Soldering Equipment and Materials


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Soldering is a critical step in the SMT process. Because high reliability and throughput rates rely on defect-free soldering, it is important that soldering equipment and materials meet the needs of the assembler. Soldering equipment includes ovens and irons, dispensers, and rework and repair equipment. Pastes, fluxes, soldermasks and wires are just some key soldering materials. SMT presents the following Soldering Equipment and Materials Selector Roundup, spotlighting an assortment of available products.

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Reflow OvenNew specifications for the redesigned DeltaFlow low-nitrogen convection oven address maintenance and downtime. The oven's external panels can be adjusted by a single person, and flux-cleaning maintenance downtime is reported to have been cut from 10 hours per month to five hours each year. The reflow oven also incorporates safety features such as external surface temperatures that do not exceed 50°C and decibel levels do not go above 71 during any production mode. Power to the heaters is shut off when the heater cavity is open. The system also filters out airborne contaminants from the exhaust during board production. The new design reportedly decreases the amount of solder used in the production process. PCB cooling is accomplished using a closed-loop CFC-free refrigerant that does not require an external water source. Research International, Eden Prairie, Minn.

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Mid-volume OvenThe Breeze mid-volume convection reflow ovens are designed for adhesive curing and reflow soldering of SMT boards and hybrids, and feature circulating hot air. The air reportedly circulates at rates of 1 to 1.3 m per second, which is said to be fast enough to accomplish heat transfer but no so fast that tiny parts are blown off. Its high-grade stainless-steel mesh belt is adjustable from 1 to 75 cm per minute and available in 11 or 16" widths. All functions are controlled through a built-in microprocessor with a graphic display. Included Oven Manager software reportedly fulfills ISO 9000 documentation requirements, provides virtually limitless profile storage capability and serves as a reflow project manager. Manncorp, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.

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Silver Conductor PasteKQ610 is a photoengraveable silver conductor paste that reportedly produces ultra-high-density interconnections using a combination of screen printing and photoengraving. The material is said to create dense fired films with smooth fired finishes that support the production of conductor geometries of 50 μm (0.002") or better. The paste has a dielectric loss of 0.01 percent and a dielectric constant of 3.9. It is reportedly suited for microwave circuits, high-density interconnects and other high-performance circuitry. Heraeus Inc., Cermalloy Div., West Conshohocken, Pa.

Four-zone ReflowThe Bravo air-only reflow oven reportedly offers medium-mass convection heating technology that preheats air at the intake blower to provide stable thermal energy for high-capacity production. Its single-chamber design eliminates separate tunnel and lower chamber walls, which is said to improve performance and reduce maintenance. The oven has four heating zones with finned cal-rod heating elements for each air intake zone, as well as a high-volume forced convection blower in each zone. Heater temperature ranges between 0° and 300°C can reportedly be achieved, and an optional module offers temperatures between 0° and 400°C. Speedline ELECTROVERT, Franklin, Mass.

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11 Heating ZonesThe Profile 160 reflow oven has 11 heating zones and features the company's Dynamic Flow Engineering (DFE), which reportedly provides good thermal performance, filterless flux management, gas-to-gas cooling modules and conveyor speeds above 50" per minute for typical reflow profiles. The chamber plenums provide overlapping cones of heat with turbulent gas flow for high impingement velocities without disturbing components on the board. The oven has automated underside support, single- and dual-lane versions, and a Windows NT operating platform. Conceptronic Inc., Portsmouth, N.H.

Software for Reflow SystemsHelpdesk software is now integrated into all of this company's full-convection reflow systems. The system is said to contain three levels of support. The first level contains a full set of technical documentation, including operations manuals, calibration and setup procedures, electrical schematics, and spare parts information. The second level incorporates an embedded troubleshooting guide, with which the operator can search a directory of known system events. The software's third level of support allows an operator to log onto the company's global database, which can be searched for similar events and processes encountered by other users around the world. rehm usa llc, Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

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Knife and Mini-hoof CartridgesThe company's knife and mini-hoof tip cartridges for multi-lead soldering of J-lead and gull-wing SMT components are now available for the SP200 soldering system. The knife tip is used for soldering J-lead components in tightly packed environments. The mini-hoof is for gull-wing soldering on crowded boards. These cartridges reportedly make SMT component replacement easy and fast. Metcal Inc., a Div. of OK International, Menlo Park, Calif.

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Soldering RobotThe Model I&J500-S soldering robot is a benchtop system that can be programmed for different preheating and soldering times, rates of feed and length of soldering wire, as well as operating temperatures. Variable Z-axis height control reportedly allows for soldering at different heights, and soldering speeds can be programmed for each point. The system has a storage capacity for 10 different programs, with a total of 2,000 points or 300 linear/arc configurations. The user can choose whether to perform cleaning of the tip before soldering each point or line. I&J Fisnar Inc., Fair Lawn, N.J.

