Cross-sectioning of circuit boards or semiconductors is a process where a thin slice of a circuit board or semiconductor is cut and examined in order to study its internal structure and components. This is done for quality control measures, to troubleshoot problems with the circuit board, or to study the design and layout of the board.

Cross-sectioning is also done for research and development purposes, such as studying new materials and manufacturing techniques. It is an important tool to understand the capabilities and limitations of circuit board technology, and to improve the performance and reliability of these devices.

One of the main benefits of cross-sectioning a circuit board or semiconductor is that it allows for a detailed examination of the board’s internal structure, including the layout of the components, the thickness and arrangement of the layers, and the quality of the soldering and connections. This information helps in identifying defects or problems with the board, as well as in understanding the design and functionality of the circuit.

Methods of cross-sectioning

The methods used for cross-sectioning a circuit board or semiconductor are:

Mechanical sawing, which involves using a diamond blade or a carbide blade to physically cut through the board.

Laser cutting, which uses a focused beam of light to vaporize the material. 

Chemical etching, which involves using a chemical solution to dissolve away layers of the circuit board, revealing the internal structure.

Cross-sectioning a circuit board or semiconductor must involve careful planning and execution to ensure that the sample is representative of the entire board, and that the internal components and structures are not damaged in the process.

What is plastic embedding in this scenario?

Plastic embedding of circuit boards and semiconductors is a technique used to prepare cross-sections of devices or components for microscopic examination by embedding them in a block of plastic, slicing the block into a thin section, and examining it under a microscope. Plastic embedding of circuit boards and semiconductors  is often used in conjunction with cross-sectioning for sample preparation in the electronic industry, to prepare samples for examination and can be useful for preserving and manipulating the sample for detailed examination, particularly in the context of cross-sectioning circuit boards or semiconductors and other electronic components to identify defects or abnormalities.

How to choose the best plastic embedding material?

Factors to consider when choosing a plastic embedding material for cross-sectioning and microscopic examination of circuit boards or semiconductors:

Compatibility with the sample: The embedding material should be compatible with the sample being examined, meaning that it should not react with or damage the sample.

Hardness: The embedding material should be hard enough to allow for clean, precise slicing of the sample, but not so hard that it is difficult to cut.

Transparency: The embedding material should be transparent, or at least semi-transparent, to allow for easy viewing of the sample under a microscope.

Stability: The embedding material should be stable and not prone to shrinkage or other changes that could affect the sample.

Cost: The embedding material should be affordable and readily available.

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Technovit ® 4006 “HIGH CLEAR” is a highly transparent 2-component embedding medium based on methyl methacrylate in powder and liquid form. Technovit ® 4006 can be used in a variety of ways, thanks to the fast polymerisation time, and is ideally suited for routine work. The mixing ratio can be varied depending on the requirements and required flowability. A ratio of 2:1 is recommended as a basis. The curing time is 11 minutes at 22°C. Technovit ® 4006 SE is a variant of Technovit ® 4006, which can be used for casting very thin layers and also offers the possibility of embedding small samples with a small volume in a short time with a high degree of transparency, since it offers faster polymerisation, greater hardness, excellent grinding and polishing properties, less blistering (even without using the Technomat), and also hardens in thin layers.