Article Highlights
Catching up With Niche Electronics
10/09/2019 | Dan Beaulieu, D.B. Management Group
Real Time with... SMTAI 2019 Video Interviews
10/09/2019 | Real Time with...SMTAI
SMTAI 2019: Happy Holden’s On-the-Scene Report
10/03/2019 | Happy Holden, I-Connect007
Real Time with… SMTAI 2019 Slideshow
10/02/2019 | Real Time with...SMTAI
Combating ESD: The Silent Assassin in Electronics Manufacturing
09/20/2019 | Neil Sharp, JJS Manufacturing
SMT :: Soldering

Latest Articles

Catching up With Niche Electronics

Niche Electronics President Frank Bowman speaks with Dan Beaulieu about his company, their services, how they help their customers, and their plans for the future.

Real Time with... SMTAI 2019 Video Interviews

The SMTA International Conference and Exhibition 2019, which took place September 22–26, 2019, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, concluded successfully. For those of you who were not able to make it to the show, catch our video interviews with the movers and shakers of the electronics industry. We've updated our video presentation for a better experience for our users, so check it out!

Kristen Mattson on the SMTAI Vacuum Reflow Systems Demo

Kristen Mattson, marketing principal at BTU International Inc., and Nolan Johnson discuss the vacuum reflow demo that's running on the show floor and the program with the American Competitiveness Institute where they have PYRAMAX vacuum reflow systems available for customer process evaluation.

SMTAI 2019: Happy Holden’s On-the-Scene Report

Last week concluded the 2019 SMTAI conference in Rosemont, Illinois. Overall, I think the show was successful and covered all aspects of SMT processes.

Real Time with… SMTAI 2019 Slideshow

The SMTA International 2019 Conference and Exhibition closed last week on a high note. For those who were not able to attend the event, held at Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, the slideshow contains a selection of photos from the exhibition show floor as well as the conference.

SMTAI 2019: Lenora Clark Discusses Company Changes and Her New Role

Lenora Clark, director of autonomous driving and safety technology at MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions (and co-organizer for the upcoming SMTA Additive Electronics Conference), and Nolan Johnson discuss her new role, recent company reorganization, and the synergies customers are seeing.

IPC Panel on Bottom-terminated Components

During the IPC Summer Meetings in Raleigh, North Carolina, I sat down with Tom Rovere, a materials and process engineer at Lockheed Martin in Owego, New York. We explored a panel discussion on bottom-terminated components (BTCs) that Tom participated in as well as the challenges and issues related to BTCs and the important role that designers play in that process.

Comparing Soldering Results of ENIG and EPIG Post-steam Exposure

Electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG) is now a well-regarded finish used to enhance and preserve the solderability of copper circuits. Electroless palladium immersion gold (EPIG), meanwhile, is a new surface finish also for enhancing and preserving solderability—but with the advantage of eliminating electroless nickel from the deposit layer. This feature has become increasingly important with the increasing use of high-frequency PCB designs whereby nickel’s magnetic properties are detrimental.

PCB Design Training: More Critical Than Ever

I interviewed Gary Ferrari of FTG at the IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore. Gary is a co-founder of the IPC Designers Council and a longtime advocate for PCB design and PCB designers. We discussed the crucial role that PCB designers play in the entire electronics development process, and how IPC and the Designers Council are helping to educate and inform the next generation of designers.

eSMART Factory Conference 2019, Day 2

Happy Holden continues his report on the the eSMART Factory Conference Dearborn, Michigan, with highlights from the event's second day, which includes a keynote from Brian Toleno titled "Augmented Reality: Next-Generation Computing for Front-Line Workers."


eSMART Factory Conference 2019, Day 1

The recent eSMART Factory Conference in June in Dearborn, Michigan, was the second annual conference on the smart factory. SMTA described it as "A technical conference with a focus on electronics manufacturing from software systems/processes to augmented reality and smart inspection." In this article, Happy Holden gives us the highlights of the conference.

Development of Flexible Hybrid Electronics

This article will present a hybrid manufacturing process to manufacture FHE systems with a two-layer interconnect structure utilizing screen printing of silver conductive ink, filled microvias to connect ink traces at the different layers, and use of the traditional reflow process to attach the semiconductor chips to the printed substrates.

Names to Know: Up and Comers in U.S. Congress

When major news occurs in the U.S. Congress, you usually hear the names of top congressional leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

IPC’s Hand Soldering Competition Program: A Brief History

The history of the IPC Hand Soldering Competition (HSC) grew from the 2010 Scandinavian Electronics Event which saw the first Swedish Championship in hand soldering organized by Lars Wallin IPC Europe, Lars-Gunnar Klag and Krister Park.

Advancement of SPI Tools to Support Industry 4.0 and Package Scaling

This paper evaluates the current state of inline SPI tools from multiple vendors for solder paste measurement accuracy and capability. It discusses a measurement capability analysis that was carried out against a golden metrology tool across a range of volume deposits, and highlights the results from the study.

IPC High-reliability Forum and Microvia Summit Review, Part II

The Microvia Summit on May 16 was a special feature of the 2019 event in Baltimore, since microvia challenges and reliability issues have become of great concern to the PCB manufacturing industry. It provided updates on the work of members of the IPC V-TSL-MVIA Weak Interface Microvia Failures Technology Solutions Subcommittee and opportunities to learn about latest developments in methods to reveal and explain the presence of latent defects, identify causes and cures, and be able to consistently and confidently supply reliable products.

Denny Fritz: The Difference Between Quality and Reliability

I recently spoke with industry veteran (and I-Connect007 columnist) Denny Fritz about the relationship between quality and reliability—two terms that are unequal but often used interchangeably. We also discuss the current state of lead-free solders in the U.S. military and defense market as well as the microvia reliability issues Denny focused on at IPC’s High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore, Maryland.

How Do I Get Smart With IPC CFX? (Part 2)

The introduction of the CFX standard is the critical trigger that enables smart, flexible factory operation in line with business needs. The technology is simple to adopt, which creates a true “plug-and-play” environment on which advanced production AI software technologies can be developed.

IPC High-reliability Forum and Microvia Summit Review, Part I

The IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit covered a broad range of topics related to reliability and provided interactive opportunities to share expert knowledge and experience in determining and understanding the causes of failure and selecting the best design rules, materials, processes, and test methods to maximise product reliability.

Practical Implementation of Assembly Processes for Low Melting Point Solder Pastes (Part 2)

In the last three to five years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the use of low melting point alloys for SMT applications. Typically, the compositions are around the eutectic bismuth-tin alloy, perhaps with additions of other elements to increase the robustness of certain alloy properties. Now, there are several new products on the market and numerous ongoing reliability projects in industry consortia.


Crowded Congressional Calendar Affects Industry Priorities

More than five months remain in 2019, but U.S. congressional leaders are already running out of time as they face a long list of must-pass bills before year’s end. Although some of these bills do not affect the electronics industry, some of them do, and the overall agenda does affect the opportunities and risks we face.

Optimizing Solder Paste Volume for Low-Temperature Reflow of BGA Packages

In this article, Keith Sweatman explains how the volume of low-melting-point alloy paste—which delivers the optimum proportion of retained ball alloy for a particular reflow temperature—can be determined by reference to the phase diagrams of the ball and paste alloys.

Approaches to Overcome Nodules and Scratches on Wire-Bondable Plating on PCBs

Initially adopted internal specifications for acceptance of printed circuit boards (PCBs) used for wire bonding was that there were no nodules or scratches allowed on the wirebond pads when inspected under 20X magnification. This paper details if wire bonding could be successfully performed over nodules and scratches and if there was a dimensional threshold where wire bonding could be successful.

Practical Implementation of Assembly Processes for Low Melting Point Solder Pastes (Part 1)

Since 2006 and the implementation of the RoHS directive, the interest in bismuth-tin solder alloys—whose melting point around 140°C is very desirable because it allows for the use of lower temperature laminate materials and reduces thermal stress on sensitive components—has only increased as the industry has searched for Pb-free alternatives to the chosen standard, SAC305, which melts at considerably higher temperatures than the incumbent tin-lead alloys.

Surface Treatment Enabling Low-Temperature Soldering to Aluminum

An increasingly popular method to meet the need for lower cost circuitry is the use of aluminum on polyester (Al-PET) substrates. This material is gaining popularity and has found wide use in RFID tags, low-cost LED lighting, and other single-layer circuits. However, both aluminum and PET have their own constraints and require special processing to make finished circuits.

