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Via in pad and Planarization Technology

Wise s.r.l.
Via Martinella, 100/A 43010 Alberi
Parma - Italy
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The shrinking of PCB structure, conductor width and drilling hole diameter, has
brought to develop the integration of the via holes with the surface.
Via-in-pad has become an increasingly significant outerlayer feature of HDI
designs, specifically as a means of freeing up real estate under micro-BGA packages
to aid conductor routing. But open vias can cause problems in assembly-soldering
processes, either by draining solder away from the joint, or by trapping air and
initiating solder voids, so filled vias are to be preferred.
The Via-in-pad technology requires the necessity of filling the vias to have a flat
surface on which a Cu panel plating is fill.
Build-up-multilayer technologies, Laminated Build-up and SAP (Semi Additive
Process), require vias to be filled, to maintain the integrity of the construction.

We can consider mainly three different type of Via in pad:

Micro Via in pad


Buried Via
Through Hole Via

Blind Vias Buried Vias PTH Plated Through Holes

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Via in Pad Technology
Process
In order to better understand the technology we can have a look on the process flow.

Wise s.r.l.
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Laser
The laser Via in pad is already a quite common technology in order to put in
distribution conductors of a BGA on the layer below. Even if this vias are very small
(2 to 4 mil with an Aspect ratio of 1:1), the experience has demonstrates that it is
necessary to fill them to achieve a flat surface of the pad.

Through hole Via


This technology is continuously growing for several advantages:

The redistribution layer of BGA is on opposite side of PCB where there is


much more space.
The through hole increases the thermal transport thus drastically reduce the
heat inside the PCB, for example during the soldering process on BGA.
The reduced distances of the conductors enhance the quality of the electrical
signal.

Combination of Blind Vias, Buried Vias and PTH

Wise s.r.l.
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C.F./P.IVA 02265910345 pag.4
Materials
Solder Mask (LPI Liquid Photo Imageable)

Via in pad technology is not really a news in the fabrication of PCB but for many
years the manufacturers were using the solder mask material (LPI Liquid Photo
Imageable).
The limitation of the solder mask is the material composition of the same (solvent),
and the density of 60 to 80 percent of solids contents.
The first problem can be identified during the curing process where the solvent
evaporates with the consequence of the shrink of the filled material. The result is
small split between the PTH and the material filled also due to the bad lack of
adhesion of the material on the side of the hole.
The second problem can be the residue of solvent of the solder mask trapped into
the hole: the heat of the soldering process on BGA will expand the solvent, thus a
cracking of the plug. This problem is more evident wherever the Aspect Ratio
increases.
The third problem is the coefficient of thermal expansion of the solder mask (CTE)
and the value of Tg between the PCB and the solder mask.

Plug-In Pastes

Even if a lot of manufacturers are still using the solder mask to fill in the hole with
some success, the tendency of the miniaturization of the PCB move toward to use
different material for the Plug-In process.
This material is almost 100 percent solid contents and it is a mixture of epoxy
resin, Cu-Copper and Ag-Silver or Ceramic particles.
These pastes can be divided in CONDUCTIVE and NON CONDUCTIVE.

The advantages in confront of the solder mask can be resumed as follows:

Good adhesion between the side of the hole and the paste.
Almost no modification under temperature influence.
Good adhesion of copper dielectrics and photoresist.
Solvent free.
High value Tg (over 140 C).
Very low coefficient thermal expansion CTE (below 40 ppm under the Tg).
No dimensional alteration during the curing.

Wise s.r.l.
Via Martinella, 100/A 43010 Alberi
Parma - Italy
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C.F./P.IVA 02265910345 pag.5
High Aspect Ratio achievable (1:40).
Higher heat dissipation.

Wise s.r.l.
Via Martinella, 100/A 43010 Alberi
Parma - Italy
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Conductive paste

This paste is normally used for low-end PCB where plated through hole is not
required.
The paste is a combination of epoxy resin, copper and silver particles: the silver is
very important to link the Cu particles through the paste.
The quantity of Silver increased during the time for the thermal conductor
proprieties in order to remove as much as possible the heat during the soldering
process.

