Posts Tagged ‘surface treatment’

How to choose surface finish on Printed Circuit Board?

Saturday, December 17th, 2022

When finish the PCB design, we should choose a suitable surface finish to protect traces from corrosion. Nowadays, the most popular surface treatments for PCB manufacturer to use are HASL/LF HASL, OSP and ENIG.

Different surface treatment has its unique functionality and the cost also is different. This article we will show you the pros and cons of the three surface finishing which use while the PCB manufacturing process.

HASL Surface Finish

HASL (Hot Air Solder Level) can be known as tin-lead HASL and lead-free HASL, it was the mainstream surface treatment technology in the 1980s, but with the increased of “small and high density” demands in PCB, there are less and less circuit boards use the HASL technology because it will cause the defective products due to the solder point are easy to leave on the board surface during SMT process. In view of this situation, some PCB board manufacturers or designers prefer use OSP or immersion gold to ensure the good quality products as well as smooth production process.

  • Tin-lead HASL

Advantages:

1) Economical and widely available.

2) Excellent solderability.

3)Better mechanical strength & lustrousness than lead-free HSAL.

Disadvantages: it is harmful to environment and violates RoHS compliance.

  • Lead-free HASL

Advantages: low cost, good solder performance and environmental.

Disadvantages: mechanical strength & lustrousness are not good than lead HASL.

In additional, due to the poor surface flatness of HASL circuit boards, neither leaded nor lead-free HASL is not suitable for soldering fine-pitch components or plated through-holes, because it will cause the short circuits and poor welding during the assembly process.

(LF_HASL)

OSP

OSP (Organic Solderability Preservatives) also named as pre flux, the working principle is to generate a layer of organic film chemically on the copper surface to protect the surface from oxidation or vulcanization in the room environment. Meanwhile, OSP also can increase the oxidation resistance, heat shock resistance and moisture resistance of a PCB. 

OSP is equivalent to an anti-oxidation treatment, the protective thin film can be easily removed by the flux quickly under the high soldering temperature, then it makes the exposed copper surface immediately combined with the molten solder in a very short time to become a solid solder spot.

At present, the usage of OSP surface finishing process has increased significantly because it is appropriated for both low and high-end products. If your application has no surface connection functional requirements or storage life limitations, the OSP process is the most desirable surface treatment process.

(OSP_surface_treatment)

Advantage:

1)With all the advantages of bare copper soldering, expired (more than 3 months) boards can also be resurfaced, but one time is better.

2)Good for fine-pitch, BGA and smaller components.

3)Low cost and easy to rework.

4)Simple process and easy to ensure quality.

Disadvantage:

1)OSP is easily affected by acid and humidity, so must be packed with vacuum.

2)Need to do surface treatment again if storage time more than 3 months.

3)It should be used within 24 hours after unpacking.

4)OSP is an insulating layer, so the test point must be printed with solder paste to remove the original OSP layer for electrical testing.

ENIG

ENIG (Electroless Nickel/Immersion Gold) is one of a chemical nickel gold deposition method, the working principle is to generate a layer of coating by chemical REDOX reaction to get a thicker gold layer. Currently, ENIG is mainly used in the surface of the circuit board with connection functional requirements and long storage life.

Advantage:

1)Can be stored long time as well as no oxidation.

2)Good flatness surface and suitable for small solder point components.

3)Good solderability.

4)Can be used as the base material for COB wire bonding.

Disadvantage:

1)High cost than other two surface treatments.

2)Easy to exist black-pad issue during production process.

(ENIG)

As we can know from above information, each PCB surface treatment has its own merit and demerit, you can choose the one according to the effect you want to reach, as well as your cost. 

If you don’t know which is best for you, you can send inquiry to us, our professional engineering team and PCB sales will choose the suitable one for you. Welcome to contact us if you have any other questions.