ICT or Flying Probe: Which Test Is Best for Your Assembly?

In-circuit test (ICT) and flying probe are two of the most popular types of automated test equipment (ATE) used in electronic printed circuit board assembly (PCBA).

Failures and Reliability in Soldering

The definition of failure is "the lack of success in doing or achieving something, especially in relation to a particular activity." If the activity is concerning a soldering process, such a failure can have a downstream impact far beyond the actual solder joint. In this regard, it is first necessary to understand what constitutes a good solder joint because appearance is too often deemed a success.

Size Matters: The Effects of Solder Powder Size on Solder Paste Performance

Solder powder size is a popular topic in the electronics industry due to the continuing trend of miniaturization of electronics. And the question commonly asked is, "When should we switch from Type 3 to a smaller solder powder?" Read more to find out.

Low-Temperature SMT Solder Evaluation

Until recently, the use of Sn/Bi-based SMT solder materials has been investigated with negative consequences for high strain rate (drop-shock) applications; thus, these alloys have been avoided. Recent advances in alloy 'doping' have opened the door to revisit Sn/Bi alloys as a possible alternative to SAC-305 for many applications.

Cavity Board SMT Assembly Challenges (Part 2)

This article describes the details of a study of assembling SiP BGA packages into a cavity. It points out the challenges involved in the board cavity design and assembly of components in a cavity. The authors discussed the board design challenge of having a cavity and defining the proper depth of the cavity to accommodate the board fabricator, the product design, and the SMT assembly.


Clean vs. No-clean Solder Process

Although IPC suggests clear guidelines, agreeing on the cleanliness (or otherwise) of a PCB assembly can often be a subjective and even contentious subject within the electronics manufacturing industry. If you’ve chosen to outsource your assemblies, how do you decide what to specify to your EMS partner? Find out here.

Cavity Board SMT Assembly Challenges (Part 1)

The concept behind Component-in-Cavity (CiC) is straightforward. If the tallest component(s) on the motherboard can be placed into a recession created in the motherboard, their thickness relative to the components on the surface of the PCB will thus effectively be reduced. While this concept may be straightforward, its implementation is not. That implementation is the focus of this paper. Read on.

The Effectiveness of 75% IPA/25% DI Extraction Solution on No-clean Flux Residues

The continuous challenge in the electronics industry is to keep up with the demand for smaller, faster, and more reliable electronics. When it comes to cleaning, this rapid development of manufacturing and reliability challenges is juxtaposed with the slow pace of new test method development.

Reflow Your Solder and Your Data for Industry 4.0

I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson recently spoke with KIC President and Founder Phil Kazmierowicz and Manager of Applications and Sales MB “Marybeth” Allen as they each transitioned into new roles in the KIC leadership team. The conversation ultimately turned to the current dynamics in the industry, particularly Industry 4.0 and streamlining processes.

IPC’s PCB Tech Trends Study Highlights Issues Impacting Fabricators

The 2018 survey results indicated the need for speed and low loss as critical functions of the materials chosen. This is the digital age, and with the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, etc., the need for low-loss and ultra-low-loss materials continues to grow as a percentage of circuit boards fabricated.

Laserssel Brings High-speed Soldering to New Application Areas

In this interview with I-Connect007, Denis Barbini, general manager of Laserssel, talks about the company's new laser-selective reflow solution aimed at reducing a typical reflow oven’s 10-minute cycle down to just 10 seconds as well as the overall benefits manufacturers could see from streamlining this process.

Minimizing Voids in Solder Joints

Dr. Hans Bell of Rehm Thermal Systems, Henryk Maschotta of Thales Deutschland GmbH, and Dr. Heinz Wohlrabe of TU Dresden presented the results of their project on reducing void content in the solder joints of land grid arrays (LGAs) at a soldering seminar during the Technology Days of the recent SMTconnect show in Nuremberg.

Words of Advice: Planning a New Design

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What do you think is the most important thing a designer should remember when planning a new PCB design? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

The GraftWorx Fluid Management Patch Story

The GraftWorx vision is to connect patients to clinicians with clinical data that will have a meaningful impact on their care. Its first application is to monitor patients with end-stage renal disease or kidney failure using a wearable device called the SmartPatch that records numerous clinical cardiovascular metrics. This article details how GraftWorx was designed, fabricated, and assembled.

Co-owner Philip Kazmierowicz on New Role as KIC President

KIC is one of the leaders in reflow and thermal process control and smart oven technologies. On March 25, 2019, KIC announced that Philip Kazmierowicz, company co-owner, would take on the position of president. Nolan Johnson took that opportunity to sit down with Kazmierowicz in his Oregon-based R&D lab to discuss KIC's history and his plans for the future of the company.


Impact of Stencil Foil Type on Solder Paste Transfer Efficiency for Laser-cut SMT Stencils (Part 2)

In the first part of this two-part article, Greg Smith talks about a study wherein a test vehicle was created to show transfer efficiency over a wide array of area ratios. Part 2 discusses the results of the experiment, including discussions of the different SEM results featuring the paste transfer efficiencies of each material, to better understand how the aperture wall surface smoothness compares to SMT stencil performance.

Catching up With Darrel Yarbrough of YES

Yarbrough Electronic Sales (YES) is one of the fastest growing contract manufacturers in the Southwest. As people get to know them better, they are becoming the go-to company in their area. In this interview, long-time industry veteran Darrel Yarbrough, owner of YES, provides a background about the company, its capabilities, and his outlook for the industry.

EM Modeling: The Impact of Copper Ground Pour on Loss and Impedance

This article briefly introduces the general purposes of copper ground pour on printed circuit boards. Subsequently, the impact of copper ground pour on PCB channel loss in terms of insertion loss and impedance in terms of time domain reflectometry (TDR) is studied with electromagnetic modeling using Mentor HyperLynx.

Ralf Wagenfuehr on Developing Rehm Thermal Systems' RDS Semico Oven

Ralf Wagenfuehr, plant manager of Rehm Thermal Systems, describes Rehm's new oven—the RDS Semico—and gives an in-depth analysis about how it was designed specifically with the semiconductor industry in mind. Ralf also discusses the semiconductor industry as a whole and outlines the company’s desire to gain market share in Taiwan and Korea in the upcoming year.

Tips & Tricks: Water Contamination and Flux Expiry

Solder joints that form properly are not expected to exhibit reduced reliability. However, a higher number of defects created tends to lead to a higher chance that defective connections escape detection through inspection and functional testing, and that’s not a risk to be taken lightly.

Tips & Tricks: Humidity Level for Electronics Assembly

Low relative humidity (RH) can allow for higher static charges to build on objects. It can also affect solder pastes, especially OR-class pastes, and this can reduce print performance and stencil life. Read on to find out what level of RH you need for your assembly facility.

IPC Working to Revive Lead-Free R&D in High-Reliability Sectors

Ask yourself the following question: Why is it that the aerospace, defense and high performance (ADHP) electronics sectors remain reliant on lead solders and components even as the commercial sector has largely phased out their use?

Tips & Tricks: Wave Solder Bridging

Wave solder bridging is the most difficult defect to troubleshoot because it has a number of potential causes. The key is to understand the role of flux during wave contact—thus reducing the surface tension of the solder to reduce the tendency to bridge between pins as the board leaves the wave.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Articles for March

Starting this month, we will take a look back at the most popular SMT007 news, articles, interviews, and columns over the past 30 days. For the month of March, these are the top 10 most-read SMT007 articles. Check them out.

Jennie Hwang: Get Ready for Disruptive Technologies

At IPC APEX EXPO 2019, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang, a columnist, author, and all-around an expert in PCB assembly, discusses some of the changes she has seen since joining the industry, and disruptive technologies that technologists we are going to have to face in the near future. Are you ready for the future?


CPCA Show and productronica China 2019 Review

It was a busy week in China for the electronics industry. With multiple trade shows and conferences going on simultaneously in Shanghai, including the CPCA Show 2019, productronica China, SEMICON China, electronica China, and FPD China, it appears from the crowds that the market is strong in the region.

SMTA Europe Electronics in Harsh Environments Conference 2019: A Preview

As a prelude to this year's Electronics in Harsh Environments conference, which will be held on April 2–4, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, SMTA Europe chairman Keith Bryant, supported by technical specialist Bob Willis, showcased the challenges and key issues faced by design and process engineers worldwide, in a webinar entitled "Harsh Environment Failures—Causes & Cures."

