Matte solder mask
Your preferences in PCB appearance will also determine whether you’ll want a matte finish instead of a glossy solder mask. A matte finish may make some aspects of fabrication easier. However, an experienced PCB company will provide quality results regardless of solder mask finish. The potential advantages of a matte finish include:
- Visibility during inspection: A matte finish does not have shine under any lighting used during inspection. As a result, you can more easily see the PCB’s details.
- Problem detection: Matte finishes make problems more evident than glossy finishes. During inspection, it becomes easier to detect issues on a matte finish due to increased visibility.
- Solder ball reduction: Research suggests that matte finishes reduce a PCB’s risk of solder ball formation. Data indicates that a lower gloss level on PCBs results in lower solder ball levels.
Glossy solder mask
Many of the benefits of a solder mask finish depend on the customer’s aesthetic preferences. You might choose a glossy finish over a matte solder mask due to:
- Aesthetic value: Because of glossy finishes’ role as the default choice for solder masks, many customers consider them the classic PCB appearance. Their shine gives them what many perceive as a more modern look.
- Appearance of wear: The reflective properties of a glossy finish tend to make signs of wear look less prominent.
- Scratch resistance: Because of its harder surface, a glossy finish has higher scratch resistance than a matte finish.
Why to choose glossy finish than matte finish?
The main difference between a gloss finish and a matte finish is an aesthetic one, and many people feel that a gloss finish simply looks better. Gloss solder masks are shiny. They reflect light and look lighter, while matte finishes are dull and dark. Gloss solder mask has a hard shell finish while a matte finish is softer looking.
Matte finishes may also scratch more easily and show residue or surface cosmetics better, although scratches on a gloss finish will show more. If you expect the look of your PCB will have a positive effect on your assemblers or anyone who may end up looking at them, you may want to go with the gloss finish. Just keep in mind that the high light reflectivity can be a nuisance to vision during assembly in some cases.
As a PCB customer, you may want to choose a glossy finish over a matte finish when:
- Appearance matters for your PCB: In applications where appearance impacts your PCB marketing, a glossy finish can help by increasing aesthetic appeal.
- You have no specific preference: If you don’t have a particular finish preference, remember that glossy finishes serve as the industry default for most suppliers.