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12 PCB007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2019 ing news, processes, materials, or equipment, going one step further in manufacturing solu- tions, precision, or processes. What I found was a focus on what I call panel-by-panel en- gineering or adapted processing. Processes Engineered to Secure Every Panel Meets Specification In my daily job, consulting with customers for PCB manufacturing, I have experienced an increased need for serialization and traceabil- ity. At the EIPC stand, I talked to Alun Morgan about this. He confirmed that if there is a trend today, it goes toward processes engineered to secure every panel meets specification: etching and plating equip- ment that can adapt to small differences panel by panel; ink- jet printers that can print etching re- sist and plate resist and solder mask and legend adapt- ed to exactly what is needed for that panel, or that de- sign. If you pair this with the drive toward the connected factory— IPC-CFX—you find a trend that fits more than one purpose. The keywords and phrases are traceability, impedance tolerances, changes made on-the-run, and multiple variations of the same design. We also see tighter mechani- cal tolerances as a result of miniaturization. Tighter Etching and High-speed Materials The demand for tighter etching and plating tolerances, combined with high-speed materi- als, comes not only from 5G, but also other high-frequency and high-speed applications, where 10% impedance tolerances no longer are acceptable. To meet tolerances down to 5%, and probably even lower in the future, not only materials but also processes must be more accurate and adapted. These 5G requirements toward PCB manu- facturers are impossible without major in- vestments. Modified semi-additive processes (mSAP) are on everyone's lips when we talk about the ability to create copper lines down below 30 microns, which is needed in smart- phones and other products within the 5G sphere. Upgraded Equipment: An Unavoidable Result This also means plating and etching equip- ment needs to be upgraded to meet new imped- ance requirements in volumes, and sometimes engineered panel by panel. I believe we will see changes in the image transfer process as well, going from film lamination and ink resist to inkjet or other 3D printing methods. Some equipment was shown at pro- ductronica that can print etching resist, the plating resist, and solder mask and legend, in the same machine. And with both jet print- ing and imaging, we need speed and individual adap- tation to each production panel. Today, this equipment has a relatively low-volume capa- bility but with flexibility, which could help European manufacturers to meet some of the requirements with a reasonable investment. Last week, Taiyo America and Würt Elektronik CBT announced successful cooperation on pro- ducing inkjet solder mask and they are not the only ones. The same goes for imaging, but here, manu- facturing speed is not the challenge. I asked Øyvind Tafjord from the Norwegian imaging company Visitech, a company that delivers the imaging equipment for major AOI and LDI manufacturers, what the speed and resolution are for their equipment. The answer was that a panel of 500 by 610 mm could be imaged in a few seconds, and with resolution down to 2 µm, Visitech can meet demands from 5G and beyond. If a factory sticks with their five-year-

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