Selecting the Right Surface Finish for Your PCB

 

To protect the copper solder pads on a PCB from oxidation, contamination and to enhance their solderability, they need to be protected with a Surface Finish and these must conform to the European Union RoHS & RoHS2 (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) Directives.

But which is the right Surface Finish for your PCB’s?

In accordance to this directive Eurocircuits offers the following Lead-free Surface Finishes:

  • Hot Air Levelling or Hot Air Surface Levelling (HAL or HASL).
  • Chemical Ni/Au (Electroless Nickle/Gold – ENIG).
  • Chemical Ag (Immersion Silver).
  • Electroplated Ni/Au (Hard Gold) for Edge Connectors.
  • Carbon (Chemical C) for Switch Contacts.

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages and the goal is to select the one that best fits you the Function and Usage of the PCB.

For more information please read our post Selecting the Right Surface Finish for your Design.

Another important point about Lead-free soldering this that it requires higher soldering temperatures which have a direct effect on the reliability and durability of your PCB.

For more information please read our post on How Often Can You Raise a Eurocircuits PCB to Lead-free Soldering Temperatures.

 

The Eurocircuits Team.

 



 

Copper and the Board Edge

Copper and the Board Edge.

There are three options under our Advanced options heading which may be confusing:

  1. Copper up to board edge
  2. PTH on the board edge
  3. Round-edge plating.

Here’s how to sort them out.

Copper up to Board edge.

To avoid damage to the copper during the profiling operation we normally ask for a minimum distance between the copper features and the edge of the PCB.  This distance is:

  • 0.25 mm on outer layers with breakrouting
  • 0.40 mm on inner layers with breakrouting
  • 0.45 mm on all layers with V-cut scoring.

These figures are needed to accommodate industry-standard manufacturing and machining tolerances.  For V-cut scoring it is also necessary to accommodate the V of the cutter.

Sometimes it is necessary to run a copper plane up to the board edge.  In this case select “Copper to board edge”.  There is no extra charge for this but it alerts our engineers to set up a different cutter speed.

“Copper to board edge” should normally only be used for planes and large copper areas where any slight damage to the copper will not impact on the performance of the PCB.

Tracks must not be placed within the minimum distance of the board edge where they could be damaged.  Our engineers will raise an exception whenever they find tracks within the exclusion zone.

If we find pads within the minimum distance of the board edge, we will clip them back to restore the minimum copper-free space unless:

  • the pads are part of an edge connector (usually with a bevelled edge)
  • the pads are marked as “up to the board edge” in a separate mechanical layer
  • the clipping is more than 25% of the pad surface in which case we will send an exception to the customer.

NOTE.

Copper to board edge cannot be combined with V-cut scoring.

PTH on board edge.

Also called “castellated holes”.

 

These are plated holes cut through on the board edge and used to join two PCBs either by direct soldering or via a connector.  As the process requires extra steps, plated holes on the board edge are a cost-option.

Your data should clearly show the holes and the profile.  Ideally include the information in a mechanical layer.

TIPS.

  1. There must be enough spare space on the edge of the PCB for us to hold the PCB in the production panel during manufacture.  If you need castellated holes on all 4 sides, email us your design or proposed profile as early in the design process as possible.  We can then confirm that it is manufacturable or suggest any necessary changes.
  2. You must have pads on top and bottom layer (and on inner layers where possible) to anchor the plating securely to the PCB.
  3. As a general rule the holes should be as large as possible to ensure good soldering to the mother PCB.  We recommend 0.80 mm and above. Minimum end size possible is 0.5mm.
  4. All surface finishes are possible but our preference is for selective gold over nickel for the smaller sizes.

Round edge plating.

This means that most or part of the edge of a PCB or a cut-out is plated from the top side to the bottom side.

  

This may be to ensure a good ground to a metal casing or for shielding purposes.

To manufacture a board with round-edge plating we rout the board profile where the edge plating is required before the through-hole plating process.  This involves extra process steps so round-edge plating is a cost option.

TIPS.

  1. Where the board edge is to be plated there must be copper on the top and bottom layer with a minimum width of 0.5mm from the edge of the board inwards.
  2. As we need to hold the circuit within the production panel during processing we cannot plate round 100% of the edge.  There must be some gaps so that we can place rout tabs.  If you need a very high percentage of edge-plating, email us your design or proposed profile as early in the design process as possible.  We can then confirm that it is manufacturable or suggest any necessary changes.
  3. Indicate clearly in a mechanical layer where you need round-edge plating.
  4. Selective chemical nickel-gold is the only surface finish suitable for round-edge plating.

Tips & Tricks – Why Do Components Tombstone

Tips & Tricks – Why Do Components Tombstone

Ever wondered what is Tombstoning and why does it happen?

What is Tombstoning?

Tombstoning also known as the Manhattan or crocodile effect is where one end of the component lifts from a pad of the PCB during reflow soldering process and affects mainly surface mount components such as resistors, capacitor and inductors.

    

Why does it happen?

There are a few reasons for Tombstoning such as the soldering process, contamination of the PCB or the actual PCB Layout.

