The Main Four Methods of Electroplating in the Circuit Board
Electroplating on a circuit board can be done in various ways. There are Thru-hole, Cleaning, and Electroless methods. Each method is used to cover different areas of the board. The methods differ slightly from one another, so it’s best to understand the differences in order to make a good decision.
Thru-hole electroplating is a process for electroplating copper on circuit boards. This process involves a series of baths in which the boards are immersed in a chemical solution. This process aims to coat the entire board with copper. During the process, the boards are cleaned to remove all drilling residue, such as burrs and residual resin inside the holes. The fabricators use various chemical agents and abrasive processes to remove any contaminants.
Thru-hole electroplating involves a special low-viscosity ink that forms a highly adherent and conductive film on the inner walls of the hole. This process eliminates the need for multiple chemical treatments. It is an easy process because it only requires one application step followed by thermal curing. The resulting film covers the entire interior wall of the hole. Moreover, its low viscosity allows it to bond to even the most thermally polished holes.
As a result, it is vital to choose a reputable company that offers PCB fabrication. After all, a substandard board may disappoint customers and cost a company money. Besides, it is also necessary to have high-quality processing equipment in the board manufacturing process.
To start the process, you must cut a laminate slightly larger than the size of your board. Afterwards, you must drill the hole in the board with an exact drill bit. Do not use a larger drill bit, as it will destroy the copper in the hole. You can also use tungsten carbide drill bits to make a clean hole.
Electroless plating is a process that is widely used in the production of printed circuit boards. The main purpose of electroless plating is to increase the copper layer’s thickness, which is usually one mil (25.4 um) or more. This method involves the use of special chemicals to increase the copper layer’s thickness throughout the printed circuit board.
The nickel that is applied in electroless plating acts as a barrier to prevent copper from reacting with other metals, including gold. It is deposited onto the copper surface using an oxidation-reduction reaction, and the result is a layer of electroless nickel that is between three and five microns thick.
Unlike the electroplating method, electroless plating is a fully automated process and does not require any external current supply. The process is autocatalytic and is performed by immersing the circuit board in a solution containing a source metal, a reducing agent, and a stabiliser. The resulting metallic ions attract one another and release energy through a process known as charge transfer. The process can be controlled using a number of parameters, each of which has a specific role to play on the outcome.
The electroless plating process has numerous benefits, including improved deposit quality, uniformity regardless of substrate geometry, and excellent corrosion, wear, and lubricity. Electroless plating also enhances the solderability and ductility of components, and has numerous applications in electronics.
Cleaning electroplating on circuit boards requires special care. The first step is to thoroughly wet the board. Then, use a hand brush to scrub the contaminated area. The second step is to rinse the board thoroughly, so that any remaining solvated flux flows off completely. In this way, the board will be thoroughly clean.
The next step involves removing the resist from the board. This step is essential to ensuring good electrical connection. A copper solvent is used to dissolve the resist on the board. Once the copper is exposed, it will conduct electricity. This process will remove the smear and ensure that the board is clean and ready to be plated.
Cleaning electroplating in circuit boards involves rinsing the board and using an acidic solution that contains ions of nickel and other transition metals. In addition, a reducing agent, such as dimethylamineborane, is used. Butyl Carbitol and other conventional cleaning agents are also used.
For the most precise cleaning, vapor degreasing can be used. The PCBs are immersed in a solvent and rinsed by its vapors. However, this procedure can be risky if the solvent is flammable. To avoid flammability, it is recommended to use nonflammable flux removers. You can also use cotton or foam swabs saturated with mild solvents. Most of these solvents are water-based.