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HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

ISBN 91-973125-0-9
2004 PLT and DEC. v 5.0 E

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Fig. 27-1

Fig. 12A-1

Fig. 0-1

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Fig. 33-3

P lated-Thr ough-H ole B oar ds


Nonplated-Thr ough-H ole B oar ds
Multilayer B oar ds
F lexible C ir cuits
H o w to S pecify PCBs
H o w to Choose a PCB M anufactur er
D ifficulty Factors vs D esign Values
For use only by
This is a Demo version. For more information please visit www.dataelectronic.com
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Unauthorized copying or distribution of this document to any
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1

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

Copyright 2004 by
Preben Lund Technology (PLT) and DATA Electronic Consult (DEC).
All rights reserved. No part of this CD-ROM or printouts from the CD-ROM may be reproduced in any
form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any
information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing
from the author, except by a reviewer written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper or broadcast.
The buyer of this course material, however, is entitled to use and copy the material in any
quantity needed but only for in-house use, and only within his own company and only at one location.
Use of the course material for open public courses is not permitted.
Neither the publishers nor the author and designer guarantee the accuracy or completeness of
any information published in the CD-ROM, and neither the publisher nor the author/designer shall be
responsible for any errors, omissions, damages or patent infringements arising out of using the
information given in the CD-ROM.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Third edition, April 2004


Design version 5.0, April 2004
ISBN 91-973125-0-9

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1

How to Produce Plated-Through-Hole Boards

Preface .............................................................................................. 19
Chapter 1 .......................................................................................... 20
Introduction ..................................................................................... 21
1.

Laminate ........................................................................................... 23
Material Description .............................................................................................. 23
Survey of Resin Systems ......................................................................................... 24
Copper Foils .......................................................................................................... 24
Base Material ......................................................................................................... 25
Laminate Thickness (including copper foil) ........................................................... 26
Panel size................................................................................................................ 26
Green PCBs ........................................................................................................... 27
Most Common Type of Laminate .......................................................................... 27

2.

Hole Drilling .................................................................................... 28


Purpose of Plated-Through-Holes .......................................................................... 28
Process ................................................................................................................... 28
Conventional Drilling of Large Holes 0.5 mm (20 mils) ..................................... 29
Drilling of Small Holes from 0.25 to 0.5 mm (10 to 20 mils) ................................ 29
Position of Holes .................................................................................................... 30
Oversize of Drilled Holes ....................................................................................... 30
Aspect Ratio ........................................................................................................... 31
Locating the Panels on the Table of the Drilling Machine ...................................... 32
Formation of Microvia Holes < 0.25 mm (10 mils) ................................................ 33
Laser Drilling: From 0.05 to 0.2 mm (2 to 8 mils) ................................................. 33
Mask Imaging Drilling ........................................................................................... 34
Conformal Mask Drilling....................................................................................... 34
Contact Mask Drilling ........................................................................................... 35
Prevalence of Lasers ................................................................................................ 35
Photodefinition ...................................................................................................... 36
Plasma Etching ...................................................................................................... 36

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

3.

Electroless Copper ............................................................................ 37


Purpose of Electroless Copper Process .................................................................... 37
Process ................................................................................................................... 37
Deposit Thickness .................................................................................................. 37
Alternate Metallization Methods ............................................................................ 38

4.

Image Transfer .................................................................................. 39


Introduction .......................................................................................................... 39
Purpose of Image Transfer (Double-Sided Boards) ................................................. 39

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

4 A.

Lamination ....................................................................................... 41
Purpose of Lamination ........................................................................................... 41
Process ................................................................................................................... 41

4 B.

Registration ...................................................................................... 43
Purpose of Registration .......................................................................................... 43
Principles ............................................................................................................... 43
Optical Registration to the PTH Pattern Using Diazo Film ................................... 43
Optical Registration to Registration Holes in the Panel Area .................................. 44
Pin Registration to Registration Holes Drilled or Punched in the Panel Area ......... 44
Combination of Optical Registration and Pin Registration .................................... 45
Automatic Registration .......................................................................................... 45

4 C.

Exposure ........................................................................................... 46
Purpose of Exposure ............................................................................................... 46
Process ................................................................................................................... 46

4 D.

Developing ....................................................................................... 47
Purpose of Developing ........................................................................................... 47
Process ................................................................................................................... 47
Plotting the Film .................................................................................................... 47
Phototool (Film) Development .............................................................................. 48
Inspection and Touch-up ....................................................................................... 48
Coating of the Phototool ....................................................................................... 48
Exposure of the Plating Resist ................................................................................ 49

4 E.

Laser Direct Imaging ........................................................................ 50

5.

Electroplating ................................................................................... 54
Purpose of Electroplating ....................................................................................... 54
Principle of the Electrolytic Process ........................................................................ 54

5 A.

Copper Plating ................................................................................. 55

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Purpose of Copper Plating ..................................................................................... 55


Process ................................................................................................................... 55
"Throwing power" ................................................................................................. 55
Ductility ................................................................................................................ 56
Plating Problems .................................................................................................... 56
Pattern Plating vs. Panel Plating ............................................................................. 57
Copper Plating Specifications................................................................................. 57

5 B.

Tin/Lead Plating ............................................................................... 58


Purpose of Tin/Lead Plating ................................................................................... 58
Process ................................................................................................................... 58
Tin/Lead Phase Diagram ........................................................................................ 58
Plating Problems .................................................................................................... 59
Tin/Lead Plating Specifications .............................................................................. 60

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

5 C.

Tin Plating........................................................................................ 61
Purpose .................................................................................................................. 61
Process ................................................................................................................... 61
Application ............................................................................................................ 61

5 D.
6.

Reverse-Pulse Plating ........................................................................ 62


Resist Stripping ................................................................................. 64
Purpose of Resist Stripping .................................................................................... 64
Process ................................................................................................................... 64

7.

Etching ............................................................................................. 65
Purpose of Etching ................................................................................................. 65
Process ................................................................................................................... 65
Treatment .............................................................................................................. 66
Etch Factor ............................................................................................................ 67
Undercut, Overhang and Outgrowth ..................................................................... 67
Track Width vs. Copper Foil Thickness.................................................................. 68
Progress of Etching................................................................................................. 69

8.

Reflowing ......................................................................................... 71
Purpose of Reflowing ............................................................................................. 71
Technology Change ............................................................................................... 71
Process ................................................................................................................... 71
Reflowing Problems ............................................................................................... 72
Coverage of Hole Knee .......................................................................................... 72
Coverage of Track Edges ........................................................................................ 73
Overhang ............................................................................................................... 73
Warp and Twist ...................................................................................................... 73

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

9.

Solder Masks (Screen-Printed) .......................................................... 74


Purpose of Screen-Printed Solder Masks ................................................................. 74
Process ................................................................................................................... 74
Registration ............................................................................................................ 75
Screen-Printing Problems ....................................................................................... 76
Coverage of Tracks Adjacent to Pads ...................................................................... 76
Filling of Spaces between Parallel Tracks ................................................................. 77
Bleeding ................................................................................................................. 77
Unintentional Overprinting of Pads ....................................................................... 78
Thickness of Solder Mask ...................................................................................... 78
Intentional Overprinting of Via Holes ................................................................... 78
Solder Mask Specifications ..................................................................................... 79
Registration ............................................................................................................ 79
Coverage of Tracks ................................................................................................. 79
Filling of Spaces Between Tracks ............................................................................ 79
Wrinkling of Mask ................................................................................................. 79

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

10.

Tin/Lead Stripping or Tin Stripping ................................................. 80


Purpose of Tin/Lead Stripping or Tin Stripping ..................................................... 80
Process ................................................................................................................... 80

11.

Solder Masks (Photopolymer) ........................................................... 81


Purpose of Photopolymer Solder Masks ................................................................. 81
Types of Solder Masks ............................................................................................ 81
Process ................................................................................................................... 82
Thickness of Dry-Film Solder Masks ..................................................................... 82
Clearance around Solder Pads ................................................................................ 83
Coverage of Spaces between Parallel Tracks ............................................................ 84
Intentional Coverage of Via Holes ......................................................................... 84

11 A. Lamination of Dry Film .................................................................... 85


Purpose of Lamination ........................................................................................... 85
Process ................................................................................................................... 85

11 B. Coating with Liquid Film ................................................................. 86


Purpose of Coating ................................................................................................ 86
Process ................................................................................................................... 86
Curtain Coating ..................................................................................................... 86
Screen-Printing ...................................................................................................... 86
Hole Plugging ........................................................................................................ 87

11 C. Registration ...................................................................................... 88
Purpose of Registration .......................................................................................... 88
Process ................................................................................................................... 88
Optical Registration to Pad Pattern by Using Diazo Film ....................................... 88
Optical Registration to Registration Pads in the Panel Area .................................... 88
Pin Registration to Registration Holes Drilled or Punched in the Panel Area ......... 88
Combination of Optical Registration and Pin Registration .................................... 89
Automatic Registration .......................................................................................... 89

11 D. Exposure ........................................................................................... 90
Purpose of Exposure ............................................................................................... 90
Process ................................................................................................................... 90

11 E. Development and Post-Curing .......................................................... 91

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Purpose of Development ........................................................................................ 91


Process ................................................................................................................... 91

12.