When soldering a component to a PCB it is important that solder reaches the ideal fluid state, this is known as the Wetting of the solder.

It then forms an inter-metallic bond between the terminal of the component and the pad on the PCB before it cools and becomes solid.

Tombstoning occurs when one end of a component (like a resistor) completes the Wetting process before the other. This end then pulls and tilts the component to create the Tombstone effect.

The PCB Layout can influence the Wetting process. An imbalance of the thermal mass between component pads will result in one end completing the wetting process before the other.

At Eurocircuits we continue to develop our Tools, Information, and Guidelines to help PCB Designer Engineers to create ‘Right First Time for Manufacture’ PCB Layouts.

Why not take a few minutes to review our latest Guideline on Tombstoning.

Take a look at some of the exciting Projects that were presented @ Electronica 2019

Should you have any questions about any of our services, please feel free to get in touch via email, telephone or instantly with our online chat during office hours. We will be more than happy to help.

Why not follow us on our social media, keeping up to date with all of our latest news?

       

News & Information

For many years Eurocircuits have provided you with important News & Information about our services, products, free to use smart tools and the Electronic Manufacturing World. Take a peak at what we offer:

  Eurocircuits company update. This section contains updates and information about the Eurocircuits Group. As a valued partner you will receive updates and news covering our company activities, team news and business developments etc.

  Events & Workshops. Eurocircuits is an active participant of events and exhibitions, it also organises events, sbinars and workshops, especially concerning technical topics

  Tips & Tricks.The electronic value chain starts with a design and then converting it to a digital form. This section covers all design related issues, their influence on manufacturing.

  Electronic Manufacturing Technology. Eurocircuits goal is to inform all Electronic Designers about Electronic Manufacturing Techniques and processes. Whilst, this may start with PCB manufacturing it also covers the Assbbly, Testing and Housing etc…

  Online Smart Tools – Services & Products. All Eurocircuits customers have access to an online customer account and through this, access to our Smart Tools and services. This section covers User Guides, updates and new features and tools etc. It will help you to optimise your knowledge, use of these tools and the electronic manufacturing services and products we offer.

  Customer Applications & Student Projects. Eurocircuits actively encourages its customers to share their experiences with other customers. In addition to this, we support many student projects and inspire thb to write about their adventures and the technology they have designed.

  eCvelo. Next to being an Electronics Manufacturing Company, Eurocircuits also has a heart for clean mobility. As result we have developed and are building trike and quad cycles with a covered frame. Keep updated by opting in to this section.

Eurocircuits TV
Eurocircuits TV is Eurocircuits’ media channel bringing electronic designers and others video news and VLOGs about our electronic manufacturing world.

 

Tips & Tricks: Avoiding Solder Escape/Wick during Reflow

Avoiding Solder Escape/Wick during Reflow

Have you ever wondered why sometimes you have poor Solder joints on your PCB’s!

One of the main reasons is that the Solder Paste flows away from the pad on the PCB during Reflow, this is known as Solder Escape, Solder Wick or Solder Drainage.

Why does this happen, well there are a few reasons but inevitably they are all the result of Thermal Dissipation during the Reflow process. Basically, the heat flows away from the pad on the PCB to a larger Thermal conductive area that’s connected to the pad and unprotected by a Soldermask Dam, these include:

  • Via Holes
  • Copper Areas
  • Larger Tracks

Below is an example (animation) of a Via Hole that is too close to a SM pad and therefore has no Soldermask Dam to stop the Solder Paste escaping into the hole.

There are several solutions to this issue and Eurocircuits is developing a PCB Assembly Guideline to help Designers understand and creating PCB layouts that may create potential Assembly issues.

Please visit our PCB Assembly Guidelines section on Solder Escape/Wick for more information on how to avoid this issue.

Should you have any questions about any of our services, please feel free to get in touch via email, telephone or instantly with our online chat during office hours. We will be more than happy to help.

Why not follow us on our social media, keeping up to date with all of our latest news?

       

News & Information

For many years Eurocircuits have provided you with important News & Information about our services, products, free to use smart tools and the Electronic Manufacturing World. Take a peak at what we offer:

  Eurocircuits company update. This section contains updates and information about the Eurocircuits Group. As a valued partner you will receive updates and news covering our company activities, team news and business developments etc.

  Events & Workshops. Eurocircuits is an active participant of events and exhibitions, it also organises events, seminars and workshops, especially concerning technical topics

  Tips & Tricks.The electronic value chain starts with a design and then converting it to a digital form. This section covers all design related issues, their influence on manufacturing.

  Electronic Manufacturing Technology. Eurocircuits goal is to inform all Electronic Designers about Electronic Manufacturing Techniques and processes. Whilst, this may start with PCB manufacturing it also covers the Assembly, Testing and Housing etc…

  Online Smart Tools – Services & Products. All Eurocircuits customers have access to an online customer account and through this, access to our Smart Tools and services. This section covers User Guides, updates and new features and tools etc. It will help you to optimise your knowledge, use of these tools and the electronic manufacturing services and products we offer.