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Lead-free AlloyThis company is now offering a eutectic gold/tin alloy in its Wire Research Solder Kit. The lead-free Au80/Sn20 alloy melts at 280°C and can reportedly be used in high-temperature, high-reliability applications. It has a tensile strength of 40 Kpsi, which is said to make it useful for high-strength solder joints. All wire included in the kit is 0.030" in diameter. Selections of two, five or 10 different alloys can be made from 24 alloys, including the eutectic gold/tin alloy. Indium Corp. of America, Utica, N.Y.

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Hot-bar Reflow EquipmentA new family of semiautomatic and manual hot-bar reflow equipment and workstations is said to provide a reliable production method for joining flexible circuits, edge connectors, ribbon cables and PC card connectors to PCBs or substrates. The selective soldering systems incorporate the Uniflow pulsed-heat technology control for hot-bar relow soldering, heat sealing and conductive adhesive bonding applications. Programmable through a GUI, the Uniflow can store 15 heating profiles as well as provide data output to PC or multiple hookups via RS-485. Included in the series are a semiautomatic motorized rotary turntable, a semiautomatic linear slide system, a rotary workstation and a manual linear slide system. Unitek Precision Systems, Monrovia, Calif.

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Robotic Soldering PlatformThe Pana Point standard precision soldering system has a simple robotic platform that reportedly provides automation of manual operations. The platform offers in and out dual shuttle and optional conveyor handling for both linear and point-to-point soldering. The heater's triple stainless-steel construction reportedly retains thermal energy and an accurate, built-in thermometer is said to offer stable temperature control. Custom design tips are available, as well as nitrogen shielding systems. Panasonic Factory Automation, Franklin Park, Ill.

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Thermal Cure OvenThe Model 7406 XR thermal cure oven is designed for curing air-cure and heat-cure conformal coatings. This IR convection heating system features four individual heating zones, as well as controlled temperature ramp-up and ramp-down rates. Other features include a 500 mm wide pin chain conveyor, stainless-steel internal construction, an explosion-resistant design, adjustable dwell time from 3.5 to 35 minutes at temperatures up to 125°C and a standard heater rating of 16 kW. The oven is also designed for in-line integration with the company's Model 4398 selective coating system. Specialty Coating Systems (SCS) Inc., Indianapolis, Ind.

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Thermal Monitor with Board SensorTo help reduce production costs and enhance process control for reflow and wavesoldering ovens, a board sensor option is now offered on the company's Prophet thermal manager. The system monitors board-level temperatures throughout the soldering process using thermocouples placed along the conveyor. Data is then delivered to a local or remote PC for real-time display, documentation and storage. The board sensor option consists of light switches mounted at the oven entrance and exit that provide data on the date and time of processing, board length, board count and conveyor speed. With this, users can reportedly track exact loads, determine production volumes for specific time periods and calculate thermal load in relation to oven capacity. KIC Thermal Profiling, San Diego, Calif.

Reflow Combined with CleanerThe BGA Solution combines the company's M-Series M-410N inert reflow soldering system and Aquapro 2400 aqueous cleaning system. The heat cell design and patented gas management system in the reflow soldering system reportedly ensures that flux contaminates are removed from each individual zone. The system offers full stainless-steel construction and a custom-designed conveyor system. It is said to be suited for processing a variety of products in strip, boat or tray form. Vitronics Corp., a Div. of Dover Soltec North America, Stratham, N.H.

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Benchtop Soldering SystemThe SolderMate MF uses the company's benchtop 5-axis automated soldering platform, combining it with micro-flame technology and the 18 x 18 x 3" X, Y, Z work envelope of the SolderMate LA. The system's X-Y-Z repeatability is said to be ±0.001". It is equipped with automatic flame-out detection and its own SPIRIG multi-cell hydrogen generator. The system features 360° motion and is controlled by the company's built-in MC3 motion-control computer and Windows NT interface. Additional features include fault recording and programmable solder feed. Automation Unlimited Inc., a Div. of MRSI Group, Woburn, Mass.

Dross RemovalDross Eliminator 5744 is a chloride-free, inorganic white powder formulated to remove dross (the oxide of solder) from still solder pots and wavesoldering machines. The powder was designed to be low fuming and is said to be stable at molten solder temperatures. It is a nonflammable powder that remains a solid while working and is reportedly easy to remove from the solder pot after use. It is said to reduce tin oxide back to tin metal, which reduces dross scrap as well as keeps the solder pot surface clear of residues. Kester Solder, Des Plaines, Ill.

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