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Common Terms used in PCB Manufacturing

Printed Circuit Board Terminology - Understanding circuit boards and PCB prototype design

To assist in understanding PCB terminology this is a list of common PCB terms. For a more detailed glossary of terms please visit our PCB glossary.
To help you understand printed circuit board terminology Electronic Interconnect presents a list of common PCB terms. Understanding circuit boards and PCB prototype design is important for our clients.


A post-dip chemical process used to retard oxidation of copper circuits.

Backup Material

Hard flat material used to back-up laminate when drilling to reduce burrs.


A very thick, large circuit board used to hold an array of pins for wire wrapping.

Blanking Die

Using a die punch to “blank out” the finished circuit board, used mostly for single-sided panels.

Blow Holes

Blow holes caused by an outburst of gas from solder fillet on a circuit board during the soldering operation.


Fully-cured dielectric laminate.

Caul Plates

Rigid, polished, flat, stable steel plates used when pressing or laminating MLBs.


A condition of the base material to which a relatively thin layer or a sheet of metal foil has been bonded to one or both of its sides.

Conversion Coating

Anti-oxidant treatment applied to raw vendor foil.


Develop, etch & strip process used in the etching stage of inner-layer fabrication.

Direct Plate

Application of conductive coatings on drilled holes to provide electrical continuity for electrolytic plating.


Design of experiments… a formal method of designing an interactive test matrix.

Dog Bone

A plating defect found in drilled holes where the electroplated copper is thin in the center and thicker at the knee.

Double Treat

Brass-based coating applied to copper foil as a substitute for oxide.

Entry Material

Thin metal foil (usually aluminum) attached to top side of drill stack to reduce drilling burrs and cool drill.


First pass panel yield… number of good “panels” after subtracting defective panels.


A chemical activator use when reflowing solder or attaching components.


Fracturing/delamination on or below the surface of the base material; it is usually exhibited by a light area around holes.

Hard Board

Rigid circuit board.

Liquid Resist

The liquid form of photoresist used in the fabrication of circuits.

Mil Spec

Specification set forth by the military.


Common term used to define thicknesses below 0.100 inches. (One mil = 0.001 inches).


Term used when defining thickness. (100 millionths = 0.0001 inches.)

Mother Board

A printed circuit board  used for interconnecting arrays of plug-in electronic modules.

Nail Heading

The flared condition of copper on the innerconnect layer of a multilayer caused by poor drilling.

One Ounce Foil

Weight of 1 square foot of copper foil. (1 oz = 0.00134 inches, ½ oz = 0.0007 inches, etc.)


Occupational Safety & Health Agency.


Organic Surface Protection.


A special treatment applied to copper surfaces of inner layers of a PWB to insure bond integrity.


Used to describe a common sheet size used in the fabrication process, ie: 24” X 18”.

Panel ft (Laminate ft)

A laminate area measurement, one-side only of the panel. (1 panel, 18” X 24” X 1 side = 3 panel ft).


Electroplating of circuits using photoresist as a mask to protect the background, usually copper & tin.


An organic emulsion containing photoactive compounds, which will crosslink when exposed to UV light.

Pin Holes

Small defects etched through a circuit pattern.

Pink Ring

A defect caused by poor bonding around drilled holes displayed by acid attack of the oxide.

Pitch (density)

A method of defining circuit lines and spaces i.e.; 4 & 4, 4 mil lines and 4 mil spaces.


Creation of corona in a chamber by exciting certain gasses in a partial vacuum with an electrical field, used to desmear.

Power Plane

Heavy circuit features designed to carry high electrical loads in a PWB.


Expose step to define circuit patterns in photo resist.

Print & Etch

Simple fabrication method using photoresist to define etch pattern.

Pumice Scrub

A mechanical cleaning step using brushes and an abrasive media.


Using dies to punch component holes, usually in single & double-sided PWBs.

Signal Layer

Fine circuits designed to carry high speed signals throughout a circuit board and its components.

Skip Plate

Area of absent metal in plating.

Solder Plate

Tin/lead alloy plated in a pattern to define the finished features or circuits.


Statistical Process Control.

Surface ft

Total surface square feet area of a given work piece. (1 panel 18” X 24” X 2 sides = 6 surface ft).

Tab Plate

Selective plating on edge connectors, usually nickel/gold.


A portion of a conductive pattern formed by printing, serving as one part of a contact system.


A printed circuit board fabrication method of capping plated-through holes and the surrounding conductive pattern with a dry film resist.

Thin Core

Thin laminate, usually less than 0.005 inches thick.

Wedge voids

A layer separation defect in a drilled hole which are sites for retention of process chemicals.