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Solder Mask

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  • Brad Levy

    The complete way to do it is as follows.
    Note: In the following instructions, I use the name Solder Mask for the solder mask.
    But you can use a different name. Other names for it I've seen people use are Solder Resist and Copper (Resist).

    With your pcb design open in the current window, select Settings > Design Technology... from the menu.

    Click on the Layer Types tab in the Design Technology dialog. You should see something like this:
    except you may not yet have a layer type named Solder Mask.

    If you don't yet have a Solder Mask layer type, click the Add... button, and fill in the parameters similar to this:
    Then click OK

    Next, click on the Layers tab of the Design Technology dialog.

    If you don't already have a layer named Top Solder Mask in the list, click the Add... button and fill in the following parameters:

    (you can choose a different color if you wish).
    Click OK to finish adding the layer.

    (If you want to add a bottom solder mask, do the same thing but choose Bottom instead of Top in the Side: dropdown box.)

    Now click OK to close the Design Technology dialog.

    Now select Output > Manufacturing Plots from the menu.

    In the list of Plots:, check the box next to Top Solder Mask.
    Click on the Layers tab for the Top Solder Mask plot.
    Make sure there is a Y next to Top Solder Mask in the list of layer names in the box on the right.

    Click on the Settings tab for the plot. It should be set something similar to this:

    Click Run to run the plots.

    Note: You can still generate a solder mask plot for a board that doesn't have a solder mask layer defined. In this case, you will use select Top Copper on the Layers tab for the Solder Mask plot (in the second to last screen shot above). Then on the Settings tab for the Solder Mask plot (last screen shot above) you will check the box next to Pads-Only (Resist/Mask) Plot. DesignSpark will then generate solder mask openings for the pad types checked in the box. The time you need an explicit Solder Mask layer in your design (the complete method with the layer defined in the Design Technology settings) is when you want additional solder mask opening besides those for the component pads. This might include openings over alignment marks (so they are easier to see precisely), or areas where heat sinks will be attached and you want the better thermal conductivity of metal-to-metal contact. In this case, DesignSpark PCB will combine the openings you have explicitly drawn on the solder mask layer with the solder mask openings it auto-generates for the component pads.

    -Brad

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