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32 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2022 One of the most amazing advances in PCB manufacturing technology has been the advent and usage of laser direct imaging (LDI) tech- nology. For PCB manufacturers, this technol- ogy has been a game changer, helping to reduce costs, speed production, and improve quality. ough the LDI revolution began more than 20 years ago and usage of film for image trans- fer has reduced by half in that time, there's still room for more PCB manu- facturers to invest in this powerful tool. As an image department team leader and ISO process owner, I have seen firsthand the ben- efits of laser direct imaging for both my team and our customers. Imaging is a key produc- tion step where the PCB design is transferred from its original digital format onto the physical manufac- turing panel. is process ultimately defines all the copper features on a given layer, everything from pads to traces and plane areas. As the name implies, LDI transfers the digital design data directly to the manu- facturing panel without the use of an intermediary. e result is sharper and more precise features, with better Examining the Benefits of Laser Direct Imaging registration and the ability to place smaller fea- tures more effectively. We make higher quality, more reproduc- ible boards with LDI. e higher resolution transfer makes the final board closer to the digital design. Figure 1 compares the LDI imaging process with that of a traditional approach. As we can see, the LDI process uses a photo-based method to transfer the image Connect the Dots by Trina Taylor, SUNSTONE CIRCUITS Figure 1: Unlike the traditional imaging process, the LDI imaging process, does not require use of a photo tool as an intermediary during the exposure step.

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