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What Types of Surface Finishes Are Used on RF Shielding PCBs?

Types of Surface Finishes Are Used on RF Shielding PCBs

Whether you’re building a standard, one-off or custom PCB, the material selection process is crucial for long-term reliability. Many different surface finishes are used on rf shielding pcbs and each has its own advantages, disadvantages and costs. The type of surface finish you choose will depend on your needs and the specific environment where your circuit board will operate. The table below will help you understand what types of surface finishes are available and how they compare to each other.

Copper is a popular choice for rf shielding pcb due to its excellent conductivity. This allows the copper to carry electromagnetic waves more effectively, minimising interference and allowing designers flexibility in their layout. However, copper is prone to oxidation and requires tin plating to protect it from corrosion and improve solderability. This is particularly important on flex PCBs, where pad flatness is a critical factor for successful assembly and long-term performance.

The most common surface finish for a pcb is HASL, which uses a tin bath to protect the copper from oxidation. It’s been in use for decades and is still the most economical choice, especially when production runs are large. However, HASL is not very environmentally-friendly and can be difficult to work with in high temperatures or humid conditions. This has led to a shift in demand for more sustainable, lead-free alternatives such as Pb-Free HASL.

Pb-Free HASL uses a tin-copper alloy instead of the traditional tin-lead mix to provide a protective layer without the toxic effects of lead. This is more environmentally friendly, and it also offers the same performance as conventional HASL in terms of oxidation protection and solderability. However, it does not have the same level of visual appeal as a standard HASL finish.

What Types of Surface Finishes Are Used on RF Shielding PCBs?

Immersion tin is another popular option for a surface finish on a pcb. It offers good solderability and a flat surface for component placement, and it’s a great choice for fine-pitch components. However, immersion tin is less durable than other surfaces, and it can be damaged by mechanical stress. It also has a limited shelf life, so it requires special storage conditions to maintain its solderability.

For a more durable surface, ENEPIG is an alternative to HASL or OSP. This is a combination of nickel and gold that is applied to the copper, providing good corrosion resistance, flatness and solderability. It’s also RoHS compliant and highly conductive, which makes it an excellent choice for high-density PCBs.

While RF shielding is a complicated subject, working with a professional manufacturer will ensure you get the best possible results for your prototype or final product. E-Fab’s team of engineers and materials experts can guide you through the selection process and advise you on the most suitable material for your application. This will help you avoid unnecessary expenditures while ensuring that your RF shielding pcb is reliable and capable of handling the tasks it’s designed for. Get in touch today to discuss your requirements.

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