The future of manufacturing faces two large changes:

  1. The shortage of skilled labor entering the manufacturing workforce
  2. The integration of robotics to streamline automation and human-robot collaboration

The labor shortage faced in manufacturing is astronomical. It is predicted that by 2025, 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be open due to job creation and retirements. However, at the current rate, 2 million of those jobs will be left unfilled. (Source: Deloitte The skills gap in US manufacturing outlook analysis)

Enter: Manufacturing Day

Manufacturing Day is a USA-based, nationwide movement to change this narrative. Celebrated on the first Friday of October, this collaborative event serves as an invitation to introduce the future workforce to opportunities in the industry. And trust us, there are many opportunities.

At publication time, 42 of the 66 jobs currently available at Rogers Corporation are in the manufacturing field. As robotics integration and industry 5.0 progress, even more jobs will be created. So, why should the incoming workforce be excited about working in these positions?

Manufacturing is good for the economy, which is good for the employee

For every $1 invested in manufacturing, the US sees $1.89 added to the economy, the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector (Source: National Association of Manufacturers and IMPLAN economic impact solutions). In addition to a sustainable career choice, manufacturing is an evolving and exciting field. It takes manufacturing to turn ideas into a reality. Whether it be a smart home that knows when to turn the lights on and off or a fleet of self-driving cars making roadways safer, these innovations are helped made possible by the manufacturers that execute their creation.

Innovation is born (or, built) in manufacturing

In fact, manufacturers in the United States perform more than three-quarters of all private-sector research and development (R&D) in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis). At Rogers, we contribute to that statistic. With our strategic pillar to be an innovation-driven company, we support new product development in our Business Unit R&D departments, as well as our Innovation Centers.

Speaking of innovation…

Part of innovation in manufacturing is the integration of robotics into the manufacturing process. Currently, there is a strong push to automate repetitive tasks to deliver consistent quality. For example, the below video loop demonstrates robots assisting by loading and unloading parts from a conveyor belt.

 

However, increasing complexity in factories will call for greater robotics integration. As put by Marc Beulque, VP of Global Operations at Rogers:

Industry 5.0 recognizes that man and machine must be interconnected to meet the manufacturing complexity of the future in dealing with increasing customization through an optimized robotized manufacturing process.

An example of this is shown in the video below, where a camera system collects data as the robot performs the task of plugging in an electric car for charging. With this, a worker can complete several tasks via robot at one time and, if any discrepancies are noted by the vision system, they will be notified and can correct it.

 

See? Manufacturing is cool.

So join us, both in celebrating Manufacturing Day and by applying to join our team. The future of manufacturing is exciting and we are thrilled to be working towards these changes.

Tagged with:  

Cultivating a Global Team

On September 25, 2018, in Careers/Human Resources, Corporate, by mdippel

Currently, Rogers Corporation has sixteen manufacturing locations and seven additional global sales offices spanning nine countries around the world. These locations boast a workforce of more than 3,400 employees. While these numbers are notable, they only tell part of the story.

Rogers is a truly global company, where we get to interact regularly with colleagues across the world.

“Working with colleagues in different regions of the world often brings different perspectives,” says Mike Brodeur, Senior Web Developer. “These different ideas, when brought together, quite often make our final solution more effective and well thought out.”

Mike’s observation is a sentiment shared throughout the company. “My role has me interacting across multiple continents on a daily basis,” says Sheryl Long, Senior Global Marketing Communications Manager. “I enjoy seeing so many people from different parts of the world and different cultures working together towards mutual goals.”

Our global manufacturing footprint means we can be responsive to customers in each region we serve. According to Steve Ubelhoer, North America Sales Director:

Local manufacturing increases options for customers. It means local production in the same time zone and often the same language for quicker answers, less transit time for materials when demand spikes, fewer worries about tariffs, taxes and customs and duplicate production capabilities for disaster recovery plans. In a world where customers are looking for suppliers to reduce their concerns, this is often a significant advantage for Rogers that our competitors cannot offer.

Not only does Rogers have a wide range of facility locations, but we also have career opportunities across numerous disciplines. From manufacturing and production to IT and finance, it takes a diverse workforce to keep Rogers moving forward. If this exciting and bustling global organization is something that you would enjoy being a part of, check out our current career opportunities.

Tagged with:  

Managing PCB Materials: Dielectric Constant (Dk)

On September 11, 2018, in Uncategorized, by sharilee

This post authored by John Coonrod originally appeared on the ROG Blog hosted by Microwave Journal.

Choosing a high frequency circuit board material often requires weighing several factors, including cost and performance. A key starting point in sorting through printed circuit board (PCB) materials is usually the dielectric constant, or Dk, one of the essential characteristics of a laminate material and one that is subject to many comparisons among different suppliers of PCB materials.

ROG_DkApp_finalThe dielectric constant of a laminate refers to a measure of the capacitance or energy between a pair of conductors in the vicinity of the laminate compared to that pair of conductors in a vacuum. The value for a vacuum is 1.0, with all other materials having a value somewhat higher than that. A laminate with higher values of Dk can store more energy than materials with lower Dk values. But at higher Dk values, electromagnetic energy will flow at a slower rate through the conductors (lower frequency).

