It seems like there are more myths about UV laser depaneling than there are about the Loch Ness Monster. But unlike old Nessie, UV laser depaneling myths are much easier to debunk.
With traditional vibration welding methods, welding ribs are the ugly stepsisters that designers and manufacturers have learned to live with as a tradeoff to making attractive, aesthetically pleasing translucent plastic components. Any type of friction weld – vibration, ultrasonic, or RF welding – regardless of the vibration frequency, causes the two plastic components being joined to have welding ribs, or molded ridges that are melted by friction as the two parts are welded together to create the bond. Frankly, the result is not pretty and a detriment to producing an attractive, strong seam.
“…There will be a rush charge for that.”
“…We should have that for you in two days.”
“…We’re a little backed up right now, but we’ll get to it ASAP.”
If you’re stuck outsourcing your prototype PCB designs, you’ve probably heard these excuses for as long as you can remember. Fortunately, now you have another option.
Fabricating single layer prototype PCBs is fairly straightforward and as a result, more and more organizations are bringing this process in-house. Quicker turnaround times, increased flexibility, and the cost savings compared to outsourcing make a compelling argument. But what happens if multi-layer prototypes are needed? The good news is that it is now possible to process advanced multi-layer designs in house as well. Best of all, the same benefits of bringing single layer fabrication in-house still apply – and when you are processing designs with up to 8-layers the payoff is exponentially bigger.
“What’s that discoloration on the edges?”
That’s the question asked most often with an element of shock and surprise by people who are using UV laser depaneling machines for the first time to cut PCBs from FR4 and polyimide. The simple answer is that some edge charring occurs on thicker materials like FR4 and the “discoloration” is a carbon residue produced on each pass of the laser. In most cases, the edge charring is just a cosmetic issue that does not affect PCB quality. The biggest concern is that the carbon dust may be conductive and may somehow contaminate or short-circuit components populating the board.
You can’t fix what you can’t see. How many times have you wished you could monitor exactly what’s going on in your laser plastic welding system during production? Fortunately, today, some laser plastic welding systems provide that high level of visibility with their built-in quality control features.