A New Product Improves the Circuit Board Manufacturing Process

IOWA CITY, Iowa—“I want to make circuit boards sexy,” said an enthusiast Tim Marler over the buzz in Prairie Lights. Marler, a co-founder of VSE (Virtual Systems Engineering), a University of Iowa spinout company, and an Associate Research Scientist at the University of Iowa’s Center for Computer-Aided Design, is working to do just that.  VSE has created a simulation software with an interactive and immersive 3-D environment that tests the manufacturability, design effectiveness, virtual performance and reliability of printed circuit boards (PCBs). This July VSE will release PREVIEW (Predictive Environment for Visualization of Electromechanical Virtual Validation) for beta testing to several large government contractors which, due to confidentiality restrictions, cannot be named.
Circuit boards are the technology hidden within nearly every product that uses electricity, from cellphones to missiles. You’ve probably experienced a circuit board design flaw if you’ve ever felt a laptop overheat or experienced a manufacturer’s recall. The difference between a functioning and a defective PCB often lies in the testing. Currently, the standard production of PCBs tests the design in 2-D, which can result in as many as three design cycles of every PCB, if not more. The costs for each cycle can range from $100,000 to $500,000. PREVIEW’s 3-D simulation software aims to reduce the costs associated with multiple rounds of design cycles.
Due to the large market potential for VSE’s software, they were awarded funding from the state of Iowa as well as $100,000 from the Wellmark Venture Capital and Economic Development Program.  These funds will assist with the upcoming beta rollout of PREVIEW. The goal of the beta testing phase is to hone in on the specific needs of future consumers.  
PREVIEW enhances many essential aspects of manufacturing by reducing time and costs. A few of these aspects are listed here:
  • System Integration—Can help coordinate various analysis tools and design activities across companies, thus improving communication and efficiency
  • Design Process— Reduce the number of design cycles from three to one, on average saving up to $400,000 for very new PCB design.
  • Testing— Automate the testing process through virtual testing under various conditions that help to determine the exact root cause of a product failure more efficiently.  This can reduce testing costs by as much as 30 percent
VSE and its co-founders, Tim Marler, Ross Johnson, Herman Reininga and Ibrahim Ozbolat, were supported by The University of Iowa from the beginning. From VSE’s involvement with the Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMTech) Program in the Center for Computer Aided Design (CCAD) to funding through the University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF). The UIRF has also helped the company by providing invaluable professional and business advice.  “Honestly, I don’t know how people start a company without a UIRF,” said Marler.
About VSE:  Virtual Systems Engineering created the software PREVIEW, a simulation software with an interactive and immersive 3-D environment that tests the manufacturability, design effectiveness, virtual performance and reliability of printed circuit boards.  This software will enable manufacturers to reduce the cost and time of products that require circuit boards.  For more information, contact Tim Marler at tmarler@virtualsystemsengineering.com.  
Contact Information:
Tim Marler, Co-founder of Virtual Systems Engineering
Phone: 319-331-5454

Press Contact: Paul Dymerski
Assoc. Dir. New Ventures
Email: paul-dymerski@uiowa.edu
Phone: 319-384-3425

About the University of Iowa:  The University of Iowa provides many resources for its innovators, such as the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, the Lean Innovation University of Iowa Venture SchoolGAP Funding, and Iowa Centers for Enterprise.  For more information on the University of Iowa Economic Development Program please contact Lee Groeschl at lee-groeschl@uiowa.edu or visithttp://enterprise.uiowa.edu.
By: Shaina Tromp