Author Topic: PCB scratches and rivet/nail signs and other visual imperfection questions pls  (Read 787 times)

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Offline Nrkb

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Hello  :D
I'm trying to find a pcb manufactuer that will make pcb with black matte ideally or gloss if matte isnt available, without scratches or any other visual imperfections on them.
I use JLC PCB since a while now but for some project i just can't have their rivet/nail signs or small scratches or imperfections.
They are about 128mm x 10 to 160mm depending of the design.
As i can see when it's small boards under 10-20mm wide, jlc is fine but bigger than that they almost all have scratches or other stuff and it seem worse because there is no circuit or almost no circuit in theses designs. Even with the new jlc "superb quality" it's almost the same, they even forgot about it and superb quality was not in my order in their system even if i paid for it but they explained to me its the same process, they just take a bit more care in selecting them but it's really almost the same quality i don't see why someone would pay for this option, even more useless is the paper between pcb, i tried it once and it changed nothing about the look of the pcbs
Anyway so i also checked pcbcart, they are more expensive but maybe a bit better, i'm not sure but they explained to me by email they can't guarantee 100% visually good pcb's.
I also tried local pcb manufactuers but it's 10-15 times the price...
I'm kinda stuck between ordering from theses in china and throwing away in the trash the ones that have visual imperfections, which is not good... i would throw away about 65-75% of them and the option of local manufactuers but it's so much expensive just can't.

So my question... Is there one manufactuer that makes them without visual imperfections while staying at a good pricing? I'm not looking for absolute cheapest, i can pay more, but not crazy high prices...

Thanks!  :)
 

Offline evb149

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You are fundamentally trying to do the wrong thing.

Normally PCBs are intended to be functional.  Most quality manufacturers will make them according to
particularly relevant IPC standards and according to their own quality & capabilities policies.
For the most part minor cosmetic defects that are aesthetic and not related somehow to PCB reliability / quality aren't even specified in the relevant specifications & standards as being prohibited.

Then expecting "very low cost" PCB suppliers to make PCBs that are basically cosmetically perfect as well as functional for nearly no profit is not reasonable.

You are onto something, though, in that more and more PCBs are used not just for enclosed "out of sight" boards, but are used in user visible places like keypads / input devices, displays, front / side / connector entry panels, lighting displays, art projects, etc.

So for those reasons more places probably should offer some kind of better finish options for ordering, and more materials and treatment / production options accordingly.

Anyway other than saying "don't expect that" I have one idea to offer -- perhaps you could try one some kinds of self applied refinishing / finishing treatments to the "visually imperfect" PCBAs --

* rubbing / buffing / polishing / sanding / ...
* coating (wax, polish, clear coat, gel coat, dye, paint, dip, ....)
* hot air, baking, soaking, ...

I mean look at all the old weathered / damaged "antique" or "worn" plastic, wood, metal, composite kinds of items
of all kinds that people can easily restore / refinish to beautiful sparkling condition often with just a little bit of polishing, buffing or similar fast / cheap techniques to improve the surface texture / coating wrt. abrasions or defects etc.

You're having 99.5% of the work done for you making the PCBs for essentially "free" so it seems like it might be
worthwhile to invest a few minutes into a little cosmetic finishing / touch ups if the appearance is so critical for your "art project".

Otherwise maybe some kind of cover layer labels, decals, film / artwork overlay which can be made visually perfect can cover the majority of the PCB surface so the finish of the soldermask and fiberglass is not such a big deal for you.

After all they make boats and cars and what not out of the same kinds of fiberglass processes.  Underneath it isn't pretty but they put a pretty surface layer / coat on it over the structural interior.

 
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Offline Nrkb

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  • Posts: 15
  • Country: ca
You are fundamentally trying to do the wrong thing.

Normally PCBs are intended to be functional.  Most quality manufacturers will make them according to
particularly relevant IPC standards and according to their own quality & capabilities policies.
For the most part minor cosmetic defects that are aesthetic and not related somehow to PCB reliability / quality aren't even specified in the relevant specifications & standards as being prohibited.

Then expecting "very low cost" PCB suppliers to make PCBs that are basically cosmetically perfect as well as functional for nearly no profit is not reasonable.

You are onto something, though, in that more and more PCBs are used not just for enclosed "out of sight" boards, but are used in user visible places like keypads / input devices, displays, front / side / connector entry panels, lighting displays, art projects, etc.

So for those reasons more places probably should offer some kind of better finish options for ordering, and more materials and treatment / production options accordingly.

Anyway other than saying "don't expect that" I have one idea to offer -- perhaps you could try one some kinds of self applied refinishing / finishing treatments to the "visually imperfect" PCBAs --

* rubbing / buffing / polishing / sanding / ...
* coating (wax, polish, clear coat, gel coat, dye, paint, dip, ....)
* hot air, baking, soaking, ...

I mean look at all the old weathered / damaged "antique" or "worn" plastic, wood, metal, composite kinds of items
of all kinds that people can easily restore / refinish to beautiful sparkling condition often with just a little bit of polishing, buffing or similar fast / cheap techniques to improve the surface texture / coating wrt. abrasions or defects etc.

You're having 99.5% of the work done for you making the PCBs for essentially "free" so it seems like it might be
worthwhile to invest a few minutes into a little cosmetic finishing / touch ups if the appearance is so critical for your "art project".

Otherwise maybe some kind of cover layer labels, decals, film / artwork overlay which can be made visually perfect can cover the majority of the PCB surface so the finish of the soldermask and fiberglass is not such a big deal for you.

After all they make boats and cars and what not out of the same kinds of fiberglass processes.  Underneath it isn't pretty but they put a pretty surface layer / coat on it over the structural interior.


Thanks for your long answer,
yes i know it's not the main usual purpose, but i like the look and i can do special stuff with it like you said, touch plates or led through the pcb material which would be hard to do with something else.

I'm totaly open to try to fix them myself but i'm not sure how.
I tried hot air on the scratch or rivet nail signs and it doesnt change, the soldermask is really hard.
Did you try it? I don't find much about this on internet.
I'm pretty sure all the options would make it obvious and maybe worse than it was before but i'm really curious, if something works it will solve my issue.
I will try to find about polishing buffing online i didnt thing about it since the soldermask is hard...

 

Offline DIYGUY Chris

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  • Posts: 27
  • Country: us
Hi
That's something interesting what you have detailed about the quality so let me just thank you first for the topic  :-+
First verse I don't defend any manufacturer! I just came to tell you my thoughts regarding your issue.
I've been using the China services since years and I wisely select the supplier depending on the needs you mentioned that you are producing high volumes of PCBs! is it possible to define this "high volume" then you can find out if JLC is capable to perform perfection depending on the desired quantity.
You said also that you have tried some other Chinese PCB manufacturers and you've almost got the same results, then let me tell you to make sure the other manufacturers you have tried they have their own factories :) if they are not then you will get random results, maybe the positive part of JLC that they have their own factories but about the quality control hummm I think that you need more communication with them!
About the local manufacturers, the price is 10-15 times!! that's huge difference, I suggest to stick on Chinese manufacturers and try higher volumes and just take off the bad parts because the price of 10 pieces is basically the same price of 20 pieces in China  :D

As always if you share some photos about these "scratches" then maybe I can help you in a better way.

Stay positive, stay creative..
 

Offline asmi

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  • Posts: 1991
  • Country: ca
My client is using matte black PCBs with yellow soldermask as a front panel for their product. I've been ordering them at wellpcb.com and my client never complained about cosmetics. So give them a try and see if what you get will be acceptable for you.


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