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IPC Community Magazine launches today at IPC APEX EXPO 2023, both in digital and print form. It is now widely available for download here at no cost. This magazine helps tell the stories of IPC, particularly for IPC members who use and interact with the trade organization. IPC worked closely with I-Connect007 (IPC Publishing Group) to develop the concept for the publication, and asked John W. Mitchell, president and CEO of IPC, to share a few thoughts as he looked at the magazine for the first time in print.
Michelle Te: What are your impressions at first seeing the magazine?
John W. Mitchell: The whole message is fantastic because this is what IPC is about and what makes IPC possible: the fact that we're a community. My first impression is that it’s professional, engaging, and it represents our industry.
I love the color scheme on the cover because these are the colors of IPC, with each color representing a different facet of what we do. But to me, the colors also represent the diversity of the industry, diversity of segments of the industry, and diversity of the international nature of the industry.
Te: We had a lot of discussion about the name of the magazine. Why is community so important to you?
Mitchell: IPC by itself is nothing. The thing that IPC is best known for is standards. Standards don't happen without the industry participating, and that's the community. It's not just the standards community, either. It’s the education community, the advocacy community—it's the community of the industry that makes anything that we do to help the industry possible. IPC on its own doesn't do anything but shepherd those processes and try to organize them. The real work happens in the community that we interact and collaborate with every day.
Te: As you look through the magazine, what stands out to you in its content?
Mitchell: What I like is that it’s really across the board. It's not just, "Oh, this is a standards magazine," or, "This is an education magazine." It really touches on everything, from the newest stuff in advanced packaging and sustainability, and the changes that are going on there, to some of the core stuff about who's doing great work in the standards community. The thing that stands out for me in this issue, and I hope in every issue coming forward, is really the personal experiences. I want us to learn from the members that are participating. These are the often unsung heroes, and we do a little bit of singing, but it's a permanent song that's playing when we put it in the magazine.
Te: A few years ago, IPC made a mindset shift to become more of a trade organization. What does that mean to you?
Mitchell: First, we can never forget our history. IPC started over 65 years ago in 1957 as a “community of the industry.” Its first real products to the industry have been standards and will continue to be standards, but now, over the last half a dozen years or so, we have really branched out to meet more needs, not just what the standards are doing to help the industry build electronics better, but looking at what else we can do to help build electronics better. You have so much happening in education, advocacy, advanced technologies that are happening in solutions, and sustainability.
These things are now coming together, and we're investing more on behalf of the industry. For example, if I’m leading a company and I have 1,000 employees and I need to train those employees—if I have to build a custom training program for them to raise their skills, that costs hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars, and it's constantly changing. That’s where IPC is a benefit. Just like standards, when you bring competing interests and different perspectives together, you end up with a better product; that diversity of thought is what we're bringing into education.
Looking at the end product cost, when IPC is able to build these skills-based systems based on the industry information, everybody wins. We all can take advantage of it for it's just a minute investment, and it stays updated because all the industry's participating in driving that content, not just one company.
Nolan Johnson: John, what additional areas in this industry can you foresee growing community in that way? What are you doing now? Where else can IPC plug in?
Mitchell: I just talked about workforce, so let me talk about two other ones. First is advanced packaging, and you've seen a lot of effort on this. Advanced packaging is the natural evolution of the PCB. It's already there. It's things getting smaller and tighter, and it will be critical in working with semiconductors going forward. There are people doing it today and there are those who want to do it. So, that's another community that I see growing within our larger electronics manufacturing community.
The other one that will affect everybody is sustainability. We saw a dabbling in it with lead free, and that was a massive change. Get ready because this will make lead free changes look like a drop in the pond. But if that was significant, we're going to do that many times over.
Johnson: That's a pretty bold statement. Can you talk more about that?
Mitchell: Right now, much of the sustainability efforts are being led out of Europe. This is their bailiwick; it’s where they live, and it’s their major efforts. One of their major efforts is reusability. Think about how many iPhones are sitting here around the table right now. How reusable are those when they're done? Can you swap out components, change the screen, switch out the battery, change the process? You can't do any of that. Well, they're mandating that electronics that need to be sold are updateable and upgradable. We’re starting to see that happen, but it will proliferate into many different aspects.
The second effort that we need to get smarter about is how we can recycle all this stuff that does not need to get thrown away, so we can reuse those precious minerals. And the third aspect to mention is your carbon footprint in your factories, and where you're building them.
Just considering only those three things changes everything about how you make it, how you design it, and how you build it. Electronics is on its way to changing drastically, and IPC is leading that effort. The way we lead it is, again, through our community. We are pulling experts together and they're helping direct IPC to push to make this happen in the least painful way possible.
Johnson: Just as it was done 70 years ago.
Mitchell: Yes, exactly.
Te: IPC is putting out the message: "We're here to help you.” What do you want to receive back from the members, either through the magazine or in general?
Mitchell: I would hope that readers of this first issue sit there and think, "Hey, I've got a story like that. I wish people knew about this experience that happened or this experience that is happening right now.” If they have one, they should reach out to Michelle and send her an email and say, "Hey, I've got a story for you." I know that those in publishing love when stories come to them. Just walk around APEX EXPO, and all people do is share stories. We just need them to share them with us, with you, to say, "Hey, Michelle, what do you think of this story? Does that line up with an issue going here?" And hopefully they'll send you that story.
Te: Right. We want you to see that what you're doing is important and that it's a story that's worth sharing.
Mitchell: That's right. Every story is at least worth a consideration. I have some fantastic stories that I've heard over the years. Some of them are horrible, others are fantastic. Here’s one of my favorites that I shared at one of our executive forums. There's a gentleman who came to IPC and he had clients around the country. He had one client that he was unable to go to and meet that client’s need. However, through the community of IPC, he knew a competitor that had a facility next to his client. So, he called up that competitor. That competitor, because he was part of the IPC community, went and helped solve that problem because it was local to him. What other industry does that happen in? Nowhere. I love that about our industry. It's not always about money, rather it’s "Hey, I know if I help you, you'll find a way to help me because what goes around comes around." When we help others, we open ourselves to be helped as well.
Te: Thank you for the ideas and the support of the magazine. We look forward to making many more of those connections with IPC members.
Mitchell: I just love that we finally have a magazine that's dedicated solely to voicing the community's experiences and concerns and wins—something for them.
Subscribe now by visiting ipccommunity.org.
Michelle Te is editor of IPC Community magazine. To share a story idea for IPC Community, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.