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Printed Circuit Board Etching

Etching is where the excess copper is removed to leave the individual tracks or traces as they are sometimes called. Buckets, bubble tanks, and spray machines lots of different ways to etch, but most firms currently use high pressure conveyerised spray equipment. Spray etching is fast, ammoniacal etching solutions when sprayed can etch 55 microns of copper a minute. Less than 40 seconds to etch a standard 1 oz, 35 micron circuit board.

Many different chemical solutions can be used to etch circuit boards. Ranging from slow controlled speed etches used for surface preparation to the faster etches used for etching the tracks. Some are best used in horizontal spray process equipment while others are best used in tanks. Etchents for PTH work have to be selective and be non aggressive to tin / tin lead plating, which is used as the etch resist. Copper etching is normally exothermic, where high speed etching is carried out solution cooling is normally required. This is normally done by placing titanium water cooling coils into the etchent. Almost all etching solutions liberate toxic corrosive fumes, extraction is highly recommended. All etchents are corrosive and toxic, mainly due to the high metal content. P.P.E. Personal Protection Equipment must always be used, spent solutions should always be disposed of properly and not down local drains, where they pollute local sewage works and rivers.

For a more detailed chemical look at the etchents please follow the section menu links to the different types of etchent.





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