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66 The PCB Magazine • August 2015 by Bob Tarzwell Something that I frequently hear these days is that we are losing the older, seasoned, well- trained people in the PCB business—people who really know how to manage and keep a plating area producing high-quality product. The entire process of plating from end to end, with all its subtle nuances and time-learned tricks, is not something you can just pick up in a few years. A good plating manager is a seasoned veter - an with many years of hands-on experience and probably an engineering degree. I also see first- hand how PCB manufacturers, without the prop- er plating shop set-up operations, knowledge and experience, adapt and accept poor practices as normal while they continue with poor qual- ity processes—even after attempted corrective input from vendors and consultants. These same companies accept their yields at 70%, while un- necessarily losing millions each year, and just ac- cept it as part of doing business. Yet when told of other manufacturers who are routinely above 98% first-pass yield, they argue with you, find 100 reasons why you're wrong, and do nothing about their own situation. So I've documented a few of the bigger mis- takes I see PCB shops making in the hope of edu- cating readers and changing the way they look at the plating process as a built-in quality require- ment, rather than just a dirty, stinky old line that plates copper. First, if you need rubber boots to walk in your plating area, then it's time to clean it up; good plating areas are clean, well-lit, low-dust areas that have well thought out ventilation. A dirty plating area is hard on quality, because you are fighting contamination and dirt; both have po - tentially big effects on plating. If your copper tanks sit uncovered and there is dust in the air from either a routing operation that's too close or open doors to the great outdoors, the dust will settle into the tank and give you plating bumps. I have seen plating areas where all boards had to be sanded flat because the copper bumps were so frequent and large. Typically we sort out the problem by finding the dust source, correcting it, super-cleaning the tanks, and adding new solu - tion. I always seem to be at odds with the plating tank maintenance team regarding carbon treat- ing and proper maintenance of the solution, but then I am, as one person said, "old-school." Yes, I am old-school; we learned how to properly car- bon treat a copper plating tank. Today, unknow- ing people just put a few small 10-inch carbon Plating and Quality are Close Partners FeAture

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