The demand for narrower tracks and spacings, smaller hole sizes and environmentally-friendly surface finishes has caused PC board manufacturer TraX Interconnect in Cape Town to introduce major process upgrades.
A fully automatic electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG) line has been installed as an alternative to the popular Macstan immersion tin line. Both these final finishes are lead-free. Hot air solder levelling (HAL) is still offered and remains popular, particularly for military applications.
Other process improvements include the latest HMS horizontal etching line from Germany to allow finer tracks and spacings. This line works in conjunction with the latest Mecer copper recovery and environmentally-friendly etchant control plant. To improve inner-layer adhesion and cosmetics, the manual oxide line has been replaced by a new horizontal automatic line from the UK.
Finer tracks and spacings have led to a new photo-resist developing line from France. In the same area, standard pre-cut panel sizes are now cleanly and neatly clad with resist by a new cut sheet laminator. The photo-plotters have been replaced with a very accurate automatic loading Swiss unit. A dedicated automatic optical inspection (AOI) machine allows complex artwork to be inspected before use. In addition, TraX has a Camtek Orion AOI for all inner layer inspections and for inspecting complex outer layers. The Orion AOI received an R800 000 upgrade last year to increase operating speed and to cater for cross-hatched planes. Last November, a second scoring machine was purchased and installed to cope with the increased demand for V-scored panels. The high-speed auto-loading Lenz drill continues to meet tight tolerance multilayer requirements. A second unit is currently under discussion.
The company's popular FasTraX service has been slicked up to cater for increasing high-tech multilayer speed work. TraX has six front-end engineers working shifts to prepare jobs for production. At the other end of the process, there are four Microcraft 'Emma' net-list testers that often work round the clock to meet delivery dates.
To satisfy a growing demand, TraX has acquired a controlled-impedance test system from Polar Instruments to measure impedances before despatch.
TraX is a Proudly South African company with ISO 9001:2000 and UL approval.
For more information contact Frank Ellis, TraX Interconnect, +27 (0)21 712 5011.