Non-Conductive paste

This material is the latest development of the Plug-In process. The Plated Through
Hole plugged with Non-Conductive paste has better heat dissipation than the
Conductive paste.
This paste is a combination of epoxy and inorganic particles, especially Ceramic.
It is becoming more and more popular also because the cost of this paste is much
less than the Conductive paste and the waste material during the Plug-In process is
not a main factor to influence the cost of production.

Example of Hole Plugging paste

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Plug-In Process
Before the Plug-In process is necessary to prepare the holes with a plated button
pattern plating.
Basically it is a photoresist lamination and developing process to leave the open area
around the holes.
The copper ring thickness is normally the same thickness of the PTH Plated
Through Hole.

Several methods exist for Plug-In blind, buried or through vias. Electroplating
process have been developed which can fill vias with copper, but the majority of
techniques, which include screen printing, with or without power squeegees or
automatic vacuum systems, use some form or other of resin fill.
Screen Print, Roller coating and the most advance automatic Vacuum filling system,
like ITC Interconnect Circuits equipment in Munich - Germany, are the methods
used for the hole plugging process.

Screen print

This is the most common system used to Plug-In the holes.


The screen print system with vacuum table is a semi-automatic process with
limitation on the time and the Aspect Ratio.
The vacuum table facilitates the filling of the paste through the hole, but in order to
reach acceptable result different passes are necessary. Furthermore, there is high risk
to trap air inside the holes.

Wise s.r.l.
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C.F./P.IVA 02265910345 pag.8
Roller coating

This single side system consists in forcing, from the bottom of the PCB, the paste
into the holes through rollers which take the paste from a special container.
This system is not really common and it has the same limitation on Aspect Ratio of
the Screen Print.

Vacuum filling system

This is the most advanced Plug-In process system.


It is a vertical process where two heads (one vacuum in the back and the other
pressurized in the front) move up and down for a complete filling of the holes.
The plugging paste is forced by a controlled pressure to have an even flow of paste.
The consistent pressure is maintained on a piston by a servo motor. The piston push
the paste on the PCB through a special manifolds heads.
This system allows to reach very high Aspect Ratio (1:40).

ITC Interconnect Circuits Vacuum filling machine

Wise s.r.l.
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C.F./P.IVA 02265910345 pag.9
Plug-In Resin Removal
All filling system leave some resin standing on, and this excess resin needs to be
removed before plating the panel, to obtain a very smooth and plane surface.

Panel after Plug-In process

In the case of button plated holes is necessary to totally remove the copper around
the hole for the main applications or to leave it partially as per IPC standard 6012B.
It has recognized the need for a high-precision planarizing system, capable of
removing residues of resins, pastes and copper as an enabler for via-filling
technology.

Standard Removal Plating after Removal

Plated Button

IPC Standard 6012B

Wise s.r.l.
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C.F./P.IVA 02265910345 pag.10
There are few methods of plug-in resin Removal which can be resume as:

Belt Sanding

Ceramic Brush

Orbital Brush

Belt Sanding and Ceramic Brush are the historical systems used for the
planarization of the resin layer in the build-up technology. These systems are also
used for the via fill technology, but with a lot of limitations.

The Orbital Brush has the same limitations of above systems with some little
advantages.
The concept of the construction of these kind of machines does not allow to be
flexible in terms of mechanical design and control parameters to follow the uneven
surface topography of the PCB.

Wise s.r.l.
Via Martinella, 100/A 43010 Alberi
Parma - Italy
Tel. 0521/649716 Fax 0521/649717
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C.F./P.IVA 02265910345 pag.11
WISE FLATSTAR
Working closely with leading customers, Wise determined that factors, such as
density and distribution of holes, surface topography, flatness and uniformity of
thickness of panel, hardness and abrasion resistance of resin, were significant
considerations in designing a planarising machine.
Wise also understood the importance of minimising the thickness of copper
removed and avoiding the consequences of interaction between grinding brushes and
panel edges. They believed that although existing equipment dealt with certain
combinations of these factors, nothing was available in the market with the
capability to address all of the parameters necessary to give consistent surface
treatment over the whole range of production.
Wise had taken all of these factors into account in developing the Flatstar series
of surface-grinding machines to complement their extensive range of conveyorised
surface treatment equipment.