Solderability Preservation.................................................................. 92
Purpose of Solderability Preservation ...................................................................... 92
Methods ................................................................................................................. 92

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

12 A. Solder Coating and Hot-Air Leveling (HAL) .................................... 93


Purpose of Solder Coating and Hot-Air Leveling. .................................................. 93
Process ................................................................................................................... 93
Solder Coating and Hot-Air Leveling Problems ..................................................... 94
Dwell Time in Solder Pot ....................................................................................... 94
Speed of Withdrawal .............................................................................................. 95
Adjustment of Air Knives ....................................................................................... 95
Webbing ................................................................................................................ 95
Solder Sagging ....................................................................................................... 95
Intermetallic Compounds ...................................................................................... 96
Copper Contamination .......................................................................................... 96

12 B. Electroless Nickel and Immersion Gold (Ni/Au) ............................... 97


Purpose of Electroless Nickel and Immersion Gold (Ni/Au) ................................... 97
Process ................................................................................................................... 98
Advantages of Boards with Nickel/Gold ................................................................. 99
Flat Surface ............................................................................................................ 99
Low Defect Rate .................................................................................................... 99
Solderability ........................................................................................................... 99
Stressing of Boards ................................................................................................. 99
Dimensional Stability ............................................................................................. 99
Contamination of Board Surface ............................................................................ 99
Fiducials ................................................................................................................. 99
Shelf Life .............................................................................................................. 100
Keyboard Contacts ............................................................................................... 100
Disadvantages of Boards with Nickel/Gold .......................................................... 100
In-House Deposition Lines .................................................................................. 100
Price Conditions .................................................................................................. 100
Solder Mask Adhesion.......................................................................................... 100
Problem Areas ...................................................................................................... 100
Embrittlement of Solder Fillets ............................................................................ 100
Gold Contamination of Solder Bath .................................................................... 100
Ultra-High Frequency Problems........................................................................... 100

12 C. Organic Solderability Preservatives (OSP) ...................................... 101


Purpose of Organic Solderability Preservatives (OSP)........................................... 101
Development of OSP ........................................................................................... 101
Process ................................................................................................................. 101
Problems with OSP-Coated Boards ...................................................................... 101

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

12 D. Miscellaneous Methods ................................................................... 102


Flux Lacquer ........................................................................................................ 102
Immersion Tin ..................................................................................................... 102
Palladium ............................................................................................................. 102
Silver ................................................................................................................... 102
Optipad ............................................................................................................... 102
Sipad ................................................................................................................... 102
Tin ................................................................................................................... 103

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

13.

Component Notation ..................................................................... 104


Purpose of Component Notation ......................................................................... 104
Process ................................................................................................................. 104
Screen-Printing Problems ..................................................................................... 104
Legibility .............................................................................................................. 104
Registration .......................................................................................................... 105
Contrast ............................................................................................................... 105
Curing ................................................................................................................. 105
Adhesion .............................................................................................................. 105

14.

Machining (Contouring) ................................................................. 106


Purpose of Machining (Contouring) .................................................................... 106
Process ................................................................................................................. 106
Slot Drilling ......................................................................................................... 107
Drilling of Large Holes ........................................................................................ 108
Recess Milling ...................................................................................................... 108
Determination of Contour ................................................................................... 108
Dimensioning Based on a Reference System ......................................................... 108
Dimensioning Based on Customer's Router Data ................................................ 110
Dimensioning Based on Corner Marks ................................................................ 110
Machining Tolerances .......................................................................................... 110
Panelization ......................................................................................................... 111
Depanelization ..................................................................................................... 112

15.

Tooling Holes by Tenting ............................................................... 113


Purpose of Tenting ............................................................................................... 113
Background.......................................................................................................... 113
Process ................................................................................................................. 113
Design Considerations ......................................................................................... 114

16.

Gold-Plated Edge Connectors ......................................................... 115


Purpose of Gold-Plated Edge Connectors ............................................................ 115
Background.......................................................................................................... 115
Process ................................................................................................................. 115
Thickness Distribution of Gold ........................................................................... 118
Machining of Edge Connectors ............................................................................ 119
Edge Connector Slots ........................................................................................... 119
Bevelling of Connector Edge ................................................................................ 119

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

17.

Soldering Conditions ...................................................................... 120

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

Chapter 2. How to Produce Nonplated-Through-Hole Boards


Chapter 2 ........................................................................................ 123
Introduction ................................................................................... 124
20.

Laminate ......................................................................................... 127


Phenolic Paper, FR-2 ........................................................................................... 127
Epoxy Paper, FR-3 .............................................................................................. 127
Epoxy Paper/Glass Cloth, CEM-1 ....................................................................... 128
Epoxy Glass Mat/Glass Cloth, CEM-3 ............................................................... 128
Laminate Thickness (includes copper foil)............................................................ 129
Copper Foil Thickness ......................................................................................... 129
Maximum Operating Temperature ....................................................................... 129
Epoxy Glass FR-4 ................................................................................................ 129

21.

Image Transfer ................................................................................ 130


Purpose of Image Transfer .................................................................................... 130
Process ................................................................................................................. 130
Screen-Printing .................................................................................................... 130
Dry-Film Photoresist............................................................................................ 130
Selecting the Type of Etch Resist .......................................................................... 131
Pattern Density .................................................................................................... 131
Panel Size ............................................................................................................. 131
Number of Boards ............................................................................................... 131

22.

Etching ........................................................................................... 132


Purpose of Etching ............................................................................................... 132
Process ................................................................................................................. 132

23.

Resist Stripping ............................................................................... 133


Purpose of Etch Resist Stripping .......................................................................... 133
Process ................................................................................................................. 133

24.

Solder Masks ................................................................................... 134


Purpose of Solder Masks ...................................................................................... 134
Types of Solder Masks .......................................................................................... 134

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

25.

Component Notation ..................................................................... 135


Purpose of Component Notation ......................................................................... 135
Process ................................................................................................................. 135
Screen-Printing Problems ..................................................................................... 135

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

26.

Solderability Preservation................................................................ 136


Purpose of Solderability Preservation .................................................................... 136
Background of Applying a Protective Coating ...................................................... 136
Problems .............................................................................................................. 137
Processes .............................................................................................................. 137
Solder Coating and Hot-Air Leveling ................................................................... 137
Electroless Nickel and Immersion Gold ............................................................... 137
Roller Tinning ..................................................................................................... 137
Organic Solderability Preservation ....................................................................... 138
Lacquering ........................................................................................................... 138
Immersion Tinning .............................................................................................. 138

27.

Hole Drilling/Punching .................................................................. 139


Purpose of Holes .................................................................................................. 139
Process ................................................................................................................. 139
Drilling Holes ...................................................................................................... 139
Punching Holes.................................................................................................... 139
Press Size .............................................................................................................. 139
Size of Pierced Holes ............................................................................................ 140
Position of Holes .................................................................................................. 140

28.

Machining (Contouring) ................................................................. 141

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Purpose of Machining (Contouring) .................................................................... 141


Process ................................................................................................................. 141
Types of Blanking Tools ....................................................................................... 141
Edge Quality of Blanked Boards .......................................................................... 141
Press Size .............................................................................................................. 141

10

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

Chapter 3.

How to Produce Multilayer Boards

Chapter 3 ........................................................................................ 142


Introduction ................................................................................... 143
30.

Overview of Multilayer Board Processes ......................................... 144


Purpose of Multilayer Boards ............................................................................... 144
Process ................................................................................................................. 144
Build-Up Methods ............................................................................................... 145

31.

Materials ......................................................................................... 146


Copper Foil .......................................................................................................... 146
Thin Laminates .................................................................................................... 147
Prepreg ................................................................................................................. 148
Glass Transition Temperature ............................................................................... 149

32.

Innerlayer Laminates ...................................................................... 150


Purpose of Innerlayer Laminates .......................................................................... 150
Process ................................................................................................................. 150
Double-Sided Innerlayer Laminates Etched on One Side Only ............................ 150
Double-Sided Innerlayer Laminates Etched on Both Sides ................................... 151
Double-Sided Innerlayer Laminates with Buried Via Holes .................................. 151
Innerlayer and Outerlayer Laminates with Blind Via Holes .................................. 152
Conventional Drilling .......................................................................................... 152
Laser Drilled Microvia Holes ............................................................................... 155

33.

Prepreg............................................................................................ 157
Purpose of Prepreg ............................................................................................... 157
Process ................................................................................................................. 157
Selecting Prepreg Thicknesses ............................................................................... 157
Resin Filling of Openings in Ground and Voltage Planes ..................................... 158
Lamination Voids ................................................................................................. 158
Hole Wall Pull-Away ............................................................................................ 158
Barrel Cracking and Deformation of Pads ............................................................ 159

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

34.

Lay-up ............................................................................................ 160


Purpose of Lay-up ................................................................................................ 160
Lay-up Considerations ......................................................................................... 160
Preparations Prior to Lay-up ................................................................................ 160
Thin laminates ..................................................................................................... 160
Copper Foil .......................................................................................................... 161
Prepreg Sheets ...................................................................................................... 161
Release Sheets ...................................................................................................... 161
Registration of Multilayer Boards ......................................................................... 162
Process ................................................................................................................. 163

11

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

35.

Lamination ..................................................................................... 164


Purpose of Lamination ......................................................................................... 164
Process ................................................................................................................. 164
Conventional Laminating Press ............................................................................ 164
Gel time ............................................................................................................... 164
Press Cycle ........................................................................................................... 165
Two-Stage Press Cycle .......................................................................................... 165
One-Stage Press Cycle .......................................................................................... 166
Trimming of Laminate ......................................................................................... 166
Continuous Foil Lamination ................................................................................ 166
Examples of Multilayer Board Build-Up............................................................... 167

36.

Hole Drilling and Hole Cleaning .................................................... 168


Purpose of Hole Drilling and Hole Cleaning ....................................................... 168
Process ................................................................................................................. 168
Hole Drilling ....................................................................................................... 168
Hole Drilling Problems ........................................................................................ 169
Epoxy Smear ........................................................................................................ 169
Nailheading ......................................................................................................... 169
Burrs ................................................................................................................... 170
Hole Cleaning ...................................................................................................... 170
Removal of Epoxy Smear ..................................................................................... 170
Etchback .............................................................................................................. 171

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

37.

Finishing the Multilayer Board ....................................................... 171

12

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

Chapter 4.

Advanced Printed Circuit Boards

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Chapter 4 ........................................................................................ 172

13

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

Chapter 5.

