Our engineering teams regularly deliver breakthroughs in reliability, efficiency, and performance for advanced materials technologies. Here’s what’s new to help you build a cleaner, safer, and more connected world.
Advanced Connectivity Solutions
Rogers Advanced Connectivity Solutions manufactures high frequency PCB laminates and prepregs that are engineered to exact performance requirements.
New Laminates Enable 79 GHz Technology Advancements
Millimeter wave (mmWave) applications are increasingly used in automotive electronic systems, such as automated steering and collision avoidance, and to provide the bandwidth needed for improved data throughput and video performance in 5G wireless communications systems. But first, new techniques must be developed to affordably fabricate circuits, devices and components for use above 30 GHz. Download the article.
VIDEO: Rogers Scales up Production and Integrates Arlon Products
I-Connect007 editor Pete Starkey interviews our European Sales Manager John Hendricks at Productronica. Hendricks updates Starkey on Rogers’ acquisition of Arlon, and explains how the Arlon products complement Rogers’ existing materials.
Power Electronics Solutions
Rogers Power Electronics Solutions Division provides advanced materials technologies that significantly increase efficiency, manage heat, and ensure the quality and reliability of your device.
New ROLINX® CapEasy and ROLINX® CapPerformance Improve Power Efficiency and Manage Heat
The newest additions to the ROLINX® busbar family incorporate a unique Power Ring Film Capacitor™ technology from SBE Inc. and the well-known ROLINX Laminated Busbars from Rogers Corporation. The new capacitor-busbar assembly provides extremely low inductance and high power density. The result is a small, lightweight system ideal for HEV/EV powertrain inverters, solar inverters, and wind inverter systems. http://www.rolinx.com
VIDEO: Increasing Efficiency, Performance, and Thermal Management of Power Electronics
The world is demanding more efficient power for the devices of tomorrow. Rogers’ Power Electronics Solutions are pioneering new markets around the world for power semiconductors, modules, and devices based on optimum thermal management and power distribution. This video highlights the ROLINX® Busbars, designed with optimized inductance and controlled partial discharge for longer lifetime and optimum electrical performance. Also featured are curamik® substrates with thick copper cladding for high heat conductivity, high heat capacity, and curamik® micro-channel coolers for liquid or passive cooling. Watch the video.
Our engineering teams regularly deliver breakthroughs in reliability, efficiency, and performance for advanced materials technologies. Here’s what’s new to help you build a cleaner, safer, and more connected world.
Elastomeric Materials Solutions
Rogers Elastomeric Material Solutions are engineered for superior performance, from ultra-thin protection for sensitive electronics to flexibility and impact protection for athletic gear to robust gasketing for automotive applications. Our unique, open cell structure produces a breathable foam that’s soft to the touch and won’t break down with continual use.
The Hidden Costs in Product Life Cycle Cost Analysis
Many buyers require a Product Life Cycle Cost Analysis. For foam materials, such an analysis covers cost of the initial new product, assumptions about how far into the future the product will be used, cost of refurbishment, etc. Download the paper here.
Condux Plus™ Foams for Mobile Devices
With complicated handheld designs come unexpected electrical grounding and shielding challenges that require immediate solutions. Our Condux Plus™ foam serves as a trusted grounding pad within mobile devices with highly reliable electrical conductivity, excellent mechanical properties, and greater shielding capabilities. Get the product specs here.
The Rule of Thumb for Measuring Foam Cushioning Properties in Footwear
Footwear designers and consumers alike often try to feel whether a foam will be comfortable underfoot by squeezing it between their thumb and forefinger. Pinching foam can be a first evaluation for foam softness, but to understand the cushioning properties of the foam for underfoot uses, you need to dig further. Here’s why?
New XRD® 810 Hex Figure 8
When protecting sensitive joints, flexibility and range of motion are essential. The hex pattern of the X-Pad Figure 8 provides a thin, flexible pad that can be used in shoulder, elbow, and knee applications. Choose XRD® Impact Protection for high and low speed impact protection or PORON® Slow Rebound custom contouring foam for comfort, support, and even pressure distribution. Download the product specs here.
