We are pleased to announce that Rogers Corporation has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Arlon, LLC, currently owned by Handy & Harman Ltd. (NASDAQ: HNH), for $157 million, subject to closing and post-closing adjustments. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory clearances, is expected to close in the first half of 2015. Rogers intends to finance the transaction through a combination of cash and borrowings under an existing bank credit facility.

RogersCorporation logoBruce Hoechner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Rogers said, “This transaction is truly a unique strategic fit for both Rogers and Arlon. We are energized by the opportunity to serve our customers with our complementary capabilities and technologies in circuit materials and engineered silicones and to enhance value for our shareholders. We look forward to closing this acquisition as another significant milestone in Rogers’ growth as a premier global engineered materials solutions company.”

arlon_logoArlon: A Strong, Strategic Fit

The proposed acquisition of Arlon is consistent with Rogers’ strategy as it adds complementary solutions to its Printed Circuit Materials and High Performance Foams business segments and expands Rogers’ capabilities to serve a broader range of markets and application areas.

Arlon’s circuit materials product family positions Rogers for additional growth in the rapidly expanding telecommunications infrastructure sector, as well as in the automotive, aerospace and defense sectors. Arlon produces its circuit materials in Bear, Delaware; Rancho Cucamonga, California; and Suzhou, China.

The engineered silicones product family of Arlon will further diversify the Company’s solutions and market opportunities in sealing and insulation applications. Arlon will bring new capabilities in precision-calendered silicones, silicone-coated fabrics and specialty extruded silicone tapes. Used primarily for electrical insulation, these materials serve a wide range of high reliability applications across many market segments, including aviation, rail, power generation, semiconductor, foodservice, medical and general industrial. This product family is primarily manufactured in Bear, Delaware.

Revenue and operating income for the Arlon segment of Handy & Harman Ltd. were $100.4 million and $16.7 million, respectively, for the trailing twelve months ended September 30, 2014 (compiled based on amounts reported by Handy & Harman Ltd. in Forms 10-K and 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission).

Press Release: Rogers Corporation Signs Definitive Agreement to Acquire Arlon, LLC

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The connected car is evolving rapidly, but what’s in store for 2015? According to IDC’s report, Harnessing Connected Vehicle Ecosystem B2X Opportunities, the industry will depend heavily on technology and standards development, government involvement and regulations advancement, as well as consumer acceptance and adoption.

Let’s start with the technology. Today’s connected vehicles use one of two primary methods for communicating:

  • Embedded Connectivity: an on-board embedded system (OCU) and embedded SIM card. This approach requires the user to purchase additional bandwidth to enable services.
  • Leveraged Connectivity: A telematics unit leverages a smartphone that is brought into the car, and then acts as a wireless gateway through WiFi, ZigBee, or Bluetooth.

connected_car_safety1

Source: Texas Instruments

In the near future, a mix of the two approaches is expected. Behind the scenes, each OEM will have its own cloud through which it will provide customers and dealers with information, apps, and services. In exchange, the OEM will be able to receive information about vehicle health, and geospatial and consumer data, as allowed based on privacy protection regulations. On the back-end, OEMs will analyze consumer and vehicle fleet data for warranty and marketing campaigns, safety, and product quality improvements.

Safety Technologies

Currently, human error contributes to about 90% of all vehicle accidents. Thus the call from drivers and regulatory agencies, alike, for collision-avoidance safety technologies, also known as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). As ADAS technologies mature and costs diminish, enhanced safety and infotainment features will be found in both luxury and low-cost vehicles.

Connected_car_safety2

Source: McKinsey & Company

A growing number of OEMs – Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Toyota, Volkswagen – are adding gesture technology to their vehicles to track body movements and translate hand gestures. Honda recently introduced the 2015 Honda CR-V Touring vehicle that included Honda Sensing, a collision mitigation braking system and lane keeping assist system; the first CR-V implementation of a adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning; and a passenger-side mirror with a 4X larger field-of-view to eliminate blind spot problems.

Innovations abound, from sensor-fusion algorithms to physical sensors that use radar, LIDAR, ultrasonic, photonic mixer device (PMD), and camera and night-vision devices. The automotive radar market is evolving into a mix of frequencies – 24 GHz, 77 GHz, and 79 GHz – as technology allows and economics permit, said to John Coonrod, Market Development Manager at Rogers’ Advanced Circuit Materials division. For circuit designers and component specifiers, the rules change at these higher millimeter-wave frequencies.

The RO4000 Series High Frequency Circuit Laminates are an excellent choice for cost/performance for 24GHz radar applications.  The RO4835has been developed for extreme stability, even when exposed to the harsh environments of automotive applications. For high moisture environments, the RT/duroid® 5870 and 5880 high frequency laminates have a very low dielectric constant and extremely low water absorption characteristics. For 77GHz automotive radar applications, the RO3003 laminate is the preferred choice due to high material uniformity.

