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Chemical & Laser PCB Etching Process in PCB Fabrication

PCB etching process is one of the major steps in the chemical processing of subtractive printed circuit board. It is the removal of copper, to achieve the desired circuit patterns. In PCB etching process, all copper is removed except the circuitry that is protected by the tin plating applied during the previous treatment in PCB manufacture. The tin is then stripped and the copper is cleaned and the newly prepared circuit is ready for solder mask.

PCB Etching Process

PCB Etching Process

Typically, the PCB etching process can be divided into two types: chemical etch and laser etch.

Chemical Etch

Chemical etching is usually done with ammonium per sulphate or ferric chloride

For PTH (Plate-through Hole), additional steps of electroless deposition are done after the holes are drilled, then copper is electroplated to build up the thickness, the boards are screened, and plated with tin/lead. The tin/lead becomes the resist leaving the bare copper to be etched away.

Laser Etch

A new process creating new standards and the demise of the chemical process is plasma etch. In addition to no etch-back, this process also eliminates imaging, or film error using a direct imaging process, which transfers the layer image directly to the material.

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