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PCB base material qualifications: discrepancies between supplier recommendations, customer expectations and reality

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Purpose ‐ Today a large variety of printed circuit board (PCB) base materials exists on the market and new ones are added frequently. The base material suppliers, having good original equipment manufacturer (OEM) marketing, usually present the materials in an early development stage to the end customers. The customers, on the other hand, expect from their PCB suppliers that the materials are fully characterized and that qualification samples are available immediately. In many cases, the process recommendations given to the PCB manufacturers are very generic ("like FR4"), insufficient, or not practicable ("8?hours baking time"). However, optimized processing ensures the reliability of the finished PCBs, starting from general leadfree compatibility to CAF testing. This demonstrates the importance of thoroughly verified process parameters and of very specific process recommendations to minimize the number of costly and time-consuming iterations, and to be able to meet the goal of submitting qualification samples and functional PCBs in minimum time. The purpose of this paper is to show the minimum required PCB processing recommendations, and why these have to be fixed by the material supplier before commercialization of a new base material. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper examines the base material suppliers' situation, customer expectations and reality and the PCB manufacturers' expectations. Findings ‐ The paper gives the reasons and consequences of early base material marketing. Originality/value ‐ The paper analyses today's PCB base materials market and shows the reasons and consequences of early base material marketing. Also, the minimum requirements by PCB fabricators concerning processing recommendations are given.
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Keywords: Customer requirements; Marketing strategy; Materials management; PCB base material; Printed-circuit boards; Process recommendation; Qualification; Suppliers

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 10, 2013

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