How to Produce Flexible Circuits

Chapter 5 ........................................................................................ 173


Introduction ................................................................................... 174
50.

Flexible Circuits Overview .............................................................. 175


Purpose of Flexible Circuits .................................................................................. 175
Basic Types of Flexible Circuit .............................................................................. 175
1. Single-Sided Flexible Circuits ........................................................................... 175
2. Double-Sided Flexible Circuits ........................................................................ 176
4. Flex/Rigid Circuits ........................................................................................... 177
3. Multilayer Flexible Circuits .............................................................................. 177
5. Flexible Circuits with Rigid Areas .................................................................... 179

51.

Material Description ....................................................................... 180


Copper Foil .......................................................................................................... 180
ED Copper .......................................................................................................... 180
Dielectric Substrates and Covercoats .................................................................... 181
Polyimide ............................................................................................................. 181
RA Copper .......................................................................................................... 181
Polyester ............................................................................................................... 182
Other Materials .................................................................................................... 182
Adhesives ............................................................................................................. 182
Polyester Adhesives ............................................................................................... 183
Epoxy Adhesives................................................................................................... 183
Acrylic Adhesives ................................................................................................. 183

52.

Semimanufactures ........................................................................... 184


Copper Clad Polyimide Films .............................................................................. 184
Covercoat Materials ............................................................................................. 185
Bond Plies ............................................................................................................ 186
Sheets Adhesives ................................................................................................... 186
Glass Fabrics ........................................................................................................ 187

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

53.
Manufacturing Processes ................................................................. 188
53 A. Single-Sided Flexible Circuits.......................................................... 189
Phototooling ........................................................................................................ 190
Cutting and Flattening ......................................................................................... 191
Tooling Holes ...................................................................................................... 191
Imaging ............................................................................................................... 191
Etching ................................................................................................................ 192
Resist Stripping .................................................................................................... 192
Covercoat ............................................................................................................. 192
Lamination .......................................................................................................... 193
Lamination by means of a Hot-Roller Machine.................................................... 193
Lamination in a Lamination Press ........................................................................ 193
Screen-Printed Covercoats.................................................................................... 195
Solder Coating and Hot-Air Leveling ................................................................... 195
Drilling/Punching ................................................................................................ 195
Contouring .......................................................................................................... 195
14

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

53 B. Back-bared Single-Sided Flexible Circuits ....................................... 197


53 C. Double-Sided Plated-Through Flexible Circuits.............................. 198
Phototooling ........................................................................................................ 199
Cutting and Flattening ......................................................................................... 200
Tooling Holes ...................................................................................................... 200
Drilling ................................................................................................................ 200
Electroless Copper ............................................................................................... 200
Panel Plating ........................................................................................................ 200
Copper Plating ..................................................................................................... 200
Imaging ............................................................................................................... 201
Etching ................................................................................................................ 202
Resist Stripping .................................................................................................... 202
Pattern Plating ..................................................................................................... 202
Covercoat ............................................................................................................. 203
Lamination .......................................................................................................... 203
Solder Coating and Hot-Air Leveling ................................................................... 203
Contouring .......................................................................................................... 203

53D. Multilayer Flexible Circuits and Flex/Rigid Circuits ....................... 204

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Materials and Thicknesses .................................................................................... 204


Dielectric Substrates ............................................................................................. 204
Copper Foil .......................................................................................................... 204
Covercoat ............................................................................................................. 204
Outer Layers ........................................................................................................ 204
Bonding Materials ................................................................................................ 204
Processes .............................................................................................................. 205
Rigid Outer Layers ............................................................................................... 206
Flexible Inner Layers ............................................................................................ 206
Lay-up ................................................................................................................. 207
Expansion ............................................................................................................ 207
Water Absorption ................................................................................................. 207
Curing of Acrylic Adhesive ................................................................................... 207
Bending ............................................................................................................... 207
Lamination .......................................................................................................... 208
Etchback .............................................................................................................. 208
Imaging ............................................................................................................... 208
Copper Plating ..................................................................................................... 208
Contouring .......................................................................................................... 208

15

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

Chapter 6.

How to Specify Printed Circuit Boards

Chapter 6 ........................................................................................ 209


(1 - 7)Main Data and Pricing ............................................................................... 210
(8) Panelization ................................................................................................ 210
(9) Board Build-Up .......................................................................................... 211
(10) Boards with Controlled Impedance ............................................................ 211
(11) Test Coupon ............................................................................................... 211
(12) Machining (Contouring) ............................................................................ 211
(13) Laminate Type and UL Flammability ......................................................... 211
(14) Warp & Twist ............................................................................................. 211
(15) Outerlayers ................................................................................................. 212
(16) Innerlayers .................................................................................................. 212
(17) Solderability Preservation............................................................................ 212
(18) Solder Masks .............................................................................................. 213
(19) Notation ..................................................................................................... 213
(20) Peelable Solder Mask .................................................................................. 213
(21) Carbon Printing ......................................................................................... 213
(22) PTHs ......................................................................................................... 213
(23) Non-PTHs .................................................................................................. 214
(24) Milled Holes ............................................................................................... 214
(25 - 26) Blind and Buried Via Holes................................................................... 214
(27 - 28) Board Tooling Holes and Panel Tooling Holes ....................................... 215
(29) Board Mounting ......................................................................................... 215
(30) Edge Connectors ........................................................................................ 215
(31) Soldering Conditions .................................................................................. 216
(32) Markings .................................................................................................... 216
(33) Electrical Test ............................................................................................. 216
(34) Automatic Optical Inspection ..................................................................... 216
(35) Minimum Pattern Conditions .................................................................... 217
(36) Quality Conditions..................................................................................... 217

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

PCB Specification - Example A. Dimensions in inches, inches or mils. .............. 218


PCB Specification - Example B. Dimensions in mm or m. ................................. 219

16

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

Chapter 7.

How to Choose a PCB Manufacturer

Chapter 7 ........................................................................................ 220


Part 1. In Search of a Candidate ................................................................. 221
70.1
70.2
70.3
70.4
70.5
70.6
70.7
70.8
70.9

Sources of Information ............................................................................... 221


Request for Quotation ................................................................................ 222
PCB Buyers Specification ........................................................................... 222
Additional Information .............................................................................. 223
Evaluation of Quotations ............................................................................ 223
Evaluation Criteria ..................................................................................... 225
Test of PCB Samples .................................................................................. 225
Quality Assurance Requirements ................................................................ 226
Vendor Survey/Plant Audit ......................................................................... 228

Part 2. Factory Inspection .......................................................................... 228


71.1 Reception and Opening Conference ........................................................... 228
71.2 General Impression of Plant Tour ............................................................... 230
71.3 Quality Department ................................................................................... 232
71.4 Preproduction .............................................................................................. 232
71.5 Drilling ...................................................................................................... 233
71.6 Process Control .......................................................................................... 233
71.7 Statistical Process Control ........................................................................... 236

Part 3. Plant Audit Plan .............................................................................. 237


Part 4. The Final Choice............................................................................. 250

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

73.1 Criteria of Choice ........................................................................................ 250

17

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

Chapter 8.

Difficulty Factors vs Design Values

Chapter 8 ........................................................................................ 253


Purpose ................................................................................................................ 254
Procedures............................................................................................................ 254
Complexity of SMT Boards versus HMT boards ................................................. 255
80.1 Conductor Width ....................................................................................... 256
80.2 Spacing Between Parallel Conductors ......................................................... 259
80.3 Width of Annular Ring .............................................................................. 260
80.4 Hole Diameter ............................................................................................ 262
80.5 Aspect Ratio ............................................................................................... 262
80.6 Diameter Tolerance..................................................................................... 263
80.7 Solder Masks .............................................................................................. 264
80.8 Handling Faults .......................................................................................... 265
80.9 Multilayer Boards ....................................................................................... 266
80.10 Warp and Twist .......................................................................................... 267
80.11 Displacement of Holes .............................................................................. 268
80.12 Pattern Displacement on SMT Boards ...................................................... 269
80.13 Machining the Contour ............................................................................ 269

Chapter 9

Appendices

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Chapter 9 ........................................................................................ 270


Appendix 1. Laminates ..................................................................................... 271
Appendix 2A. Examples of Build-up of Multilayer Boards. 4-L, 6-L, 8-L, in inch 272
Appendix 2A. Examples of Build-up of Multilayer Boards. 10-L, 12-L, in inch.... 273
Appendix 2B. Examples of Build-up of Multilayer Boards. 4-L, 6-L, 8-L, in mm . 274
Appendix 2B. Examples of Build-up of Multilayer Boards. 10-L, 12-L, in mm .... 275
Appendix 3. Used Websafe Colors - Test Page ................................................... 276

18

HOW TO PRODUCE, SPECIFY, DESIGN AND BUY PCBs

Preface

n our discussions with PCB manufacturers worldwide, we discovered, quite surprisingly, that many of
the layouts they receive from their customers are of unacceptable quality. To prevent this and other
manufacturing-related problems, it is imperative that all persons involved in PCB fabrication - from PCB
designers and circuit engineers and those working in the fabrication shop - have sufficient knowledge of the
different process steps in order to achieve total quality.
The purpose of this material is to give a general overview of what takes place in a PCB
manufacturers plant. This material has been written for in-house education/training. Almost every process
description includes a picture of a PCB cross-section. As the process moves forward, each part of the process
is added to the preceding picture.
The original manuscript and drawings have been prepared by:
Preben Lund
Preben Lund Technology (PLT)
Rolighedsvej 36, 3460 Birkerod, Denmark
Fax. +45 45 82 82 42
e-mail: prebenlund@plt.dk
www.
The text was then edited; all pictures digitized, redrawn and colored; and the complete educational
material designed and produced on CD-ROM by:
Gran Clarmo
DATA Electronic Consult KB (DEC)
Freningsgatan 16 E, 411 27 Gteborg, Sweden
eFax +44 - 870 130 4008
E-mail : info@dataelectronic.com
Web: www.dataelectronic.com

The complete course material was prepared in digital form on Apple Macintosh and is available
on a CD-ROM so that the pages can be viewed on a computer screen and color printouts can be made by
the customer. Printouts can be made from any ink-jet printer, laser printer or from a color laser copier. The
complete CD-ROM contains a text- and figure -section with 275 pages in color. Each figure and table is
included in a separate section 285 pages long for printing out in color as overhead transparencies or slides.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Preben Lund

Gran Clarmo

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CHAPTER 1. HOW TO PRODUCE PLATED - THROUGH - HOLE BOARDS

Chapter 1

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Fig. 12A-1

Chapter 1
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CHAPTER 1. HOW TO PRODUCE PLATED - THROUGH - HOLE BOARDS

12 A. Solder Coating and Hot-Air Leveling (HAL)

Fig. 12A-1

Purpose of Solder Coating and Hot-Air Leveling.


