Green Apples

Old friend Michael Carano tweets that the main PCB inside the iPad has a darker solder mask. “Is Apple hiding something?” he asks. (The link shows the photos, too.)

If you are on Twitter, be sure to follow Mike (@mikecarano1).

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow

3 thoughts on “Green Apples

  1. Can’t tell with only these pics….
    We have had numerous shades of red, blue, green solder mask over the years..
    This design has some RF circuitry which could prompt any number of dielectric materials to be used…which may change the color of the soldermask….

    With the sophistication of modern counterfeiters .. I have a hard time believing a simple change of color (being more opaque green) would really protect the IP of a design much.

  2. It’s a sequential lam build with lots of blind/buried vias. They are still doing the teardown, as I understand it.

    In general, I am seeing more black mask used, presumably in some cases to hide the design (though that won’t do much once the reverse engineers start ripping it apart).

  3. I have a customer.. that was asking for black soldermask .. because they thought it was “cool” looking.

    I expect blind (laser micro-vias) on outer layers to become the norm in near future…
    3M has been pushing their High capacitance dielectric (Embedded Capacitance Material – ECM) … which reduces / eliminates need for de-coupling caps..
    With outer layers carrying power and layer thickness at only 1-2 mils.. the power connections (blind vias) can be put inside the SMT pads (with back fill).

    These types of micro vias are generally done with laser .. with minimal additional cost.
    Not to be confused with cost of traditional blind/buried vias.
    Kinda trick.. the laser stops drilling when it gets to the reflective copper below.

    higher performance.. fewer layers.. fewer cost reduction.

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