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46 The PCB Magazine • September 2017 Many companies in the printed circuit in- dustry are based in a single factory. When ev- erything is going well, this can really help to get the best out of people and machinery. The main drawback is that seeing the same issues day after day, it can be easy to accept your manufactur- ing problems as being normal. I installed an AOI machine for a customer in a small factory which employs around 10 peo- ple in the manufacturing area. I would describe everyone who works there as multi-skilled. Pro- cesses would run only as they were required and the factory was busy and reasonably efficient for the type of work that was being complet- ed. Most of the equipment had been in place for quite a few years, but generally everything looked well maintained. Installing inspection or test equipment is a great opportunity for an outsider to get an idea of the range of typical faults that are occurring in the manufacturing processes. In this case we were inspecting panels after outer layer etch. Training was going well and we were picking out the types of faults that the customer was in- terested in catching. We saw quite a few examples that I thought looked like the dry film had lifted either before or during the electroplating process, resulting in excess copper between tracks. Because the facto- ry was small and production was not a constant flow, I suggested we look back through the pre- ceding processes when we ran out of panels to inspect. The idea was sound enough. I thought it would be a good opportunity to see if we could find an underlying cause for the poor dry film adhesion which would account for the faults we detected on the AOI. As I was intending to be FEATURE COLUMN: LADLE ON MANUFACTURING by Marc Ladle VIKING TEST LTD.

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