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Electroless copper plating and surface characterization of thermoplastic PPO based printed circuit boards

Teija Laine‐Ma (Pori Unit, Tampere University of Technology, Pori, Finland)
Pekka Ruuskanen (Pori Unit, Tampere University of Technology, Pori, Finland)
, and
Satu Kortet (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Tampere, Finland)
Mikko Karttunen (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Tampere, Finland)

Circuit World

ISSN: 0305-6120

Article publication date: 20 November 2009

1414

Abstract

Purpose

The adhesion between electroless copper and a substrate is one of the most important factors in the reliability of thermoplastic printed circuit boards. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of mechanical grinding and acid etching of thermoplastic substrate materials on the adhesion of copper deposited by an electroless copper plating process. The base material of the test substrates was a new high temperature thermoplastic polyphenylene oxide (PPO) compound.

Design/methodology/approach

The effects of pre‐treatment on plastic surfaces are analyzed by the following methods: Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), SEM, the Dyne surface energy test and the surface roughness test. The adhesion between electroless copper and thermoplastic substrate is measured with a peel strength test.

Findings

The results showed that mechanical grinding of the substrates significantly increased adhesion but the highest adhesion is gained by using an acid etch treatment before electroless plating. These results indicated that adhesion between copper and the substrates was not directly proportional to the roughness and surface energy values.

Originality/value

The conventional sweller/desmear treatment used in a printed circuit board factory for pre‐treating epoxy based laminates prior to electroless plating is not suitable for these PPO compound boards. The copper adhesion is adequate when the substrates are etched with sulphuric acid/chromate solution. In that case the bonding between the metal layer and the plastic surface is stronger than the bondings between the polymer chains of the thermoplastic material. The adhesion mechanism of electroless copper in these mechanically abraded samples is mechanical interlocking of metal particles.

Keywords

Citation

Laine‐Ma, T., Ruuskanen, P., Kortet, S. and Karttunen, M. (2009), "Electroless copper plating and surface characterization of thermoplastic PPO based printed circuit boards", Circuit World, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 22-30. https://doi.org/10.1108/03056120911002389

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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