Wises newest development: the Flatstar.

Wise s.r.l.
Via Martinella, 100/A 43010 Alberi
Parma - Italy
Tel. 0521/649716 Fax 0521/649717
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C.F./P.IVA 02265910345 pag.12
A key feature of the Flatstar concept was an array of independent abrasive brushes
in a row parallel to the conveyor direction. The flexibility of the equipment allowed
the changing of parameters to meet all types of hole plugging systems and
applications. Because various systems generated different surface topography,
multiple parameters could be adjusted for appropriate treatment and performance.
For a given hole plugging process, minimal adjustment would be required between
individual jobs.

Adjustable parameters:
Board thickness.
Board width.
Working area.
Oscillation speed.
Rotation speed of each brush.
Brush pressure of each brush.

The equipment has the automatic brush pressure adjustment to maintain consistent
working pressure, each brush with its own individual height adjustment motor. The
pressure, controlled by the load on the brush motor and a hydraulic compensation
system, is independent on each brush. This guaranteed optimal grinding action and
ensured accurate surface treatment, minimal board stretching and reduced copper
removal, without hole defects such as ovalisation. It was stressed that the Flatstar is
not intended to be a lapping machine it was designed to conform to variations in
panel thickness.

Wise s.r.l.
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Typically, panels between 0.3 and 10mm thick could be processed. Thinner
substrates could be handled, but careful evaluation is required to determine
parameters that would achieve optimum resin removal without stretching the panel.
Potential damage to panel edges is prevented by controlling the specific approach
cycle of each individual brush, the grinding action starting only after a preset area of
the brush was in contact with the panel.
Oscillation, controlled by brushless motors, was adjusted automatically or manually
to the defined working area, again avoiding damage on the panel edges.
Lubricating water is fed through the brush drive shafts to improve cooling of the
board and brushes. The water flow and the centrifugal action of the brushes carried
away the particulate matter generated during the scrubbing action.

The Flatstar is a single-sided processing machine, working at a different conveyor


speed depending on the quality of hole-plugging.

Wise s.r.l.
Via Martinella, 100/A 43010 Alberi
Parma - Italy
Tel. 0521/649716 Fax 0521/649717
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C.F./P.IVA 02265910345 pag.14
Wise, being long-standing experts in the wet process manufacture and pre-
treatment process, had developed a range of brushes with different constructions and
abrasive categories to support particular process requirements and to ensure the
correct surface roughness for subsequent processes.
Indeed, brushes of three different grit sizes could be used simultaneously and
surface roughnesses of 0.2 to 0.7 micron could be achieved as required. In typical
production, Ra of 0.3 micron had been measured and copper removal was of the
order of 2 microns, although this is influenced by the amount of resin residue to be
removed.

ROUGHNESS AFTER FLATSTAR

Wise s.r.l.
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WAVING AFTER FLATSTAR

Wise s.r.l.
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Parma - Italy
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ROUGHNESS AFTER PLATING

Wise s.r.l.
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WAVING AFTER PLATING

Wise s.r.l.
Via Martinella, 100/A 43010 Alberi
Parma - Italy
Tel. 0521/649716 Fax 0521/649717
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C.F./P.IVA 02265910345 pag.18
Brushes could be changed easily by the operator without special tools, a semi-
automatic cycle bringing each brush to a dedicated position for servicing and then
automatically re-positioning it at the correct working height.

The Flatstar was essentially a single-sided processing machine, working at a


different conveyor speed depending on the quality of Plug-In hole process. Its
flexible modular design offered the option of placing two units in-line with an
intermediate turnover station for automatic double side production. For more
complex processing requirements, various rinsing modules with features such as
ultrasonics or super-high-pressure could be added and a choice of drying-module
configurations are available.

