Filtration continuous through polypropylene or acrylic filter cartridges

Table 2 is a troubleshooting guide to MSA plating solutions.

Table 2 Troubleshooting guide for tin alloy plating with methane sulfonic acid (MSA) solutions


Possible cause


Burn (dark, rough deposit) at high current density

Low metal content

Analyze metal content and adjust if necessary.

Current density too high

Lower rectifier settings.

Temperature of plating solution too high

Check and adjust to 19-21 °C (66-70 °F).

Lack of solution circulation

Check to be sure all circulating pumps are operating.

Excessive copper in plating solution

Analyze and remove contamination by dummy plating.

Additive low

Analyze and adjust.

Dark, nonuniform deposit at low density

Low acid content of the plating solution

Analyze and adjust.

Plating current density too low

Check and adjust current setting.

Poor cleaning or inadequate activation

Check parts going out of descale/activator. Adjust to proper operating conditions if necessary.

Poor throwing power or plating distribution

Metal content too high

Analyze and adjust.


Plating current density too low

Check and adjust current setting.


Organic contamination

Check for carbon and treat if necessary.

Oil or grease in solution

Check and dump if positive.

Poor cleaning

Check/analyze descale and activation for proper operating conditions.

Insufficient solution agitation

Check circulating pump.

Rough deposits

Particles (anode sludge, dirt) in solution

Check filter for proper operating condition. Replace cartridge.

Excessive current setting

Check and adjust.

Insufficient solution agitation

Check circulation.

Alloy composition in deposit out of specification

Incorrect bath composition

Analysis and adjust

Poor solderability

Low thickness

Check and adjust.

Organic contamination in the bath

Analyze for carbon and treat if necessary.

Copper contamination in the bath

Check and do low-current dummy plating if necessary.

Incorrect alloy composition

Check and adjust.

Insufficient/poor cleaning of base metal

Check parts going out of descale. Check descale and activator for proper operating conditions.

Excessive foaming

Air being drawn into filter

Check for line leaks.

Imbalance of system circulation

Set discharge line flow. Close down on drain back valves.

Excessive additive concentration

Analyze and dilute if necessary.

Air blow offset too high

Reduce air wipe flows.

Poor adhesion

Poor pretreatment

Adjust to proper operating range. Makeup new when necessary.

Poor rinsing

Check and adjust rinse flow.

Excessive additive

Analyze and adjust.

Staining or discoloration

Air blower nozzle offset

Check and reset.

Poor/insufficient rinse

Check and adjust flows.

Air wipe blocked or offset

Check and reset.

Insufficient additive

Analyze and adjust.

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