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12 PCB007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2018 Feature by Tara Dunn OMNI PCB SAP, mSAP, SLP—what kind of crazy acro- nyms have we adopted now, and how much do you really need to know? In terms of con- sumer electronics, there is a good chance that the smartphone attached to your hand at all times contains a PCB fabricated with this tech- nology—or at the very least, the next-genera- tion smartphone that you purchase will utilize mSAP technology. In terms of current-day PCB design and fabrication, that really depends on where you are now with technology. The standard subtractive-etch process serves the industry well. Developments in ma- terials, chemistry and equipment enable the traditional PCB fabrication process to achieve feature sizes such as line and space down to 30 microns. Larger shops with more sophis- ticated capabilities are building this technol- ogy today. Mainstream PCB manufacturing is often limited to 50-75 microns ( mm) line and space. But the electronics industry is evolving quickly. Propelled by the demand for more so- phisticated electronics, the PCB design is be- ing tasked with finer lines, thinner materials and smaller via sizes. A traditional progres- sion is to first move to HDI technology with microvias and multiple lamination cycles for fabrication. Today's mSAP and SAP technol- ogy offers an advanced approach, with line and space capabilities of less than 25 microns, to meet these exceedingly complex design re- quirements. A Few Definitions • Subtractive etch process: commonly used to fabricate printed circuit boards. This process begins with copper-clad laminate, which is masked and etched (copper is subtracted) to form traces • Additive PCB fabrication: this process uti- lizes additive process steps, rather than subtractive process steps to form traces • SAP: semi-additive process, adopted from IC fabrication practices • mSAP: modified semi-additive process, ad- opted from IC fabrication practices • SLP: substrate-like PCB; a PCB using mSAP or SAP technology instead of sub- tractive etch technology

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