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Fail of the Week: Z-Tape is No Substitute for Solder

Here at, we see a wide variety of mechanical building strategies. Some are impressively forged and everlasting, whilst others are patently brief in nature. The latter team is ruled through adhesives – sticky stuff like cyanoacrylate glue, Kapton tape, and the ever-popular sizzling glue. They’ve all were given their makes use of in assembling enclosures or solving elements in combination robotically, however indisputably they’ve no position in making forged electric connections, proper?

Maybe, possibly no longer. As [Tom Verbeure] relates, so-called Z-tape simply may well be an adhesive that may stand in for solder below sure instances. Trouble is, he couldn’t to find the best stipulations to make the tape paintings. Z-tape, extra correctly referred to as “Electrically Conductive Adhesive Transfer Tape 9703”,  derives its nickname from the truth that it’s electrically conductive, however best within the Z-axis. [Tom] realized about Z-tape in [Joe FitzPatrick]’s malicious {hardware} prototyping workshop on the 2020 Superconference, and determined to position it to the check.

A card from a Cisco router served as a testbed due to an unpopulated chip footprint. The 0.5-mm pin spacing at the TSOP-48 chip was once inside spec for the Z-tape, however the space of each and every pin was once 30 occasions smaller than the beneficial minimal bonding space. While the chip was once held down robotically through the Z-tape, best five of the 48 pins have been electrically hooked up to the pads. Emboldened through the partial luck, [Tom] attempted a 28-pin SOIC chip subsequent. The higher pins and pads have been nonetheless six occasions smaller than the minimal, and whilst extra of the pins ended up hooked up through the tape, he was once not able to make all 28 connections.

Reading the datasheet for the adhesive published that consistent force from a clamp or clip may well be important for dependable connections, which means that gluing down SMD chips will not be the most efficient application for the stuff. Still, we respect the hassle, and the advantageous photomicrographs [Tom] made appearing the debris inside the Z-tape that make it paintings – a minimum of in some packages.