To deposit an even layer of solder (tin/lead) on all pattern surfaces appearing as bare copper, i.e., solder
pads not covered by the solder mask and the hole barrels of plated-through holes.

Process
After pickling (a light etching), the board (a) is clamped in the clamp fixture (b) of the solder coating
machine, ( Pictures A and B of Figure 12A-2). After fluxing and preheating, the board is immersed in a
solder pot (c) for a specified dwell time. The molten solder, which has an alloy composition of 60/40 or
63/37 (tin/lead), wets the exposed copper areas, including the edges of the tracks and pads. Edge coverage,
unlike that of ordinary reflowed boards, does not depend on the amount of tin/lead on the surface because
the edges are in direct contact with the molten solder.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

It should be noted that the board receives a certain thermal shock when immersed in the solder
pot. If the copper in the through-plated hole is not sufficiently ductile, barrel or corner cracking can occur.
During withdrawal from the solder pot, the board passes between a pair of air knives (d). The hot
air jets (e) produced by the air knives level the solder on both sides of the board by removing the excess
solder. After cooling, the board is automatically passed to a cleaning station where the flux residues are
cleaned off.
It is possible to equip an ordinary hot-air leveling machine with rollers just below the air knives
so that most of the excess solder is removed by the squeezing action of the rollers before the final leveling
takes place.

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CHAPTER 1. HOW TO PRODUCE PLATED - THROUGH - HOLE BOARDS

Horizontal hot-air leveling machines have been on the market for several years. The advantage
is that the pads become more flat than in the case of vertical hot-air leveling machines. In production, the
advantage is a continuous workflow because of the conveyorization of the horizontal machine.
When the machine is properly adjusted, there is no perceptible difference between solder holes
that have been tin/lead plated and reflowed or solder coated and hot-air leveled. The advantage of the solder
coating and hot-air leveling process is that there is no tin/lead on tracks or ground planes to cause wrinkling
or flaking of the solder mask during machine soldering.

B
b

a
d
c

Fig. 12A-2

Solder Coating and Hot-Air Leveling Problems


Some PCB manufacturers claim that the solder coating method yields greater hole-to-hole uniformity than
does the ordinary tin/lead plating with reflowing. This applies, however, only to the tin/lead alloy
composition that naturally will be the alloy composition of the solder pot. This statement should be viewed
sceptically because adjustment and maintenance of the machine are fairly critical.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Dwell Time in Solder Pot


The dwell time shall be appropriate for the board. If it is too long, blistering can occur. If it is too short,
dewetting can take place since the flux has insufficient time to remove possible oxides. The optimum dwell
time depends to a certain degree on the nature of the board including the:
ratio between the copper area and the board area
board thickness
type of board, such as a double-sided PTH board or a multilayer board

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CHAPTER 1. HOW TO PRODUCE PLATED - THROUGH - HOLE BOARDS

Speed of Withdrawal
After solder coating, the board is passed between air knives where the speed of withdrawal plays an
important part. Insufficient speed causes excessive removal of tin/lead, and under worst-case conditions
only a very thin coating, similar to that of hydrosqueegee-treated boards, is left. Because of the very thin
layer, the formation of intermetallic tin/copper compounds can create solderability problems later.
Excessive speed leaves too much tin/lead on the board with a risk of blocked holes. A
manufacturer of solder coating equipment warrants that no more than 0.1% of the holes will be blocked
provided the ratio between the board thickness and the hole diameter is kept less than 2. This assumes,
however, that the machine is adjusted correctly.
Adjustment of Air Knives
All air knife adjustments have to be correct. This applies particularly to the:
air pressure
clearance between the air knives and the board
offset between the air knives
Incorrect adjustments can cause the following faults:
a thin tin/lead layer with the risk of solderability problems
a thick tin/lead layer with some solder holes too narrow, or even totally closed
an unacceptable front-to-back variation in the tin/lead thickness

Webbing
If the solder pot level is too low, flux can accumulate on the surface of the molten tin/lead and become tarlike because of evaporation of the solvent. The flux can now become intermixed with the tin/lead, which
is circulated just as in a wave soldering machine, or it can stick to the surface when the board is withdrawn
from the solder pot. Small tin/lead drops can form during the leveling, and when these drops are trapped
by the sticky, tar-like flux, they can possibly solder to the pattern and create short-circuits.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Solder Sagging
When the board is withdrawn from the solder pot and leveled, the molten tin/lead tends to run downwards.
This so-called solder sagging can form uneven surfaces of the solder pads, which can be very problematic
with SMT boards. Great care must be shown when adjusting the machine to minimize solder sagging as
much as possible.
Measurements of the evenness of solder coated and hot-air leveled pads show that there is a fairly
big difference in solder thickness over a pad. This is illustrated by Figure 12A-3. At one end of the pad,
the thickness can be as little as 1 or 2 m (0.04 to 0.08 mil) and at the other end as much as 40 to 50 m
(1.6 to 2 mils), although the illustration only shows about 25 m (1 mil).

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CHAPTER 1. HOW TO PRODUCE PLATED - THROUGH - HOLE BOARDS

m
25
20

SnPb

15
10
5

Cu5Sn6

Cu3Sn
Cu

Fig. 12A-3

Intermetallic Compounds
As discussed in Section 8, "Coverage of Hole Knee", intermetallic compounds such as Cu3Sn and Cu5Sn6
are formed at the interface between tin/lead and copper with a thickness of 1 m (0.04 mil). This could be
even more dependant upon the temperature and time conditions of the solder coating and hot-air leveling
process and in the customers stock room. Cu5Sn6 crystals can grow up through the thin tin/lead layer to
the surface and become oxidized, which causes reduced solderability. The formation of intermetallic
compounds is shown in Figure 12A-3.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Copper Contamination
If the tin/lead in the solder coating machine is contaminated with more than 0.5 % copper, a tin/copper
eutecticum can form and create solderability problems with the finished boards. The cause of this
contamination is copper dissolving from the copper surface of the boards. This is why the copper contents
of the solder pot must be analysed on a regular basis.

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12 B. Electroless Nickel and Immersion Gold (Ni/Au)

Fig. 12B-1

Purpose of Electroless Nickel and Immersion Gold (Ni/Au)


To selectively deposit an even layer of nickel and gold on all pattern surfaces appearing as bare copper (see
Figure 12B-1). The deposition usually consists of 4 to 6 m (0.16 to 0.24 mil) electroless nickel and 0.05
to 0.15 m (0.002 to 0.006 mil) of immersion gold. The nickel should have a content of 8-10 % phosphorus.

Immersion Gold: 0.05 m (2 in.)


Electroless Nickel: 5 m (200 in.)
Plated Copper: 30 m (1.2 mils)
Electroless Copper: 4 m (160 in.)
Copper Foil: 17.5 m (1/2 oz.)
FR-4

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Fig. 12B-2

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CHAPTER 1. HOW TO PRODUCE PLATED - THROUGH - HOLE BOARDS

Process
Electroless nickel is deposited by an autocatalytic process based on a precious metal catalyst and an internal
reducing agent. The deposition takes place as long as the chemistry is active. In general, the deposit is stopped
at a thickness of 5 m (0.2 mil) with the deposition rate being about 5 m (0.2 mil) in 15 to 20 min. The
minimum thickness required to be an effective barrier for copper migration from the underlying copper is
2.5 m (0.1 mil.).
Since nickel is a fairly active metal, which quickly oxidizes so that it becomes difficult to solder to
the nickel surface after a short period, the nickel layer must be coated with immersion gold.
Immersion gold deposition follows the nickel deposition and is based on an exchange reaction
where the nickel on the surface is replaced with a thin layer of gold. This reaction stops automatically when
all of the exposed nickel at the surface is replaced with gold. In other words, the process is self-limiting at
a gold thickness of 0.2 m (8 in.). In order to protect the nickel, the minimum layer thickness of gold is
about 0.025 m (1 in.).
These processes are carried out by immersing the boards in tanks where the non-electrolytic
deposition takes place. It should be noted that in many articles the word "plating" is used instead of
"deposition", but in its deeper sense, plating means an electrolytic process (see Section 5 about electroplating).
There are two alternative deposition methods. With one method, nickel/gold is deposited
selectively in plated through holes and on pads not covered by the solder mask, which has been applied
before the nickel/gold process. This requires a minimum usage of gold and is the most common execution.
Nickel/gold can also be deposited all over the board on all tracks and pads, after which the solder
mask is applied. This method is more expensive and is primarily used in cases where the boards are exposed
to very harsh environments because all tracks are encapsulated by nickel/gold. Keep in mind that solder
masks are more or less permeable so that bare copper under the solder mask can be attacked.

Ni/Au

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Fig. 12B-3

Some PCB manufacturers, often those located in the Far East, use the so-called flash gold, which
is actually a very thin layer of gold on nickel. The layer thickness is so low [0.01 m (0.4 in.) or less] that
it does not offer any protection to the underlying nickel, which soon becomes oxidized. In other cases, it
turns out that the nickel/gold is electrolytically plated, which means that it has been used as an etch resist,
leaving the edges of tracks and pads in bare copper. Sometimes, it is very difficult to clarify what the PCB
manufacturer means when specifying nickel/gold.