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Joining Materials with Laser Energy

Kelly Dack and General Manager Denis Barbini discuss Laserssel's laser soldering equipment. Laser soldering is presented as a solution to mitigate the effects of high heat processing on printed board substrates and components by pinpointing energy where it's needed to join the metals. He talks about the challenges that their customers usually face, and how they are helping them address those by optimizing their processes. He also mentioned their device that eliminate any type of warpage.

Rehm Focuses on International Hiring

Rehm Thermal Systems has been successfully recruiting skilled workers from abroad for some time now.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Standards Updates—IPC-7093 & IPC-7530

Ray Prasad, IPC Hall of Famer and chairman for multiple committees, gives Guest Editor Joe Fjelstad an update on two IPC standards: IPC-7093 on bottom-termination components (BTCs), and IPC-7530 progress with reflow characterization. Prasad talks about the many challenges in dealing with BTCs, including circuit/board design, manufacturing, voiding, connections (or lack thereof), warpage, and reliability. He also addresses no-clean flux and its challenges.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: iNEMI on Next-generation Soldering

Grace O’Malley, VP of technical operations at iNEMI, and Editor Nolan Johnson discuss the next-generation soldering buzz session workshop hosted by iNEMI at IPC APEX EXPO 2019 and the upcoming bi-annual technology roadmap that will be released this spring.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Reducing Voiding in Reflow Soldering

Chris Nash, product manager for PCB assembly solder paste at Indium Corporation, speaks with Kelly Dack and highlights Indium’s take on three important aspects of reliability: thermal, mechanical, and electrical. He talks about challenges of all three aspects, which include solder voiding, and how Indium helps the industry address these issues through its solder paste formulations.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Thermaltronics Discusses New Soldering Robot

Michael Gouldsmith, director of Thermaltronics, speaks with Editor Dan Feinberg about their new TMT-9800S robotic soldering unit. He also talks about an inline robotic soldering system—the next stage of their product development—which is scheduled to be released in the middle of the year.

Two Full CFX Demo Lines at IPC APEX EXPO 2019

During IPC APEX EXPO, Editor Dan Feinberg spoke with David Bergman, IPC VP of standards and technology, about CFX, IPC’s Connected Factory Exchange software for machine-to-machine communication. With more than companies now supporting CFX, IPC set up two full lines for demonstration at the show.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: BTU Discusses New Solder Flux Reclamation Solutions

Bob Bouchard, corporate marketing manager at BTU International Inc., updates I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson on new solder flux reclamation solutions and details the new aqueous scrub methodologies, their increased ROI and efficiencies, and reduced maintenance.


Executive Forum on Advancing Automotive Electronics

Presented by IPC Hall of Fame Council, the Executive Form on Advancing Automotive Electronics, which aims to provide information on the complete supply chain for automotive electronics, featured 10 presentations on all facets of automotive electronics from materials, fabrication, and reliability testing to market information and future needs.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: MacDermid Alpha Highlights Solutions to Combat Voids in Solder

Joe Fjelstad speaks with Paul Salerno, global portfolio manager at MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions, about their latest product and process solutions to combat voids in solder including modifications in pastes, preforms, and vacuum assist soldering.

TUM Hyperloop Team Learns PCB Design on Way to Setting World Speed Record

At AltiumLive Munich, I met with Tobias Bobrzik, a Technical University of Munich student and member of the TUM Hyperloop team. In 2018, the TUM Hyperloop team’s prototype pod set the world speed record of 290 miles per hour, which lead to their meeting with Musk. Tobias designed some of the PCBs used in that vehicle, so I asked him to tell us more about this experience, and what he hopes to do after graduation.

Super Dry Storage Options to Manage Intermetallic Growth

Guest Editor Kelly Dack speaks with Richard Heimsch, director of Super Dry, about some of the differences between storing components and other materials for assembly floor storage versus long-term storage, and how Super Dry can help combat intermetallic growth.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: KIC Speaks on Data, Voiding and Traceability

Bjorn Dahle, president of KIC, talks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about how the industry has shifted its focus from the machine to data; the issue on voiding and how manufacturers can address this process challenge; and traceability.

IPC APEX EXPO 2019 Day Two: Do You Hear That Buzz?

On the IPC APEX EXPO show floor Wednesday, the energy and action peaked with control software and interconnected machine communication continuing to be the buzz at the show.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: OK International Soldering Robot Integrates CV Technology

Bryan Gass, vice president at OK International, talks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson about their new soldering robot that integrates their Connection Validation (CV) technology. Launched at the IPC APEX EXPO last year, the CV technology provided the company a springboard to have a good start into 2018, and to achieve growth throughout the year.

Benefits of Jet Printing Solder Pastes

In a recent I-Connect007 survey on jet printing solder pastes, we asked the following question: "What are the major benefits with jet printing solder pastes?" Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: MacDermid Alpha Discusses New Materials to Improve Void Issues

Traian Cucu, Ph.D., G.A.T.E Group Leader at MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions, discusses with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson some of the methods to reduce, or eliminate, the solder voiding issue, especially with the continuing trend towards lower-pitch, high-density components.

STEM: The Future of Our Industry

Facing a growing shortage of talented labor with which to fill the employment positions in America, IPC is working to help solve this problem. Colette Buscemi, senior director of IPC’s education programs, is encouraging IPC members to better engage pre-college and post-secondary college students at the local level. Barry Matties spoke with Colette about the educational programs IPC has put in place to invest in future generations, including the STEM program at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO.


Solder Paste Selection/Qualification

In a recent SMT007 survey, we asked the following question: " What are your challenges when it comes to solder paste selection/qualification?" Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

Who’s the Best of the Best in Hand Soldering?

IPC APEX EXPO 2019 will include the new IPC World Championship Hand Soldering and Rework Competition on the expo floor on January 29 and 30. Twelve competitors from Britain, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand will compete for the crown and the title of the first-ever IPC World Hand Soldering and Rework Champion.

MacDermid Enthone Discusses Consolidation Benefits

At the 2018 electronica exhibition in Munich, Frando van der Pas, director of marketing and sales for MacDermid Enthone—Europe, and Technical Editor Pete Starkey discussed the consolidation benefits and the vision and future of the company.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT Interviews of 2018

We continue our top 10 lists, this time with the most-read SMT interviews in 2018. Topping the list is an interview with Joe O’Neil and Matthew Becker of Power Design Services (PDS), along with Ted Park of Green Circuits, who announced their merger last year.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Columns of 2018

Each year, we compile the lists of most-read news, articles and columns. Here are the top 10 most-read SMT007 columns from the past year.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Articles of 2018

Every year, we like to take a look back at the most popular SMT007 news, articles, interviews, and columns. These are the top 10 most-read SMT007 articles from the past year. Check them out.

SMT Electrolytic Capacitor Solder Joint Criteria and Integrity Investigation

The body configuration of SMT electrolytic capacitors results in the solder joints being only partially visible for optical inspection purposes. Therefore, the use of adequate reflow soldering processes is critical for producing solder joints that are acceptable for their end-product use environment.

Challenges in Flex Circuit Assembly

In a recent I-Connect007 survey on flex circuits, we asked the following question: What are some of the challenges that you face utilizing flex circuits? Here are just a few of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.

Defense Speak Interpreted: PERM—Pb-free Electronics Risk Management

In this column, we explore PERM—the Pb-free Electronics Risk Management Consortium. No, the group members do not all have curly hair! The name was chosen around 2008 by a group of engineers from aerospace, defense, and harsh environment (ADHE) organizations.

Dr. Traian Cucu Discusses Low-Temperature and Lead-Free Soldering

Dr. Traian Cucu, group leader of the Global Applications and Technologies Expert Group (GATE)—R&D—within Alpha Assembly Solutions, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Happy Holden about low-temperature and lead-free soldering applications, and the many critical advantages that can achieved by moving to a low-temperature process. They talk about the industry's transition to lead-free, the first, second and third generation of adoption of low-temperature alloys.


Greatest Challenges in Soldering

In a recent SMT007 survey, we asked the following question: "What are your greatest challenges when it comes to soldering?" Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

Tempo Automation's Open House Raises the Curtain in San Francisco

Based in San Francisco, Tempo Automation specializes in rapid PCB assembly and on low volume production for a wide range of board complexities. It recently held an open house at its brand-new facility in the South of Market (SoMa) district—which is normally restricted under customer non-disclosure agreements as well as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regulations—to customers, vendors, local designers, and government officials.