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Differences Between Immersion Gold and Gold Plating In PCB?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

With more and more extensive usage of Printed Circuit Boards, the IC become more and more integrated and IC pins on PCB are also more denser (such as 0603, 0402 spec ICs), which brings a big difficulty to SMT process. In addition, the shelf life of HASL board is very short, and Gold-plated board can solve such problems perfectly, that’s why it is common and popular to use gold board in high precision and ultra-small assembly process. Nowadays, there are two kinds of gold coating method in PCB industry – Immersion gold & Gold plating. To make you a sense of them, today we will simply introduce their definition and the differences between two of them.

Part 1: What is Immersion Gold (ENIG)

Immersion Gold also named as ENIG (Electroless Nickel/Immersion Gold) is generating a layer of coating by chemical REDOX reaction, is a kind of chemical nickel gold deposit surface finish during PCB manufacturing process. We can get a thicker layer of gold, but as its weak adhesion through immersion, it is also known as Soft Gold.

Part 2: What is Gold Plating

Gold plating is an another surface treatment of depositing a thin layer of gold on PCB surface by plating, the working principle is to dissolve nickel and gold (commonly known as “gold salt”) in the chemical potion, then immerse the circuit board in the electroplating cylinder and through the current on the copper foil surface of the PCB to generate a layer of gold plating. The gold particles attached to the PCB, as strong adhesion also known as “hard gold”. Gold plating is widely use in electronic products as its characteristics of hardness, excellent abrasion resistance and not easy to be oxidized. For example, the gold finger of flash driver in our computer is hard gold.

Part 3: The differences between Immersion Gold and Gold Plating

  • In generally, the gold thickness of immersion is thicker than plating, and immersion gold is golden yellow while gold plating is yellowish white, so just from appearance, most customers prefer like immersion gold.
  • Due to the crystal structures between them are different, immersion gold is easier to operate in SMT process, and won’t cause the poor soldering issue.
  • Immersion gold is softer than plating way, so if boards required gold fingers, it is always use plate-gold as its good wear resistance properties.
  • There is only nickel gold on the solder pad, so under the conductor skin effect, the signal transmission won’t be affected in copper layer.
  • Compared with gold plating, immersion gold has more denser crystal structure and is not easy to oxidation.
  • With the denser line width and space requirements, plating method is easily to cause short circuits, but since immersion gold board only has gold on solder pads, which won’t exist such issue.
  • The adhesive between solder mask and copper layer on circuit is stronger as there is only nickel gold on immersion board, so it is easier for engineers to make compensation when adjust line space.
  • Black-Pad won’t be happened to immersion board after assembly because it has good flatness than plating method.
  • Immersion gold is more economy than plating.

Best Technology is a professional PCB manufacturer with over 16 years experiences, and we have rich and mature technical to fabricate immersion gold and gold-plated boards. Warm welcome to contact us at sales@bestpcbs.com if you have any questions or RFQs about printed circuits, we are always online.

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Why ENEPIG More Suitable for Ceramic PCB Wire Bonding?

Thursday, October 20th, 2022

There are many surface treatment choices that can be used on Ceramic PCB, but why ENEPIG is one of options we always recommend to our customers whom have wire bonding demands?

In the application of Ceramic PCB, COB or wire bonding was widely used for the packaging technology in thin, short, high speed of electronic products. The Chip On Board (COB) technology refers to a technology in which bare chips are directly attached to the PCB board and then connected electronically through metal wires, namely “Wire Bonding”. Due to gold wire has an excellent electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, corrosion and oxidation resistance, gold wire is often used as a main bonding material in microelectronics packaging.

What is ENEPIG?

ENEPIG, is a type of surface treatment on Printed Circuit Boards and ceramic PCB, the full name of it is Electroless Nickel – Electroless Palladium – Immersion Gold, now it is widely used in wire bonding field.

How does it work and what’s the standard thickness of each layer?

