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AUGUST 2019 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 13 Electroplating very thin panels has always been difficult due to the nature of the "dip" process. If you use a conventional plating line, the panel has to be supported by a jig of some type to keep the very flexible panel in the cor- rect position as it is lowered into the plating tank. In comparison, VCP can be formatted with Teflon guides, which keep very thin ma- terials in an accurate position throughout their passage through the copper plating cell. Trans- port of 0.05-mm thick materials is possible us- ing only top-clamping methods with no further support of the panel required. For even more accurate VCP plating of thin materials, a system of top and bottom clamp- ing has been developed. The idea is to keep the position of the material perfectly centred between the front and back anodes. to enable the most flexible use of the plating window. This approach of larger numbers of smaller rectifiers is one approach that could potentially make vertical continuous plating (VCP) more appropriate for smaller batches of panels, opening up the possibility of using this type of machine to a much larger number of smaller factories. VCP is becoming more widespread and of- fers a number of solutions to common plat- ing problems. The main drive for the develop- ment of this machine type was to enable very even plating across the whole of the panel ar- ea. The work is driven through the copper cell in a continuous motion so that every part of the panel passes each anode, and in theory, is subjected to exactly the same high and low points of current density. It would be wrong to call the VCP process a new development as this machine type has been around for quite a few years now, but the application has cer - tainly developed for an interesting range of processes. Figure 2: Multiple rectifiers anode bar. Figure 3: Top and bottom VCP clamps.

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