 

Announcing our new Wavelength Calculator for fast and easy calculations of electrical length, phase delay, wavelength fractions, circuit size reduction, material comparisons, and more.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.

Screen shot 2014-12-16 at 10.38.41 AM

 

2015 is right around the corner and the pace of technology development continues unabated. Cloud computing…advanced manufacturing…Internet of Things (IoT)…cybersecurity…3D printing…flexible manufacturing – there is no doubt that manufacturing has, and will continue to, embrace digital technologies to accelerate production cycles and shorten lead times.

_year2015What’s in store for 2015? Let’s take a look at the predictions.

IndustryWeek expects five trends will shape the market in 2015.

  • SMAC: Social, mobile, analytics, and cloud adoption are gaining speed to drive higher customer engagement.
  • Social media: Digital tools will further impact business model innovation as manufacturers become more customer-centric.
  • Internet of Things: IoT will increase automation and drive efficiencies, which will create job opportunities in R&D.
  • Capital Equipment: The need for original design and speed to market means manufacturers will increase capital spending to upgrade plant, equipment, and technologies.
  • Next-Shoring: The rise of a more technical labor force, rising wages in Asia, higher shipping costs, and the need to accelerate time to market are leading more companies to shift manufacturing from outsourcing overseas to developing products closer to where they will be sold.

Forbes magazine predicts that reshoring will balance out offshoring, but not across the board. According to Bill Conerly, “The greatest reshoring will occur in industries that benefit most from cheap natural gas and have access to global markets. These are chemicals and metals (both primary manufacturing and fabrication).”

International Data Corporation (IDC) recently released their “Worldwide Manufacturing Predictions for 2015.”

  1. By 2017, manufacturers will actively channel 25% of their IT budgets through industry clouds that enable seamless and flexible collaboration models.
  2. In 2015, product quality, including compliance, will underpin two thirds of all IT application investments across the manufacturing organization.
  3. By 2016, 30% of manufacturers will invest substantially in increasing the visibility and analysis of information exchange and business processes, within the company and with partners.
  4. In 2015, customer centricity will require higher standards for customer service excellence, efficient innovation, and responsive manufacturing, which will motivate 75% of manufacturers to invest in customer-facing technologies.
  5. By 2017, 50% of manufacturers will explore the viability of micro logistics networks to enable the promise of accelerated delivery for select products and customers.
  6. By 2018, 75% of manufacturers will be coordinating enterprise-wide planning activities under the umbrella of rapid integrated business planning.
  7. By 2016, 70% of global discrete manufacturers will offer connected products, driving increased software content and the need for systems engineering and a product innovation platform.
  8. By 2018, 40% of the top 100 discrete manufacturers and 20% of the top 100 process manufacturers will provide Product-as-a-Service platforms.
  9. In 2015, 65% of companies with more than ten plants will enable the factory floor to make better decisions through investments in operational intelligence.
  10. Investments that enable digitally executed manufacturing will increase 50% by the end of 2017, as manufacturers seek to be more agile in the marketplace.

Information Technology Group takes a look at the challenges facing manufacturing IT.

  • Manufacturing companies need to see some really strong numbers regarding potential returns before investing in a new manufacturing IT project. Most will fail to meet the bill. Instead companies will turn to process improvement as a way to become more competitive.
  • In 2015, there will be even more big attacks and more companies climbing on board to get serious about security. Measures that can increase security include cloud storage, remote desktops, and biometric security devices.”
  • As product lifespans shrink, it’s imperative to embrace flexibility. Manufacturing companies are leveraging social media to identify what the market wants and using real-time data tools to adjust output and maximize profits.

What do you see coming down the road for 2015?

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

PrintDelay lines are useful component building-block functions for adjusting signals in both analog and digital circuits on printed-circuit boards (PCBs). High-frequency and high-speed delay lines are characterized by their bandwidths and delay times, as well as their insertion loss across their operating frequency range, their return loss, VSWR, rise time, and their delay stability. Delay lines can be realized with a number of different circuit elements, including coaxial cable assemblies, bulk-acoustic-wave (BAW) devices, and surface-acoustic-wave (SAW) devices, but the choice of PCB material can also play a major role in the final performance of a delay-line design. For example, the consistency of the dielectric constant (Dk) across a PCB and the consistency of the PCB’s thicknesses are critical for consistent and predictable delay-line performance. Quite simply: the better behaved a PCB’s Dk characteristics, and the more consistent the thickness of the material, the better the stability of the delay lines fabricated on that PCB, whether working with stripline or microstrip circuit technologies.