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CHAPTER 1. HOW TO PRODUCE PLATED - THROUGH - HOLE BOARDS

Advantages of Boards with Nickel/Gold


Flat Surface
The most important feature is that the surface of all pads is perfectly flat, corresponding to the underlying
copper surface, with all pad and track edges covered by nickel/gold. See Figure 12B-3.
Low Defect Rate
An important reason for choosing nickel/gold surface protection is a highly reduced failure rate during
assembly and soldering compared with solder-coated and hot-air leveled boards. It is especially true of fineline boards with a component pitch of 0.5 mm (20 mils) or less. This is illustrated by an investigation made
by Philips Telecom a couple of years ago. Figure 12B-4, which actually is a learning curve, shows a
comparison of the yields achieved with solder coating and hot-air leveled boards and nickel/gold boards.
Defect rate, ppm
8000
6000
HAL

4000
2000

Ni/Au
T

0
1

13

25

37

Months
Fig. 12B-4

Solderability
Solderability is high but the soldering time is a little longer (about 5 sec.) compared with wave soldering (3
sec.).
Stressing of Boards
Because the boards have not been exposed to high temperatures, no stressing of the plated-through holes
will occur. Under unfortunate conditions, this could otherwise lead to barrel and innerlayer cracks. Another
advantage of the low-temperature processes is that no delamination of the laminate will take place.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Dimensional Stability
Since the boards are not subjected to temperatures above 90 C (194 F) during manufacture, the
dimensional stability is high. This is of great importance when screen-printing solder paste on fine-line SMT
boards because a better fit between the stencil and the pattern is achieved than in the case of solder coated
and hot-air leveled boards.
Contamination of Board Surface
Since there is no flux residue on the board surface as there is with solder-coated and hot-air leveled boards,
surface contamination is considerably lower. Measurements recently published indicate a 4.5 g NaCl/
sq.cm (29 g NaCl/sq.in.) contamination of solder coated and hot-air leveled boards and just 1.5 g NaCl/
sq.cm (9.6 g NaCl/sq.in.) contamination of nickel/gold boards.
Fiducials
Fiducials, also called optical targets, achieve a better definition because of the thin nickel/gold layer.

99

CHAPTER 2. HOW TO PRODUCE NONPLATED - THROUGH - HOLE BOARDS

Chapter 2

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Fig. 26-1

Chapter 2
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CHAPTER 2. HOW TO PRODUCE NONPLATED - THROUGH - HOLE BOARDS

Nonplated-through-hole boards are usually single-sided, but in some cases, it is necessary to use
double-sided boards although competition does not allow the use of plated-through holes. The descriptions
given in Sections 21 to 27 are based on single-sided boards. However, double-sided boards can be produced
by transferring the image to both sides of the board in close registration.
When double-sided nonplated-through-hole boards are used, it is frequently necessary to establish
via connections. The simplest way is a clinched jumper wire soldered to the pads on both sides of the board.
See Picture A of Figure 20-2. It is not good practice to utilize component leads as via connections.
Another approach is to use eyelets, which are hollow solder or tin plated copper rivets. Eyelets can
be funnel-flanged and soldered in place on both sides of the board. See Picture B of Figure 20-2. Or, they
can be flat-flanged and fused (reflowed) on both sides of the boards. See Picture C of Figure 20-2. This
requires, however, that the pads be tin/lead covered.

Fig. 20-2

A more modern way of establishing via connections is to use PTF (polymer thick film) technology.
It has been used for many years in the manufacture of high-temperature thick-film hybrid circuits, and has
also found applications in the PCB marketplace. PTF technology can be used for producing tracks, straps,
resistors and printed-through holes on laminates for PCBs at a low costs.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

The technology of producing double-sided boards with PTF printed-through holes instead of
ordinary plated-through holes is addressed in the following. This technology is well suited for mass
production since it is based on a number of screen-printing, drying and curing processes for PTF paste.
PTF paste consists of a conductive element, usually silver particles, polymer organics and a solvent,
which provides the necessary viscosity for screen-printing.

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As Figure 20-3A shows, silver paste is screen-printed on the copper foil of the top (side A ) of the
board. By drawing a vacuum, the silver paste is pulled down through the hole until it covers about 2/3 to
3/4 of the hole wall whereupon it is dried. The board is then turned upside down. See Figure 20-3B. Silver
paste is screen-printed on the copper foil of side B, and vacuum is drawn to pull the silver paste down into
the hole so that it overlaps the first applied layer of silver paste. After drying and curing, a printed-through
silver hole is created. The hole offers a good electrical connection from side to side. It should be noted,
however, that such holes shall never be used as component mounting holes only as via holes. If solder from
a wave soldering process comes into contact with the silver, it will dissolve the silver. This phenomenon,
which is called leaching, is well known from bipolar SMT components such as chip resistors where a nickel
or palladium barrier under the silver is required.
PTF Silver Paste Screen-Printed on Side A

Vacuum

Table
Fig. 20-3A

PTF Silver Paste Screen-Printed on Side B

Vacuum

Table

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Fig. 20-3B

Printed-through holes must, therefore, be protected by screen-printing a solder mask across the
holes. In some cases,they must be further protected by screen-printing dots on top of the holes, e.g., when
screen-printing the component notation.
It should also be noted that silver has a tendency to migrate, which means that silver ions move
between two neighboring tracks under the presence of an electric field and humidity. This can cause a
leakage current or even a short-circuit. A protective layer such as solder mask can prevent such unfortunate
problems.

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CHAPTER 2. HOW TO PRODUCE NONPLATED - THROUGH - HOLE BOARDS

20.

Laminate

Laminate Characteristics and Applications


Information on laminate thickness, copper foil thickness and temperature conditions can be found in Tables
20-1, 20-2 and 20-3.
Phenolic Paper, FR-2
This laminate consists of plies of paper impregnated with a phenolic-resin binder. See Figure 20-4. It has
good electrical and physical properties, although its dimensional stability is not very high. It can be punched
at room temperatures. FR-2 is the least-expensive laminate and is typically used for single-sided boards. It
is primarily utilized in non-demanding applications such as radios, TV sets, calculators, toys and electronic
games.

Epoxy Paper, FR-3


As with FR-2, this laminate consists of plies of paper, but the paper is impregnated with an epoxy-resin
binder. See Figure 20-4. This laminate is quite similar to FR-2 but because of the epoxy resin, the electrical
and physical properties are somewhat higher. Like FR-2, it can be punched at room temperature. It is used
in consumer products, computers, radios and TV sets.

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Fig. 20-4

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CHAPTER 3. HOW TO PRODUCE MULTILAYER BOARDS

Chapter 3

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Fig. 32-7

Chapter 3
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CHAPTER 3. HOW TO PRODUCE MULTILAYER BOARDS

32.

Innerlayer Laminates

Purpose of Innerlayer Laminates


To form the inner circuits of the multilayer board.

Process
The most predominant and simple types of innerlayer laminates are produced in very much the same way
as nonplated-through-hole boards. The main difference is that innerlayer laminates are very thin and
inclined to flexing during manufacturing, such as during etching, unless special precautions are taken. In
general, innerlayer laminates are not drilled until lamination has been completed.
Innerlayer laminates with via holes (buried via holes and blind via holes) are produced by means
of more complicated processes involving through-plating of the via holes. Therefore, the via holes have to
be drilled prior to the plating and lamination processes.
Innerlayer laminates are divided in the following groups:

double-sided innerlayer laminates etched on one side only


double-sided innerlayer laminates etched on both sides
double-sided innerlayer laminates with buried via holes
innerlayer and outerlayer laminate with blind via holes

Double-Sided Innerlayer Laminates Etched on One Side Only


Innerlayer laminates are produced as bare-copper boards, but the side to remain unetched must be totally
covered with etch resist to protect the copper foil against etching. The innerlayer laminates AB and CD
shown in Figure 32-1 are the same as used in Picture A of 30-3, Section 30. Hole drilling, through-hole
plating and etching of the outerlayer circuits are carried out after the board has been laminated.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

D
Fig. 32-1

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CHAPTER 3. HOW TO PRODUCE MULTILAYER BOARDS

Double-Sided Innerlayer Laminates Etched on Both Sides


Innerlayer laminates are produced as bare-copper boards. The innerlayer laminate shown in Figure 32-2 is
the same as used in Picture B of Figure 30-3, Section 30. After lamination, the board is finished as an
ordinary plated-through-hole board.

C
Fig. 32-2

Double-Sided Innerlayer Laminates with Buried Via Holes


If the circuits on each side of a thin innerlayer laminate need side-to-side interconnections, the most
common course of action would be to use plated-through holes, possibly as small via holes, with a diameter
of 0.4 mm (16 mils) or less. Plated-through holes, however, occupy valuable real estate on all innerlayers
and outerlayers, and make routing the circuitry more difficult. Buried via holes interconnect the two sides
of the thin innerlayer laminate only and do not occupy real estate on the other layers of the board. See Figure
32-3. Buried via holes, however, signify that the innerlayer laminate cannot be produced as a nonplatedthrough-hole board. This is reflected in a somewhat higher price.
Since the innerlayer laminate is very thin, it is possible to drill small holes 0.3 mm (12 mils)
and still achieve a low aspect ratio, which ensures acceptable plating conditions (see Section 2).

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Innerlayer laminates with buried via holes are produced in the same way as bare-copper platedthrough-hole boards, see Section 10. When innerlayer laminates with buried via holes are laminated, the
via holes are filled with epoxy resin originating from the prepreg sheets. The via hole should be 100% filled
with resin, and the thickness of the copper wall should not be less than 13 m (0.5 mil).

