There’s An Art to Plating


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There's definitely an art to plating. Start with a generally planar substrate, then alternately put stuff on and take things off. Continue this in subtle variations until what you have is the stuff you want, where you want.

There are classes on plating (I’m talking about food now) pretty much everywhere. Escoffier, arguably the hub of French cuisine, offers an online course, and cooking schools, kitchen equipment retailers, and even community colleges offer training. The San Francisco Cooking School offers an in-person workshop on plating. In fact, the course description states, "By the end of the class, you will understand why the shape color and size of tableware is important when plating food." Ah-hah! The equipment and tools are as important as the raw materials; it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking food or PCBs.

Years back—at least in my part of the under-refined United States—plating food meant something large, bulky, and robust; that’s how it was in our industry too during that era. But things change, and refinements are made. Even in the Wild West of the U.S., thoughtfully crafted plates with smaller portions appear on tables more often.

There are both differences and similarities when using food plating as a metaphor. As we become more sophisticated in the products we create, it isn’t enough to run rough chemistries in crude facilities; one cannot deliver the fine details, small geometries, and precision that OEMs now expect from our fabricators worldwide. We can’t be short-order line cooks any longer; we must become chefs of precision.

In this issue, we explore our kind of plating, including the chemistries and processes that make up traditional subtractive etch and plate. We also investigate the confluence of smaller dimensions, reduced pollution, higher throughput, and improved reliability as they relate to wet processes and plating. Further, we address some of the emerging processes for higher performance designs and new equipment to implement modern techniques because the high-end techniques of today become the mainstream techniques of tomorrow.

To read the full article, which appeared in the August 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.

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