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—  OSP (Organic Surface Protection)  —  
for Printed Circuit Boards
No Question of Continental Preference for Precoplat Precision Conductive Plates Technology (PCP)

The answer to the lead-free problem could sound this simple: Immerse a printed circuit board into a solution, and the result is a final surface that can be stored and soldered.

 

 
  Completely level thanks to direct contact with the copper  
  In fact, such a thing does exist: a lead-free alternative to HAL (Hot Air Levelling) with these
wonderful features, at least from the point of view of the PCB manufacturer.

OSP is an organic solution based on an imidazole substitute which, by means of dipping
or rinsing can be selectively applied to the copper surfaces, ready for soldering. A
transparent layer, max. 0.2 to 0.6 my thick, covers the copper like a barely visible clear
varnish.

Purely as a sealing agent, OSP offers good preconditions to adhere components that
require an absolutely level surface, thanks to the fact that the soldering paste is applied
directly to the copper.

The common problem of twisted fine-pitch components due to raised “tin bubbles” on
the HAL surface is, therefore, a thing of the past. The impress technique can be more
precise with OSP, if one considers how much firmer the copper is because of its direct
contact with the component.

The varnish forms an airtight cover to the copper surface and “allows” the processed
boards a storage life of 6 months maximum. Increasingly, after this time, the encaps-
ulated surface protection characteristic is gradually lost. A copper diffusion, as is the
case with chemical tin, for instance, does not occur.

Should there be soldering problems due to processing errors, “de-wetting” or other faulty
soldering points can be seen immediately, thanks to clear demarcation to the copper.

However, the most important argument in favour of OSP is its price: in contrast to other
lead-free alternatives with their complicated electrolytic or chemical procedures, OSP is
basically just a one-step process.

Chemical tin, chemical silver and chemical nickel-gold are therefore, far more expensive;
HAL only marginally so.


 
  Doubts - just a European attitude?  
  So, what are the disadvantages ? European users, in particular, can list quite a few: the
predominant one being, that for mixed components and other multi-thermic processes,
the organic protection layer breaks off at temperatures above 150° C .

All in all, the area of use for soldering at higher melting temperatures has not yet been
reliably tested. In addition, OSP does not bond.

The ability to bond with soldering paste – in particular with lead-free soldering paste –
depends greatly on the soldering procedure, such as convection ovens with or without a
nitrogen atmosphere, high cooker ovens, etc Tests so far show that bonding is not as
good as with the other named surfaces.

Therefore, the self-centralising effect is noticeably lower and requires greater precision
of solder paste pressure. In addition, the test for soldering ability showed that emphasis
should be placed on a suitable flux agent, as this, in addition to the thermic effect, also
leads to the removal of the OSP layer.

In Europe, there is a lack of enthusiasm for OSP, especially due to the great demands
made on the flexibility of lead-free surfaces, plus the need for multi- soldering


 
  Different Industrial Structures - Different Surfaces  
  It is, therefore, not surprising that, especially in Asia, OSP is as popular as chemical tin is
in Europe, or chemical silver in the US.

An environment of mass production with long-term planning – often in-house – using a
single thermic soldering process makes OSP the absolute favourite.

As long as Europe is oriented towards flexible, small series equipment with a variety of
special technical requirements, OSP will remain an alternative niche.

 
| Precoplat Präzisions-Leiterplatten-Technik GmbH resident in 47877 Willich-Germany |
| Registered at the Krefeld District Court | Registration No. HRB 1444 | VAT-ID-No.: DE 120 156 920 |
| Management: Hildegard Völker & Andreas Brüggen | Post Address: 47805 Krefeld, Oberdiessemer Strasse 15 |
| Telephone: ++49 (0) 21 51 825 1 | Telefax: ++49 (0)21 51 932 450 | eMail: infotern@precoplat.com |

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Thursday, October 30, 2014