“The acquisition of the two plants is an investment in energy efficiency, high-quality processes and resource conservation,” emphasises Swen Klöden, Chief Technology Officer at KSG. While a new wet-process plant with vacuum etching module ensures a consistent etching result, a new copper recycling plant helps recover more copper in less time.
New vacuum etching module
To make the etching process as efficient as possible, KSG is commissioning an innovative vacuum etching module that minimises the puddling effect during the etching process. The optimised placement of the transport rollers also ensures improved run-off characteristics for the process chemistry. In addition, intermittent etching with individual nozzle control optimises the etching of the copper, achieving a more uniform etching pattern on the top and bottom sides of the printed circuit board.
The new module permits greater precision for compliance with the required etching tolerances, so that even ever smaller BGA (ball grid arrays) and ultra-fine conductor structures can be reliably produced.
Energy efficiency and conservation of resources
Thanks to highly efficient pumps, the new wet-process plant is particularly energy efficient, meeting the requirements of the IE3 and IE4 energy efficiency standards. The investment also means that the KSG Group meets the requirements for Industry 4.0: the machine has various interfaces that can be integrated into the production control system and digitally monitored. The digital acquisition of measurements also improves the traceability of the processes by allowing system details to be stored with a time stamp and evaluated.
The new copper recycling plant in turn enables the KSG Group to reduce the total volume of etching medium circulating by five percent and to recover around 80 tonnes of etched copper per year. As a replacement investment, the plant permits greater recycling capacity on approximately the same footprint.
Healthy order books and further growth planned
In addition to the two new chemical plants, the KSG Group plans to invest more than nine million euros this year, including in an organic solderability preservative (OSP) plant. As the economic trend shows, the PCB manufacturer has so far been able to overcome the challenges of raw-material scarcity, delivery delays and sharply rising prices, meaning that the KSG Group was able to increase its annual turnover in 2021 by 17 percent compared to the previous year. In the first quarter of 2022, the globally active family-owned company recorded very good orders and sales. Further growth is planned at both the Gornsdorf site in the Erzgebirge and in Gars, Lower Austria, and the recruitment of skilled workers is also planned.