RTW SMTAI: Inventec Discusses the 'Green Way'

At SMTA International 2018, Dan Walker, North American sales manager at Inventec Performance Chemicals USA, provides Editor Nolan Johnson an overview and update on Inventec’s environment-friendly cleaning, soldering and coatings products. He also discusses how they are addressing the latest manufacturing issues, including solder voiding.

A Look at Our Readers’ Manufacturing Challenges

In a recent SMT007 survey, we asked the following question: "What are your greatest challenges when it comes to soldering?" Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

Solder Paste Jetting: An Integral Approach

Solder paste jetting is a technique that differs greatly from traditional solder paste deposition methods. In this article, solder paste jetting is compared with the other solder paste deposition methods—solder paste dispensing and solder paste printing and solder paste jetting—and highlights why it is becoming a viable option and how it increases the flexibility of a single production system.

Survey: Low-Temperature Soldering on PCBAs

The majority of the respondents in our survey stated that they expect low-temperature soldering to result in higher quality PCBAs.

Investigation on the Assembly Process for m03015 and a Brief Look at m0201 Components

Components continue to shrink in the SMT world, and the next evolution of passive components includes m03015 (009005) and m0201 (008004). The m03015 and the m0201 components will see primary adoption in products that require further miniaturization, which would be SiPs. These modules would then be assembled into products through attachment, another assembly, or via other interconnect methods. This article explores the development of an assembly process (SMT only) for the m03015 component.

How to Avoid Common Wave Soldering Issues

Wave soldering involves using waves of molten solder that act as glue to attach electrical components to the PCB. While this process is expedient and efficient in producing high-quality products, it sometimes experiences glitches that can be prevented or corrected. This article explores some of the main issues and how to remedy them.

I-Connect007 Survey Sees Bright Prospects for Low-Temperature Soldering

There has been an increasing amount of discussion on low-temperature soldering, and solder pastes. And why not? There are several advantages of using low temperature solders—from a technical standpoint and economic perspectives. A recent survey by I-Connect007 saw majority, or 67%, of the respondents saying they will consider using low-temperature solders in their assembly process.

Alpha Assembly Solutions on Training, Education, and Low-Temperature Soldering

In this interview, Jason Fullerton of Alpha Assembly Solutions discusses the benefits and challenges of low-temperature soldering. He also highlights the biggest concerns he’s currently seeing in the industry, including young engineers lacking hands-on manufacturing experience and training, voiding and head-in-pillow issues, and low-temperature soldering demands.


Process, Design and Material Factors for Voiding Control for Thermally Demanding Applications

Solder voiding is a common phenomenon across all semiconductor packaging and electronic board assemblies. There are many factors that influence void frequency and size. This article focuses on several process, design and materials selection considerations which control or potentially reduce voiding to meet industry and end-market acceptance criteria.

Low-temperature Solder Paste Process Advantages

This article examines the performance of two low melting point SnBi alloys used in solder paste when assembling BGA components with SAC alloy spheres, and the advantages of a low-temperature process over the regular SAC assembly process. It will also evaluate solder paste capability regarding the process and the performance of a joint formed with a low melting point alloy solder paste and SAC305 spheres, including process advantages and material capabilities.

RTW SMTAI: Harold Sneath Highlights Alpha’s Reclaims Business

Reclamation can be a profit center, not a cost of doing business. At the recent SMTA International 2018 conference and exhibition, Harold Sneath, Eastern Regional Reclaim Manager at Alpha Assembly Solutions, lays out the reclamation services available through Alpha.

Real Time with...SMTAI 2018 Coverage Now Available

The I-Connect007 team traveled to Rosemont, Illinois this week to cover the SMTA International 2018 conference and exhibition. Video interviews of key executives and leaders of our industry are now available for viewing. Also check out the photo gallery for snapshots of the exhibition floor and the conference as well as the after-hours festivities.

Tips to Improve Soldering Tip Life and Reduce Cost

Whether in production, or repair and rework, the cost of soldering iron tips can be easily overlooked, but with today’s requirement for higher temperatures in lead-free solder applications, the consumption of tips has dramatically increased. This fact, combined with changes in tip design to meet the higher thermal load requirements, has also resulted in escalating tip costs, making tip care a high priority.

Indium on Voiding and Auto Electronics Test Standard

In this interview with I-Connect007, Indium Corporation Technical Manager Jonas Sjoberg discusses voiding and other key challenges in soldering, as well as an automotive electronics testing standard based out of South Korea that is seeing increased utilization all over Asia. He also talks about the increasing trend in manufacturers moving to Type 5 and Type 6 solder powders, and how this is causing its own set of challenges in printing.

RTW NEPCON South China: SEHO Discusses New Production Facility in South Korea

Andreas Reinhardt, R&D director at SEHO Systems GmbH, speaks about their new production facility in South Korea, which aims to address the growing lead times in their supply chain. He also talks about how emerging technologies such as more and more sensors and connections, big data, and cloud computing are impacting the electronics assembly industry.

RTW NEPCON South China: Rehm Sees Growing Demand for Vacuum Soldering

Ralf Wagenfuehr, plant manager of Rehm Thermal Systems (Dongguan) Ltd, speaks with I-Connect007’s Edy Yu about the developments in the company’s convection reflow soldering system, which features a vacuum module, aimed at addressing the increasing demand for vacuum soldering. He also discusses their software developments, as well as how they are helping their customers toward their Industry 4.0 journey.

Mark Curtin on Large-Board Stencil Printing and Metal Squeegees

Transition Automation Inc. recently developed a large-area benchtop stencil printer targeted for high-mix low- or medium-volume production. In an interview with I-Connect007, Mark Curtin talks about the new system, and why metal squeegees are the way to go when it comes to solder paste printing.

Towards a Data-Driven Cleaning Environment

Tom Forsythe, executive vice president at KYZEN, discusses the most critical challenges of the cleaning process, a new approach to testing the cleanliness of PCB assemblies, and how KYZEN is helping customers develop a more data-driven approach to cleaning.


Whitepaper: Electronics Cleanliness Testing

This paper investigates and compares the performance of no-clean liquid wave soldering fluxes using a commercially available localized extraction and cleanliness testing system, and surface insulation resistance (SIR) testing. Find out which test is suitable for your processes.

Strengthening the Joint with a Revolutionary New Low-Temp Solder Paste

I-Connect007 Editor Patty Goldman interviews one of Alpha Assembly Solution’s solder process experts, Traian Cucu, who is based at Alpha’s R&D center in New Jersey. Traian, along with Morgana Ribas, have played key roles in the development of Alpha’s innovation new low-temperature solder paste process. He also talks about how this solves many of the defects issues that one would see on a SAC assembly process.

Practicing Best Practices

Recently, we looked into electronics assembly best practices that help optimize your manufacturing processes. To provide you more insights on this, here's an interview with two assembly experts: Jason Keeping of EMS firm Celestica, and Bob Willis, a renowned EMS consultant and trainer.

Best Practices in Manufacturing: Wave Soldering

Over the years, best practices have evolved and will continue to evolve with the changing environments, company needs and challenges and what may work for one company may not necessarily be best for another. This article offers recommendations to consider in managing your wave soldering process.

We Have the Best Practice for That

Most best practices have been developed over time, based on the many different experiences that people encounter in the manufacturing line. And it is important to institute these best practices to make sure that your processes will result in outstanding job at the end of the day.

Strategies for Choosing Solder Paste for Successful Electronics Assembly

One common question from solder customers is, "How do I test and evaluate new solder pastes?" Although that seems like it should be a straightforward question with an easy answer, this could not be further from the truth. This article tells more about this, and how to best select solder pastes for your product.

Alpha's Revolutionary Approach to Low-Temp Soldering

In an interview with I-Connect007, Morgana Ribas discusses the new technology on low-temperature solder that she has developed at Alpha Assembly Solutions. She also talks about why there is a need for a low-temperature process and the benefits it offers.

How DFA Converts Complexity into Freedom for Medical Device Development

The assembly of medical devices comprising electronic and mechanical components has become an increasing challenge as devices grow more complex, functional and compact, and as they undergo increasingly frequent product refresh cycles. Read on to find assembly techniques that will help manufacturers to deliver highly engineered and integrated products.

