May 2016

2016-05-24 03:34:17


November 2014

2014-12-12 01:25:49


As we enter the last quarter of 2014, here are some important dates to diarise.

Factory Shutdown:  TraX will be closed from the 19 December 2014 to 14 January 2015 for our annual shutdown.


Last Orders:

Standard Deliveries:  17 November 2014

FastTraX Deliveries: 4 December 2014


TraX embarks on Technology upgrade
TraX is proud to announce that we have embarked on a strategic upgrade of our plant to enable us to meet the ever increasing technology demands of our customers, the progress to date is as follows:
Direct Imaging


One of our biggest challenges when dealing with fine line work is the accuracy with which the image (design) needs to register to the drilled holes on the board. Traditional photographic tools are very sensitive to temperature and humidity which affects their dimensional accuracy. Phototools are also sensitive to handling and scratches and even dust can result in the exposure of opens and shorts.

To this end we have invested in a direct imaging machine from Miva technologies in Germany , which will be installed in November and commisioned before the end of the year.

More details will be be made available in due course..




Technical Specifications:

Maximum image size: 660mm x 762mm
Resolution: 1/9.4 mil / 9400 dpi
Plotting time: Under 100 seconds for a 457mm x 610mm panel
Minimum structure size: 40µ (defined by resist thickness)
Accuracy: absolute: ± 9 µ ; repeatability: ± 4µ; Uniformity: 10% of minimum structure size.
Panel registration: Optical registration system




Miva 2610L DI



           Trax aquires additional equipment to reduce bottle necks in production
Trax has recently aquired two additional Emma flying probe testers manufactured by Microcraft which will significantly bolster our bare board testing department, bringing the total number of flying probe testers up to six. With the increase in high technology work and multi-layers boards made in our factory this department was often a production bottle neck despite working a 24 hour shift. The two new additions will dramatically improve the through put of this department.

In addition to this a new exposure machine , and soldermask curing oven have been installed to replace some recently de-commisioned equipment.
Reverse Pulse Plating


Earlier this year TraX started experimenting with reverse pulse plating , to meet the demands of customers requiring high layer count pcb's . One of the biggest challenges with high layer count pcb's is that the vias connecting all the layers require a high aspect ratio.
With traditional DC plating we have been able to achieve an aspect ratio of 6,4 : 1 but with reverse pulse plating aspect ratios as high as 14 : 1 are theoretically possible and our testing thus far confirms this.

Reverse pulse plating makes use of special high speed polarity switching rectifiers that plate forward for 20 milliseconds and then reverse polarity and plate backwards for 1 milliseconds at four times the forward plating current. This type of plating results in very even plating across the surface of the panel and through the via holes , whereas with traditional DC plating the edges of the board always tended to plate thicker than the middle of the board and the copper plating in the vias was always thinner in the middle of high aspect ratio holes. Even plating also has the additional benefit of preventing mushrooming of the plating over the top of the dry film which in turn benefits the etching.

One of the biggest challenges we soon discovered was controlling the brightners in the plating solution , in Europe one could typically outsource this analysis but at the tip of Africa this is not easily done. This ananysis of the plating solution requires very costly CVS equipment typically only found in well funded universities. Left with no choice if we wanted to do this properly, we ordered the CVS equipment from Switzerland in July and we are excited to announce that our first reverse pulse plating tank is up and running and the results have been beyond expectation and very exciting. Additional pulse rectifiers have been ordered and another two plating tanks will be commisioned before the end of the year. We will continue refining the techniques in the coming months and we look forward to sharing our improved capabilities in the near future.

Installation of the rectifier controllers  The new reverse pulse plating rectifiers in their temporary home during testing.


October 2013

2013-10-03 01:49:04


As we enter the last quarter of 2013, here are some important dates to diarise.

Factory Shutdown:  TraX will be closed from the 20 December 2013 to 9 January 2014 for our annual shutdown.

Please Note: We are opening a week earlier than normal next year to try and increase our factory capacity for February.

We will then close for a mini shutdown over the traditionally quiet Easter period from the 28 April 2014 to 2 May 2014.


Last Orders:

Standard Deliveries:  28 November 2013

FastTraX Deliveries: 9 December 2012


ASIG final finish introduced at TraX

What is ASIG:

“ASIG” or Autocatalytic Silver Immersion Gold, is a final finish for pcb’s that is supplied by DOW. It was released to the market in 2010, and TRAX started experimenting with it in 2012.

