As we enter the last quarter of 2014, here are some important dates to diarise.
Factory Shutdown: TraX will be closed from the 19 December 2014 to 14 January 2015 for our annual shutdown.
Standard Deliveries: 17 November 2014
FastTraX Deliveries: 4 December 2014
|TraX embarks on Technology upgrade|
|TraX is proud to announce that we have embarked on a strategic upgrade of our plant to enable us to meet the ever increasing technology demands of our customers, the progress to date is as follows:|
One of our biggest challenges when dealing with fine line work is the accuracy with which the image (design) needs to register to the drilled holes on the board. Traditional photographic tools are very sensitive to temperature and humidity which affects their dimensional accuracy. Phototools are also sensitive to handling and scratches and even dust can result in the exposure of opens and shorts.
To this end we have invested in a direct imaging machine from Miva technologies in Germany , which will be installed in November and commisioned before the end of the year.
More details will be be made available in due course..
Maximum image size: 660mm x 762mm
Resolution: 1/9.4 mil / 9400 dpi
Plotting time: Under 100 seconds for a 457mm x 610mm panel
Minimum structure size: 40µ (defined by resist thickness)
Accuracy: absolute: ± 9 µ ; repeatability: ± 4µ; Uniformity: 10% of minimum structure size.
Panel registration: Optical registration system
Miva 2610L DI
|Trax aquires additional equipment to reduce bottle necks in production|
Trax has recently aquired two additional Emma flying probe testers manufactured by Microcraft which will significantly bolster our bare board testing department, bringing the total number of flying probe testers up to six. With the increase in high technology work and multi-layers boards made in our factory this department was often a production bottle neck despite working a 24 hour shift. The two new additions will dramatically improve the through put of this department.
|In addition to this a new exposure machine , and soldermask curing oven have been installed to replace some recently de-commisioned equipment.|
|Reverse Pulse Plating|
Earlier this year TraX started experimenting with reverse pulse plating , to meet the demands of customers requiring high layer count pcb's . One of the biggest challenges with high layer count pcb's is that the vias connecting all the layers require a high aspect ratio.
With traditional DC plating we have been able to achieve an aspect ratio of 6,4 : 1 but with reverse pulse plating aspect ratios as high as 14 : 1 are theoretically possible and our testing thus far confirms this.
Reverse pulse plating makes use of special high speed polarity switching rectifiers that plate forward for 20 milliseconds and then reverse polarity and plate backwards for 1 milliseconds at four times the forward plating current. This type of plating results in very even plating across the surface of the panel and through the via holes , whereas with traditional DC plating the edges of the board always tended to plate thicker than the middle of the board and the copper plating in the vias was always thinner in the middle of high aspect ratio holes. Even plating also has the additional benefit of preventing mushrooming of the plating over the top of the dry film which in turn benefits the etching.
One of the biggest challenges we soon discovered was controlling the brightners in the plating solution , in Europe one could typically outsource this analysis but at the tip of Africa this is not easily done. This ananysis of the plating solution requires very costly CVS equipment typically only found in well funded universities. Left with no choice if we wanted to do this properly, we ordered the CVS equipment from Switzerland in July and we are excited to announce that our first reverse pulse plating tank is up and running and the results have been beyond expectation and very exciting. Additional pulse rectifiers have been ordered and another two plating tanks will be commisioned before the end of the year. We will continue refining the techniques in the coming months and we look forward to sharing our improved capabilities in the near future.
|Installation of the rectifier controllers||The new reverse pulse plating rectifiers in their temporary home during testing.|
As we enter the last quarter of 2013, here are some important dates to diarise.
Factory Shutdown: TraX will be closed from the 20 December 2013 to 9 January 2014 for our annual shutdown.
Please Note: We are opening a week earlier than normal next year to try and increase our factory capacity for February.
We will then close for a mini shutdown over the traditionally quiet Easter period from the 28 April 2014 to 2 May 2014.
Standard Deliveries: 28 November 2013
FastTraX Deliveries: 9 December 2012
|ASIG final finish introduced at TraX|
What is ASIG:
“ASIG” or Autocatalytic Silver Immersion Gold, is a final finish for pcb’s that is supplied by DOW. It was released to the market in 2010, and TRAX started experimenting with it in 2012.
The finish consists of SILVERON™ MF 100 Electroless Silver which is an innovative autocatalytic silver material. The autocatalytic nature of the product provides a dense silver coating which is non-porous and prevents the formation of copper oxide on the surface of the silver. The thickness of this deposit is a nominal 0.18 microns.
The dense silver layer is then covered with AUROLECTROLESS™ SMT Immersion Gold which increases the corrosion resistance of the final finish and provides a protective layer for the silver. The thickness of the gold layer is a nominal 0.04 microns.
What are the benefits of “ASIG” ?
Silveron™ autocatalytic silver can be used for reflow or wave solder assembly, and with Aurolectroless™ SMT gold for wire bonding. It offers many advantages over current solderable finish alternatives.