By Ingmar van der Linden, Market Development Manager, Advanced Connectivity Solutions, Rogers Corp.
The world health organization indicates that road traffic injuries claim more than 1.2 million lives worldwide each year. They are also the main cause of death for young people ages 15 to 29. Almost half of the deaths are among vulnerable road users that have the least protection, such as motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians.
New Car Assessment Programmes (NCAPs) are promoting safer cars to consumers by doing crash tests on dummies in new cars to rate the vehicles’ crash protection; a five star rating represents the top score. There are nine NCAPs or similar bodies around the world. Although all NCAPs use star ratings to rank vehicle safety, five stars does not necessarily represent the same level of car safety in all regions.
Advanced Driver Assistance
Recently, North American and European NCAPs started to promote and/or introduce crash avoidance technologies into their rating schemes. In the European NCAP, a five rating can now only be achieved when cars have an overall good performance in crash protection (passive safety) and are equipped with robust crash avoidance technologies. These so called active safety technologies are enabled by the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems using Radar, Camera, and/or LIDAR sensors.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently proposed a new 5-Star Safety Ratings system that will include assessment of crash-avoidance and advanced technologies as well as pedestrian protection. The NHTSA intends to implement these enhancements in the NCAP in 2018, beginning with the 2019 model year.
From 2016, Euro NCAP will expand its safety ratings by including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) technology for pedestrians. Research has shown that fitting effective pedestrian detection systems on passenger cars could prevent one in five fatal pedestrian collisions.
The worldwide leader in Automotive safety systems, Autoliv, showed during their capital market day in 2015 that they expect cars will need to have corner and front radar sensors — plus sensor fusion between radar sensors and stereo or mono cameras — to achieve the Euro NCAP five star safety rating by 2020.
Mercedes Benz new E Class launched during the Detroit Auto Show. It features the latest package of driver assistance systems like Drive pilot, Speed limit pilot, Active lane change assist, and BAS Plus Brake assist.
BAS Plus Brake assist — with cross traffic assist using short-, medium-, and long range radar in combination with a stereo camera — helps you with braking as soon as a risk of collision is detected. Rogers high performance RF antenna materials enable the short-, medium-, and long range radar to detect speed and distance to other road users and obstacles in real time, scanning in all weather conditions. The data of the radar sensors and camera are fused and processed. Based on the data, the driver assistance system can determine a potential collision and then take action.
The functions of the E Class advanced driver assistance systems allow semi-automated driving. Drivers have to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times to be able to initiate a cross or lane correction.
For many circuit designers, plated through holes (PTHs) form pathways, from one circuit plane to another. PTHs, also known as via holes, can provide a path from a conductive layer to a ground plane, from one signal plane to another, and from high-current or power planes to signal planes. But they are not simply PTHs through a printed circuit board (PCB). To some designers, they are necessary evils, required to make those transitions from plane to plane. Some designers view them as design elements; not only do they provide signal pathways through a PCB, but they contribute electrically to the PCB, having an impact on the final performance of the PCB.
The key to making PTHs work for the benefit of a circuit design is to understand their effects on electrical performance, especially at higher frequencies. They should be considered as circuit elements, and they can have a great deal to do with a number of analog circuit transmission-line performance parameters, including insertion loss and return loss, and they can also affect high-speed digital circuit performance by degrading signal integrity (SI) and bit-error-rate (BER) performance.
Forming PTHs in PCBs calls for precision mechanical processes, such as drilling and plating, but also requires consideration of the electrical effects of those PTHs on circuit performance. Just as the thickness and dielectric constant of a PCB material can influence performance at microwave frequencies, the number and sizes of a circuit’s PTHs can affect high-frequency performance. To better understand the impact of PTHs on RF/microwave circuit performance, they were put to the test in multilayer evaluation circuits, using two different types of PTHs: through-circuit via holes that pass from top to bottom through the many layers of a multilayer circuit and buried via holes, which may connect just a few conductive layers or conductor and ground layers within a multilayer circuit.
