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Laser Machining of Coverlays

coverlay3In “flex” or flexible printed circuit board manufacturing, a flex circuit coverlay is used to encapsulate and protect the external circuitry of a flexible circuit board. Think of it is solder mask for a flex circuit except that it has an added element of flexibility and durability it provides to the flexible circuit board.

The coverlay itself consists of a solid sheet of polyimide with a layer of flexible adhesive that is then laminated under heat and pressure to the circuit surfaces. The required component feature openings are mechanically created using drilling, routing, or laser cutting, Typical coverlay thickness is 0.001" polyimide with 0.001" of adhesive. And then either 0.0005" to 0.002" thicknesses are available but only used as needed to meet specific design requirements.

Coverfilm or coverlay is used to encapsulate and protect “flex” external circuitry allowing it to withstand extreme vibration, temperature and other harsh environments. The easiest way to modify this “solder mask” of flex circuit boards (comparing it to its rigid board cousin) is via laser machining.

Laser machining is done during the pre and post preparation of the coverlay. Prior to coverlays being aligned and laminated on production flex panels, a laser routs or drills the coverlay for the flex circuits feature openings. After the coverlay has been laminated a laser sciving process (see below) can be used to remove the coverlay to expose underlying circuitry or pads without any damage to the copper. Coverlays which are attached with adhesive can exhibit “squeeze out” of the adhesive on to a pad land after the laser machining process. Good design practices recommend that the access openings be large enough to allow for squeeze-out while still providing a good solder fillet that will meet IPC-A-610 standards. To eliminate squeeze out issues in an area, laser skive the coverlay pad exposures or fingers post coverlay lamination.

Coverlay skiving ( a selective ablation process that can completely obliterate one material with or without affecting an underlying material) is used to form openings smaller than mechanical drilling or routing or openings too small to accurately align during lamination. Window skiving is also done on floating contacts (fingers) prior to tinning, plating or soldering.

File Requirements

CAD system integration and custom file converters enable flexible, laser manufacturing from user-provided data. Although most file types are accepted, the preferred file types are Gerber, DXF, or other 2D formats. In most cases, non-scaled data is required as BEST technicians will make the appropriate offsets and properly scale in order  to meet part dimensions. 

Typical Coverlay Routing & Skiving Tolerances for BEST lasers

Positional

(4um)

Dimensional

(5um)

Smallest holes

(20um)

Cutting line width

(25um)

Depth

Application Dependent

 

Call BEST today to discuss your laser coverlay machining application.

 

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    You Guys Freaking Rock with turnaround time.
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  • BEST is excellent in meeting delivery dates and are very good with clear communication of shipments, quantities, issues, etc. Their quality and technical assistance has been superb.

    BEST is excellent in meeting delivery dates and are very good with clear communication of shipments, quantities, issues, etc. Their quality and technical assistance has been superb.

    RW Technologies

  • BEST has solid high quality service every time, and at the right price. They are very dependable. I am able to start a project in less then 24 hours with no hassles. The teams always work to meet the... View More..

    BEST has solid high quality service every time, and at the right price. They are very dependable. I am able to start a project in less then 24 hours with no hassles. The teams always work to meet the demands placed on them by the customer, and are very honest about what they can do and when they can do it. They offer great value to the customer; they are willing to go the extra mile to make the customer happy.

    Motorola

  • Best has always come through when we needed them. We started using them for board repairs, now they assemble all of our boards. BEST is always responsive to our needs. On many occasions, we needed... View More..

    Best has always come through when we needed them. We started using them for board repairs, now they assemble all of our boards. BEST is always responsive to our needs. On many occasions, we needed boards repaired immediately. They have always come through for us.

    Lovejoy Controls Corporation

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    Alpha Circuits

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  • You Guys Freaking Rock with turnaround time.
    Thank you all SOOOOO much!!

    You Guys Freaking Rock with turnaround time.
    Thank you all SOOOOO much!!

    Welch Allyn

  • BEST is excellent in meeting delivery dates and are very good with clear communication of... View More..

    BEST is excellent in meeting delivery dates and are very good with clear communication of shipments, quantities, issues, etc. Their quality and technical assistance has been superb.

    RW Technologies

  • BEST has solid high quality service every time, and at the right price. They are very dependable. I... View More..

    BEST has solid high quality service every time, and at the right price. They are very dependable. I am able to start a project in less then 24 hours with no hassles. The teams always work to meet the demands placed on them by the customer, and are very honest about what they can do and when they can do it. They offer great value to the customer; they are willing to go the extra mile to make the customer happy.

    Motorola

  • Best has always come through when we needed them. We started using them for board repairs, now they... View More..

    Best has always come through when we needed them. We started using them for board repairs, now they assemble all of our boards. BEST is always responsive to our needs. On many occasions, we needed boards repaired immediately. They have always come through for us.

    Lovejoy Controls Corporation

  • Your company name exemplifies exactly what you are, the BEST!!!

    Your company name exemplifies exactly what you are, the BEST!!!

    Alpha Circuits

  • You guys are really soldering geeks. Keep inventing those cool products.

    You guys are really soldering geeks. Keep inventing those cool products.

    Analog Devices

  • …always are very friendly and try to accommodate my short lead times

    …always are very friendly and try to accommodate my short lead times

    Qualcomm

  • There was not doubt that Francisco know the material, how to present it, and how to make the class... View More..

    There was not doubt that Francisco know the material, how to present it, and how to make the class participants feel at ease..all of my guys came to me and how me how much they had learned.

    Alabama Power

  • Just wanted to let you know what a fantastic job/effort James put in too insure our guys were... View More..

    Just wanted to let you know what a fantastic job/effort James put in too insure our guys were thoroughly training and qualified. Everyone involved was very impressed with his knowledge, flexibility, and work ethic. We really appreciate the fact that he went above and beyond.

    EMAC

  • Man, you guys are unbelievably fast!

    Man, you guys are unbelievably fast!

    Blur Development Product

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