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22 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2018 Alex Stepinski: Your magazine has highlight- ed some aspects of our project in recent ar- ticles. Our involvement with Atotech on this new phase dates to September 2016, when we first made contact to discuss possibilities, and they presented us with some very inter- esting technologies at the meeting in Berlin, and then another meeting at Feucht. We went to a couple of their tech centers to understand the technologies better. I'll preface this by say- ing that Atotech was a very successful supplier for us for our original project [1] . They provid- ed an equipment set and overall process that was very, very reliable. We had a good expe- rience with it, and this is the reason we came to them. During discussions initiated in September, and then some follow-up face-to-face in late 2016, we arrived at an overall specification to create this high-mix process. We could fill bur- ied vias, fill through-holes with copper, plat- ed copper, on very thin substrates and on very thick product; we're able to do high-aspect ra- tios. These are all horizontal processes that we procure from them, and they are also engag- ing with us on the chemical side developing a unique vertical process. All of this is done with a simple zero-dis- charge mentality. Controls have been integrat- ed throughout the line so that we don't even have rinse water coming out of the lines now. It's a unique overall process where we can run a high mix of products through many differ- ent types of chemistries to achieve very chal- lenging specifications, very fast, using equip- ment that's basically designed more for the Asian market in terms of high volume. But they re-engineered everything for us for a high- mix North American model. And they made it green as well. This is the summary of what we're doing to get there. Goldman: I understand that Atotech has built three platers for GreenSource. Are they provid- ing equipment and chemistry? Stepinski: Three platers, two electroless lines, two surface treatment lines, and a direct met- allization line, so it's more than just three plat- ers. Barry Matties: In this development process, what was the greatest obstacle that you had to overcome to achieve these results? Kruse: The main obstacle for this project was the highest degree of flexibility requested by Alex and his team. Atotech's core compe- tence is manufacturing high-volume horizon- tal plating systems for the PCB industry, and this is typically a combined line starting from desmearing through the electroless copper and finally the plating process. Alex was looking for something totally different—a smaller ca- pacity line. He wanted to have the utmost flex- ibility for through-hole and for blind microvia production, but also for through-hole filling as well as for processing thin and thick panels, so he challenged us. To deliver a systems set of- fering the highest degree of flexibility, while at the same time the best reliable solution avail- able in the market, we decided on standalone plating equipment, as well as in-line process- ing consisting of PTH and plating lines with in- dividual loaders in front and unloaders in be- tween, to provide the solution Alex was look- ing for. And this is what is installed now. Goldman: What was new in the equipment that has never been done before, that you're aware of? Figure 2: BondFilm LDD SR (splash reduction on laser- drilled holes followed by desmear processing.

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