LA/Orange County SMTA Expo and Tech Forum Review


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A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend the LA/Orange County SMTA Expo and Tech Forum, which was held in Long Beach, California (Figure 1). Earlier this year, I started covering the quarterly lunch and learn sessions presented by the Orange County Chapter of the IPC Designers Council. Circuit design is not a topic I have been involved with for many decades, but I find that the lectures, presentations, and updates are highly informative, and the discussions with the other attendees are well worth the time spent.

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Figure 1: SMTA show floor.

This specific event combined an exhibit of about 50 companies put on by the local SMTA chapter with a series of valuable presentations and Q&A sessions presented by the IPC Designers Council. The show floor was moderately busy with a constant flow of attendees walking through (Figures 2 and 3). There was a good mixture of equipment and consumable suppliers, all very willing to discuss their products as well as general industry happenings.

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Figure 2: Indium and Nikon booths.

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Figure 3: PFC Flexible Circuits table.

There were two excellent presentations, one of them entitled “Why Are We Cleaning No-Clean?” by Mike Konrad from Aqueous Technologies, which was divided into two sessions (Figure 4). The content was interesting, and Mike’s presentation was informative and entertaining. It seems that many assemblers have implemented a cleaning protocol for assemblies reflowed with no-clean flux, as many have experienced residue-related failures. Mike also spoke about the factors that affect residue tolerance and methods to predict an assembly’s residue tolerance.

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The other presentation was by Keith Bryant, an advanced design engineering consultant who spoke on X-ray inspection advances for BGAs and bottom-terminated components, including the problem of voids within the layers of electronics or in the PCB itself. Voiding is a problem because it can affect both the short- and long-term joint strength and reliability as well as the thermal conductivity, thus reducing the heat that would otherwise be dissipated away from key areas. While X-Ray inspection has long been used to nondestructively probe for these and other issues, there have been recent developments improving in 2D and 3D X-ray inspection.

The combination of a modest exposition showing many new offerings and the ability to discuss them with those that represent them, along with an opportunity to mingle with others in the industry and attend valuable and interesting presentations locally, provided great value for anyone within an hour’s drive. Based on the attendance, it seems that this has been recognized.

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