ENIG or HASL for PCB finish

So my usual goto finish for PCB’s (particularly for 4 layers) is ENIG which is electroless nickel plating with a thin layer of gold. This finish is very flat and looks bling especially with a matte black solder mask which would make Gucci smile.

Now the collective Google wisdom is that when you are using smaller than say 0.8mm pitched parts ENIG is a must over HASL (which is hot air solder leveling) which is as bumpy as the arse end of the moon in comparaison. I use a lot of 0.5mm pitched parts including STM32 micros etc hence the use of ENIG.

The only downside of ENIG is the cost - JLCPCB charges $16 for ENIG on small runs which is not overly expensive but when you are doing a $2 double layer test board (you get 5) an extra $16 is huge.

So time for some penny pinching and test out how smart the internet is about ENIG vs HASL.

I have designed and received a few new Gadgeteer modules and mainboards to test a few theories out and to slip these R & D marvels past the CFO’s inspection i ordered all of them with HASL to see how they fair.

This display adapter uses a 0.4mm pitched socket which is pretty tiny and the Google collective says you cant use HASL and must go with ENIG. Here is said 0.4mm pitch part in HASL from JLCPCB - looks ok to me, not as bling as gold but since there are no exposed pads after soldering its a moot point - for reference those via’s are 0.3mm holes :joy:

So the real question is what happens when we try to solder the socket?

I am now struggling to think why I need ENIG at all and will just save my $16 per order for further frivolous spending :cowboy_hat_face:

PS - just to blow my own trumpet the above socket was soldered by hand without using a stencil :yum:


Paging @Gus_Issa, that sounds like a challenge ! :slight_smile: :rofl: Solder-off over youtube :rofl:


Hello world…

No wait…

Hello Moon :blush:


It’s a fake !!!

There is no such space clock in orbit.

If I do a project for a client I make the boards with ENIG and RED soldermask. Looks so good but for my own home projects, even with the 0.5mm sockets, I just use hasl and plain boring green soldermask, which is also quicker too.

I have also thought about this more often and I also have no strong arguments to say that ENIG is better as HASL for assembly if you are going to screen print solder paste. The solder paste will smooth out the irregularities. In my opinion, it is only desirable when you solder a PCB by hand on which fine pitch components are mounted, such as QFNs or 0.4mm b2b connectors.
Only really necessary if you have castellated pins or e.g. uses a button cell battery that must make direct contact with the PCB. Like Dave i always used ENIG for commercial projects and mostly for my own boards. There must be a reason that ENIG was introduced one day and its a question i like to ask to my PCB manufacturer. I will share their answer once received.

You guys are talking about PCB problems like it’s a bug in a website. Wish I lived closer to a PCB factory.

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My After Effects skills are improving :blush:

I’ve upped my faking skills to mimic bitmap rotation and transparent text background :rofl:

Not bad for a Cerberus class micro.


The red glowing seems to show that the clock is loosing altitude and is heating because it enters atmosphere.
Orange moon rotation is nice, indeed.

Nice after effect ! :wink:

And about ENIG vs HASL, I find that HASL needs less solder paste (thinner stencil) otherwise it tends to produce more solder joints on small pitches, even with 0.12mm stencils. ENIG seems more tolerant regarding the solder quantity, to me.
Also, but that’s a personnal impression, I find that ENIG is easier to rework. But there is no real scientific proof of that.

I personally always use ENIG. Because I’m rich and because it’s easier to flirt with girls :blush:


:rofl: :rofl:

How easy is it for you to handle imports? What is the import limit? Here in Indonesia is anything over US$3 is charged import costs of 17.5%. I’ll be moving to Australia in the new year so looking forward to being able to import up to AU$1000 before paying customs charges.

JLCPCB is really good for PCB’s and cheap if you use 2 layers, like $2 per 5 boards. Their 4 layer price is also superb and it’s the one I use the most. Routing a more dense board on 4 layers is much easier. I got a 4 layer board made that is 181x118mm and that was $43.20 plus $17 DHL shipping.

I have been using HASL on all my prototype PCBs for the last years. Never had any problems with it, even when doing tiny BGAs, tiny pitch QFN or other small pitch components.

I do however use ENIG on production PCBs because it makes my life a lot easier when I need to rework a board. :slight_smile:

For Trinidad and Tobago, it’s 12.5% sales tax (VAT), no duty on “electronics parts”, and 7% Online Purchase Tax for a total of 19.5% TAX (and nothing can cost less than $2 dollars, cause they won’t believe you). The problem is the month it takes to get here from China, and then I realize a pin was mapped wrong (that and the $66 USD I seem to be paying for freight costs alone).

in Kosovo ,yet more

  • 10% axiom on purchase (any over 0.1 USD) , and on that sum pay TAX of 18%
    for example i purchase something that cost 10 usd (on it will be added aditional 10%) so the cost of purchased item will be calculated as 11 USD purchase, and than on it i will pay 18% tax (that mean additonal 18% on 11 USD) = 11+ 1.98 = 12.98 (so as you see the purchased item of 10 usd cost to me about 12.98)

I just received a shipment from JLCPCB, total was US$97.70 including shipping. Import charges with DHL are Rp 379,000 which is approx US$27 so consider that close to 27% of the goods cost. DHL’s handling fee is US$12 of that. :cry:

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How many months did it take you to get it?

With our semi closed boards it now takes a few extra days so it takes upto 10 days now for us :roll_eyes:

Delivery itself is 4-5 days with DHL. Customs clearance often adds one extra day. Add on the 4-5 days production time and approx 10 days from ordering to delivery.

Latest HASL test

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