Cooperation agreement between Schmid and ELO-CHEM-CSM
Apr 19, 2004
Gebr. Schmid GmbH + Co. and ELO-CHEM-CSM GmbH officially announced their cooperation at the Productronica 2003. Under the terms of a license agreement Gebr. Schmid acquires exclusive international sales and production rights for all ELO-CHEM-CSM products.
The chemical products and systems of ELO-CHEM-CSM GmbH ideally complement the product range offered by Schmid, the manufacturer of wet processing systems. Take, for example, EloFast 60, an accelerator additive used in alkaline, horizontal etchers operating in a closed loop with the ELO-CHEM-CSM recycling process. The etched copper is continuously recovered electrolytically with a purity of 96.7 to 99.5 %. The Schmid/ELO-CHEM-CSM product array also includes machine cleaners for metal stripping systems, for developers and for alkaline etchers as well as solder mask strippers, dry film resist strippers, developers and micro-etch solutions for surface treatment.
Etching in a closed loop
All PCB manufacturers know the problem. The restraints imposed by environmental legislation are becoming ever more stringent, the costs for the disposal of chemicals are spiraling to dizzy heights and industrial safety regulations are also taking their toll. The answer is: avoiding waste instead of disposing of waste. Etching in a closed loop process with the EloFast 60 accelerator additive minimizes the costs of consumables by regeneration of the chemicals. Not only the etching chemicals, but also the etching machine gases are recycled to the process by way of a regeneration method. This signifies: no more costly and environmentally hazardous etchant transports, no more upfront financing for chemical storage, and – what is more – a clean production environment due to lower ammonia contamination of the atmosphere.
The regeneration method comprises two phases. Phase 1: the etchant of the etching machine is continuously reactivated. Phase 2: the etched copper is recovered in electrolytic cells. The copper is recovered on stainless steel sheets on which the copper settles and can be detached in plates (average recovery: 3 kg Cu/h). During the regeneration phase the copper content is checked by density controls. The electrolytic cell automatically becomes operative as soon as the specified density value (80 g Cu/l) is exceeded in the etching machine. This entails that electrolysis takes place only when so required by an elevated copper concentration in the etching machine. The operation of the electrolytic modules is independent of the operation of the etching line.
The investment costs of a Schmid spray-etch system employing the ELO-CHEM-CSM recycling process pay off in less than 2 years on average, a contributory factor being - besides minimized costs for consumables - particularly the boosted efficiency of copper recovery.
Stable process at high speed
As the entire system operates in a closed loop, this stabilizes the etching process and secures an etching speed of 60 µm/min and more. Etch factors of 4 and higher can be attained. Precise parameter control with closely defined dosage volumes ensures optimum etch resist protection. Very soon Gebr. Schmid will integrate the etchant and copper recovery into the production line.
The ELO-CHEM system has already been awarded the Technology Transfer Prize by the German National Research Center for Environment and Health (GSF) due to the perfect orchestration between harnessing savings and fulfilling standards of environmental technology.