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solder mask

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by jerk, Oct 13, 2010.

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  1. jerk


    Oct 13, 2010
    I would like my PCB would look line more pro so I wish to be in green or red paint like industrial PCBs are, but I don't want to use paint sprays.
    I need a solder mask that will be applied to PCB after etching process is done but before soldering the components to the PCB, so mask should not be where solder will be applied to the PCB.

    I searced the internet and I found that this is called solder mask. The purpose of solder mask should be to protect against arcing, abrasion, moisture and chemicals. And on the other hand I read that solder mask is used before wave or reflow solderng to prevent connections to be coupled together.

    Now I found some solder mask on Farnell site and on Ebay, but don't know if that is what I need. I also found some video on Youtube that shows how I wish my PCB looks like.

    So I ask you if you could help me find what I need. Should I look for UV or photo-imageable solder masks and what does temporary solder mask mean as it is written in datasheet for a solder mask I found on Farnell site.
    What is used to develop (remove) a solder mask after it has been exposed to UV light - maybe NaOH?
  2. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    You raise 3 issues:

    1) Looking "pro"

    2) Solder mask

    3) Tinning

    A board looks professional if it is well laid out, clean, soldered well, and has a "silk screen" overlay labelling components. (There's lots more you can do as well. Do you want plated through holes, vias, etc.?)

    There are 2 definitions of solder mask, and they're essentially opposite in meaning. The first (that I assume you mean) is a protective layer which forms a physical barrier against solder. The second is a layer of solder paste applied just where it is required. Are you doing wave soldering? If not, then I can't understand why you want the former type of solder mask. If you're soldering by hand, frankly, just learn to do it right.

    There was a thread quite recently concerned with tinning PCBs, and rather than repeat the points there, You should read it. (here)

    edit: I just looked at the youtube video, and frankly it looks like a waste of money unless you're producing one-off boards that have to look like production quality mass produced stuff. Clearly cost is no object for that person. I would imagine that 70% waste in the PCB material would pale into insignificance alongside the other costs. It seemed that only a tiny fraction of the mixed chemicals were used. Fine, I guess if you have ten boards this size to do. Less fine if you're just doing one.

    I would be looking for a laquer I could apply to the board to keep the tracks looking nice (or have them tinned). But I guess we need to know more about your objectives.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2010
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