Several earlier blog posts addressed different approaches available to measure the Dk of PCB materials. These methods involve different test fixtures and circuit configurations, such as the clamped stripline resonator test method and the full sheet resonance (FSR) test. Unfortunately, depending upon the laminate being measured and the frequency, these methods can reveal very different values of Dk for the same material under test.

For that reason, Rogers Corp. has developed alternative sets of dielectric-constant values, Design Dk values, to represent the company’s laminates during the design and engineering stages. These are Dk values that can be used reliably and accurately within commercial computer-aided-engineering (CAE) software tools. The Design Dk values are measured by yet other measurement techniques, the differential phase length method. The approach is based on fabricating two microstrip circuits of significantly different length on the same laminate and in close proximity, identical in every way except for length. The test method measures the transmission characteristics of a quasi-transverse-electromagnetic (quasi-TEM) wave propagation and its phase response for a pair of microstrip transmission line circuits. By comparing the expected phase of the lines for a given frequency with the measured results, it can be possible to calculate the Dk for the laminate. In this approach, a large difference in length, such as 1:3, is recommended to simplify the measurements; the shorter circuit will limit the low-frequency accuracy.

But rather than just take Rogers’ word for it, it is also possible to apply the differential phase length method to a laminate of choice to determine its Dk firsthand. For those interested, Rogers Corp. now offers free downloadable software, Rogers’ Microstrip Dk Calculator Software, to determine PCB Dk values. The software works with the aid of associated test equipment, such as a microwave vector network analyzer (VNA). A high-quality test fixture should be used with the same signal launch for both circuits under test. The software can gather data from the measurements and produce a plot of Dk versus frequency, of particular value to designers of broadband circuits wishing to know the dielectric constant of the laminate beyond a certain operating frequency range. The range of frequencies across which this method can test depends on the lengths of the circuits, the return loss between the test fixture and the analyzer, and a number of different network analyzer parameters. The accuracy of the measurements depends on these different parameters and the length ratio between the two transmission lines. In addition to the software, an operator’s manual for performing the measurements can also be downloaded for free. The user’s manual provides details about the test method and why it tends to provide reliable results for Dk values.

These Design Dk values are generated for all of Rogers’ commercial laminates, based on this measurement method. The Rogers Microstrip Dk Calculator Software is available online for free download from the Rogers Technology Support Hub, which also includes technical papers and videos and several calculators, including the latest version of the MWI Microwave Impedance and loss calculator, MWI-2017. This free downloadable software tool features an improved grounded coplanar model and added capability to display the Design DK for any of Rogers’ products in the calculator when using the microstrip model.

Visitors to the Rogers Technology Support Hub can also download a copy of the ROG Converter software, a web-based application designed for a tablet or smartphone. It can provide simple conversions of dimensions from metric to English units and back, for temperature, for copper thickness, for CTE, and for thermal coefficient of dielectric constant (TCDk). Recently added conversions include for return loss: as VSWR, mismatch loss, and reflection coefficient. Based on Rogers’ materials, it can also help when planning multilayer material stack-ups.

Do you have a design or fabrication question? Log in to the Rogers Technology Support Hub and “Ask an Engineer” today.

Tagged with:  

This post (originally by Dave Sherman) appeared on the PORON Cushioning Blog. Updated 08/21/2018

A Foam is a Foam is a Foam, Right?

In a word (or three), not so much. Our customers are often surprised to learn that all PORON® Comfort materials are open cell polyurethane foams, especially when what they’re used to seeing are closed cell EVA foams or closed cell polyurethane foams.

Open cell foam has many benefits and properties not present in closed cell foams. One of the biggest is that it offers the best resistance to compression set (C-Set) or, for the non-foam aficionados out there, resistance to break down after multiple uses. Essentially, this means that the foam is very durable and won’t break down or lose its cushioning properties after multiple uses. In the footwear world that equates to a consistent fit, form, and functional level, and maintains the look and feel of the shoe as it was designed.

Closed Cell Foams vs. Open Cell Foams

Here’s something else to consider…

Closed Cell Foam:

Closed cell foams, or EVA foams, are comprised of complete bubbles of air. The bubbles of air are trapped in the foam with cell walls all around that prevent air from escaping. Bunched together like soap bubbles in a bubble bath, the air pockets are crucial to the function of the foam. When the foam is compressed, so is the air inside the bubbles, which allows the foam to spring back when pressure is removed. For this reason, they are often used in shoe insoles and sports padding where resistance and protection are key.

Evidence of this property can be demonstrated with a tennis ball. Tennis balls are known to be bouncy due to the air trapped inside the ball. But once a tennis ball has been used repeatedly the air begins to leak out, causing the ball to lose its springy resistance.

tennis ball - closed cell foam

Applying this analogy to closed cell foams, this is the point at which the foam begins to go flat or “take a set” (remember that whole C-Set thing?). That’s why insoles or padding made solely from closed cell foam become less comfortable over time or are less protective on the next hit.