IMPACT Washington D.C., 2018 with Juki Automation’s Bill Astle

I-Connect007's Patty Goldman caught up with Juki Automation’s Bill Astle during a luncheon on the last day of IMPACT Washington D.C., 2018. As a first-time attendee, Bill came away feeling like he made the right connections with key members of Congress, and he looks forward to returning to the event in the future.

Evaluating the Impact of Powder Size and Stencils on Solder Paste Transfer Efficiency

Building upon an earlier study that focused on solder paste powder size, room-temperature aging and PCB pad and aperture designs, this study continues to investigate powder mesh size, but also examines stencil surface treatments and stencil foil tension.


Flex Circuit Assembly: Challenges and Strategies for Success

The flexible printed circuit market is on track for growth. But dealing with flex circuits during assembly is very different from rigid PCBs. This article highlights some of the assembly challenges when working with flex circuits, and strategies to address them.

Novel Approach to Void Reduction Using Microflux Coated Solder Preforms

Shrinking QFN package sizes and power requirements are driving new developments in micro-fluxed preform. Learn what factors contribute to an optimal solution.

Addressing Temperature Challenges in Flex Circuit Rework

Zen Lee and Michael Gouldsmith of Thermaltronics discuss the challenges of flex circuit assemblies during the rework process, the power-on-demand feature of smarter hand soldering systems, as well as how Curie Point helps operators avoid temperature overshoots during rework.

Tackling Reliability Challenges in Low-Temperature Soldering

William Yu, senior technical services manager for Alpha Assembly Solutions, recently shared with I-Connect007 the challenges when it comes to the reliability of low-temperature solder pastes, and soldering strategies to overcome these issues.

Nearing Retirement, Juki's Bob Black Reflects on a Long Career

After more than 40 years in the electronics manufacturing industry, Juki's Bob Black is nearing retirement. Bob sat down with Barry Matties at the recent SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg to reflect on his career and talk about the importance of strategic partnerships, even if that means playing nice with your competitors.

ASM Assembly Solutions on CFX

ASM Assembly Solutions was one of the 30+ companies participating in IPC's CFX (Connected Factory Exchange) showcase at the recent SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg, Germany. In this interview, ASM's Thomas Marktscheffel shared his perspective on CFX and its current challenges, and dispelled the notion that CFX might be a cookie-cutter approach to the smart factory.

Reflow Perspectives to Flex Circuit Assemblies

At the recent NEPCON China 2018 event in Shanghai, I spoke with Ralf Wagenfuehr, plant manager at Rehm Thermal Systems, to gain insight into flex circuit assembly, and the challenges of reflow soldering. He also speaks about the need for industry forums focused on soldering flex printed circuits.

Conversation with Miraco… Strategies for Successful Flex Circuit Assembly

Jason Michaud, a 19-year veteran at Miraco Inc., is the company’s new vice president of sales. In an interview with SMT007 Magazine, Jason speaks about the factors driving the increasing utilization of flexible printed circuits, the challenges in flex circuit assembly, and the best practices to address those issues.

Aegis on CFX and Hermes Efforts

The Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) specification is truly revolutionizing the PCB industry. Michael Ford, from Aegis Software, met with I-Connect007's Barry Matties for an interview during the SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg, Germany, to discuss the impact of this collaborative effort, and how it differs from the Hermes Standard.

DFM: Top Ten PCB Concerns

DFM—design for manufacturability—is a critically important but often ignored aspect of the PCB design process that directly impacts product quality and reliability. This article will discuss the top 10 DFM concerns that should be part of any design review process.


Tackling the Challenges in Flex Assembly

Apart from the design and manufacturing of flex printed circuits, a critical challenge that needs attention is assembly. Their flexible nature requires specific strategies for paste printing, chip mounting, soldering—whether reflow, wave, or hand—and rework/repair processes. Which is why the June 2018 issue of SMT007 Magazine looks into the many challenges in flex circuit assembly and highlight some of the strategies, techniques and best practices to help assemblers deal with flex circuit issues.

High School Team's Robotics Entry on Spotlight at Wisconsin Expo & Tech Forum

In May, I took the opportunity to drive around Lake Michigan and visit the SMTA Milwaukee Chapter’s Wisconsin Expo & Tech Forum. Held at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport Hotel, this was a well-organized and attended table-top expo and technical forum, with over 60 exhibitors, and a high school team with their FIRST Robotics entry.

Dave Bergman on IPC and CFX

The recent SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg, Germany, marked the second opportunity for IPC to showcase its new Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) initiative. In this interview, David Bergman, VP for international relations at IPC, tells us more on the overall reception of CFX and the benefits users are seeing thus far. He also provides an update on what’s next for the open source standard.

West Penn SMTA: New Leadership, Same Commitment

SMTA's new chapter president, Jason Emes, a quality engineer with Pennatronics Corporation enthusiastically discussed with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman the latest goings-on with this Keystone State chapter. He also spoke about his plans and initiatives for the SMTA West Penn Chapter.

The Michigan SMTA Expo & Tech Forum 2018: A Review

In May, I had the adventure of driving across Michigan to visit the SMTA Michigan Expo & Tech Forum. This well-organized and attended expo and technical forum featured over 75 exhibitors and two interesting presentations. Read on.

Jigar Patel on ZESTRON’s Reliability Solutions for Class 3 Assemblies

At the SMTA West Penn Expo, I had a chance to discuss a paper presented by Jigar Patel, senior application engineer at ZESTRON. Jigar explained some of the cleaning challenges with newer components and how ZESTRON helps optimize cleaning processes for their customers.

Elements to Consider on BGA Assembly Process Capability

As a cutting-edge technology applied in SMT assembly, BGA packages have quickly become a significant selection to conform to fine pitch and ultrafine pitch technology, achieving high-density interconnection with a reliable assembly technology provided, which leads to the increasingly more applications of this type of package.

RTW NEPCON China: Armada Discusses Impact of Auto Electrification on PCB Assembly

At the recent NEPCON China 2018, Klaus Schubert, managing director of Armada, speaks about the increasing electrification in cars and how this is impacting the PCB assembly processes, and in particular, the solder paste printing.

RTW NEPCON China: Christian Koenen Stencil Technologies Ensure First Pass Yields

At the recent NEPCON China 2018 event in Shanghai, Michael Zahn, development manager for Christian Koenen GmbH, explains how stencil technologies can improve the solder paste printing process and ensure first pass yields.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Indium's Brook Sandy-Smith on PMI-Squared

Indium Corporation's Brook Sandy-Smith discusses ionic process residues on PCB assemblies and introduces the concept of "PMI-squared" (process material interaction investigation), the topic of an IPC Technical Buzz Session at IPC APEX EXPO 2018.


EDADOC: A Driving Force in China's Automotive Electronics Design

EDADOC is one of the biggest providers of PCB design and manufacturing services in China, with a long history in automotive electronics design and manufacturing. China Editor Edy Yu recently conducted an email interview with EDADOC R&D Technical Research Manager William Zhou and Brand Planning Specialist Wen Ling, who collaborated on their answers. We discussed the challenges related to designing and fabricating automotive PCBs, the opportunities in this segment, and the trends they see in the market for autonomous and electric vehicles.

Under the Hood: Solder Joint Reliability

It has been long established that packages using NSMD BGA pads were more resilient than ones with SMD pads to fatigue-induced solder joint cracks. However, NSMD pads in previous investigations on 292MAPBGA and 416PBGA packages failed sooner in AATS testing due to an alternate failure mode: substrate Cu trace cracks. This article looks into the effects of substrate material and package pad design on solder joint reliability of 0.8 mm pitch BGA.

RTW NEPCON CHINA: OK International Highlights Need for Smarter Systems

At the recent NEPCON China 2018 tradeshow in Shanghai, Steven Fang, director of sales for Asia at OK International, speaks about the challenges their customers face when it comes to hiring skilled operators, which warrants the need for smarter systems and tools.

RTW NEPCON CHINA: Rehm Discusses Reflow Strategies to Reduce Voiding

At the recent NEPCON China 2018 event in Shanghai, Ralf Wagenfuehr, plant manager at Rehm Thermal Systems in China, speaks with I-Connect007’s Stephen Las Marias about their latest advancements in reflow oven technology, as well as on strategies to reduce voiding.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Heraeus Discusses Developments at New Lab

Jim Wertin, technical sales manager at Heraeus Electronics, shares news about the company's latest product offerings, as well as its newly established application laboratory, which helps customers and potential customers resolve production issues and improve the quality of their products.