The key reason that TRAX decided to offer ASIG as an alternative surface finish, was due to the excellent conductivity of the silver which makes this finish the logical choice for high frequency applications, and many of our customers were looking for alternatives to ENIG with it’s lossy Nickel layer.
ASIG also has an outstanding shelf life and solderability due to prevention of copper migration to the surface through pores. This is due to the autocatalytic nature of the silver bath, a thicker deposit of silver can be achieved than with an immersion process, this deposit is dense,crystalline and pore free.
DOW also claim improved reliability: The fast intermetallic formation during soldering brings improved reliability due to lower soldering temperatures and time compared to nickel based final finishes, as well as avoiding potentially brittle intermetallic compounds formed with nickel based finishes when used with lead free solders.
What are TRAX’s limitations with regards ASIG?
The ASIG line at TRAX is currently a low volume line, and we are limited to a few square metres per day, however this has proved more than enough for the current market requirements. TRAX would be able to scale up the line should demand for ASIG increase.
TRAX is also not able to offer ASIG currently on our 3 of 5 day FASTRAX delivery, typical lead times would be between 7 and 10 days on our speed service. Standard lead times are not affected.
Currently we are only offering ASIG to those customers who require the finish for it’s excellent RF performance, typically such boards would be made on expensive substrates like, Rogers, Taconic, and PTFE based substrates.
What does ASIG cost?
Currently we are pricing ASIG at the same price as ENIG.
|Recently one of our senior CAM engineers did a Q&A for Engineer IT magazine on good practices to follow when designing and submitting pcb's for manufacture. The full article can be read here.|
|This and other articles published in Dataweek are available here.|
Whats New at TraX 16 November 2012
As 2012 comes to an end, here are some important dates to diarise.
Factory Shutdown: TraX will be closed from the 21 December 2012 to 17 January 2013 for our annual shutdown.
Sales Staff will start a week earlier in the new year on the 11 January 2013 to facilitate quotations and the placing of orders.
Standard Deliveries: 27 November 2012
FastTraX Deliveries: 7 December 2012
Looking Back on 2012
|IPC Specialists at TraX|
Well done to all twelve of our IPC Specialists for passing the
IPC-A-600 'Acceptability of Printed Boards' exam.
In no particular order:
L.Jones; D.Williams; J.Johannes; E.Geldenhuys;
H. Dearham; G.Jacobs; M. Williams;
V. Dicks; N.Adams; B.Meyer; V.Catin; N. Xazane
|Cederburg Scout Adventure 2012|
TraX is proud to be supplying the printed circuit boards for the Cederberg Scout Adventure this December.
For many Scouts this will be their first foray into the world of electronics and gives them an opportunity to see what lies under the hood of todays many electronic gadgets.
This year they will be assembling a GPS receiver, and then will be putting it to good use for geo caching , hiking and map orientation.
We look forward to hearing about the adventures.
Mechanically Drilled Blind Via's at TraX Explained
With the increasing levels of technology on multi layers we are being asked more often about our capability with regards to Blind Vias manufactured in our local plant. Typically Blind Vias are laser drilled microvias and are usually used in fine pitch BGA areas to assist with the routing out of tracks on an internal layer.
TraX does not have the ability locally to manufacture laser drilled microvias, but we do have the ability to manufacture mechanically drilled Blind Vias, such as seen on the adjacent image of a microsection.
Here are some considerations when designing boards with Blind Vias to be manufactured locally using mechanically drilled blind via holes.
Drilled blind hole after metallisation, electroplating and etching:
Whats New at TraX 17 May 2012
We are almost half way through the year and with most of the public holidays behind us we look forward to a busy and productive second half. The last couple of months have seen a number of changes and some exciting re-investment in our plant and machinery. Details of the new machinery and what we hope to achieve with them are listed below.
TraX has changed it's month end from the end of the month to the 25th of every month. In doing so we have become more aligned with our customers. Thank you for your patience during this transition.
Thank You to all our customers that visited us at the NEWSA 2012 exhibition in Sandton this past March.
In February this year we completely replaced the existing brushing line used for surface preparation before solder mask application. Below is a short summary of the processes involved on this line.
With the increasing levels of technology on multi layers it has become even more difficult to achieve good inner layer registration, Trax has invested in a IPM 60 Inner -Layer punching machine manufactured by Piergiacomi Robotics in Italy to optimise the accuracy of inner layer registration on 6,8 and ten layer boards.
The matching AMM20 multi layer welding machine also manufactured by Piergiacomi Robotics of Italy completes the upgrade to the multi layer registration system.
What's New at TraX 30 September 2011
1652: Jan Van Riebeeck lands at the Cape.
1991: The assets of Renak Alumet Circuits were purchased by Andy Chisholm,Viv James and Dave Delbridge and TraX Interconnect(Pty)Ltd was formed.
1994: Trax becomes ISO approved.
First multilayer boards produced at TraX.
1995: Iegsaan Khan is appointed production director.
South Africa wins the Rugby World Cup
1997: Shadow direct metalisation process is introduced and replaces electroless copper.
1998:First Microcraft Flying Probe Tester installed.
1999: Mike Holst ex T.I joins the winning team as technical manager.