The finish consists of SILVERON™ MF 100 Electroless Silver  which is an innovative autocatalytic silver material. The autocatalytic nature of the product provides a dense silver coating which is non-porous and prevents the formation of copper oxide on the surface of the silver. The thickness of this deposit is a nominal 0.18 microns. 

The dense silver layer is then covered with AUROLECTROLESS™ SMT  Immersion Gold  which increases the corrosion resistance of the final finish and provides a protective layer for the silver. The thickness of the gold layer is a nominal 0.04 microns.


What are the benefits of “ASIG” ? 

Silveron™ autocatalytic silver can be used for reflow or wave solder assembly, and with Aurolectroless™ SMT gold for wire bonding. It offers many advantages over current solderable finish alternatives. 

The key reason that TRAX decided to offer ASIG as an alternative surface finish, was due to the excellent conductivity of the silver which makes this finish the logical choice for high frequency applications, and many of our customers were looking for alternatives to ENIG with it’s lossy Nickel layer.

 ASIG also has an outstanding shelf life and solderability due to prevention of copper migration to the surface through pores. This is due to the autocatalytic nature of the silver bath, a thicker deposit of silver can be achieved than with an immersion process, this deposit is dense,crystalline and pore free. 

DOW also claim improved reliability: The fast intermetallic formation during soldering brings improved reliability due to lower soldering temperatures and time compared to nickel based final finishes, as well as avoiding potentially brittle intermetallic compounds formed with nickel based finishes when used with lead free solders.




What are TRAX’s limitations with regards ASIG?

The ASIG line at TRAX is currently a low volume line, and we are limited to a few square metres per day, however this has proved more than enough for the current market requirements. TRAX would be able to scale up the line should demand for ASIG increase. 

TRAX is also not able to offer ASIG currently on our 3 of 5 day FASTRAX delivery, typical lead times would be between 7 and 10 days on our speed service. Standard lead times are not affected.

Currently we are only offering ASIG to those customers who require the finish for it’s excellent RF performance, typically such boards would be made on expensive substrates like, Rogers, Taconic, and PTFE based substrates.

What does ASIG cost? 

Currently we are pricing ASIG at the same price as ENIG. 

Recently one of our senior CAM engineers did a Q&A for Engineer IT magazine on good practices to follow when designing and submitting pcb's for manufacture. The full article can be read here.


      This and other articles published in Dataweek are available here.


November 2012

2012-11-12 12:13:12

Whats New at TraX 16 November 2012


As 2012 comes to an end, here are some important dates to diarise.

Factory Shutdown:  TraX will be closed from the 21 December 2012 to 17 January 2013 for our annual shutdown.

Sales Staff will start a week earlier in the new year on the 11 January 2013 to facilitate quotations and the placing of orders.

Last Orders:

Standard Deliveries:  27 November 2012

FastTraX Deliveries: 7 December 2012


Looking Back on 2012


  • Despite a tough economic climate this year it is encouraging to see the large number of new customers entering the market place, and it has been a pleasure assisting them with the design and manufacture of their printed circuit boards.

  • Whilst the average job size has decreased this year, we have seen an increase in the amount of prototyping being done, and this hopefully bodes well for production next year.

  • TraX has seen a noticeable increase in the amount of sequentially built mixed laminate boards. More and more customers are experimenting with mixing high frequency laminates such as Rogers 4003C and Mercurywave 6350 with traditional FR4 laminates.

  • Aluminium pcb's for the led lighting market also continues to grow, as does our capability to work with the copper backed duroid substrates, and we look forward to further growth in this segment of the market next year.

  • TraX Offshore Manufacturing has grown again year on year, and this can largely be attributed to the appointment of two new suppliers specialising in medium to large volume production runs.

  • Locally we are also looking forward to the announcement of the tender adjudication process of the digital migration set top boxes. TraX has positioned itself to be able to supply a large volume of these printed circuit boards locally.




IPC Specialists at TraX


Well done to all twelve of our IPC Specialists for passing the 

IPC-A-600 'Acceptability of Printed Boards' exam.

In no particular order: 

L.Jones; D.Williams; J.Johannes; E.Geldenhuys;

 H. Dearham;  G.Jacobs; M. Williams;

V. Dicks; N.Adams; B.Meyer; V.Catin; N. Xazane






Cederburg Scout Adventure 2012

TraX is proud to be supplying the printed circuit boards for the Cederberg Scout Adventure this December.

