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62 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2024 Article by Pete Starkey I-CONNECT007 I have followed the progress of inkjet imag- ing in PCB manufacture since the late 1990s, seen many contenders come and go, attended and reviewed more than a few conference and seminar presentations, and met some leading experts in this technology. Although inkjet legend printing has become well established, and the feasibility of ink- jet primary imaging convincingly demon- strated, inkjet solder mask has, until recently, remained a near-unattainable goal. I recall Dr. Steve Jones of Printed Electronics Ltd. com- menting upon the apparently inverse relation- ship between the functionality of a solder mask formulation and its "jet-ability." Yes, there have been lots of optimistic claims made. I've seen numerous demonstra- tions of inkjet printers producing solder mask images on PCBs in pretty green paint. In most instances, I received vague or evasive answers when I asked pointed questions. It takes a rather special kind of green paint to satisfy the qualification and performance specification requirements of international standards and end-user approvals, and a rather special kind of printing machine to apply it correctly. But the leaders have persevered. Close coop- eration between formulators and equipment manufacturers has resulted in products and processes that fulfill all those requirements. PCB fabricators, end users, and approv- als authorities have realised the benefits, and inkjet solder mask has become an accepted reality. I was delighted to be invited to attend an interactive webinar entitled "Solder Mask Coating Made Easy with Additive Manufactur- ing," hosted by SÜSS MicroTec Netherlands in Eindhoven. e webinar was introduced and moderated by André Bodegom, manag- Inkjet Solder Mask Has 'Arrived'

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