Multilayer PCB Manufacturing Process – Layup, Drilling


Inner cores and prepregs are stacked together in an order as per the ML construction. The operation of creating the stack is called ‘Layup’.

Multilayer PCB Manufacturing
Multilayer PCB Manufacturing
Multilayer PCB Manufacturing

Need for Pressing

Pressing is needed to bond individual layers when there are more than 2 layers. It is also called as multilayer lamination

The layers are bonded by applying high temperature and high pressure.

Layup Process

In this process, all the input materials such as inner cores, prepregs, copper foils are placed together on a stack with other consumables such as kraftpapers, SS plates & Aluminum foils.

The tooling pins decide the height of the stack and caul plates decide the position


  • Positive air pressure
  • Source of filtered (5 microns) air
  • Daily cleaning of the room
  • Clean protective gloves & lint free lab coats and caps for operators
  • Controlled temperature & humidity (20+-2 deg C, 50% RH )
  • Precleaned lamination fixtures and other accessories

The panel layups are stacked together to form a ‘Book’.

A Book comprises of 10 panels.

Aluminium sheets (Duo foil) are used between the individual layups to protect the copper foil surface and ensure that the layups do not stick together.

Multilayer PCB Manufacturing
Multilayer PCB Manufacturing

Prepregs are glass-cloth impregnated with resin. The prepreg provides the bonding material between the layers. The heat and pressure cause the prepreg to flow and bond to the surface of the inner layers during the pressing operation.

The press applies heat and pressure to the stack, so that the thermosetting resin in the

Flash trimming

Flash trimming

After pressing the flash needs to be removed and the panels need to brought into the standard size. This is done by the process of Flash Trimming.



After flash trimming the panels are measured in X-ray machine on a sampling basis to measure the expansion or contraction of the inner layers. This measurement is done in order to decide on the drill program that needs to be used in order to drill holes at the center of the inner layer pads.

PCB Drilling

PCB Drilling

The Drilling process creates a path for making a contact between different layers. The drilled hole is plated with copper for this purpose.

Inner layer pad (or anti- pad)

The co-ordinates for the drilling program are given by taking the center of the panel as origin (Co- ordinate system)

PCB Drilling


During drilling operation, burrs will be created around the drilled holes. The burrs are nothing but the projection of the copper from the surface. The burrs are removed by passing the panels in-between scotch bite rollers.



While drilling the temperature inside the hole raises up to 600 degree centigrade. Because of this the prepreg melts and accumulates on the walls of the drilled hole. This deposition of molten prepreg on the walls of the hole is known as “smear”

The smear is removed by treating the panels with conditioner (a sodium hydroxide based chemical) and Sodium permanganate solutions.


PCB Plating techniques

Electro less Plating

Electro less plating is a method to plate metal onto metals or non-metals without the aid of electric current but through chemical reduction

Electrolytic Plating

Electrolytic plating or electroplating     is a method to plate metal onto a metal with the aid of electric current (DC or AC) through electron transfer.

Principle of Electrolytic plating

The basic electroplating cell is a tank containing copper salt solution  in which the cathode and anode are immersed. Both anode and cathode are connected to a Power source.

The copper deposition at the cathode involves the reduction of ionic copper to metallic copper.

Copper anodes are dissolved (Oxidized) to replenish the copper concentration in the solution.

Principle of Electrolytic plating

Basic electroplating cell

Plated through hole (PTH)

In PTH (Electro less Plating) process, the holes are made conductive by platting copper on the walls of the holes, to provide electrical connection between the layers.

Activator: After chemically cleaned and micro etched, the panels are treated with Stannous Chloride and palladium chloride. At the end of this process, a thin layer of palladium chloride (conducting) is formed along the walls of the holes.

Plated through hole (PTH)

Production- Flow (PTH)

Electro less Cu plating

The panels are then treated with an alkaline solution containing Copper sulfate, formaldehyde, EDTA with other organic additives. At the end of this process a thin film of chemically reduced copper (of thickness 5m) is applied on to the activated surface.

Reverse Pulse plating (RPP)

RPP is a typical example of AC Electroplating.

In Pulse Plating Reversal Current, the cathodic plating current is disturbed and reciproked i.e. turned anodic for a short time.

Hole wall after activation

The anodic (= Reverse) current causes certain molecules to drift. The additives in the solution are then attracted to the high current density areas and adsorbed on the PCB’s surface. The adsorbed additive on the copper surface acts as an insulator, it will shield the current and thus temporarily preventing copper being deposed during the Forward pulse.

Multilayer PCB Manufacturing

During the Forward Pulse, copper is deposited everywhere on the Printed Circuit Board – – most on the hole entrances and less in the middle of the barrel. The Forward current is nothing more than a single pulse in D.C. and the deposit is ‘dog boned’.

When the Reverse Pulse comes, the additive is attracted (‘electroplated’) to the edges of the drilling hole. Because the Reverse Pulse is also a kind of pulsed D.C., the additive layer is dog boned too.

During the first phase of next Forward Pulse, the unshielded areas are electroplated, and the organic layer is partially removed.

During the last phase of the forward pulse finishes the electro deposition without dog-boning. (The light-blue colored area).

Outer Layer Photoprinting

Multilayer PCB Manufacturing

Photo printing is an image transfer process. It consists of surface preparation (pumice scrubbing), lamination, exposing and developing processes similar to inner layer image transfer processes.

Cerra Systems Printed Circuit Board Fabrication capabilities support high-frequency PCB, High-temperature Boards, Thick PCB, ultra-thin PCB, heavy copper PCB, Metal Core PCB, HDI boards with Blind Vias, Buried Vias, Micro Vias, Embedded passives, bonded heat sink, Impedance Control, Depth control drilling, Back drilling, Edge Plated PCB, Bump Pads, cavity with ledge, Via on pad and stacked micro-Via technology.

CerraSystems –

HDI PCB ,  Rigid Flex PCB,  RF PCB 

Electronics Manufacturing Partners:

Argus Systems (AESPL) –

PCB,  PCBA,  Cable Assembly,  Box Build,  Testing