Hot Air Levelling machine commisioned.
2000: First 10 Layer board is manufactured
Second pattern plating line is commisioned.
First lenz drilling machine installed.
Second Flying Probe Tester installed.
Argus spraying machine introduced for soldermask application replacing manual screening process.
2001: Immersion Tin is introduced as a final finish as an alternative to Hot Air Solder Levelling.
First laser Photoplotter commisioned.
2002: Mecer Etchant Recyling plant commisioned.
Purchased Technic 4-spindle router.
Third Flying Probe Tester installed.
Glenbrook X-ray inspection system introduced for inspecting inner layer registration.
2003: Acquired new EIE laser Photoplotter.
Please visit our stand D8 next year at the National Electronics
being held at the Sandton Convention centre. It is always a
great opportunity to see
our customers and discuss your pcb requirements. We look forward to seeing you there.
0.2 mm 17/17 Cu
0.57 mm 35/35 Cu
1.52 mm 35/35 Cu
We do not stock the Mercurywave pre-pregs currently.
Please click here to read the technical data sheet and
presentation for these substrates.
Appointments at Trax
Daniel Dock has been appointed the Group Marketing Manager for TraX Interconnect (Pty)Ltd
and TraX Offshore Manufacturing (Pty)Ltd and as such will be taking over most of the responsibilities of Trax's marketing director Viv James, who remains on as an active member of the board.
Our HML Opti-drill was sent back to Germany for complete refurbishment and a software upgrade.
We doubled the capacity of our ENIG line. This has become necessary as SMT requirements for a flat finish and ROHS compliance has made this finish very popular with our clients.
The Cherry on the top however was the arrival and subsequent installation of the new multilayer lamination press. A summary of it's features and what we hope to achieve with this new press are listed below.
These investments will allow TraX to continue improving its levels of technology and will further improve quality and capacity within our plant.
Features of the new press:
1. Originates from Lauffer in Germany (a leading and respected manufacturer of hydraulic laminating equipment).This machine features numerous technical advances of the recent past:
2. Semi-automatic operation with manual loading / off-loading.
3. Automatic press management via computer interface and PLC machine control.
4. Hot lamination under vacuum with feed through transfer to separate cooling press.
5.Heating supplied by means of thermal oil from an independent unit.
6. Flexible temperature profiling is possible and precisely controlled. Heat distribution is very uniform across all press platens.
7. The other important operating parameters i.e. Hydraulic pressure and Vacuum are also programmable and precisely controlled by the system.
8. The separate cooling press provides controlled cooling and allows for more productive and efficient use of the hot press and heating system.
9. Although stacking, loading and unloading are manual, the equipment provides mechanical assistance for the lifting and moving of press plates.The manufacturer has placed a high priority on operator safety.
10. The Lauffer software package features comprehensive data logging and record keeping.
What does TraX expect from the new press:
1. Increased productivity through more efficient use of the hot press (no delay for cooling period and no wait for reheating).
2. More consistent quality resulting from improved equipment and use of automation.
3. Improved layer to layer registration.
4. Elimination of air entrapment.
5. Improved yields / reduced defects attributable to the use of ageing high maintenance existing machines.
6. Improved uniformity and repeatability of pressed laminate thickness and therefore more predictable impedance control results.
7. Use of lower laminating pressure and uniform heating / cooling should provide lower internal stress and thereby a lower potential to warp / twist.
8. Improved potential for higher count multi -layers.Capability for lamination of more exotic materials.
Our web site has been upgraded to enable our customers to check on the status of their orders at TraX.
Registration for this is simple and can be done on the Job Status webpage on this site.
This facility along with our remake notification e-mail's should assist our customers with their planning, and will provide information previously only available by phoning the factory.
TraX has purchased a second Camtek AOI machine.(Automatic Optical Inspection)
A second machine enables TraX to raise the levels of inspection of our product, and will assist in the inspection of increasing volumes of high technology designs. It will also reduce the reliance on more traditional visual inspection methods.
We are also in the process of fitting and calibrating special filters to our new AOI machine which will make it possible to visually inspect Rogers high frequency laminates. AOI inspection of jobs made on these materials was not previously possible.
In addition to the second AOI machine,TraX has also reinvested in a second Pumice cleaning machine.
A Pumice machine provides an uniform, clean copper surface which is ideal for automatic optical inspection by our Camtek machines.
This process is environmentally friendly and subjects the boards to less mechanical stress than other machine brushing methods.
|We have just completed installation and commissioning of several new machines:
|This places us in a strong and competitive position for quick turn-around high-tech multilayer and metal core panels.
In addition to high frequency Rogers base material, we now carry stocks of 1.6mm 70micron copper aluminium base material especially for LED work.
In parallel with the new drilling machines, we have installed an new eight kilowatt exposure machine to cater for the latest photo-imageable solder masks and particularly for white and black inks needed for our aluminium LED panels.
At TraX Offshore Manufacturing, in addition to our existing suppliers, we have appointed excellent manufacturers of IPC Class 3 and rigi-flexi boards.