Wise is sure that the Flatstar series has surpassed the limitations of existing
technology and represents the most advanced grinding machine on the market,
which would bring about significant improvements to a critical process in the
manufacture of high density interconnect and open possibilities for new applications.

Wise s.r.l.
Via Martinella, 100/A 43010 Alberi
Parma - Italy
Tel. 0521/649716 Fax 0521/649717
wise@wisecompany.it
C.F./P.IVA 02265910345 pag.19
Process
ProcessComparison
Comparison
System and Working Mechanical brushing machine Standard Orbital brushing
WISE Sand Belting machine
condition with ceramic brush machine
Three independent adjustable Two couple of brushes Top and
vertical brushes in line with the Bottom transversal to the Four to ten orbital brushes
System panel direction with common conveyor direction, independent located in one or two rows with Sand Belt system
oscillation througout the conveyor each couple, with minimum minimum common oscillation
width oscillation

Adjustable starting and finishing


Optional adjustable starting
points. The brush moves to the The brush is positioned in The belt is positioned in relation
point. The brush moves to the
Front and rear edge panel surface when the same is relation to the pressure and panel to the pressure and panel
panel surface when the same is
under the brush and lift up before thickness, thus damages thickness thus damages
under the brush
the panel will be totally out.

Adjustable oscillation. The brush


moves from one to the other side The dimension of the brush cover The frame to support the brushes The dimension of the belt cover
in relation to the panel width the whole conveyor width thus cover the whole conveyor width the whole conveyor width thus
Side edge
without moving out of the panel. It strongly brush the side of the thus the brushes move totally in strongly brush the side of the
is possible to set up the panel and out of the side of the panel panel
oscillation width.
Adjustable in relation to the
Oscillation process specs. Each brush follow Fixed Fixed Not present
the panel surface topography
Independent and Adjustable on
all three brushes in relation to the
Pressure Fixed Fixed Fixed
process specs. on all the three
brushes
Ideal grinding action is
guaranteed apart from the board
surface, thus ensuring accurate Uneven surface pressure Uneven surface pressure Unven surface pressure between
Pressure result surface treatment, uniform between the side and the centre between the side and the centre the side and the centre of the
resins, pastes and inks removal, of the panel surface of the panel surface panel surface
without defective holes
(ovalization).

Process
ProcessComparison
Comparison

It is possible to change Single or


The opening system like a book
All the brushes in few minutes
makes this activity complicated to
without special tool. A special
the last brushes. The brushes
Brush replacement software programme adjusts the Take long time Take long time
have ONLY one adjustment, so it
brushes at their correct heigth
is not possible to change only
which represent the same 0 point
one brush
for all the brushes.

Different types of brushes made


Brush support with ceramic
Brush type by a mix of material like ceramic, One type of brush Not present. Sand Belt use
inserts
diamond, resins etc.
Uneven brushes wearing. It is
Even brushes wearing if the
necessary grinding the brush
brushes work always, otherwise
Brush wearing Even brushes wearing very frequently to become the Not present. Sand Belt use
some brushes work more than
original shape necessary for the
others
process
Two different type of brushes can
Three different type of brushes
Brushes types used be used for the same process.In Two different type of brushes can Not present. Sand Belt use Only
can be used for the same
for the process case of special machine more be used for the same process. one type of belt can be used
process
than 2 can be used
The cost is for only three brushes
The cost is for four ceramic brush The cost is for five or ten
with long life. Furthermore it is
Brush cost which have high cost and short brushes. In this case you must The cost is for one belt
possible to change what is
life change almost all the brushes
needed

Wise s.r.l.
Via Martinella, 100/A 43010 Alberi
Parma - Italy
Tel. 0521/649716 Fax 0521/649717
wise@wisecompany.it
C.F./P.IVA 02265910345 pag.20
CircuiTrees, Mr. Pete Starkey, reviewed a special edition to the characteristics of
this process for the potential improvement on new application, September 2006.

Wise s.r.l.
Via Martinella, 100/A 43010 Alberi
Parma - Italy
Tel. 0521/649716 Fax 0521/649717
wise@wisecompany.it
C.F./P.IVA 02265910345 pag.21