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November 2014 • The PCB Magazine 63 SOLvING A TRuE DAM PROBLEM continues ity to plate consistently on the acrylic adhesive layer. This had been a problem for almost a de- cade, and it is recognized within the rigid-flex community that this material is really difficult to plate. Figure 1 and Figure 2 show the outstanding results of test panels that resulted from the dis- covered solution. Figure 1 illustrates how the plating is the same on both the polyimide layer and the acryl- ic adhesive layer. This wasn't so prior to the discovery of the solution. The plating on the acrylic would always be considerably thinner or non existent. With further improvements on real parts (not shown), the engineering team, behaving as a mastermind, was able to perfect the process such that plating occurred preferentially on the acrylic adhesive. In order to get the result seen in the two fig- ures, I had to demonstrate how ineffective the team members were as solely individual prob- lem-solvers. For example, I asked them what had been learned from all of the years working on this problem. Eventually, the group admit- ted that nobody had a clue about the root cause of the problem. Engineers are probably the most difficult people to manage, because too many of them will not ask for help, which is often related to their high level intelligence combined with their competitiveness. If they don't know the answer, figure 2: Close-up of a via.

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