Wet plating processes are not new technology. Several relics indicate that humans developed a crude wet plating process more than 2,000 years ago. Alchemists upgraded the plating process to change metallic lead to gold. It is indeed possible—all you need is a particle accelerator, a vast supply of energy, and an extremely low expectation of how much gold you will end up with.
After World War II, a physical dry plating process (vacuum evaporation and sputtering) was developed. The wet plating processes could be replaced by the dry physical process, especially in the electronics industry. However, the wet plating process remains the popular metallization processes in the 21st century for electronic components and PCBs. Wet plating processes and dry physical processes both have advantages and disadvantages. Manufacturing companies select an appropriate plating technology based on each project.
Sputtering is a capable process to metallize nonconductive materials, especially with plastic resins. However, the process must be conducted in vacuumed chambers; therefore, the sizes of the parts are limited, and cost per unit is high. On the other hand, wet electroless plating offers flexible part sizes and shapes, and has the advantage of lower cost and investment, making this process attractive. Small applicability of the process compared with sputtering is a disadvantage with electroless plating.
There were significant technical progressions with chemicals and surface treatments used in electroless plating over the last decade. Now, plating chemicals provide a secure bond strength with the metallic layer on the inert surface of plastic substrates. Manufacturers discovered that employing several chemical and physical treatments before the chemical plating process is very effective in achieving stable bond strength. The new wet plating process can produce low-cost copper laminates with polyimide film substrates by roll-to-roll.
DKN Research Group reviewed the plating processes using the new chemicals for metallization of plastic materials. We confirmed a stable copper layer with a thin nickel seed layer on the surface of polyimide films. DKN also documented high performances from PET (polyethylene terephthalate), PEN (polyethylene terenaphthalate), polyolefin resin, PEEK (polyethylethylketon), LCP (liquid crystal polymer), fluorocarbon resins, and more. Further, DKN expanded the list of applicable materials and is eager to conduct chemical metallization on new materials. Feel free to contact me with some with your material challenges for metallization.
1. Renesas (Semiconductor manufacturer in Japan) 2/24
Developed a new cross-domain microprocessor “RH850/U2A” with embedded flash memory as the controller of the automobile equipment.
2. Olympus (Optical device manufacturer in Japan) 2/25
Commercialized a new soft wear “EndoBRAIN” as the support system for the medical diagnoses process with an optical endoscope.
3. Toshiba (Electric and electronics company) 2/26
Developed a new image recognition device with SoC (system-on-chip) technologies. It’s 10 times faster for processing and has four times higher energy efficiency.
4. Sharp (Electronics company in Japan) 2/26
Rolled out a new network monitoring camera “YK-H021A” with an embedded microphone for business use.
5. Tokyo University (Japan) 2/27
Established the manufacturing process of the high-precision mirror of X-rays. The technology is also available for semiconductor equipment.
6. Asahi Kasei (Chemical company in Japan) 2/28
Started a field test of a carbon dioxide concentration monitoring system in living environments. The system monitors heat distribution in the area.
7. Panasonic (Electronics company in Japan) 2/28
Completed zero-emission manufacturing of carbon dioxide at two plants in Japan and Belgium. Panasonic will expand the activity worldwide.
8. Teijin (Material supplier) 3/4
Developed a high heat resistant carbon fiber prepreg for engines of jet airplanes. The new material also has a very high mechanical strength.
9. Tohoku University (Japan) 3/4
Developed a new flexible hall device introducing thin film magnet of Fe/Sn alloy as the magnetic sensors of the IoT systems.
10. Nippon Chemi-Con (Device supplier in Japan) 3/5
Co-developed a new EDLC device as the high energy density storage capacitor for EV automobiles.
Corrections: "EPTE Newsletter: Taiwan Electronics Revenues Nosedive"
- Last sentence in the second paragraph: Incorrectly used the year 2019 (2017 is correct)
- First sentence in the third paragraph: Incorrectly used US$11.91 USD (US$19.67 billion is correct)
Editor’s note: These column corrections have been made on I-Connect007’s websites.
Dominique K. Numakura is the managing director of DKN Research LLC. To read past columns or contact Numakura, click here. Contact email@example.com for further information and news.