Colorful PCBs: Does Solder Mask Hue Impact Functionality?

pcb assembly serviceTraditionally, circuit boards are green. But today's world is more diverse -- even when it comes to PCBs! Although green boards are still popular, many PCB assembly services now offer a variety of solder mask colors to customers. What does this mean for the PCB fabrication process? And can you expect to receive all different hues of PCBs when you place an order for circuit board assembly services? We'll discuss this colorful topic in today's post.

In years past, PCB solder mask was almost exclusively green

There are a few reasons for this. One is that when PCB inspection had to be performed manually, the green solder mask was thought to relieve eye fatigue. Scientifically speaking, there is some truth to this; green light wavelengths are actually known to make you feel more relaxed. In addition, our eyes are actually most sensitive to green light -- which meant it might make it easier for these inspectors to spot errors when dealing with green-colored PCBs. Green solder mask also was thought to be stronger and generally easier to mass produce, making it the go-to option for many PCB assembly services all across the country.

...But now, PCB solder mask can be made in lots of different colors!

In today's world, customers want a variety of options. And now that it's become more affordable for PCB assembly houses to offer different colors, it's become more common to see a rainbow of boards being used. You might see PCBs made with red, blue, white, yellow, black, or purple solder masks, some with different finishing options (i.e., glossy vs. matte). Some people simply like the look of a white solder mask or the boldness of a yellow PCB. Other solder mask colors are preferred by specific industries (for example, purple solder mask is often used for PCBs placed in submarines). Different color options provide aesthetic appeal and even component highlighting, in some cases.

Does color impact PCB quality?

There are many factors that can impact the quality of a printed circuit board. For example, the temperature of solder can determine quality. Before the solder reaches 160 degrees Celsius, the temperature rising rate needs to be controlled at 1 to 2 degrees per second; otherwise, PCB components could be destroyed during this process. That said, the color of a given solder mask really doesn't have an impact on the performance quality of a circuit board. It can, however, make it harder to inspect a PCB's components. Granted, working with a reputable PCB assembly service will ensure that inspection won't be an issue, regardless of the solder mask color you choose.

Overall, green is still great.

While there are now several colors of solder mask available for PCBs, the most popular option is actually still the classic green. Other colors are in-demand, to be sure, but a lot of businesses prefer to keep things simple (and easy to inspect) by sticking with what they know. Still, if you're interested in doing something a little different with your printed circuit boards, there may be several options for you to explore.
Posted on July 10, 2018 Copyright © 2018 Advanced Assembly