When constructing a printable circuit board (PCB), copper wires form connections within a board and between boards. The points of contact are often coated with a polymer called Solder Mask. Including solder mask in the design process will improve both quality and reliability of the PCB.
Connectors on and between PCBs are designed to function only at points of contact. Due to the size and proximity of components, a connection can take place at an unintended location, causing potential malfunction or damage. Applying a solder mask significantly reduces the conductivity of a given component, lowering the risk of faulty connections and short circuits.
Solder mask help maximize the longevity of PCBs. This is accomplished, in part, by protecting delicate electrical components from dust and other particles in the air. Dust may land on the solder mask without causing as much interference as exposed components would experience. Similarly, solder mask protect components from oxidation and corrosion.
The application of solder mask can increase both the immediate and long-term reliability of a printed circuit board. Whether it be preventing undesired shorting or protecting from corrosion or every-day dust, including a solder mask is an important step to implement when fabricating PCBs.
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