  Customer Applications & Student Projects. Eurocircuits actively encourages its customers to share their experiences with other customers. In addition to this, we support many student projects and inspire them to write about their adventures and the technology they have designed.

  eCvelo. Next to being an Electronics Manufacturing Company, Eurocircuits also has a heart for clean mobility. As result we have developed and are building trike and quad cycles with a covered frame. Keep updated by opting in to this section.

Eurocircuits TV
Eurocircuits TV is Eurocircuits’ media channel bringing electronic designers and others video news and VLOGs about our electronic manufacturing world.

Tips & Tricks – BOM & CPL Data

PCB Services | eC Solutions

Tips & Tricks – BOM & CPL Data

It has been over a year since we launched our Prototype & Small series Assembly service.

One question that we are often asked is, what information must you our customer supply for the Assemble service.

To answer this question, we need the BOM (Bill of Materials) and CPL (Component Placement List) data.

These files are usually generated by the CAD system and output in an ASCII format, the format varies from one CAD system to another however, it is the information contained within these files that is important.

The BOM must contain the information below:

  • MPN (Manufacturers Part Number) or Supplier Part Number.
  • Full Description of the Part (including value where applicable)
  • Component Reference Designations that use this Part.

Addition information that is also very useful:

  • Manufacturer
  • Supplier

Below is an example of a BOM file.

It is important that each line that contains a Component Reference Designator also contains the required part information.

Using the CPL we automatically superimpose the components listed in the BOM to the PCB, allowing the verify the component placement on the PCB.

The CPL file must contain the following information:

  • Component Reference Designator (e.g. C1, L2, R3 etc).
  • X and Y Position of the component Center.
  • Orientation
  • Side (Top or Bottom).

Great news for KiCAD and Eagle users as this information is already contained within the .BRD or .KiCAD file.

Below is an example of a CPL file.

For more information concern BOM and CPL files please visit the Eurocircuits PCBA Visualizer – user guide and the Eurocircuits Guide on How to Upload or Import BOM & CPL files into the PCBA Visualizer.

Should you have any questions about any of our services, please feel free to get in touch via email, telephone or instantly with our online chat during office hours. We will be more than happy to help.

Why not follow us on our social media, keeping up to date with all of our latest news?

News & Information

For many years Eurocircuits have provided you with important News & Information about our services, products, free to use smart tools and the Electronic Manufacturing World. Take a peak at what we offer:

Eurocircuits company update. This section contains updates and information about the Eurocircuits Group. As a valued partner you will receive updates and news covering our company activities, team news and business developments etc.

Events & Workshops. Eurocircuits is an active participant of events and exhibitions, it also organises events, seminars and workshops, especially concerning technical topics

Tips & Tricks.The electronic value chain starts with a design and then converting it to a digital form. This section covers all design related issues, their influence on manufacturing.

Electronic Manufacturing Technology. Eurocircuits goal is to inform all Electronic Designers about Electronic Manufacturing Techniques and processes. Whilst, this may start with PCB manufacturing it also covers the Assembly, Testing and Housing etc…

Online Smart Tools – Services & Products. All Eurocircuits customers have access to an online customer account and through this, access to our Smart Tools and services. This section covers User Guides, updates and new features and tools etc. It will help you to optimise your knowledge, use of these tools and the electronic manufacturing services and products we offer.

Customer Applications & Student Projects. Eurocircuits actively encourages its customers to share their experiences with other customers. In addition to this, we support many student projects and inspire them to write about their adventures and the technology they have designed.

eCvelo. Next to being an Electronics Manufacturing Company, Eurocircuits also has a heart for clean mobility. As result we have developed and are building trike and quad cycles with a covered frame. Keep updated by opting in to this section.

Eurocircuits TV

Eurocircuits TV is Eurocircuits’ media channel bringing electronic designers and others video news and VLOGs about our electronic manufacturing world.

Eurocircuits Tips & tricks – How to order the most cost effective PCB

PCB Services | eC Solutions
Eurocircuits Tips & Tricks – How to order the most cost effective PCB
Eurocircuits Tips & Tricks – How to order the most cost effective PCB

What options are available to help reduce the cost of your Prototype PCB?

When uploading your PCB data to your Eurocircuits account you may have noticed on occasion some small Icons next to certain options:

  • Single coin, indicating this option has additional costs – Amending your design to fall into a classification which no longer has additional costs.
  • Stack of coins, this indicates that the option selected no longer falls into our pooling service and the cost will raise accordingly to reflect unique manufacture – here possible review the remarks and see if it is possible to amend the design to no longer fall outside of our pooling option, if this is not possible then use to the “customise matrix” to identify the most cost effective quantity.

In addition to the stack of coins your will also see a remark directing you to where the non-pooling option is:

We have worked to providing Design Rules which can be imported into 3 of the most popular CAD design packages. They will push your design to meet the cost effect design classification automatically, you can find these Design Rules here:

For “true” prototyping we also have the “NAKED Proto” service, by offering a high quality PCB which does not include soldermask or silk screen marking can reduce the price of you order by up to 45%.

Pooling customer orders and sharing the cost of production, the heart of our business and successfully offering affordable Prototype PCBs for 25 years.

If you have any questions about this or any other service please feel free to get in touch and we will be more than happy to help. Try out our online chat!

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