For many Scouts this will be their first foray into the world of electronics and gives them an opportunity to see what lies under the hood of todays many electronic gadgets.

This year they will be assembling a GPS receiver, and then will be putting it to good use for geo caching , hiking and map orientation.

We look forward to hearing about the adventures.





Mechanically Drilled Blind Via's at TraX Explained


With the increasing levels of technology on multi layers we are being asked more often about our capability with regards to Blind Vias manufactured in our local plant. Typically Blind Vias are laser drilled microvias and are usually used in fine pitch BGA areas to assist with the routing out of tracks on an internal layer. 

TraX does not have the ability locally to manufacture laser drilled microvias, but we do have the ability to manufacture mechanically drilled Blind Vias, such as seen on the adjacent image of a microsection.

Here are some considerations when designing boards with Blind Vias to be manufactured locally using mechanically drilled blind via holes.








  • The blind holes are drilled from the external layer of a multilayer board down to the first internal layer.

  • The LENZ drilling machine used for this purpose is capable of accurately drilling to a controlled depth.

  • A fixed size special blind hole drilling tool is used. This drill makes a conical shaped hole that is amenable to metallisation and electroplating.

  • The blind hole at the entry point will vary slightly in diameter depending on the hole depth but must be taken to be 0.4mm.

  • The via PAD should therefore be 0.8mm (preferred) to 0.6mm minimum (worst case).

  • The dielectric thichness (prepreg) between outer layer and adjacent inner layer can be 0.11mm, 0.125mm or 0.173mm. This thickness ensures the low aspect ratio which is needed to enable electroplating in the blind hole.


Drilled blind hole after metallisation, electroplating and etching:



May 2012

2012-05-08 04:05:36

Whats New at TraX 17 May 2012

We are almost half way through the year and with most of the public holidays behind us we look forward to a busy and productive second half. The last couple of months have seen a number of changes and some exciting re-investment in our plant and machinery. Details of the new machinery and what we hope to achieve with them are listed below.

TraX has changed it's month end from the end of the month to the 25th of every month. In doing so we have become more aligned with our customers. Thank you for your patience during this transition.


Thank You to all our customers that visited us at the NEWSA 2012 exhibition in Sandton this past March. 






In February this year we completely replaced the existing brushing line used for surface preparation before solder mask application.  Below is a short summary of the processes involved on this line. 

  • First the boards are subjected to an acid rinse which will remove copper oxides, followed by a fresh water rinse.

  • Following the rinse the boards enter the IS international double sided brushing machine. The machine contains water lubricated oscillating brushes whose job it is to create a particular topography on the copper surface to promote solder mask adhesion.

  • Next the boards enter an extended 2 metre  long, high pressure wash chamber that removes all loose particles. De-ionised water is used for this rinsing to prevent ionic contamination beneath the solder mask.

  • The boards then pass through squeegee rollers to remove any excess water prior to entering the drying chambers.

  • Drying is done by means of filtered air that is heated and forcefully blown onto the boards in a 1,5 metre drying module, before entering the cooling module which will cool the boards off again prior to the application of solder mask.



With the increasing levels of technology on multi layers it has become even more difficult to achieve good inner layer registration, Trax has invested in a IPM 60 Inner -Layer punching machine manufactured by Piergiacomi Robotics in Italy to optimise the accuracy of inner layer registration on 6,8 and ten layer boards.


  • The purpose of the machine is to punch reference holes, after the etching process on the inner layers of a multilayer circuit board. These reference holes are then used on the new welding machine to reference the inner layers to one another prior to welding.

  • Doing this after etching is more accurate, as the machine compensates for dimensional changes of the inner layers, and optimises the best position for punching the tooling holes required for layer to layer registration during the multi layer welding process.

  • To do this the machine uses a visual system to pick up targets etched on the inner layers. Vacuum cups then hold the inner layer in place whilst highly accurate stepper motors optimise the position of the inner layer prior to pneumatic punching of the tooling holes.



The matching AMM20 multi layer welding machine also manufactured by Piergiacomi Robotics of Italy completes the upgrade to the multi layer registration system.


  • The purpose of inner layer welding is to prevent the registered inner layers from moving during the laying up process of the multi layer stack.