The electrical contributions of a PTH vary according to its physical properties, such as the length of a via hole, its diameter, the amount and type of conductive metal (such as copper or gold) used for plating the hole, and the thickness and dielectric constant of the substrate material through which a PTH is drilled. In microstrip circuits, for example, shorter via holes for connecting conductive layers will have less capacitance than longer via holes. Also, via holes with larger hole diameters will exhibit more capacitance (and lower impedance) than PTHs with smaller hole diameters. These many variables combine to determine the ultimate effects of PTHs on circuit performance, with those effects highly dependent on the frequency/wavelength of analog circuits and the data rates of digital circuits. For low loss in a high-frequency transmission line, the electrical characteristics of a via hole would ideally be well matched to those of the connected transmission line, so that no impedance discontinuities (or reflections or loss) result. Of course, some circuit designers may choose to incorporate the parasitic capacitance, resistance, inductance, and transconductance characteristics of a PTH into their circuit designs, such as to fine-tune the response of a passive filter. Knowing those PTH characteristics in advance can certainly make it easier to work with PTHs in high-frequency analog and high-speed digital circuits.
Via holes at microwave frequencies are often modeled as two-port networks, with an input port and an output port and changes occurring to the input signal as a result of the via hole’s electrical effects. Signal loss through a via hole, for example, typically increases with increasing frequency. A number of mathematical models have been developed to predict the electrical effects of PTHs on microwave circuit performance, including the use of closed-form equations to calculate via hole impedance for microstrip transmission-line circuits. And modern finite-element electromagnetic (EM) simulation software programs include models for via holes and can simulate changes brought about by different via hole diameters and circuit board thicknesses. Unfortunately, such software tools can be expensive and complex to use, especially for modeling fine circuit features such as PTHs. There is no substitute for laboratory measurements performed on actual via holes through commercial PCB materials.
Back-Drilled vs Conventional Through-Circuits
To characterize various via holes, a test stripline-based PCB with four conductive layers was designed and fabricated from commercial laminate and prepreg materials: 7.3-mil-thick RO4350B™ LoPro® laminate and several plies of RO4450F™ prepreg material, both from Rogers Corp. The via hole structures were kept simple to better understand what physical changes in the via holes would mean in terms of electrical performance at microwave frequencies. The test circuit included signal launches to standard through-circuit via holes and to back-drilled through-circuit via holes, as well as three buried via holes connected to the signal paths of the through-circuit via holes. This simple test circuit, which included 2-in.-long stripline transmission lines with no transition via holes, made it possible to evaluate the performance of the different via hole types and determine what effects that back drilling would have on the performance of a through-circuit via hole compared to a standard through-circuit via hole.
With the aid of a commercial vector network analyzer (VNA) with frequency-and time-domain analysis capabilities, it was possible to not only measure scattering (S) parameters through 40 GHz for the test circuit, but to determine any impedance variations occurring at the various via holes, even the buried via holes. Different versions of the test circuit were constructed, all with input and output 2.4-mm coaxial connectors at the launch through-circuit via holes. The connectors attach by pressure contact and do not require solder, which would have added its own electrical contributions (variations) to the test circuits. The connectors were not matched to the circuits, but were oriented in a similar manner to ensure consistency in measurements. These different test circuits were consistent except for changes in via hole characteristics, such as diameter size and length, to see if measurements could reveal what those changes might mean in terms of high-frequency performance.
Without delving too deeply into the data, the test results revealed superior impedance ripple behavior for the back-drilled through-circuit via holes compared to the conventional through-circuit via holes, for better impedance match, return loss, and signal integrity for circuits with these via holes. Loss measurements showed consistent performance at higher frequencies, with smoother, more consistent insertion-loss performance over a wider usable bandwidth for the back-drilled through-circuit via holes compared to the conventional through-circuit via holes.
Measurements performed with and without gating were used to decipher the impedances of the three buried via holes, since one impedance junction followed by another can mask the true value of the second and third impedance junctions. The results revealed how different modifications affected the impedance values of these buried via holes and how changes made to the via holes or the circuit pads around them could fine-tune the electrical performance of both types of via holes for improved overall circuit performance. Attention to detail is critical in designing circuits with PTHs since even the copper plating thickness can affect the impedance of the via holes. But once the correlations between physical characteristics and electrical performance are known, via holes can be added to a design as with any other circuit element, and can even help improve the electrical performance.