Open Cell Foam:

Open cell foams have their plusses and minuses as well. PORON Comfort materials are comprised of open cells connected by portals which allow air to flow between them.

This means these materials are not dependent upon air bubbles for their properties, but instead on the properties of the materials in their cell walls. Because of this, they react to pressure in a manner similar to that of a spring, returning to an original position after each compression without fail due to air moving freely through the cells. An open cell structure also allows for moisture vapor transmission, helping with breathability and maintaining the environment of the shoe.

spring - close cell foam

Available in an array of proprietary formulations, PORON Comfort open cell materials are engineered to provide specific functionality, providing the right level of support and breathability to the end user throughout the day and over the life of the shoe.

So Which One is Right for Your Application?

There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of foam that should be considered when deciding which one to use. Closed cell foams can be very light, as their cell walls can be very thin, but are usually stiff because of the incompressibility of the air inside them. They can also be better than open cell materials at resisting liquid penetration.

Open cell foams, in addition to being resistant to taking a set, are softer and easier to compress. Their cells also allow for breathability and a better Compression Force Deflective (CFD) or, in other words, a measure of their firmness or load-bearing capacity.

Occasionally the right foam solution is actually a combination of closed cell and open cell materials. Capitalizing on the best of both worlds, some designs layer a closed cell foam and open cell foam, allowing the more flexible open cell layer (such as PORON Comfort) to conform to the shape set into the closed cell material (an EVA for example).

Refer to the table below for a summary of the advantages of each type of foam:

Foam Properties Open Cell Closed Cell Property Measurement
Compression Force Deflective (CFD) Softness/Conformability
Compression Set Resistance Life of Properties
Anti-Microbial  ✓* Integral Coating
Breathability MVTR-Yes/No
Water Absorption % Uptake After Some Time
Washability Cycles at Setting
Shaping
Flexibility

*Optional additional protection available

Be mindful of these differences as they relate to your application and design.  If your application requires lighter weight and washability, opt for a closed cell foam. However, if longevity and reliability are critical to your application, choose PORON Comfort materials as your solution.

 

Tagged with:  

Selected quotes from our recent earnings call. Read the corporate financials news release: Rogers Corporation Reports Second Quarter 2018 Results.

In Q2 2018, Rogers delivered revenues of $215 million, compared to $201.4 million in Q2 2017.

Bruce Hoechner, CEO, on Growth Drivers

There continues to be a strong demand that is projected in our key growth drivers of advanced connectivity and advanced mobility. Opportunities for growth in markets such as 5G, EV/HEV, and ADAS are driving our capacity expansion plans. It is a key imperative for Rogers to maintain its market leadership position by ensuring capacity is ready when our customers need it.

In advanced mobility, we are very encouraged by the continued adoption of our silicon nitride materials as automakers continue their race to introduce more EV and HEV models. This shift in the industry bodes well for the PES business, where our ceramic substrates offer high thermal connectivity and reliability. These features are essential for the smaller, more energy-efficient wide-bandgap semiconductors found in EV and HEV applications.

In the area of advanced connectivity, we continue to see signs that the transition to 5G is imminent, with testing and early deployments on the rise in China. For Rogers, 5G represents a much larger opportunity than past generations of wireless infrastructure due to the complexity of the systems and the greater material content they require. ACS holds a solid leadership position in this market, offering differentiated products that meet customer needs for very high frequencies, thermal management and high performance that minimizes crosstalk.

We look forward to capitalizing the large opportunities ahead.

Bruce Hoechner, CEO, on Rogers’ Business Units

Advanced Connectivity Solutions (ACS) achieved second quarter net sales of $76 million, a slight increased over Q2 2017, and sequential growth of 4% over Q1 2018. Revenues were largely driven by applications in aerospace and defense and tenant for 4.5G and 5G wireless structure and ADAS, partially offset by lower demand in portable electronics and wireless 4G LTE power amp applications. The latest independent market analysis indicates 2019 5G base station deployments at roughly 100,000 units, with some experts indicating more. ACS has significant design wins in this space, where base stations require 2x to 4x of Rogers’ content than that of the 4G LTE base stations.

Elastomeric Material Solutions (EMS) net sales of $79 million were relatively flat compared to Q2 2017. Higher demand in portable electronics, consumer, automotive and mass transit applications was offset by lower demand for clean room automation equipment used in OLED display manufacturing. In the second half of the year, we expect continued improvement in the general industrial segment. Additionally, we continue to drive operational synergies across our acquired businesses, including DeWAL, DSP and, more recently, Griswold.

Power Electronics Solutions (PES) delivered another great quarter with net sales of $54 million, a 12% increase over Q2 2018, excluding the impact of currency. Net sales increased due to broad-based demand across markets, including particular strength and electric and hybrid electric vehicles, renewable energy, mass transit and variable frequency drives. We expect the strength we’ve seen in the first half of the year to continue into the third and fourth quarters, driven by exceptionally strong demand for EV/HEV and x-by-wire applications.

Q2 2018 Earnings Call Transcript

Q2 2018 Financial Press Release

Q2 2018 Earnings Call Slides

Q2 2018 Earnings Call