2020 has proved a very successful and productive year for iNEMI project teams. By the end of the year 5 projects will have been completed, while 7 new ones will have commenced, yielding 14 currently active projects. In addition, member-led teams are actively developing new project proposals. iNEMI projects cover a broad range of topics in electronics manufacturing with projects ongoing or in planning in the areas of smart manufacturing, packaging, PCBs and laminates, sustainability, 5G/mmWave, photonics and interconnect. This article highlights new projects and initiatives that are welcoming new participants.


In recent years, a number of iNEMI projects have studied warpage in both packaging and PCBs. Understanding the key factors that contribute to warpage and the impact of warpage on assembly processes and reliability is critical in the design and manufacture of electronics products. Building on the measurement and simulation capabilities developed in earlier projects, iNEMI is continuing work on warpage issues through the Warpage Characterization and Management Program. As part of this program, the Package Warpage Prediction and Characterization project will continue WPLP-warpagecharacterization of dynamic warpage of newer types of advanced packages to help enable higher yields in board assembly and assist in developing a reliable modelling framework to optimize package warpage simulation. The High Density Interconnect Socket Warpage Prediction and Characterization project, which includes membership drawn from socket manufacturers, plans to establish socket warpage measurement metrology and prediction methods for larger socket sizes and to investigate the impact of molding, material properties and design on large size socket warpage. 

Connectors & optical interconnect

Expanding on previous iNEMI interconnect projects, which identified gaps in existing standards and connector reliability testing methods, Phase 3 of the Connector Reliability Test Recommendations project, which includes OEM and connector manufacturer participants, plans to define a test vehicle and a more relevant test framework for evaluating ICT electrical connectors across a wider range of use conditions than are presently considered. The objective is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of connector qualification across the supply chain. This project will start in January.

Optical interconnect is becoming increasingly important to the electronics industry. iNEMI's latest project in this area is the Best Practices and Guidelines for Use of Expanded Beam Connectors in Data Center Applications project, which launched in December. Expanded beam connectors are less sensitive to contamination and promise cost savings due to reduced cleaning requirements and potentially higher reuse in data centers. The project will investigate the impact of contamination on optical performance, develop recommendations for cleaning processes for single mode and multi-mode expanded beam connectors, and conduct cost modelling to study the potential operational and maintenance cost savings in data centers using expanded beam connectors.

Single mode expanded beam interconnects have demonstrated optical and mechanical functionality for future system architectures. The PIC Chip & Micro Optics Demonstrator for Edge Pluggable Free Space Connector team plans to assess the manufacturing issues of using single mode expanded beam connector interfaces in board-level optical interconnect and to develop manufacturing guidelines for PIC modules and micro-optics by building and demonstrating a board-level optical interconnect system.


5G/mmWave technologies are driving developments in a broad range of applications as demand for faster connectivity and data volume grows. iNEMI projects are now looking to enable the electronics manufacturing community to address the associated design, manufacturing and reliability challenges associated with these technologies (e.g., high frequency). Earlier this year, 5G Permittivity-1iNEMI launched the 5G/mmWave Materials Assessment and Characterization project, which now has 26 organizations working together to address the lack of industry standard test methods of Dk and Df. The project plans to develop guidelines/best practices for standardized measurement and test techniques and propose test coupon designs for industry wide application. (See related article.)

The move to higher frequencies is also impacting PCB design and fabrication. The Mitigation of 5G Signal Loss due to PCB Copper Foil Surface Treatments initiative plans to look at one of the key issues. Treatment of copper surfaces to improve adhesion to resin systems can help with the fabrication and integrity of the PCB, but can have a detrimental effect on signal loss and integrity, particularly for high frequency 5G/mmWave applications which require very low-profile copper foil and low-loss resin systems for electrical performance. This initiative, led by OEMs and material suppliers, plans to characterize various copper surface treatments/resin systems and determine the metrology and test methodology to characterize copper-foil-to-resin bond strength so that better choices can be made to optimize both signal and mechanical performance.

Smart manufacturing

The implementation challenges of smart manufacturing are being considered across the industry. Automated methodologies to collect, analyze and use machine/process data are key enablers for the factory of the future. The Data Management Best Practices for PCB Assembly project, which plans to launch in January, will focus on developing and demonstrating a generic reference data architecture and best practices to enable efficient implementation of smart PCB assembly in a manufacturing environment where diverse supplier equipment is used.

Data Mgmt Best Practices

Another area of focus for smart manufacturing is automated optical inspection (AOI). An iNEMI initiative is forming to define a Smart AOI Inspection project to demonstrate existing capabilities and identify gaps and opportunities for leveraging artificial intelligence to optimize AOI in PCB assembly.

Sustainable electronics

In the area of sustainability, our focus is on how electronics manufacturing can achieve a circular economy. There are presently 2 projects being developed to address the capabilities gaps in the industry.

The Eco-Design Best Practices for a Circular Electronics Economy initiative is looking at the lack of a shared knowledge base for innovative eco-design and lack of eco-design training. It proposes a project to grow the knowledgebase across the electronics manufacturing ecosystem by identifying and communicating the best eco-design practices that have the greatest impact by considering a holistic view of the product in society and environment.

Extracting maximum value from existing devices is critical to the circular economy. There is a lack of standard processes and data for extended reliability assessments of electronics systems and components. Being able to select products to be refurbished or re-assembled for longer use would reduce consumption of raw materials and processes and enable the use of components beyond design life which would contribute to a reduction in waste. The Extended Reliability Assessment for Electronic Components initiative team is exploring a project to develop a procedure for extended reliability assessment and component classification.

For information

If you would like information about how to get involved in any iNEMI projects, please contact Grace O'Malley (