Many parts requiring plating have complex designs, recesses and even holes that need to be coated and finished thinly and evenly. Flat surfaces are relatively easy to plate, but recessed areas, corners and holes present incumbent solutions with a significant challenge. Incumbent solutions result in coating thickness variations across the part as it encounters flat surfaces, corners, holes and recesses on the same part. The component may require a plating thickness of 1.5 mils overall, but on high current density areas, the thickness of the plated metal may exceed 8.0 mils. These thickness variations cause performance and long term quality and durability issues in addition to resulting in several unnecessary costs, including waste of plating energy, time, raw materials and rejected production parts.
A flat part, such as a printed circuit board (PCB), has few recesses and usually much less plating thickness variation, but its design and shape present other problems. Plating thickness on trace heights, isolated component pads and blind holes on different areas of the part can vary so significantly that it creates functional problems with current carrying capability, impedance matching, solder mask application and the assembly of components.