(Note: Additional details on the construction of these test circuits and the design variables used with the different via holes, along with comprehensive test data, can be found in a report to be presented by the author at the IPC APEX EXPO 2016, March 13-17, 2016 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV. Contact www.ipcapexexpo.org for more information.)
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A message from Bruce Hoechner, CEO, Rogers Corporation:
Read the corporate financials news release: Rogers Corporation Reports Results for the Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2015.
In Q4 2015 Rogers delivered record fourth-quarter net sales of $152.9 million, a 3.5% increase over Q4 2014. In addition, we achieved non-GAAP earnings of $0.69 per diluted share, exceeding our previously announced guidance.
During the quarter, we again experienced strong contributions from our synergistic acquisition that were partially offset by a decrease in organic net sales. We believe that the organic sales decline was due to a number of factors, including global macroeconomic conditions that impacted our business segments. I will discuss the segments and details in a few moments.
Our outlook remains cautious in the near term based on the uncertain timing of the global economic recovery. However, our growth strategy remains sound, we are focused on execution, and we remain confident in our longer-term growth prospects in our key megatrend markets.
Roadmap for Growth
I would like to review our growth strategy. This roadmap has enabled us to deliver sound results, and we believe that it positions us well to capitalize on the opportunities that lie ahead, particularly when the global economy recovers.
As a market-driven organization, we leverage our strong understanding of the link between our markets and technology to develop solutions to solve unmet needs in the marketplace. A good example of this is the strong position we have established in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems.
We experienced increased demand for these applications in 2015 and expect that trend to continue based upon our customer relationships and the growth predictions for this market.
In the area of innovation leadership, we continue to cultivate a robust pipeline from the work we’re doing in our innovation centers, as well as in the operating units where our R&D teams are focused on next-generation solutions. One of the innovation centers early developments is a pioneering platform technology that enables substantially smaller, higher performance, higher frequency antennas. This technology is now being scaled up in our Advanced Connectivity Solutions business initially targeted for defense applications, and we expect broader adaption of this in commercial applications.
The Arlon acquisition has demonstrated the strength of our approach to synergistic M&A. The acquisition was completed within our 12-month goal, and it outperformed our expectations during the year. A textbook example of a successful integration, it will serve as a blueprint for future acquisitions.
We continue to see progress from our investments in operational excellence. These initiatives are helping us reduce manufacturing costs, improve inventory management, and achieve greater on-time delivery to request for our customers.
In addition, our ERP upgrade is helping our back office teams work more efficiently as we improve and standardize our systems and processes. This work also prepares us to quickly integrate future acquisitions.
Our interim three-year financial goals serve as a checkpoint in our long-term plan. While market conditions impacted our 2015 results, we remain confident in our longer-term ability to achieve 15% revenue growth through a combination of organic and acquired growth.
Our commitment to this strategy is delivering sustained progress in revenue and profit performance over the past three years. We saw a slight margin dip in 2013 as we dealt with the macroeconomic conditions, but we were pleased with the contributions from our operational excellence initiatives.
I would like to take a brief look at our profitability from a slightly different perspective, EBITDA. We believe this is a key measure of our performance in assessing our internal core operating results, which improved 260 basis points.
I would like to highlight some achievements from 2015. First, our acquisition and integration of the Arlon business was highly successful. This acquisition led us to record revenues in 2015, and we are excited by the opportunities for organic growth in the future. I will address our megatrends in a bit, but here I would like to highlight that we are confident that our megatrend categories are focused on the right markets for future growth. In 2015, we selected safety and protection as a new Rogers megatrend category based upon the opportunities we see for applications in growing markets like automotive safety and consumer impact and protection.
We believe that our core capabilities align well with this megatrend, and we are executing on those opportunities.
We continue to see strong results from our investments in improving our overall operating capabilities. These initiatives are helping us lower costs and drive efficiencies in both our manufacturing and back office environments. Our focus on delivering shareholder value is reflected in our capital allocation strategy.
