Improving the Solder Paste Printing Cycle Times

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At the recent NEPCON China show in Shanghai, I interviewed Adam Sim, senior sales manager at Speedline ITW EAE. We discussed a variety of issues, including the challenges in solder stencil printing, how printing cycle times may be improved, and the key factors to consider when selecting a solder paste printing solution.

Stephen Las Marias: What are the greatest challenges when it comes to soldering?

Adam Sim: On the solder printing process, the biggest challenge that most customers have is miniaturization. Based on our customer feedback, products are getting smaller, such as smartphones and other handheld devices, and functionalities are getting more complex. These trends result in more components being packaged in a smaller and smaller area. This, in turn, is driving the manufacture of even smaller components.

The second challenge is throughput. You have to get the highest output and yield to offset manufacturing cost.

So from a solder paste printing perspective, we have to address these two issues to help customers.

Las Marias: What about reliability?

Sim: As components get smaller and smaller, the yield and reliability will drop accordingly. That’s the reason why we continue to improve our printers—to address these issues.

Las Marias: What innovations are happening in solder paste printers to help customers address their printing challenges?

Sim: With the miniaturization trend, for the printer to achieve higher yield, the machine has to be somehow more accurate. Accuracy is becoming a critical parameter in this process. The only possibility to address this issue is to develop more accurate machines. That’s one way to do it.

Las Marias: The machines definitely have to be accurate. But are certain technologies more accurate than solder paste printers?

Sim: Solder paste dispensers will have an edge on this front, but in a real production world, you will sacrifice on throughput. They are slower. Imagine, printing will take one dot (stroke) whereas dispensing will take thousands of dots. So the cycle time is different. It’s a very different process. Although solder paste dispensing has a better edge over getting these finer pitches done.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of SMT Magazine.


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