  • Electroless Nickel: Nickel acts as a barrier layer, preventing copper from interacting with the other metals involved in this plating technology, particularly gold. The layer is deposited on the catalytic copper surface using an oxidation-reduction reaction. The result is a layer that is between 2.0 to 5.0 microns thick.
  • Electroless Palladium: Palladium is a relatively stable metal at room temperature, and it is difficult to be oxidized within 400℃. The chemically deposited palladium layer has a neat lattice arrangement, uniform grain size and compact structure. Adding palladium layer between nickel layer and gold layer can effectively prevent the diffusion of nickel layer to gold layer. The Palladium is a layer with a thickness between 0.03 to 0.10 microns, it also depends on the final applications.
  • Immersion Gold: The main function of the gold layer is to bond with the gold wire. If there is no palladium layer as a diffusion barrier between the nickel layer and the gold layer, the gold layer can also bond with the gold wire after reflow, as long as the gold layer reaches a certain thickness. For example, when the thickness of the electroplated nickel gold reaches 0.3um, it can bond with the gold wire. In addition, gold itself has a good bonding ability with gold wire, and in ENEPIG process, due to the palladium layer protects the gold layer from the pollution of nickel, only a thin gold layer (0.03um~0.05umm) is needed to have a good bonding property. This’s why there’s cost advantage of ENEPIG than that of thicker ENIG.
(ENEPIG product)

Why choose ENEPIG?

ENIPIG has a good wiring bonding ability, solder joint reliability, multiple reflow soldering and excellent storage time, can correspond to and meet the requirements of a variety of different assemblies.  Below is a comparison about performance of different surface treatments:

(Comparison-about-performance-of-different-surface-treatments)

Advantages  of ENEPIG

  • “Black Nickel” free — The palladium layer separates the Nickel layer from the gold layer, it can prevents the mutual migration of gold and nickel, so no black nickel will appear
  • Excellent gold wire bondability — the gold plating/coating is very thin, can be used for gold wire bonding as well aluminum wire bonding
  • Palladium acts as an additional barrier layer to further reduce copper diffusion to surface, thus ensuring good solderability
  • Cost-effective than ENIG
  • Lead-free nickel
  • Good compatibility between coating and solder paste
  • Very suitable for packaging components such as SSOP, TSOP, QFP, TQFP, PBGA

Best Technology is a 16+ years PCB manufacturer and we made many ENEPIG PCBs and ceramic PCBs for our customers, welcome to contact us if you have demands on ENEPIG PCB.

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What kind of finishing recommended for the extra thin FR4 PCB

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

As we know, the extra thin PCB means the thickness of printed circuit board is more thin than normal PCB, which is refer to a thickness smaller than 0.4mm for 1L/ 2L & 4L PCB. For extra thin PCB, we know they are all very thin and are easily to be broken, so the option for the surface treatment of the extra thin PCB is very crucial.

So, what kind of finishing to be recommended for the extra thin Rigid PCB?

extra thin FR4 PCB
0.15mm extra thin FR4 PCB_Best Technology

Generally, there are 3 kinds finishing can be recommended for the extra thin PCB. It is OSP, ENIG (Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold), and ENEPIG.

extra thin pcb finishing
extra thin pcb finishing

But you may want to ask that lead-free Tin is also a common finishing for the PCB. Why not recommend LF HASL? 

That’s because while LF HASL Process, the PCB will be easy to be blew away, people will use heated compressed air to leveling (blowing) on the coating molten tin (lead) solder, during this process, the traces will be easy to be broken as well.

So normally, we will not recommend the LF HASL finishing for an ultra thin FR4 PCB.

HASL lead-free is only suitable for a board with minimum thickness of 0.6mm, while the standard gold immersion surface coating can support PCB with a minimum thickness of 0.2mm. For the surface treatment of ENEPIG , which plate only needs to be about 0.1 microns for palladium and about 0.1 microns for gold, (palladium is a precious metal that is much harder than gold), so for board with ENEPIG finishing, its surface will looks more smooth, that’s also why it is the most recommended surface treatment for an extra thin PCB.

extra thin PCB
0.13mm extra thin Rigid FR4 PCB_Best Technology

If you are searching for an extra thin PCB, feel freely to ask or send your inquiry to us. We will be pleased to share you more information regarding the extra thin PCB.

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