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Surface Finish Technology

by: Sep 26,2018 1053 Views 0 Comments Posted in PCB Manufacturing Information

Surface Finish Technology

Summary:       At present, the environmental problems involved in PCB production are particularly prominent. Lead and bromine are the hottest topics at the moment; Lead-free and halogen-free will affect the development of PCB in many ways.


At present, the environmental problems involved in PCB production are particularly prominent. Lead and bromine are the hottest topics at the moment; Lead-free and halogen-free will affect the development of PCB in many ways. Although changes in the surface treatment process of PCB are not significant at present and seem to be relatively distant, it should be noted that the slow change in the long term will lead to great changes. PCB surface treatment technology is bound to change dramatically in the future as environmental concerns grow.


Basic Classification:

Recently, the common PCB surface treatment technologies which we PCBWay may use when manufacturing PCBs are HASL(hot air solder leveling), organic coating (OSP), electroless nickel/gold, electroless silver, electroless tin, etc.


HASL (hot air solder leveling):

Hot air solder leveling is the process of coating molten tin lead solder on the surface of PCB and heating compressed air leveling (blowing), so that it forms a layer of both anti-copper oxidation and a good weldability of coating. PCB shall be immersed in the molten solder during hot air solder leveling. The air knife shall flush the liquid solder before the solder solidifies, and it can minimize the crescent shape of the solder on the copper surface and prevent the solder bridge.

Hot air rectification is divided into two types: vertical type and horizontal type. Generally speaking, horizontal type is better, and horizontal type hot air leveling coating is mainly uniform. The general process of automatic production is as follows: micro-corrosion → preheating →coating flux → spraying tin cleaning.


Organic Coating (OSP):

Unlike other surface treatment processes, OSP acts as a barrier between copper and air. In simple terms, OSP is a chemical process to grow a layer of organic skin film on the clean bare copper surface, which has anti-oxidation, heat shock and moisture resistance, to protect the copper surface from rust (oxidation or vulcanization, etc.) in normal environment. At the same time, it must be easily removed by the flux in subsequent welding temperatures for welding. Organic coating process is simple, low cost, make it widely used in the industry. The early organic coating molecules are the anti-rust imidazole and benzotriazole, and the most recent molecules are mainly benzimidazole. In order to ensure that multiple reflow can be performed, it might not work if there was only a single layer of organic coating on the copper surface, that’s to say, there must be many organic layers, which is why the copper solution is usually added to the chemical bath. After coating the first layer, the coating layer adsorbs copper, and then, the second layer of organic coating molecules bind to copper until twenty or even hundreds of organic coating molecules concentrate on the copper surface.

Its general process is: degrease micro-etching pickling pure water cleaningorganic coating cleaning, which is much easier compared with other treatment process.


ENIG (Electroless Nickel/Immersion Gold):

Unlike OSP, ENIG only is a thick nickel gold alloy with excellent electrical properties on copper surface and can protect PCB for a long time and acts as a rust barrier, which can be useful and achieve good electrical performance in the long term use of PCB. What’s more, it also has environmental tolerance that other surface treatment processes do not. Nickel plating is due to the fact that gold and copper diffuse to each other, and the nickel layer can prevent the diffusion between them. Without the nickel layer, gold will spread to the copper within hours. Another benefit of electroless nickel/impregnation is the strength of nickel, which is only 5um thick to control Z expansion at high temperatures. In addition, electroless nickel/gold plating can also prevent copper from dissolving, which will be beneficial for lead-free welding.

The general process is: pickling cleaning micro-etching preleaching activation electroless nickel plating chemical leaching. There are 6 chemical tanks in the process, involving nearly 100 chemicals, which makes it relatively complex.


Immersion Silver:

The difficulty of the process of silver impregnation is between OSP and electroless nickel impregnation. Silver impregnation does not put heavy armor on PCB, which provides excellent electrical properties and maintains good weldability even when exposed to heat, humidity and pollution, but loses its luster. Since there is no nickel below the silver layer, silver immersion does not have all the good physical strength required for ENIG. Silver impregnation is a displacement reaction that is almost submicron - grade pure silver coating. Sometimes the process also contains organic matter, mainly to prevent the corrosion of silver and to eliminate the silver migration problem. In general, it is difficult to measure the organics in this thin layer, and the analysis shows that the weight of the organism is less than 1%.


Immersion Tin:

As all solder is based on tin at present, the solder layer can match any type of solder. However, previous PCB impregnation process is prone to tin whisker, and the transfer of tin whisker and tin during welding will bring some unavoidable problems, thus limiting the use of the impregnation process. After adding organic additives to the solution, the tin layer structure is granular, which overcomes the previous problems and has good thermal stability and weldability.

The process of tin impregnation can form a flat copper-tin intergeneric compound which haves good solderability like that of hot air leveling but does not have the flatness problem. There is also no diffusion problem between chemically plated nickel and impregnation metals, but just can't soak tin board to store too long.



PCBWay, Prototype and Fabrication the Easy Way!

With more than a decade in the field of PCB prototype and fabrication, we are committed to meeting the needs of our customers from different industries in terms of quality, delivery, cost-effectiveness and any other demanding requests. As one of the most experienced PCB manufacturers in China, we pride ourselves to be your best business partners as well as good friends in the every aspect of your PCB needs.


PCB is one of the most crucial parts of any electrical and electronic devices. The quality of PCB determines the quality of all these devices. The modern technology makes possible the increasing miniaturization of integrated circuits, higher packing density and smaller layout dimension, hence the higher demands on PCB arise. We fully understand the importance of PCB quality for our customers and therefore we visually check every board, and we electrically test them again to ensure our shipped boards exactly comply with your Gerber files.

Through the years we are proud to have been keeping an on-time delivery rate of 99%. We know, apart from PCB quality, the other most important factor is the shortest possible lead-time, which is crucial for engineers’ R&D works, especially in the stage of prototyping. We work in three shifts to make sure your PCBs will be on your desk as agreed up and as early as possible.

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