Five-Star Reflow Recipes: Q&A With Rob Rowland

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Rob Rowland, director of engineering at Axiom Electronics, discusses his new IPC APEX EXPO Professional Development course on how to create a standardized methodology to accurately generate new reflow soldering profiles. Attend Rob's course, "Reflow Profiling Simplified," to add to your technical knowledge and enrich your career, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22.

Q: Rob, tell us a little about the Professional Development class you’re going to be teaching at IPC APEX EXPO 2023.

A: Many years ago, I became frustrated using the trial-and-error method to create reflow soldering profiles. I wanted a more scientific and systematic approach to help me simplify the process of creating good profiles, so I started to learn more about the science of soldering.

I discovered that there are basically five elements that influence all soldering profiles: flux, solder, heat, materials, and surfaces. I studied each one of these topics in-depth to understand how they influence reflow soldering profiles. A better understanding of these topics enabled me to develop a standardized methodology for calculating conveyor speeds and determining reflow oven zone temperature settings for various board sizes.

In this class, I’ll explain how I approached this work to help others develop similar methodologies for creating their own reflow soldering profiles. My presentation also includes the basic reflow profile recipes I have been using for the past 20 years.

Q: Why should someone attend your class?

A: This class will help you develop a systematic approach to creating reflow profiles by teaching you the physical and chemical properties that influence the reflow soldering process. This class will also help you fine tune this process and demonstrate how to troubleshoot various problems that occur during reflow soldering.

Q: What are the biggest challenges in getting an accurate reflow profile?

A: Conveyor speed and zone temperature settings are the adjustable parameters of a reflow profile. Figuring out how to calculate conveyor speed and determine zone temperature settings is challenging if the basic elements of soldering (flux, solder, etc.) are not well understood. For example, flux depletion during reflow soldering can be a big problem if flux chemistry behavior is not accurately anticipated. Flux depletion is directly related to conveyor speed.

Q: What is the most important piece of advice you would give your attendees?

A: Soldering profiles should be based on the physical and chemical properties that influence the soldering process, not developed by trial and error.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: I enjoy teaching because I always learn something new, so I’m looking forward to presenting this class at IPC APEX EXPO.

This article originally appeared in the December 2022 issue of SMT007 Magazine.


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