CFX: The Next Step Toward the Future of Factories

For the past two to three years, almost every exhibitor in almost every trade show focused on the electronics manufacturing industry has an "Industry 4.0 Compatible" sign in their booth. As of today, the best question to ask is, "Compatible with what?" There has really been no standard yet developed toward this goal, and Industry 4.0 has been just a buzz word.

How the Factory Ecosystem Positively Drives Exponential Value

In today's factories, the output must far exceed the accumulative performance of each machine to stay competitive. No machine or process is an island—they must form ecosystems. The trend towards extreme automation and the smart factory leads to ever more connectivity and interdependence.

What's the Scoop? APEX CFX Showcase

The IPC Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) demo at the recent IPC APEX EXPO 2018 trade show in San Diego, California, is a great example of industry collaboration. The CFX Showcase at APEX had 245,000 CFX website page views; 701,200 CFX messages transmitted; and 664.5 million bytes of data exchanged; and the whole thing was pulled together in a matter of weeks. Here's what the participants in the program have got to say.

Solving Reliability and Thermal Management Challenges in Automotive Electronics

Paul Salerno, global portfolio manager for SMT assembly solutions at Alpha Assembly Solutions, discusses the growing automotive electronics industry, its impact on the soldering materials business, and how Alpha helps customers address the new challenges and requirements in the automotive market.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Nordson SELECT's Acquisition Update

Carlos E. Bouras, general manager of Nordson SELECT, discusses the acquisition of ACE Production Technologies and InterSelect GmbH one year later, along with the synergies between the two companies, and how they have strengthened Nordson SELECT's capabilities.


Investigating Analytical Tools for Testing Cleanliness with Foresite's Eric Camden

At the recent West Penn SMTA Expo, Eric Camden, lead investigator at Foresite Inc., speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about fluxes and analytical tools for testing cleanliness, and how these impact the reliability of the assembled boards.

Interview with Yusaku Kono: Rising Star Award Recipient

The IPC Rising Star Award is given to IPC members who have taken leadership roles and provided support to IPC standards, education, advocacy and solutions to industry challenges. Their contributions have made significant impact upon IPC and industry within the past five years and will continue to have a lasting impact for many years to come.

Stencil Printing Techniques for Challenging Heterogeneous Assembly Applications

A new generation of near microscopic size SMT chip capacitors has appeared in the market, known as either 0201 or 008004. This article investigates and characterizes the stencil printing process for compatibility with M0201 capacitor assembly. Effects of circuit board quality, stencil thickness, and stencil nano-coating are evaluated against solder paste volume transfer efficiency and raw-volume print distribution.

Conversations on the Floor: IPC APEX EXPO 2018

This year’s show was one of the best in recent history, both in attendance and enthusiasm. The exhibit floor was sold out, and every single person I talked to was extremely optimistic about business in 2018. What follows are a series of observations and excerpts from conversations I had with some of the most interesting people I met.

Automotive Electronics Still in the Driver’s Seat

The past year was one of the strongest years that the PCB supply chain and the rest of the electronics manufacturing industry in general, has seen. Everyone we talked to at the shows were optimistic that the strong growth in the industry in 2017 will continue through 2018. And most industry players point to one thing when it comes to what’s driving this strong growth—automotive electronics.

Interview with Linda Woody: Dieter Bergman IPC Fellowship Award Recipient

The Dieter Bergman IPC Fellowship Award is given to individuals who have fostered a collaborative spirit, made significant contributions to standards development, and have consistently demonstrated a commitment to global standardization efforts and the electronics industry. This year, Linda Woody is one of the two recipients of the award. Here's what she has to say.

Interview with Dave Hillman: IPC’s 2018 Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame Award Winner

A self-described "dinosaur" of the industry, Dave Hillman has been a steady force in all things solder-related at Rockwell Collins for 30 years. And just to keep things fresh, he has spent years mentoring both college-age and younger children. In this interview, I-Connect007’s Patty Goldman gives Hillman a chance to tell his story.

Electronics Manufacturing (R)evolution

2018 is going to be the year of Industry 4.0, where we will see how enabling technologies including sensors, big data, analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT), will transform the electronics manufacturing landscape.

Manufacturability: Pad Relief and Mask Relationship to Solder Joint Volume

Electronic assembly thermal management has always been an issue but has become more significant as we pack more power and function into a smaller form factor. In recent years, the growing use of LEDs for illumination on a large scale has presented additional thermal demands.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Indium Discusses Fighting Solder Voids

Voiding has increasingly become one of the most critical challenges in the soldering process. In this interview, Christopher Nash, product manager for the PCB assembly solder paste business of Indium, speaks about how the company is helping customers address the voiding challenge.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Addressing Challenges in Automotive Electronics

Paul Salerno explains how Alpha Assembly Solutions have addressed the challenges of the exponential growth in automotive electronics, with specific reference to soldering in power train, ADAS, and infotainment applications

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Developments and Reliability Improvements in Solder Alloys

Tim O'Neill explains developments in solder alloys for cost-sensitive applications, and improvements in the reliability of alloys subjected to sustained high temperatures.

The Vital Role of Solder Paste Printing in New Product Introduction

The high degree of automation within the SMT methodology offers a variety of advantages, from automatic correction of errors, to simpler and faster assembly, better mechanical performance, increased production rates and reduced labor costs. In this first in a series of articles exploring SMT assembly, we highlight the specific attributes, and the vital importance, of the solder paste printing process for your NPI.

Working with Customers: A Consultant's Perspective

Industry veteran and expert Chrys Shea is in a unique position when it comes to her work for the electronics assembly industry. As president of consulting firm Shea Engineering Services, she helps suppliers test and bring new products to the market, and helps assemblers bring new processes or skills to their assembly lines.

Improving SMT Yield and Reducing Defects: A Rauland Case Study

Ever-increasing demand for more complex boards that have higher densities of components means more challenges for SMT assembly operations and yields. Smaller component sizes and more densely packed PCBs lead to more powerful designs in much smaller product packages. These advancements have spurred a new set of challenges in building smaller and more complex assemblies.

Designing Electronics for Harsh Conditions

We expect a lot from our products, especially our electronic products. Think about it: cellphones, wearables, medical devices—for some reason we think they should still work after being immersed in liquid, left outdoors in freezing temperatures or dropped on concrete from a standing position.

Super Dry’s Novel Approach to the Drying Process

Pete Starkey spent a few minutes at the SuperDry booth on the first day of the productroncica show, and chatted with old friend Rich Heimsch, who taught the old dog a few new tricks about the drying process.

Tips & Tricks: Machine Assist Time

Assist time is the human intervention required to keep a machine producing during normal operation. It does not include errors, maintenance, setup, and prototyping. There are many reasons for a machine to require assistance. PCB loading, stencil wiping, paste addition, feeder replenishment, and PCBA unloading—some require labor, some can be automated, but all will require some amount of time to complete.

Nano Dimension’s 3D Printing: Prototypes at the Push of a Button?

SICK AG is a global manufacturer of sensors and sensor solutions for industrial applications, with headquarters located in Waldkirch, Germany. After a demo of Nano Dimension’s new 3D printing machine at productronica, Barry Matties met with SICK’s Danny Wernet to discuss its pros and cons and get his overall impression of the technology. Are 3D prototypes really as simple as feeding in a Gerber file and pushing a button?

Selecting X-Ray Inspection Equipment

Automated optical inspection (AOI) is an established, key process control in the SMT industry that greatly increases confidence in the quality of the finished product. But what do you do about devices where you cannot optically see the solder connections? X-ray inspection provides the answer.


Indium's Karthik Vijay Talks Engineering for Automotive Applications

Barry Matties met with Karthik Vijay, Indium Corporation's technical manager for Europe, at last year's productronica, where everything from stencils and laser cutting to flux technology and jetting were discussed. If you want to know about where material technology currently stands in the automotive landscape, you’ll want to read on.

Creating a Healthy Work Environment

In an interview with SMT007 Magazine, Wolfgang Koehler, CEO of the North America branch of ULT, discusses how their business has been over the past year, their challenges and opportunities, and how they are helping their customers. Another topic of discussion is investing in new equipment—the key parameters to consider, and what’s driving customers to buy their systems.