  • The process is as follows: The inner layers to be welded are placed onto registration pins on the sliding table using the tooling holes punched by the post etch punch. Once all the inner layers have been layed up, the sliding table slides into the machine where the inner layer book (inner layers & pre-preg) is spot welded on two sides by heated bits using variable pressure dependant on the number on inner layers being welded.





Happy Birthday TraX

2011-09-26 01:02:25

What's New at TraX                       30 September 2011

 Just the other day we were almost half way through the year. Now we have just 50 production days left before our end of year shutdown. Our current average leadtime is 18 working days so do not delay in placing your end of year orders, rather speak to us about scheduling your deliveries into our order book.
SHUTDOWN DATES: The factory will shut down on the 21 December 2011 and will re-open on the 16 January 2012.
Trax is Celebrating it's 20th Birthday this October and we would like to thank all our customers for their continued support, and we look forward to many more years to come.
Some of the 20 year milestones:
1652: Jan Van Riebeeck lands at the Cape.
1991: The assets of Renak Alumet Circuits were purchased by Andy Chisholm,Viv James and Dave Delbridge and TraX Interconnect(Pty)Ltd was formed.
1994: Trax becomes ISO approved.
First multilayer boards produced at TraX.
1995: Iegsaan Khan is appointed production director.
South Africa wins the Rugby World Cup
1997: Shadow direct metalisation process is introduced and replaces electroless copper.
1998:First Microcraft Flying Probe Tester installed.
1999: Mike Holst ex T.I joins the winning team as technical manager.
Hot Air Levelling machine commisioned.
2000: First 10 Layer board is manufactured
Second pattern plating line is commisioned.
First lenz drilling machine installed.
Second Flying Probe Tester installed.
Argus spraying machine introduced for soldermask application replacing manual screening process.
2001: Immersion Tin is introduced as a final finish as an alternative to Hot Air Solder Levelling.
First laser Photoplotter commisioned.
2002: Mecer Etchant Recyling plant commisioned.
Purchased Technic 4-spindle router.
Third Flying Probe Tester installed.
Glenbrook X-ray inspection system introduced for inspecting inner layer registration.
2003: Acquired new EIE laser Photoplotter.

2004: Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold is added as a final finish.
Hollmuller Etcher installed giving extremely accurate control of the etching process.
Fourth Flying Probe Tester installed.
Polar Instruments Controlled Impedance testing equipment commisioned.
A second V-score machine is installed (HML)
 2005: Second lenz precision drilling machine installed.
HML Optidrill is installed for multilayers.
2006: Trax Offshore Manufacturing (Pty)Ltd is formed to assist our customers with larger volumes. 
2007: Lenz precision routing machine installed
South Africa wins the Rugby World Cup a second time.
2008: 11 members of staff pass the IPC inspectors course.
Uniontech final wash & dry system commisioned.
Viv James visits Antartica to explore new business opportunities.
2009: First Aluminium Job & First Copper Job completed.
New SFB 820 exposure machine installed.
Three new lenz drilling machines & a lenz router are added to our drill shop.
2010: Second AOI machine purchased, with special filters to inspect Rogers substrate.
New Pumice and brushing machine installed for AOI.
2011: New Lauffer vacuum transfer press is commisioned.

Please visit our stand D8 next year at the National Electronics
week expo
being held at the Sandton Convention centre. It is always a
great opportunity to see
our customers and discuss your pcb requirements. We look forward to seeing you there.


TraX is often asked by our customers what free pcb layout programs there are out there. Design Spark is a fully featured, free of charge PCB design tool, that is able to generate gerber files.

 Link to Design Spark PCB introduction.
Substrates are now available at Trax, currently we stock the following thicknesses and we will assess the demand for different thicknesses.
 0.2 mm 17/17 Cu
 0.57 mm 35/35 Cu
 1.52 mm 35/35 Cu
We do not stock the Mercurywave pre-pregs currently.
Please click here to read the technical data sheet and
presentation for these substrates.

Appointments at Trax

Daniel Dock has been appointed the Group Marketing Manager for TraX Interconnect (Pty)Ltd
and TraX Offshore Manufacturing (Pty)Ltd and as such will be taking over most of the responsibilities of Trax's marketing director Viv James, who remains on as an active member of the board.


New Multilayer Press Arrives

2011-05-11 07:28:16

 We are almost half way through the year and with most of the public holidays behind us we look forward to a busy and productive second half. The last couple of months have seen a number of changes and some exciting re-investment in our plant and machinery. 