Fig. 32-3

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CHAPTER 3. HOW TO PRODUCE MULTILAYER BOARDS

Innerlayer and Outerlayer Laminates with Blind Via Holes


Blind via holes interconnect an outerlayer circuit with the adjacent innerlayer circuit. Blind via holes are very
useful in SMT circuits since they are closed, meaning that the solder cannot be drained away from the solder
pads during soldering. This means that blind via holes can be placed within the footprint pads and not
outside. With this method, great real estate savings can be achieved. Blind via holes, however, are quite
expensive because of the complicated processes. There are several methods of producing blind via holes.
Conventional Drilling
The first method utilizes typical PCB manufacturing equipment. The thin laminate used for the outerlayer
and the adjacent innerlayer is drilled and electroless plated, just like an ordinary plated-through-hole board.
The image of the innerlayer is now transferred in the usual way, whereupon the thin laminate is electroplated
with copper and tin/lead or tin. This means that the innerlayer is pattern plated, whereas the outerlayer is
panel plated since no image has been transferred to this side.
After etching and stripping the tin/lead or tin, the thin laminate is ready for lamination. A thin
laminate is shown in Figure 32-4.
During lamination, all blind via holes will be filled with epoxy resin from the prepreg sheets. To
avoid epoxy bleeding over the surface, it is common practice during the lamination to cover the surface with
teflon foil or something similar so that the via holes are more or less sealed. After brushing the surface to
remove all possible traces of epoxy on the copper surface, the board is now processed as a normal platedthrough-hole boards. See Figure 32-5.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Fig. 32-4

Fig. 32-5

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CHAPTER 3. HOW TO PRODUCE MULTILAYER BOARDS

Because of the panel plating of the outerlayer, the copper layer is 25 to 30 m (10 to 12 mils) thicker
than usual. Unless an ultrathin copper foil is used, such as a 9 m (0.25 oz.) foil, serious undercutting can
take place when etching the board.
Blind via holes are often specified with a finished diameter of 0.20 or 0.25 mm (8 or 10 mils), which
means that the holes can be drilled by means of 0.3 mm (12 mils) drill bits. These via holes are often located
in footprint pads.
Figure 32-5 shows that the blind via hole is closed by a "copper lid". In order to avoid soldering
problems, some PCB customers set requirements to the flatness of the copper lid. A possible depression shall
not be more than 25 m (1 mil), but often nothing about projections is specified. Projections should be
considered most problematic when soldering SMT components, such as BGAs.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Figure 32-6 shows an example of a closed blind via hole with a virtually flat surface of the copper
lid. The via hole should be 100% filled with resin, and the thickness of the copper wall should not be less
than 13 m (0.5 mil).

Fig. 32-6

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CHAPTER 3. HOW TO PRODUCE MULTILAYER BOARDS

The other method is based on a drilling machine that can lower and raise the drill bit in a very
precise way. Thin laminates are produced as double-sided innerlayer laminates etched on one side only, with unetched copper on the outerlayers. Following lamination, all holes to be plated-through are drilled.
The blind via holes, however, are drilled just through the copper pads of the adjacent innerlayer, which
requires precision drilling in depth. See Figure 32-7. The board is now processed as a normal platedthrough-hole board. Although the via holes are not going through the entire board, all through-plating
processes are possible since the depth of the holes is rather limited, e.g. 0.2 to 0.3 mm (8 to 12 mils) in depth.
The insulation from the bottom of the drilled hole to the underlying copper layer, should not be less than
0.25 mm (10 mils).

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Fig. 32-7

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CHAPTER 3. HOW TO PRODUCE MULTILAYER BOARDS

Laser Drilled Microvia Holes


The majority of multilayer boards with microvia holes have the microvia holes formed by laser drilling rather
than by photoforming. Laser drilling techniques are described in Section 2.
One of the big problems is the capacity of the laser drilling machine. With multilayer boards for
mobile phones, the number of holes is very high. A batch of boards may contain 30 million 0.1 mm ( 4 mils)
microvia holes, for which reason drilling capacity is extremely important. As an example, some laser drilling
machines can drill 10,000 holes in 75 seconds; to which is added loading and unloading of the individual
panels additional time of 2 x 10 seconds for a total of 95 seconds. So, drilling 30 million microvia holes
will take about 80 hours.
The shape of a laser drilled hole is shown in Figure 32-8a. If not cleaned sufficiently after drilling,
some resin residues may remain at the bottom of the hole as shown in Figure 32-8b. Although it is difficult
to measure, the diameter (d) of the dome consisting of the resin residues should not be more than 25 to 30%
of the bottom diameter (D). According to some specifications, the bottom diameter should not be less than
50 m (2 mils), and the thickness of the copper wall should not be less than 13 m (0.5 mil). Figure 32-8c
shows a microvia hole that has been closed so that there is a void in the via hole. This is not permitted because
there is bare copper in the cavity and also possibly some electrolyte.

RCC

Fig. 32- 8A
D
d

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Fig. 32- 8B

Fig. 32- 8C

155

CHAPTER 3. HOW TO PRODUCE MULTILAYER BOARDS

The build-up of the boards outerlayer, including the dielectric material between the outerlayer
and the adjacent innerlayer, is based on RCC (a registered trademark of Allied Signal Laminate Systems
Inc.), meaning resin coated copper foil. In some cases, it is called RCF meaning resin coated foil. It consists
of a layer of resin supported on electrodeposited copper foil. As shown in Figure 32-9, the resin contains
two layers: one layer of C-stage epoxy resin, which is fully cured, and another layer of B-stage epoxy coating,
which is partially cured. There is no glass reinforcement so that the formation of microvia holes can be made
easily by means of laser or plasma processes. The underlying layers are made of FR-4 (see Figure 32-8).
The thickness of the copper foil is usually 18 m (0.7 mil), and the resin layers can be obtained
in different thicknesses: for the B-stage and C-stage from 25 m (1 mil) to 35 m (1.4 mils).
Another approach is to use Thermount (a registered trademark of DuPont) laminates and prepreg
sheets based on epoxy and nonwowen aramid reinforcement.

Copper foil

C-stage resin

B-stage resin

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Fig. 32-9

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CHAPTER 5. HOW TO PRODUCE FLEXIBLE CIRCUITS

Chapter 5

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CHAPTER 5. HOW TO PRODUCE FLEXIBLE CIRCUITS

CHAPTER 5
HOW TO PRODUCE FLEXIBLE CIRCUITS
Introduction
This chapter addresses the production of flexible circuits and flex/rigid circuits. Most of the manufacturing
processes, i.e. imaging, plating and etching, are quite similar to those used when producing plated-through
boards. However, there are differences due to the thin and floppy materials used in flexible circuits.
Additionally, special processes are necessary for producing and laminating the coverlays and for contouring
the flexible circuits.
A breakdown of a flexible circuit shows that it consists of three basic elements: copper foil,
dielectric material and adhesive.
The following sections describe, in detail, how to produce flexible circuits and flex/rigid circuits,
including two examples of how flexible circuits can be used as interconnects as shown in Figure 50-00.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Fig. 50-00

Fig. 50-01

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CHAPTER 5. HOW TO PRODUCE FLEXIBLE CIRCUITS

50.

Flexible Circuits Overview

Purpose of Flexible Circuits

to provide interconnections between printed circuit boards and/or other components.


to serve as three-dimensional substrates for the mounting of SMT components, e.g., in
photographic and video cameras.
to establish interconnections capable of withstanding dynamic flexing.
to form part of flex/rigid circuit boards.

Basic Types of Flexible Circuit


There are five basic types of flexible circuits as described below:
1. Single-Sided Flexible Circuits
This is the simplest type, and consists of a thin and flexible base material to which a copper foil is laminated
by means of an adhesive. The finished circuit is frequently provided with a covercoat bonded to the copper
side by means of an adhesive. See Figure 50-1.

Polyimide
Adhesive
Copper Foil
Adhesive
Polyimide

Covercoat

Flexible
Circuit

Fig. 50-1

Holes for components or connector pins are drilled or punched in the flexible circuit to provide
nonplated- through holes. Holes in the covercoat are drilled or punched before bonding the covercoat to the
flexible circuit. See Figure 50-2.
Annular Ring of Pad, Copper

Adhesive
Polyimide
Fig. 50-2a

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Annular Ring of Pad, Copper

Polyimide
Adhesive
Adhesive
Polyimide
Fig. 50-2b

175

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CHAPTER 5. HOW TO PRODUCE FLEXIBLE CIRCUITS

2. Double-Sided Flexible Circuits


As the name suggests, the circuit consists of a thin and flexible base material with copper foil laminated to
each side. The outer sides of the finished circuits are frequently provided with covercoats bonded to the outer
sides (copper). See Figure 50-3.

Polyimide
Adhesive

Covercoat

Copper Foil
Adhesive
Polyimide
Adhesive
Copper Foil
Adhesive
Polyimide

Flexible
Circuit

Covercoat

Fig. 50-3

Plated-through holes in double-sided flexible circuits are usually drilled, instead of punched. See
Figure 50-4.

Adhesive
Polyimide
Adhesive

Fig. 50-4

Usually the flexible circuits are provided with a covercoat on both sides as shown in Figure 50-5.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Polyimide
Adhesive
Adhesive

Covercoat

Polyimide
Adhesive
Adhesive
Polyimide
Fig. 50-5

176

Covercoat

CHAPTER 5. HOW TO PRODUCE FLEXIBLE CIRCUITS

3. Multilayer Flexible Circuits


A multilayer flexible circuit consists of a number of thin and flexible base laminates and copper foils
laminated together by means of adhesive, in very much the same way as rigid multilayer boards. Also it is
common practice to bond covercoats to the outer sides (copper). See Figure 50-6. Plated-through holes can
be provided in virtually the same way as in double-sided flexible circuits.
Polyimide
Adhesive
Copper Foil
Adhesive
Polyimide
Adhesive
Copper Foil
Adhesive
Polyimide
Polyimide
Adhesive
Copper Foil
Adhesive
Polyimide
Adhesive
Copper Foil
Adhesive
Polyimide

Covercoat

Flexible
Circuit
No.1

Bond Ply

Flexible
Circuit
No.2

Covercoat

Fig. 50-6

4. Flex/Rigid Circuits
A flex/rigid circuit is a combination of rigid boards and flexible circuits, the latter creating flexible interconnects between the rigid boards to which they are laminated by means of bond plies. See Figure 50-7.