Tips & Tricks: Assembly Panelization

Thoughtful PCB array and panel design can reduce line stoppage, improve changeover time and reduce material scrap. Fiducial location and design are good aids to prevent mistakes, but may still result in line stoppage. If you have fiducial recognition issues, making the shape of the mask opening different than the fiducial feature may help the vision system discern the target feature easier.

PCB Pad Repair Techniques

There are a variety of reasons behind pads getting "lifted" completely or partially from the laminate of a PCB. Per the just revised IPC-A-610 Revision G, a defect for all three classes occurs when the land is lifted up one or more pad thicknesses. Lifted pads can occur when a device has been improperly removed or there is a manufacturing defect in the board construction. In any case, as with any repair, the ultimate decision on the ability to repair the pad lies with the customer.

Focus on the New

It seems like it wasn't too long ago when I was writing about the optimism of the electronics manufacturing and assembly industry going into 2017. Now, here we are again at the beginning of the new year, looking at new trends, disruptive technologies, and emerging markets for 2018. I am also proud to announce our new branding as well as our fresh, new look.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Columns of 2017

Another year is over in the SMT industry. 2017 saw a myriad of hot topics, including Industry 4.0, the millennials’ entry into the manufacturing space, and alternative solder materials, to name a few. Without further ado, here are the Top 10 columns from SMT007 over the past year.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT Articles of 2017

Every year, we like to take a look back at the most popular SMT news and articles. These are the top 10 most-read SMT articles from the past year.

The Effect of Area Shape and Area Ratio on Solder Paste Printing Performance

The ongoing miniaturization trend in the SMT production induces new challenges and highly integrated systems. In passive components, the miniaturization leads to the introduction of the EIA size 01005 or smaller. Despite numerous publications in this field already addressing the printing of such devices, a defined wholly optimized process remains unsolved and inspires further novel research ideas on this topic.

Evaluation of Stencil Technology for Miniaturization

SMT stencil printing technology continually evolves to keep pace with device miniaturization technologies. Printed circuit board assemblers have numerous new technology options to choose from, and need to determine the most effective ones to produce the highest quality and most reliable solder interconnections.

Step Stencil Technologies and Their Effect on the SMT Printing Process

Components such as quad flat no lead (QFNs), land grid array (LGAs), micro ball grid array (micro BGAs), 0201s and even 01005s continue to push manufacturers to use thinner stencil foils to apply the correct volume of paste onto their boards, but larger components such as edge connectors still require larger paste volumes.


Solder Printing Process Inputs Impacting Distribution of Paste Volume

The volume of solder deposition, like any process, has variations that may be characterized by a statistical distribution curve, whether normal or non-normal. As complexity, density, cost and reliability requirements increase, there may be value in narrowing the distribution curve. It is common sense that less variation serves the interest of quality of the more complex and dense circuit boards.

Improving Solder Paste Printing

Of the three elements involved in the solder paste printing process—stencil, solder paste, and printer—the stencil is considered one of the major factors affecting the transfer efficiency, accuracy, and consistency, of solder pastes into the pads, especially with the continuing trend towards miniaturization.

Insights from productronica

The recently held productronica was a busy exhibition. There were booths that were so crowded that people were standing in the aisle to talk with company representatives. But some booths were nearly empty. Read to find Dieter G. Weiss' comments on this biennial show.

What Matters Most is Communication

While there may be new techniques and strategies, technologies, equipment, tools, and materials to employ and utilize, there is always one thing that will ensure the manufacturing/ assembly success of your product: communication. Communication between the designer and the assembler will help improve the manufacturability and assembly of the final product—even before the board design gets fabricated.

DFx on High-Density Assemblies

Use of new technologies poses a number of challenges for solder paste selection, PCB design, assembly process, and reliability. The type of end product will have different challenges, concerns, and requirements in all aspects. The assembly line for many of these end products will look very similar, but specification limits would be different.

Via-in-Pad Plated over Design Considerations to Mitigate Solder Separation Failure

Under certain conditions, the use of VIPPO with other pad structures within a BGA footprint can result in a unique failure mode in which the BGA solder joint separates between the bulk solder and the intermetallic compound either at the package pad or PCB pad interface, depending on whichever is the weaker interface. It can be either a complete or partial separation and hence, may or may not be detected at ICT/functional test.

Video from productronica 2017: Rehm Discusses Trends Driving Product Development

Michael Hanke, chief customer officer of Rehm Thermal Systems, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about the importance of communicating with their customers when it comes to new process and technology trends. He also talks about Industry 4.0 and big data, and process monitoring and transparency.

Solder Preforms 101: Ask the Expert

At the recent SMTA International 2017 event, Jerry Sidone, product manager for the engineered materials at Alpha Assembly Solutions, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman about the voiding challenge, especially with bottom termination components, and how solder technologies from Alpha are helping PCB assemblers address this issue.

Dealing with Vias-in-Pad

Screaming Circuits, a division of EMS firm Milwaukee Electronics, specializes in short-run, one-off, and prototype PCB assembly. In an interview with SMT Magazine, Duane Benson, CTO of Screaming Circuits, talks about the challenges when dealing with microvias and vias-in-pad from an assembly standpoint, and how in-circuit test issues, such as access to test points, can be addressed.

Two Prevalent Rework Heating Methods--Which One is Best?

There are two prevalent heating technologies in use throughout most electronic assembly operations for advanced component rework—the first method employs the use of hot air gas to heat up the component through the package, while the second much-used heating technology relies on infrared energy. This article highlights the pros and cons of the two methods, and discusses which one is the best to use for your application.


Reliability of ENEPIG by Sequential Thermal Cycling and Aging

Electroless nickel/electroless palladium/immersion gold (ENEPIG) surface finish for PCBs has now become a key surface finish that is used for both tin-lead and lead-free solder assemblies. This article presents the reliability of LGA component packages with 1156 pads assembled with tin-lead solder onto PCBs with an ENEPIG finish and then subjected to thermal cycling and then isothermal aging.

Creating the Perfect Solder Joint

From a visual standpoint, a good solder joint should be smooth, bright, shiny, clean, and have a nice concave solder fillet. But how do you ensure that inside those joints, good intermetallic bonds are formed? Solder joints play several different roles, and they represent several different opportunities to be a problem, a partial improvement, or a complete improvement. Since all solder joints aren’t created equal, the first step is to understand what is expected or required of that joint.

Soldering Tip: Key to Good Solder Joints

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Enrique Moreno, technical support engineer at JBC Soldering, discusses the key parameters to consider during hand soldering to achieve the perfect solder joint. He also talks about the the increasing move towards automation and robotics soldering.

Achieving the Perfect Solder Joint: The Many Perspectives on Soldering

For this month's issue of SMT Magazine, we brought several experts together to discuss the many aspects of soldering, from solder paste, to automation, inspection, and the challenges in achieving the perfect solder joint. We also talked about the strategies and parameters to consider to ensure reliable, good solder joints.

Choosing Solder Processes: Getting It Right

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Ralf Wagenfuehr, plant manager at Rehm Thermal Systems, shares his insights on the topic of achieving the perfect solder joint, from the perspective of a reflow oven supplier. He also talks about the latest developments in reflow ovens aimed at addressing voiding in solder joints.

Eight Factors a CEM Should Know About its Suppliers

Selecting a contract electronics manufacturer (CEM) that fits well with your outsourcing strategy can be a difficult and long process. But, by taking the time to research and investigate potential shortlisted partners, you are much more likely to reap the benefits further down the line.

Update on IPC’s Validation Services and Hints of What’s to Come

SMTA International is the perfect time to get updates on IPC happenings. One that I’m always curious about is the Validation Services programs. At the busy show, I managed to find a quiet spot so Randy Cherry, IPC’s director of Validation Services, could fill me in on the latest.

BTC and SMT Rework Challenges

In the assembly of bottom terminated components (BTC), the formation of voids has become a serious problem in many applications. In the SMT process, the reliability of solder joints becomes more of a concern, as less and less solder is allowed for each joint. The presence of voids can deteriorate the joint strength and eventually lead to joint failure.

RTW SMTAI: AIM's Dr. Mehran Maalekian Speaks on New Alloys for Harsh Environments

Dr. Mehran Maalekian, R&D Manager at AIM Solder, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about new alloys that are targeted for high-temperature and demanding applications, particularly in harsh environments, where standard lead-free alloy such as SAC will not perform as well.