How does a delay line work? It is a function of the propagation medium for electromagnetic (EM) signals. When that medium is air, EM signals travel through air at the speed of light, or 186,280 miles/s. In practical terms for designers working in PCB dimensions, the speed of light is equivalent to 11.8 in./ns. When those signals travel through some other medium, such as a PCB, they slow down as a function of the material’s properties, such as a PCB’s dielectric constant (Dk). All circuit materials have a Dk value greater than 1, with higher values representing greater capacity to store charge and slower travel of an EM wave through that material.

On a PCB trace, EM signals move at a speed equivalent to the speed of light (c) divided by the square root of Dk, or c/(Dk)0.5. The Dk of a vacuum (and approximately of air) is 1, so when the propagation medium is air, it essentially has no effect on the EM propagation speed. For a circuit material like FR-4, with a Dk of 4, the speed of the signals traveling through that PCB is divided by the square root of the material’s Dk value, or 2. As a result, the speed of signals traveling through an FR-4 circuit board is about one-half the speed of light through air or through a vacuum.

For a delay line in an RF/microwave microstrip circuit, the EM field moves through a metal conductor and a combination of dielectric materials, including the PCB dielectric material below the conductive circuit trace and the air above the circuit trace. In an RF/microwave stripline delay line, the EM field moves through PCB dielectric material above and below the circuit traces, typically in multilayer circuit designs with plated through holes (PTHs) connecting the multiple circuit layers. Coplanar-waveguide (CPW) PCB techniques are also applied to the fabrication of RF/microwave delay lines, and variations in the PCB material properties, such as dielectric thickness and even the tolerance of the plated copper conductor thickness, can impact delay line performance.

Of course, circuit fabrication processes and assembly techniques can have a great deal to do with achieving consistent delay-line performance from a particular PCB material. Ideally, the PCB material exhibits consistent thickness within a fairly tight tolerance and consistent Dk value across the material, also within a fairly tight tolerance; variations in these PCB material properties can translate into variations in delay-line performance. Unwanted capacitances, such as circuit junctions, should be minimized since added capacitance also means added delays (above a design target). For good electrical stability, any PCB-based delay-line circuit will have a large ground plane.

For practical delay-line circuits, finding a suitable PCB material starting point will inevitably involve some tradeoffs. For example, in terms of pure performance, RT/duroid® 5880 circuit materials from Rogers Corp. are materials based on polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and reinforced with glass microfibers. The RT/duroid 5880 materials feature an extremely low Dk of 2.20 and impressive Dk tolerance of ±0.02, with low dissipation factor for low loss. They are available in a variety of sheet sizes and thicknesses (as thin as 0.005 in.) with tight thickness control to minimize variations in delay time when fabricating delay lines. But performance generally comes at a price and, with their low Dk value and extremely tight Dk tolerance, these materials are somewhat higher in cost than many PCB materials. They are designed for use in the most challenging circuit applications, including in military electronic systems.

Accepting some tradeoffs in performance and material parameters for a lower cost, the same company’s RO3003™ PCB materials are also based on PTFE but filled with ceramic materials for stability. The RO3003 materials exhibit a Dk of 3.00 with Dk tolerance that is still good, at ±0.04, and also with low dissipation factor and excellent thickness control to minimize delay-line variations. A PCB material that offers a good blend of cost and performance for delay lines is the RO4835™ laminate, with a Dk of 3.48 through the z-axis at 10 GHz and a Dk tolerance that is still quite tight, at ±0.05.  In addition to being compatible with lead-free processes (RoHS-compatible), this material offers good thickness tolerance and it can be fabricated using standard FR-4 material processes to minimize production costs. This material is available in a wide range of thicknesses (as thin as 0.0066 in. thick) and different weights of copper cladding to accommodate different design requirements.

Screen shot 2014-08-08 at 1.33.54 PMAchieving design goals in delay lines often involves more than just the choice of PCB material, and every interface in an RF/microwave circuit design is a potential addition to the delay time of a delay line. For PCBs using coaxial connectors to launch signals, the interfaces between the circuit board and the connectors can introduce variations in the delay time and these interfaces or signal launch points should be as consistent as possible to minimize delay-time variations in the circuit.  A circuit material such as RO4835 laminate can provide the tight Dk tolerance, excellent material thickness control, and low-loss performance levels required for consistent delay-line performance.

Download the ROG Mobile appto access Rogers’ calculators, including the popular Microwave Impedance simulation tool, literature, technical papers, and the ability to order samples of the company’s high performance printed circuit board materials.

Do you have a design or fabrication question? Rogers Corporation’s experts are available to help. Log in to the Rogers Technology Support Hub and “Ask an Engineer” today.

 

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