Rigid Board

Rigid Board
Flexible Circuit

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

( Flexible Interconnect )
Fig. 50-7

The flexible circuit is manufactured separately and bonded to the rigid boards, see Figure 50-8,
either symmetrically, i.e., in the middle of the rigid boards, or asymmetrically, i.e., to the outer side of the
rigid boards to be interconnected.

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CHAPTER 6. HOW TO SPECIFY PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARDS

Chapter 6

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Chapter 6
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CHAPTER 6. HOW TO SPECIFY PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARDS

CHAPTER 6
HOW TO SPECIFY PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARDS
The previous chapters addressed how to manufacture PCBs and gave a certain understanding of the
processes necessary. Quite another problem is to present the board data in such a way that the PCB
manufacturer can quote and produce the boards without error. The challenge is to present all of the primary
manufacturing data in a complete and unambiguous way.
This chapter shows a specification form that has been used for several years with good results. This
form makes it possible to send a request for quotation (RFQ) to a PCB manufacturer and receive a quote
that is correct within a few percentage points with respect to the final quote based on the real Gerber data.
The form can also serve as a checklist for the PCB designer by assuring him/her that all of the important
information has been included in the PCB specification. The form can be downloaded into your system and
filled in line-by-line. Parameters not necessary for a particular job can be deleted so that the printout only
reflects the relevant data. The form is shown on the last pages of this chapter. The lines are numbered and
the text below corresponds with those numbers.

(1 - 7) Main Data and Pricing


The board should be defined by company name (1) and part number (2). Lot size and annual requirements
(3) are important for the pricing, not least when determining the test fixture to be used: Either a dedicated
or a universal test fixture.
The layer count (4), board size (5), thickness (6) and board shape (7) should be given. For PCBs
with cutouts so big that two boards can be "wrapped" into each other, a note referring to a sketch could
be useful.

(8)

Panelization

It is also important to state if the board should be panelized, and if so, the overall dimension of the delivery
panel (8a) and the number of boards per delivery panel (8b).

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Panelization has a certain impact on pricing. The customer`s panelization choice is not always
economical because it can lead to wasting laminate. It is better to discuss the panelization beforehand in
order to obtain the best possible fit to the size of the production panels. For reasons of fitting into the
assembly line and/or the test equipment, the only thing the customer should state is the maximum width
of the delivery panel. It is very seldom that the length of the delivery panel poses any problems.
There might be a problem if one or several of the PCBs on the delivery panel is/are defective.Will
the entire delivery panel be rejected, or can one or two defective PCBs be accepted provided they be clearly
marked, and the pick-and-place machine be able to ignore the defective PCBs ?
It is important to set a maximum limit on the acceptable number of defective PCBs per batch, e.g.
5% of the total number of panels, and a maximum of one or two PCBs per panel. This can be stated in a
vendor agreement.
A separate panel drawing indicating the layout and the width of the milled grooves separating the
individual boards, as well as the breakaway areas, should be supplied (see Item 23e).

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CHAPTER 6. HOW TO SPECIFY PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARDS

(9)

Board Build-Up

In many cases, the build-up is of no special importance, so it is advantageous to let the PCB manufacturer
choose the build-up. Examples are given in Appendix 2A and Appendix 2B.

(10)

Boards with Controlled Impedance

In cases where the multilayer board has controlled impedances, the build-up should be specified in terms
of layer distance and the dielectric constant of the prepreg and the hard cores possibly with an indication
of brand and type. It can be expedient to supply a cross-sectional drawing.

(11)

Test Coupon

Very few customers demand a co-delivered test coupon. The usefulness of a test coupon can be discussed
between both parties. A test coupon is usually located outside the board where the plating conditions are
better than within the board area. A disadvantage is that more copper will be deposited in the PTHs and
give a false impression of the general plating quality.
If a test coupon shows good quality, it is not tantamount to a perfect board. However, if it shows
drilling and/or plating problems, the board could be of inferior quality.

(12)

Machining (Contouring)

The usual type of contouring is routing (milling), but V-cutting, sometimes called scoring, or punching
can be specified. V-cutting is cheaper than routing but leaves tiny glass splinters along the edges so that
sanding can be necessary.

(13)

Laminate Type and UL Flammability

The most common laminate is FR-4 with a UL flammability rating of 94V-0. The PCB manufacturer
normally carries this base laminate, with the highest flammability rating, in stock. There is no real savings
by specifying a lower class, e.g. 94V-1, which often has to be purchased in smaller quantities and, therefore,
at higher prices. If the customer has specified 94V-1, the PCB manufacturer may chose to use 94V-0
laminates, but this just gives the customer a better board.
Some users require "green" PCBs, i.e., PCBs that can be incinerated after their life cycle without
developing toxic fumes. In such cases, it is necessary to specify FR-4 laminates that do not contain PBB
(polybrominated biphenyls) or PBBO (polybrominated biphenylene oxides).

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

(14)

Warp & Twist

The usual value is 1%, but in certain cases, such as when soldering BGAs, it is advantageous to specify a lower
value of 0.5%. Not all PCB manufacturers, however, will commit themselves to guarantee such low warp
and twist values .
Some PCB manufacturers press finished warped/twisted boards under heat, but this is a short-term
cure. After soldering, most of the original warp/twist will return.

211

CHAPTER 7. HOW TO CHOOSE A PCB MANUFACTURER

Chapter 7

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PCB M

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In search of a Candidate
Factory Inspection
Plant Audit Plan
The Final Choice

Chapter 7
220

CHAPTER 7. HOW TO CHOOSE A PCB MANUFACTURER

CHAPTER 7
HOW TO CHOOSE A PCB MANUFACTURER
Introduction
For a company manufacturing electronic equipment, it is risky to depend on just one PCB manufacturing
source. Something unforeseen could happen, e.g. a strike, or worse, a fire to interrupt production. Such
incidents can stop deliveries for long periods, and it is a well-known fact that it is impossible to transfer even
as few as 25 different PCBs to another PCB manufacturer, and have the deliveries resumed within a few
weeks.
Therefore, it is important that the PCB manufacturer and the new customer are thoroughly
knowledgeable about each others capabilities and expectations to ensure compatibility and cooperation.
There can easily be differences in the perception of quality, or the documentation package can seem
inadequate to the PCB manufacturer, thus requiring additional communication with subsequent adjustments, and inevitably, this takes time.
Another important advantage of having a number of regular PCB suppliers is a broader spectrum
of PCB technology at the customers disposal. This can be very significant in times of great technological
changes, especially when introducing SMT, HDI (High Density Interconnect), or laser drilled boards.
Thus, the conclusion is that any electronics company should always utilize a number of approved
and regular PCB vendors. The purpose of this chapter is to describe how to find a suitable number of
qualified PCB manufacturing candidates, and how to best choose between them.

Part 1. In Search of a Candidate


70.1 Sources of Information

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

There is a variety of information available to obtain names and addresses of prospective PCB suppliers.
Technical magazines
Advertisements
Technical articles
Supplier directories
Telephone directories (yellow pages)
Trade directories
Buyers Guide/Gold Book
Exhibitions and exhibition catalogs
ULs Recognized Component Directory

221

CHAPTER 7. HOW TO CHOOSE A PCB MANUFACTURER

70.2 Request for Quotation


To a PCB buyer, a PCB manufacturer is characterized by price, delivery time, and the quality of the boards
delivered. To evaluate these parameters, a request for quotation, RFQ, should be sent to selected candidate
companies. Special attention should be given to:
Pattern density
Minimum conductor width
Minimum conductor spacing
Minimum annular ring
Minimum hole diameter
Minimum pad clearance in solder and insulation masks
Build-up and number of layers in multilayer boards
Blind, buried and stacked microvias
Accuracy of pattern position
Solderability protection
Gold plating of edge connectors
Carbon printing of keyboard contacts
Type of solder masks
The request for quotation should require the following information:
Prices, when
batch sizes = X, Y, Z
annual consumption = W
Delivery times for
first orders
repeat orders
Production costs:
set-up charges
electrical test charges
blanking tools, if any

70.3 PCB Buyers Specification


It is very important that the prospective PCB suppliers be informed about the PCB buyers technical and
quality expectations. The easiest way is to send a PCB specification that should:

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Be self-contained, unambiguous and result-oriented


State technical and quality requirements
Avoid cosmetic criteria in favor of functional criteria
An important feature is that the PCB specification addresses the finished result, and not the
manufacturing processes to be used. Only in very special cases should the manufacturing processes be
specified, but it should be noted that the PCB buyer participates in the responsibility of the finished product.

