EIPC’s Winter Conference in Lyon, France: Day 2 Review

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Putting this concept into the context of registration control, Kelley demonstrated how the principles could be applied in the manufacturing process: Beginning with a new part number, design and construction data from CAM and planning was sent to the registration control system, which predicted material movement and sent scale factors to innerlayer manufacture. After lamination, the registration was measured at the X-ray drilling stage and the measurement data was channelled back to the registration control system while the job proceeded in manufacture. The registration control system learned from the measurement data and refined the scale factors so that the next job was compensated more precisely, and so on.

Having begun by quoting Arthur C. Clarke, Kelley ended by quoting Terry Pratchett: “Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time!”

Uwe_Altmann.jpgWith more than 4000 AOI systems installed world-wide, Orbotech’s development programme continued to seek innovative solutions. In a presentation entitled “How AOI can enhance the ability to control the PCB manufacturing process,” Uwe Altmann introduced their new Ultra Dimension product. This machine combined several functions, and offered savings in space and operating costs. Pattern inspection and laser via inspection were completed in a single scan with a proprietary technique which captured and analysed three different types of image. Detection capabilities were enhanced, with fewer false calls and reduced set-up time. The machine was capable of automatically measuring conductor widths, enabling tighter impedance control on advanced fine-line applications. It also had a remote multiple-image verification facility, reducing the number of verification stations required and assisting the operator in differentiating between real and false defects. Altmann used a video to illustrate the practical functionality of the system, and the high-decibel blast that ensued when the sound button was eventually located made certain of the attentiveness of the audience!

Don_Monn.jpgSupreme showman Don Monn, Taiyo America’s European sales, new product development and OEM manager, described how solder mask needs could be re-defined with inkjetting.

Reviewing the history of solder mask, which had originally been intended as an aid to wave soldering, he described a chronological succession of technologies: screen-printed heat-cured epoxy, screen-printed UV-cured acrylic, liquid photoimageable epoxy-acrylate contact printed, liquid photoimageable epoxy-acrylate direct imaged, and all of the problems of the past related to registration, adhesion to copper, mask-in-hole, mask-on-pad, dam retention, legend adhesion, and performance through multiple final finishes, together with equipment and maintenance costs, waste disposal and associated environmental issues.

Then he came to inkjet! Coverage where it was needed, no tack drying, no exposing, no developing, less handling, simple clean-coat-cure process sequence, no artwork, no mask-in-hole, no spread/crawl effects.

He posed a list of rhetorical questions about what customers and end-users wanted and needed: Are holes getting bigger? Are line and space widths growing? Are panel values decreasing? Are defects becoming acceptable? Are lead times increasing? Is resolution becoming a non-issue? Should you be building extra to cover scrap?

He urged PCB fabricators to find their niche and concentrate on building what made them money, adding equipment as required to sustain their business. And to re-define their needs so far as solder mask was concerned. What were the needs? He listed excellent and repeatable registration, keeping the mask out of the holes, keeping the mask off the pads, eliminating broken or missing dams, reducing or eliminating rework and scrap, accurately sized mask-defined pads, robustness through all final finishes, and meeting the customer’s schedule.

These needs could be satisfied with inkjet solder mask, which was in the final stages of development and qualification, and would benefit the businesses of PCB fabricators in many ways, in particular improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness and make the business stronger.

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