In 2015, we initiated a $100 million share repurchase program and bought back $40 million in shares. Building on the success of our North American Innovation Center in Burlington, Massachusetts, we opened the Asia Innovation Center in September 2015 to leverage the talent and opportunities we see in that region.
Advanced Connectivity Solutions (ACS) delivered record fourth-quarter net sales of $63.8 million, driven by $16.4 million from the acquisition, which was an increase of 11% over Q4 2014. ACS organic sales for the quarter declined 16.4% on a currency neutral basis. Strong demand for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and aerospace and defense applications were offset by weaker demand and inventory rebalancing in the 4G LTE base station market, primarily in China.
Looking ahead in ACS, we anticipate that the base station recovery in China and growth in small cells will help drive demand for high-frequency circuit materials. We are very pleased with the consistently strong demand for applications for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems as these features continue to expand into mass-market automobile models.
In addition, we expect the adoption of new technologies linked to the Internet of Things and e-mobility to help drive growth in ACS.
Elastomeric Material Solutions (EMS) achieved net sales of $42.5 million, including $6.1 million from the acquisition, which is roughly flat year over year. Organic net sales were down 13.5% from 2014 on a currency neutral basis. Solid results in consumer impact and protection and automotive applications were offset by weaker demand for certain portable electronics applications. The EMS organization is addressing the headwinds in display gasket applications for portable electronics by refocusing the business on other solutions. For example, we are seeing strong interest in the new smartphone back pad solutions that we introduced in 2014, which are partially offsetting the weaker demand for display gaskets.
We also have had several design wins for sealing applications in the automotive market. In addition, we see opportunity through European and Asian geographic expansion in general, industrial and mass transit, as well as greater market penetration in consumer impact and protection applications.
Power Electronics Solutions (PES) net sales were $36.7 million, a 12% decrease compared to Q4 2014. On a currency neutral basis, PES net sales declined 3.4% from Q4 2014. Foreign exchange rates and a global slowing in industrial and infrastructure investments due to challenging macroeconomic conditions impacted PES more than our other two business segments.
During the quarter, increased demand in EV, HEV, as well as certain renewable energy applications were offset by weaker demand in mass transit.
We believe the outlook for the mid- to long-term is positive. Government mandates and climate change agreements are strengthening demand for energy-efficient motor drives and renewable energy applications. In addition, fuel efficiency regulations continue to drive demand for EV, HEV, and vehicle electrification applications.
We continue to be encouraged by the positive growth expectations for our key markets. Demand in areas like mobile data traffic, EV, HEV, and automotive safety are expected to drive substantial growth in the mid- to long-term.
For our 2016 plan, we are not anticipating significant movements in commodity pricing or foreign exchange rates at this time. While lower global GDP growth is muting revenue expansion, wage stability across our operating geographies appears to be in check, helping us manage operating costs.
In the face of weaker global economic conditions, we are addressing issues such as selective pricing pressures by continuing to reduce manufacturing costs. The industrial slowdown that we believe started during Q2 2015 affected sales into certain applications we serve within the industrial sector. We do expect to see an improvement in demand for these industrial applications when the global markets recovery.
Our market-driven approach is helping us form deeper partnerships with our customers. These relationships are contributing to a strong sales pipeline and positioning us to be designed into new applications and technologies.
I am very encouraged by our product development opportunities. Our investments in next-generation and new products closely align to our megatrend markets, which accounted for 66% of our sales in Q4 and full-year 2015.
Synergistic M&A opportunities continued to be actively pursued by Rogers, and we will use the successful integration of Arlon as a blueprint for future acquisitions. We are capitalizing on the investments we have made in our processes and systems to reduce costs and gain efficiency, which will also serve to accelerate the integration of future acquisitions.
In order to increase productivity and reduce costs, we are in the process of shifting some manufacturing to lower-cost locations, as well as rationalizing capacity. In addition, we are leveraging our shared service organizational model to better utilize resources.
And finally, we will continue to practice disciplined capital deployment, making strategic investments to move our growth strategies forward and deliver value to our shareholders.