Blog >> Blog Details Page

What Is Solder Mask Dam? — NextPCB

Posted:02:27 PM February 22, 2023 writer: ​NextPCB

What is a Solder Mask Dam?

A solder mask bridge, also known as a solder mask dam, is a small section of the solder mask layer on a printed circuit board that is left open or exposed around the perimeter of each pad or through-hole. The purpose of a solder mask bridge is to prevent the flow of solder or other conductive materials from one electrical connection to another during the assembly process. The term "green oil bridge" is sometimes used to refer to the green-colored solder mask material that is commonly used on PCBs, but this is not a widely recognized term.

Solder-Mask--Dam

By creating a small barrier, the solder mask dam ensures that the solder joints are formed only where intended, preventing electrical shorts and other types of damage that can cause electronic devices to malfunction or fail. Solder mask dams are important for ensuring the reliability and performance of electronic devices, as they protect the copper traces and other metal features from oxidation, contamination, and other forms of damage.

Overview of PCBs and Solder Mask Layers

Solder Mask

Printed circuit boards are the backbone of many electronic devices, providing a platform for electronic components to be connected and communicate with each other. The solder mask layer is a thin, uniform layer of polymer material that is applied to the surface of the board to protect the copper traces and other metal features from oxidation, contamination, and other forms of damage. The solder mask layer also serves as a barrier to prevent the flow of solder or other conductive materials from one electrical connection to another.

Role of Solder Mask Dams

Solder mask dams are an essential feature of the solder mask layer. By creating a small barrier around each pad or through-hole, solder mask dams prevent the flow of solder outside of the intended area during the assembly process. This ensures that the solder joints are formed only where intended, preventing electrical shorts and other types of damage that can cause electronic devices to malfunction or fail.

How Solder Mask Dams Work?

Solder Mask Dam/Bridge

Solder mask dams function by preventing the solder from flowing outside of the intended area during the assembly process. Without solder mask dams, solder can flow onto adjacent conductive features, causing electrical shorts or other types of damage. Solder mask dams are crucial for preventing these types of problems and ensuring the reliability and performance of electronic devices.

Types of Solder Mask Dams

There are several types of solder mask dams that can be used, including open, hatched, and round dams. Each type of solder mask dam has its advantages and disadvantages, and the appropriate type should be selected based on the specific requirements of the PCB design.

Open Solder Mask Dams

Open solder mask dams are the simplest and most common type of solder mask dam. They are created by leaving a small open space around each pad or through-hole, allowing solder to flow onto the pad or through-hole without spreading to adjacent conductive features.

Advantages:

  • Easy to design and implement
  • Suitable for most PCB designs
  • Can be used with most soldering techniques

Disadvantages:

  • Limited protection against solder bridging or other types of damage
  • May not be suitable for designs with closely spaced components or high-density PCBs

Hatched Solder Mask Dams

Hatched solder mask dams are similar to open solder mask dams, but they use a pattern of diagonal lines to create a barrier around each pad or through-hole. The diagonal lines create small gaps in the solder mask, which allow the solder to flow onto the pad or through-hole without spreading to adjacent conductive features.

Advantages:

  • Provides better protection against solder bridging or other types of damage than open solder mask dams
  • Can be used with most soldering techniques
  • Suitable for designs with closely spaced components or high-density PCBs

Disadvantages:

  • More complex to design and implement than open solder mask dams
  • May not be suitable for designs with very fine pitch components or high pin-count devices

Round Solder Mask Dams

Round solder mask dams use a circular shape to encircle each pad or through-hole. The circular shape creates a barrier around the pad or through-hole, preventing solder from flowing onto adjacent conductive features.

Advantages:

  • Provides the highest degree of protection against solder bridging or other types of damage
  • Suitable for designs with fine-pitch components or high pin-count devices
  • Can be used with most soldering techniques

Disadvantages:

  • More challenging to design and implement than open or hatched solder mask dams
  • May not be suitable for designs with very closely spaced components or high-density PCBs

How to Design Solder Mask Dam

PCB Layout

The PCB layout is an essential consideration when designing the SMD. The designer must ensure that there is enough space for the dam and that it doesn't interfere with other components or traces on the board.

Component Placement

Additionally, the placement of the components on the board is also important when designing the solder mask dam. The designer must consider size and shape and protect the component without obstruction.

Solder Mask Material

The type of solder mask material used is also a significant consideration. The designer needs a compatible material for insulation and protection that fits the manufacturing process.

Setting up the Design Rules

The first step in designing an SMD is to set up the design rules. We determine the minimum size and clearance for the dam and actively avoid any interference it may have with other components or traces on the board.

Placing the Solder Mask Dam

After setting up the design rules, the designer can actively begin placing the solder mask dam on the board. We must place the dam adequately to protect the component while ensuring it functions properly.

Conclusion

In short, it is significant in making PCBs for electronic devices. Additionally, it also adds a layer of protection by covering the copper traces to prevent any accidental short circuits. Furthermore, this protective layer also prevents oxidation and corrosion.

It's part of the PCB fabrication process that involves several steps, including designing the PCB layout, printing the solder mask layer, and curing it. The solder mask's thickness, color, and material type affect the PCB's performance. It is significant to consider these factors when designing the solder mask layer.

Tag: Solder Mask Dam
  • PCB
    Prototype
  • PCB
    Assembly
  • SMD
    Stencil

Dimensions: (mm)

×

Quantity: (pcs)

5
5
10
15
20
25
30
40
50
75
100
120
150
200
250
300
350
400
450
500
600
700
800
900
1000
1500
2000
2500
3000
3500
4000
4500
5000
5500
6000
6500
7000
7500
8000
9000
10000

Other Quantities:(quantity*length*width is greater than 10㎡)

OK

Layers:

Thickness:

Quote now