist to reveal raw metal
  5. Etching – specialized etching equipment and etchant removes the unprotected raw metal areas
  6. Cleaning – removing the remaining photoresist to reveal the finished part

PCM Advantages

Tolerances Photochemical machining (PCM), or photo etching, is ideally suited for most metals and alloys that are less than .050″ in material thickness depending on features and part tolerances. Parts requiring tighter tolerances can be easily stepped and repeated on larger panel sizes with high parts to panel density ratios. This substantially increases the yield ratio and decreases the material waste.

Low Cost – Traditionally, CNC machining and milling have difficulty making thin metal parts. PCM can solve the complex thin metal part challenges, and at a fraction of the cost. E-Fab can beat the cost, time, and accuracy of traditional manufacturing methods like CNC turning, milling, laser cutting, waterjet, and wire EDM (electrical discharge machining).

Quick Turnaround Engineering modifications can be done quickly and conveniently using CAD/CAM software. PCM allows the designer and engineer to significantly reduce the turnaround time involved with prototypes and improve the complete production time frame.

Part Integrity The PCM process maintains surface quality without producing burring or tool markings as with CNC machining. Metal properties and structural integrity of the alloys are also sustained through the process.

E-Fab PCM Applications

Metals – The PCM process is well suited for manufacturing thin metal parts in a variety of metals including aluminum, beryllium copper, brass, bronze, copper, Kovar, molybdenum, nickel, nickel silver, spring steel, stainless steel, steel, tin, and other common and exotic materials.

Products – With the design freedom of PCM, nearly any part can be made. E-Fab manufactures custom parts to customer specification, some of which had included stiffeners, busbars, flex circuits, mesh screens, antennas, micro bumps, connectors, contacts, filters, gaskets, heatsinks, lids, masks, RF circuits, sensors, shields (EMI/RFI/RF), shims, spacers, springs, step lids, and washers. The list is endless.

Industries – E-Fab has had a long history of working closely with the military and many leading aerospace companies. We provide engineering, design, and technical support services for all types of applications for aerospace, defense, medical, aviation, electronics, laser technology, semiconductor, automotive, pharma/biotechnology, and renewable energy.

Secondary Services – We not only want to provide thin metal etched parts, but we want them to be completed per your final needs. To get the parts from etched to application ready, E-Fab offers additional services including forming, shaping, bending, CNC machining,

Why Choose E-Fab?

By partnering with us for their precision thin metal and flex circuit needs, our customers benefit from our:

  • Commitment to customer service (including signed nondisclosure agreements for proprietary ideas and products)
  • On-time delivery and accuracy (better than traditional manufacturing methods)
  • Design/engineering assistance (including optimizing for quality, manufacturability, and cost)
  • Expert in Photochemical Machining (ISO 9001 certified, ITAR registered)

The bottom line is E-Fab Photochemical Machining can save you time and money in a multitude of ways. If you have an idea to discuss or a project to quote, contact us today.

PCB Stiffeners

Multilayer Busbars Copper Bus Bars & PCB Circuit Board Stiffeners

Multilayer Busbars Copper Bus Bars & PCB Circuit Board Stiffeners

What is an E-FAB Busbar?

In electrical power distribution, a busbar (also spelled bus bar, or sometimes as buss bar or bussbar, with the term bus being a contraction of the Latin omnibus, “for all”) is a metallic strip or bar (typically copper or brass) that conducts electricity within a distribution board, circuit board, battery bank, power supply unit or other electrical apparatuses. Its main purpose is to conduct a substantial current of electricity, more than can be provided by standard circuit board traces.

The requirements for designing, engineering and manufacturing of lead-free PCBs, multilayers and backplanes for harsh use environments include: rigid circuit board stiffeners, high current carrying busbars, larger ground planes and other circuit components for specialized applications. E-FAB brass stiffeners and copper busbars are manufactured with the E-FAB PCM process and are the highest quality, direct replacements for the old CCI, Circuit Components, Inc. type.

What are the advantages of using E-FAB PCB stiffeners? Why use E-FAB PCB stiffeners and busbars on your electronics circuit boards?

One of the main reasons to use E-FAB circuit board stiffeners in PCBs and backplane manufacturing is to increase the rigidity of PCBs and strengthen the circuit boards themselves for use in severe and harsh environments such as used in military grade products, aerospace technology and other commercial sectors. Another application is in regards to the bus bar application; of higher power distribution for power and/or ground circuits on PCBs and power supply circuits. E-FAB Bus Bars are typically manufactured from copper, whereas E-FAB Stiffeners are typically manufactured from brass. Bus Bars can serve a dual purpose of being both a conducting bus or multi-busses and also provide structural integrity to a circuit board. Stiffeners are not recommended to be used as busses, since brass is said to have 28% IACS, it denotes an electrical conductivity 28% of that standard. [“IACS” is the International Annealed Copper Standard].1 (1. Copper Development Association Inc.)
E FAB
Increasing the rigidity of modern circuit boards is more important than ever in both the manufacturing phase and the actual application usage phase. With the adaptation of lead-free solder for meeting the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive also known as RoHS, and the increased temperatures required in wave soldering of the circuit components to the PCBs because of having to deal with these various lead restrictions, and the manufacturing changes of having to use different metals and alloys for circuit board construction which are more brittle and require hotter temperatures in the assembly phases, this in turn places significant additional strains on the circuit boards, traces and circuit components used in all phases of a circuit board’s life.

PCB StiffnersE-FAB Circuit Board Stiffeners and Bus BarsKeeping circuit boards and backplanes flat through the manufacturing and assembly process is certainly critical for manufacturing quality and reliable boards, there is however an additional reason for using PCB stiffeners. Consider the natural environmental elements of thermal expansion and contraction through both hot and cold operating temperatures and the natural warming and cooling cycles when a circuit board is in use, and the normal vibration factors involved in various types of application usage (such as military, aerospace and other extreme environmental and rough use situations). These types of operating conditions can cause early board failures resulting from cracked traces and cold solder joints developing at the circuit components’ connections. These are typical applications where the PCB stiffeners solution should be applied.

“Lead-free solders, which were relative novelties a few years ago, are now widely understood, although not always in a positive sense. The most commonly used lead-free solders are known to be more brittle than lead-tin solders, and there have been suggestions recently that there may be large numbers of failures related to lead-free solders in the next several years, both in civilian and non-civilian applications.”

Another application for E-FAB Busbars is the ability to have two or more layers in one space saving device. The E-FAB 2-layer Busbars can be used on circuit boards, power supplies or other power distribution applications for both power(s) and/or ground at the same time.

The E-FAB 2-layer Busbar is designed essentially as a multilayer, with two conducting copper layers separated by an insulator layer. The copper layers are designed and manufactured with a staggered pin configuration (custom configurations are also available) so that every other pin is power and ground. The beauty of using the E-FAB 2-layer Busbars on your PCBs is having all the advanced features of an E-FAB PCB stiffener plus extra power(s) and ground busses rolled into one space saving design. E-FAB Busbars and Stiffeners can be manufactured in an uncoated design type or coated with an epoxy coating (see PDF engineering document for more information).