Our HML Opti-drill was sent back to Germany for complete refurbishment and a software upgrade.

We doubled the capacity of our ENIG line. This has become necessary as SMT requirements for a flat finish and ROHS compliance has made this finish very popular with our clients.

The Cherry on the top however was the arrival and subsequent installation of the new multilayer lamination press. A summary of it's features and what we hope to achieve with this new press are listed below.

These investments will allow TraX to continue improving its levels of technology and will further improve quality and capacity within our plant.


 Features of the new press:
1. Originates from Lauffer in Germany (a leading and respected manufacturer of hydraulic laminating equipment).This machine features numerous technical advances of the recent past:
2. Semi-automatic operation with manual loading / off-loading.
3. Automatic press management via computer interface and PLC machine control.
4. Hot lamination under vacuum with feed through transfer to separate cooling press.
5.Heating supplied by means of thermal oil from an independent unit.
6. Flexible temperature profiling is possible and precisely controlled. Heat distribution is very uniform across all press platens.
7. The other important operating parameters i.e. Hydraulic pressure and Vacuum are also programmable and precisely controlled by the system.
8. The separate cooling press provides controlled cooling and allows for more productive and efficient use of the hot press and heating system.
9. Although stacking, loading and unloading are manual, the equipment provides mechanical assistance for the lifting and moving of press plates.The manufacturer has placed a high priority on operator safety.
10. The Lauffer software package features comprehensive data logging and record keeping.
 What does TraX expect from the new press:
1. Increased productivity through more efficient use of the hot press (no delay for cooling period and no wait for reheating).
2. More consistent quality resulting from improved equipment and use of automation.
3. Improved layer to layer registration.
4. Elimination of air entrapment.
 5. Improved yields / reduced defects attributable to the use of ageing high maintenance existing machines.
6. Improved uniformity and repeatability of pressed laminate thickness and therefore more predictable impedance control results.
7. Use of lower laminating pressure and uniform heating / cooling should provide lower internal stress and thereby a lower potential to warp / twist.
8. Improved potential for higher count multi -layers.Capability for lamination of more exotic materials.


What's new in 2011

2011-01-18 07:01:06

Our web site has been upgraded to enable our customers to check on the status of their orders at TraX.

Registration for this is simple and can be done on the Job Status webpage on this site.

This facility along with our remake notification e-mail's should assist our customers with their planning, and will provide information previously only available by phoning the factory. 


TraX has purchased a second Camtek AOI machine.(Automatic Optical Inspection)

A second machine enables TraX to raise the levels of inspection of our product, and will assist in the inspection of increasing volumes of high technology designs. It will also reduce the reliance on more traditional visual inspection methods.

We are also in the process of fitting and calibrating special filters to our new AOI machine which will make it possible to visually inspect Rogers high frequency laminates. AOI inspection of jobs made on these materials was not previously possible.

In addition to the second AOI machine,TraX has also reinvested in a second Pumice cleaning machine.

A Pumice machine provides an uniform, clean copper surface which is ideal for automatic optical inspection by our Camtek machines.

This process is environmentally friendly and subjects the boards to less mechanical stress than other machine brushing methods. 



What's new at TraX

2010-03-02 01:26:52

  We have just completed installation and commissioning of several new machines:
  • A third Lenz single spindle high accuracy, automatic loading machine with linear motors driving X, Y and Z axes and customized for drilling and routing of metal core panels
  • Pair of Lenz two-spindle high accuracy machines also with linear drive motors
  • A factory upgrade to our three-spindle Lenz routing machine to allow drilling and routing of metal core panels
  • Complete upgrade of whole drill shop area
  This places us in a strong and competitive position for quick turn-around high-tech multilayer and metal core panels.

In addition to high frequency Rogers base material, we now carry stocks of 1.6mm 70micron copper aluminium base material especially for LED work.

In parallel with the new drilling machines, we have installed an new eight kilowatt exposure machine to cater for the latest photo-imageable solder masks and particularly for white and black inks needed for our aluminium LED panels.

At TraX Offshore Manufacturing, in addition to our existing suppliers, we have appointed excellent manufacturers of IPC Class 3 and rigi-flexi boards. 



Gauteng: +27 11 646 9018
Cape Town: +27 21 712 5011
KwaZulu-Natal: +27 33 387 6670

Terms and Conditions
All content and images © TraX