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CHAPTER 7. HOW TO CHOOSE A PCB MANUFACTURER

70.4 Additional Information


Besides the plain commercial data requested, other information is needed in order to properly assess the PCB
manufacturers selected for quotation. The request for quotation should, therefore, pose a number of
questions derived from the following survey:
Company size and turnover
Number of employees
Ownership
Use of sub-contractors
Experience within export trade
Product range /capability
Capacity (sq.m or sq.ft per annum)
Approvals (e.g., ISO9002, ISO14000, QS9000 and UL)
Reference list
Prototype service

70.5 Evaluation of Quotations


Assuming that the PCB buyer has sent his request for quotation to a number of PCB manufacturers, it is
important to compare the quotations received. Immediate questions are:
What was the response time?
Does the structure of the quotation follow the request for quotation?
Does the quotation answer all questions asked?
The evaluation of the prices quoted is of great importance since this starts the real separation of
the quotations. It is not easy to compare all the prices by simply setting up tables, so a graphical
representation as shown in Figure 70-1, is recommended. At a glance it is then possible to survey all the
quotations, including the quantity discounts offered.
Relative Price
2.0

= Number of Quotations

3
1.5

11
2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

1.0
4
0.5

223

Fig. 70-1

Batch
Z size

CHAPTER 8. DIFFICULTY FACTORS vs DESIGN VALUES

Chapter 8

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253

CHAPTER 8. DIFFICULTY FACTORS vs DESIGN VALUES

CHAPTER 8
DIFFICULTY FACTORS vs DESIGN VALUES
Introduction
Purpose
To provide the PCB designer an overview of the manufacturing difficulty factors and
rejection rates (expressed by percentages) for the parameters which, based on the design values
chosen, are crucial to the PCB manufacturer.
To influence the PCB designer to design boards with the lowest manufacturing difficulty factor
possible to achieve:
lowest rejection rate
timely delivery
lowest price

Procedures

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Four difficulty factors (DF) are used when describing the influence of the parameter on question upon the
manufacturing conditions. Rejection rates, expressed by percentages, are assigned to the difficulty factors,
but since the manufacturing conditions vary from one PCB manufacturers to another, some variation in
the rejection rates should be anticipated. The intention is not to add, for a certain board, the rejection rates
corresponding to the various parameters in order to reach a worst-case value. The rejection rates serve
exclusively to show the PCB designer the possible consequences by choosing difficulty factors above 1.
DF

Characterization

1.

Difficulty factor 1 is fully mastered by all PCB manufacturers, and thus it is not necessary
to employ special measures to achieve a low rejection rate. The rejection rate will usually be
close to zero.

2.

This difficulty class is mastered by nearly all PCB manufacturers, but a stricter process
control than in the case of difficulty factor 1 is required. The rejection rate will normally be
somewhat higher than for difficulty factor 1.

3.

In this case, the PCB designer sets such high demands to the PCB manufacturers capability
that not all PCB manufacturers are able to manufacture the boards with a sufficiently high
yield. Manufacturing places very high demands on process control.

4.

Difficulty factor 4 is only mastered by relatively few PCB manufacturers, and as a


principal rule, the PCB designer should refrain from designing PCB of this difficulty class.

It should be noted that during the practical design phase different difficulty factors can occur
within the very same board. However, it is not the intention to characterize the board on the basis of the
highest difficulty factor. The following discussion of the difficulty factors versus the design values, or the
design requirements, serves to give the PCB designer a quantitative understanding of the technical contents
of the difficulty factors in relation to the various parameters. It is not possible to state concrete guidelines
on how the board price is calculated by the PCB manufacturer in relation to the difficulty factors. It is quite
obvious, however, the less the difficulty factor, the lower the price.

254

CHAPTER 8. DIFFICULTY FACTORS vs DESIGN VALUES

Complexity of SMT Boards versus HMT boards


The complexity of SMT boards (Surface Mount Technology) boards of today is much greater than in the
case of the older HMT (Hole Mount Technology) boards in common use not so many years ago.
The basis of calculating a complexity factor is a board pattern representing the technology of an
average HMT PCB. The complexity factor of such a reference board can be expressed by the following
parameters:
Reference

HMT board
mm
inch

SMT board
mm
inch

Board thickness
Board area, BA
Layer count, LC
Hole count, HC
Hole diameter, min. HD
Line spacing, min., LS
Line width, min., LW
Annular ring width, min., ARW
Aspect ratio, AR
Solder mask clearance, min., SMC

1.6
100 x 150
2
500
0.8
0.3
0.3
0.3
2
0.3

1.6
100 x 150
6
6000
0.25
0.15
0.15
0.15
6.4
0.10

0.062
4x6
2
500
0.032
0.012
0.012
0.012
2
0.012

0.062
4x6
6
6000
0.010
0.006
0.006
0.006
6.4
0.004

The complexity factor (CF) of the SMT board can now be calculated by means of the following
formula, which equals 1 for the reference board when inserting in the formula the values stated for the
reference board.
BA
LC
HC
0.8
0.3
0.3
0.3
AR
0.3
CF = - x x x x x x x x
100 x 150
2
500
HD
LS
LW
ARW
2
SMC
BA
LC
HC
0.032 0.012 0.012
0.012
AR
0.012
CF = x x x x x x x x
4x 6
2
500
HD
LS
LW
ARW
2
SMC

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

When inserting the values stated for the HMT reference board, the result is 1
When inserting the values stated for the SMT board, the result is 8847. This figure should be
interpreted only as an indication of how difficult it is to design, manufacture and inspect fairly complicated
SMT boards, even when the density is rather limited as in this case. And it should not be interpreted as an
indication of how much longer it takes to design a 6-layer SMT board compared with a double-sided board.
It should also be remembered that modern designs are most often created as computer aided designs, which
certainly reduce the design time.
No wonder that it is difficult to design, manufacture and inspect fine-line SMT boards.

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CHAPTER 8. DIFFICULTY FACTORS vs DESIGN VALUES

80.1 Conductor Width


In particular, there are three conditions affecting the production difficulty factor and thereby the rejection
rate of conductors:
the thickness of copper to be etched away
the etch factor (depth-wise etching divided by side-wise etching)
the imaging quality, especially in the case of very narrow conductors
The difficulty factors and the rejection rates are stated in table 80.1 below.

Parameter

Design Value

Conductor width, w
m (mil)

mm (mil)

DF

Reject.

%
0
4
8
12-20

Outer layers,
plated

0.30 (12) w
0.20 (8) w < 0.30 (12)
0.15 (6) w < 0.20 (8)
0.12 (5) w < 0.15 (6)

1
2
3
4

Outer layers,
nonplated

0.50 (20) < w


0.30 (12) w < 0.50 (20)
0.20 (8) w < 0.30 (12)
0.15 (6) w < 0.20 (8)

1
1
2
3

Inner layers,
nonplated

0.60 (24) w
0.50 (20) w < 0.60 (24)

Inner layers, plated


30 (1.2) Cu
70 m (2.4)

Comments
Copper Foil
(mil)

35
17.5
9
= 5

(1.40)
(0.70)
(0.35)
(0.20)

0
0
4
8

70
35
17.5
17.5

(2.8)
(1.4)
(0.7)
(0.7)

1
2

0
2

= 70
= 70

(2.8)
(2.8)

0.30 (12) w
0.25 (10) w < 0.30 (12)
0.20 (8) w < 0.25 (10)

1
2
3

0
4
8

= 35
= 35
= 35

(1.4)
(1.4)
(1.4)

0.30 (12) w
0.20 (8) w < 0.30 (12)

2
3

2
4

35
(1.4)
17.5 (0.7)
Table 80-1

Outer Layers, Plated (PTH and MLB)


Conductors having a width w > 0.30 mm (12 mil) pose no particular manufacturing problems, but the
narrower the width, the larger the demand for good control of the imaging and the etching.

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The 75% rule applies to all widths in the above table provided a suitable thickness of the copper
foil has been chosen, assuming an etch factor very close to 1, and pattern plating.
The 75% rule states that the remaining width of a conductor shall not be less than 75% of the
conductors nominal width (w), i.e., 75% of the design value. With an etch factor f, the undercut per side
equals the copper foil thickness divided by f. The remaining conductor width r, expressed in percentage, is
therefore:
w 2 x f x copper foil thickness
r = x 100%
w

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CHAPTER 8. DIFFICULTY FACTORS vs DESIGN VALUES

For the conductor widths w and the copper foil thicknesses stated below, the formula gives the
following remaining conductor width r. See Table 80-2.

Conductor width, w

Copper Foil

Remaining cond.
width, r

mm (mil)

(mil)

0.30

(12)

35

(1.4)

77

0.20

(8)

17.5 (0.7)

83

0.15

(6)

< (0.35)

88

0.12

(5)

< (0.2)

92
Table 80-2

The 75% rule can be met by choosing the proper copper foil thickness. The PCB manufacturer
usually chooses to etch a little more (a little longer) than required by the copper foil thickness, partly to
remove the last traces of the treatment of the copper foil, and partly to ensure that copper specks are not
found anywhere on the board. The narrow conductors, particularly, will be subject to a perceptible
reduction of the remaining width. Because of light creeping during the imaging, a further reduction in the
remaining conductor width takes place, again most pronounced along the narrowest conductors. Therefore,
the remaining conductor width of 84% to 92% cannot be fully achieved, unless the PCB manufacturer
compensates for pattern shrinkage.
The fact that the difficulty factor increases with decreasing conductor width is partly due to the
above conditions, and partly to possible irregularities along the conductor sides due to imaging or plating.
Outer Layers, Nonplated (Non-PTH)
In the case of nonplated-through boards, etching is the predominant process for developing the conductors.
When using a 35 or 70 m (1.4 mil or 2.8 mil) copper foil, conductor widths of 0.30 and 0.50 m (1.2 and
2 mil) do not pose any manufacturing problem. However, narrower conductors, even when using 17.5 m
( 0.7 mil) copper foil, pose manufacturing problems, among other things, because of the stricter
requirements on the imaging and the etching.
For reasons of mechanical strength, it is not advisable to use a copper foil thinner than 17.5 m
(0.7 mil) for nonplated-through boards.
For the conductor widths stated in Table 80.3 below, with the addition of a few supplementary
widths, the remaining conductor width r can now be found, assuming that the etch factor is 1 as before.

2003 PLT and DEC. v 5.0.4 E Demo.

Conductor width, w

Copper Foil

Remaining cond.
width, r

mm (mil)

(mil)

0.50 (20)

70

(2.8)

73

0.40 (16)

70

(2.8)

66

0.30 (12)

35

(1.4)

77

0.20 (8)

17.5

(0.7)

83

0.15 (6)

17.5

(0.7)

77

0.12 (5)

17.5

(0.7)

72

257

Table 80-3