Mar, 2023


Technology is the biggest accelerant for innovation in the printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing space. Advanced technologies have made it possible to manufacture chips and microprocessors that are compact and lighter with powerful function-alities for modern electronic systems, especially ones deployed in aerospace and defense applications. PCB manufacturers should keep their fingers on the pulse of emerging trends like microelectronics and minia-turization to produce reliable, high-performing PCBs.  

At the center of these developments is APCT, a leading manufacturer of high-reliability PCBs for a range of industries, including industrial, automotive, telecommunications, aerospace and defense.

Living by the mantra of “continuous improvement,” APCT aligns with the technological progressions in the industry and offers robust PCB solutions to meet evolving customer demands.

“Our core competency lies in pushing the envelope of advanced technology manufacturing. We guide our customers on successfully utilizing new solutions in the defense and aerospace industry and stay abreast of the technology innovation happening in the industry,” says Steve Robinson, president and CEO of APCT.

The APCT Difference

The largest independently-owned PCB manufacturer in North America, APCT differentiates itself with its outstanding design and engineering capabilities that are reflected in its solutions. Its wide-ranging offerings include standard, rigid through-hole, advanced high-density interconnect (HDI), and flex and rigid flex (RF). By listening intently to clients and understanding their requirements, it provides custom solutions and conforms to strict quality standards.

APCT has been producing HDI PCBs since 2008, which has enabled it to gain extensive experience in developing designs with high reliability for the aerospace and defense sector. These novel designs are powered by developments in components like stacked, copper-filled microvias in combination with multiple sequential laminations.

APCT is one of the very few PCB manufacturing companies with multiple facilities whose operations are integrated and managed under a single platform. It has invested over $20 million to enable its industry-leading factories to support PCB manufacturing with HDI and advanced microelectronics technology. All its manufacturing sites are compliant with International Traffic in Arms Regulations and cybersecurity standards.

With a tremendous capacity to support programs across its manufacturing facilities, APCT provides clients an opportunity to leverage all resources through a single point of contact. This value proposition is powered by its top-notch systems and automation technology, which allow it to accelerate design processes in different facilities and quickly launch new programs.

While newer technologies are often introduced in the market by commercial customers, aerospace and defense companies are more cautious about implementing technologies until there is enough on-the-ground work done to demonstrate their viability and reliability. APCT works with its commercial customers to develop these technologies, analyzes their performance, and gains experience in processing techniques to deliver products that aerospace and defense clients can use with confidence.

“High-speed and technology run in APCT’s DNA. The key to our efficiency is quick-turn-around capabilities that are faster than the industry standards across the aerospace and defense sector. With lead times as short as 10 to 15 days, unlike the usual 30 to 50 days, we accelerate production and recover a significant amount of time lost in the design and launch of advanced technology for our clients,” says Ruben Zepeda, COO of APCT.

In one instance, APCT helped a military client complete the design for a shoulder-launched rocket by providing PCBs for its new guidance system. While the client’s previous supplier had been working on a solution for about 60 days without any reliable results, the APCT team delivered a redesigned product in just six days.

Pushing the Boundaries of Advanced Technology Manufacturing

The biggest advantage for APCT is its capability to quickly redesign if clients are not satisfied with their current solution. The team provides clients with feedback and recommendations for manufacturability to help them succeed.

APCT’s field application engineers (FAE) and design for manufacturing (DFM) engineers engage with customer engineering teams in the early design stages to ensure no re-engineering is needed. If required, they provide recommendations for improving the product even after the design is finalized. They also help with material selection for advanced high-speed digital products, ensuring performance and durability.

For this purpose, the FAEs and DFM engineers leverage custom, rules-based software packages and populate the attributes of the PCBs. The team follows the traffic light color code to ensure the highest performance of the product.

Items in the “green” column are considered the most standard and cost-effective and need no special attention. The “yellow” column contains items that require additional process attention or quality control steps. Items in the red column indicate that they need intensive engineering analysis. APCT takes a closer look at these items and makes recommendations for timely resolution.

Always in the Clients’ Good Books

Applying its deep expertise in PCBs gained through years of R&D, APCT makes a positive difference for clients and develops trusted business relationships with them.

This has allowed it to carve a distinctive manufacturing niche in the market, guiding clients to successfully launch microelectronics and other emerging technologies, and meet reliability, testing, and other criteria specific to various applications.

The APCT team goes a step forward and engages with clients’ design and engineering teams via online and on-site ‘lunch and learn’ seminars to educate them on the dos and don’ts of the manufacturing process, helping them deduce the practices that best suit their operations.

“We design our roadmap and align it with customers’ future plans to direct our CapEx and engineering initiatives accordingly,” says Eric Schmidt, CTO of APCT.

Geared for a Positive Future

From design to fabrication, APCT excels at every step by leveraging its advanced engineering, design, and technical support team with deep-rooted expertise. Every member of its team brings decades of experience to the table. Led by industry veterans and knowledgeable

executive leaders, APCT has witnessed double-digit growth year-over-year for the last 15 years, regardless of the economic climate. It has grown from a value of $5 million dollars in 2008 to $140 million in 2022. Robinson’s industry experience, since 1971, has been a key enabler, helping APCT to maintain an excellent track record and¬ a positive vision for the future.

APCT continues to invest in new technologies to sustain its winning streak and facilitate diversification and differentiation through mergers and acquisitions. It is also focusing on thermal management techniques and miniaturized PCBs while offering value-added assembly services. By building additional capacity for its factories in North America, it aims to scale its HDI and RF technology operations to meet demand spikes.

Committed to servicing the full life cycle of HDI and RF fabrications, APCT will continue to successfully propel clients toward the future of PCB technology.

Aerospace & Defense Review
(ISSN 2691-395X)
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