RTW SMTAI: Alpha Discusses Solder Dross Reclamation

At the recent SMTA International 2017 exhibition in Rosemont, Illinois, Mitch Holtzer, director of Americas Reclaim Business of Alpha Assembly Solutions, talks with Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about the solder dross reclamation process, and discusses his new role in leading Alpha’s reclamation business.


Rework and Reliability: Less is More!

Circuit boards are not always perfect after reflow or wave soldering. Scrapping boards with one or two defects is expensive, so rework happens. A good concept for rework is less is more, especially less flux. Use as little rework flux as possible, as in the old Brylcreem ads, "Just a little dab'll do ya."

RTW NEPCON South China: Rehm on Machine Communications and Vacuum Technology in Reflow

Ralf Wagenfuehr of Rehm Thermal Systems speaks about the need for a common communications platform as the industry moves toward Industry 4.0. He also talks about how their new ViCON software can help manufacturers achieve the smart factory vision.

A Look Into PCBA Rework and Repair

Despite the many technology advances in the SMT process, there will always be a need for rework and repair of PCB assemblies. Most especially as the industry trend continues towards finer pitch and spacing, smaller and smaller components, and increasing high-reliability requirements from customers.

Whose Fault is That Bad Board?

Years ago, I held a position in an EMS company where projects were analysed before manufacturing. We found that even some of the best and most innovative circuits could not be manufactured. Why? Because the PCB designer, an electronic engineer, was not acquainted with the fabrication process. He had no idea about technological requirements necessary for electronic production. I know another designer who learned, finally, the importance of the thermal relief pad for heat restriction during reflow for a good soldering. His response? “Oh, was that what they were for? And to think I worked so much to remove them!”

RTW NEPCON South China: JBC Brings Digital Transformation to Hand Soldering Process

Enrique Moreno, technical support engineer at JBC Soldering SL, and I-Connect007 Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias discuss the latest developments in the hand soldering process, including robotics and automation. Moreno also talks about the opportunities in China, and why their Industry 4.0-enabled solutions are suitable for this market.

Improving the Rework Process

An optimized SMT assembly process typically provides a yield of nearly 100%. Technology advancements—from the solder paste printing process, SPI, and parts placement, to reflow and wave soldering and AOI—have pushed the efficiency and accuracy of these steps in the SMT process such that a board assembly should be perfect at the end of the line. Still, EMS providers continually face the need to rework and repair PCBAs even after dialing in the perfect set-up.

NEPCON South China 2017 Opens Today

NEPCON South China 2017, being held in conjunction with the Shenzhen Circuit Sourcing 2017 and Automotive World China, opens its doors today at the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center to showcase nearly 600 companies catering to the electronics manufacturing industry. This year’s event, the largest ever in the show's 30-year history, features 45,000 square meters of exhibition space.

On the Smart Move: Industry 4.0 in Electronics Production

The industrial world is in motion, as we face a revolution in terms of processes, organizational structures, hardware and software in our companies. Many critics complain that terms like Industry 4.0 and smart factory are rather arbitrary and lack concrete meaning. That is correct. What is also true, however, is that technical progress always starts out with a vision, which is then put into concrete terms as time moves on.

Soldering Fumes in Electronics Manufacturing: Damaging Effects and Solutions for Removal

No matter which soldering process you analyze, all of them have one aspect in common: They produce airborne pollutants, which may have a negative impact on employees, plants and products as well. This article discusses the damaging effects of soldering fumes, and solutions for their removal.

QFN Center Pads on PCBs

Not all QFNs come with an exposed metal pad underneath, but most do, and that can still cause problems with reflow solder. The pad itself isn't the problem, but improper solder paste stencil layer design can be.


Process Step Elimination: Driven by Cost and Efficiency, Enabled by Process and Materials Innovation

Electronics manufacturing has evolved from the early days of hand soldering and wave soldering to the more modern SMT process. But while most modern electronics are produced using the SMT process, there are still some mixed technology applications that need both the SMT process and the wave soldering process. This article looks into the pin-in-paste (PiP) process, which enables the soldering of through-hole components during SMT processing, and eliminates the need for the wave process.

Pillarhouse International's Allan Jiang Discusses Selective Soldering Developments

At the recent NEPCON China event in Shanghai, Allan Jiang, sales manager at Pillarhouse International, discusses with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias some of the challenges in selective soldering, and technology developments to address these issues.

Using Lead-Free BGAs in a Tin/Lead Soldering Process

Several electronic market segments, such as those electronics used in harsh environments or that have life/system critical functionality, remain exempt from lead-free material restrictions such as the RoHS legislation. While these market segments can use solder containing lead, it is increasingly difficult to procure advanced components in non-ROHS compliant configurations. This article discusses several aspects of having lead-free BGA components in a tin/lead soldering process.

Thermal Indicator Technology for Aerospace Wire Harness Assemblies

Thermal indicator technology was developed into solder sleeves many years ago and has proven to be an effective means of providing visual indication of a reliable solder joint. This article talks about the two types of thermal indicators used in aerospace applications today, and the many benefits that this type of technology.

Using Paste Flux for Rework

When using a hot air or IR rework system where the reflow cycle is mimicking the original SMT reflow profile, and when using flux for re-attachment, paste flux otherwise known as gel or tacky flux is the correct type of flux to use. Due to its high viscosity and tack properties, paste flux prevents components from being moved during hot-air reflow while being able to remain active for the complete time-temperature period.

Today’s Mil/Aero Enemies: Counterfeits, Obsolescence and Failure

The need for high-reliability electronics, components and assemblies that can perform in harsh operating conditions involving extreme temperatures, vibration, and moisture continue to challenge electronics assembly providers catering to the military and aerospace markets. These are on top of current manufacturing issues such as the miniaturization of products, shrinking component sizes, higher density board assemblies, and the obsolescence of electronic components.

The Importance of Conformal Coating, Now and in the Future

At the SMTA Michigan Expo and Tech Forum, held in Grand Rapids on May 11, Technical Editor Happy Holden spent a few minutes with AIM Solder’s Technical Marketing Manager Tim O’Neill to discuss O’Neill’s presentation on the topic of conformal coating over no-clean fluxes.

Better Together: How HDP User Group Showcases the Industry’s Best Side

HDPUG is a non-profit trade organization comprised of members from top companies in the electronics industry, from materials suppliers and manufacturers, to OEMs and end users. Key activities include collaborating on issues facing multiple industries and bringing people together on projects who might not have met otherwise. Barry Matties met HDPUG’s European representative and project facilitator Alun Morgan at the recent EIPC Summer Conference to learn more about the group and current projects.

Assembly Training and Education

Even if your PCB assembly process is optimized, there is always room for improvement. And no matter how successful your company has been in the past, you just can’t rest on your laurels. It is always in your best interest to strive towards a better operations model. We've created a survey to help us gauge the importance of training and education in your workforce, and the benefits that you get in ensuring that your operators and engineers have the most current knowledge and skill sets.

Solder Ball Joint Reliability with Electroless Ni/Pd/Au Plating – Influence of Electroless Pd Plating Film Thickness

This paper investigated the influence of Pd film thickness in electroless Ni/Pd/Au plating on the solder ball joint reliability. It was found out that the shape and thickness of the intermetallic compounds (IMCs) are among the key factors that affect solder joint reliability after multiple reflow cycles and thermal aging, respectively.


AOI Capabilities Study with 03015 Components

More EMS companies are implementing AOI into their SMT lines to minimize repair costs and maintain good process and product quality, especially for new component types. This project focuses on the testing of 03015 components, which is challenging for AOI.

Shenzhen Axxon Discusses Acquisition and Dispensing Market Trends

Ivan Li, general manager at Shenzhen Axxon Automation Co. Ltd (China), discusses their recent acquisition by Mycronic, as well as the latest developments in the dispensing market. Also discussed is the China market, and how the company is staying ahead of the increasing competition in the dispensing industry.

RTW NEPCON CHINA: Interflux to Revolutionize Solder Industry

At the recent NEPCON China event in Shanghai, Daniel Werkhoven, CEO of Belgium-based soldering chemistry provider Interflux Electronics N.V., talks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias about how their new bismuth-based solder alloy will help improve the soldering process.

Tape and Reel Solder Preforms: A Success Story for the UD00 X86 SECO Board

SECO's latest product innovation, UDOO X86, is a real computer with an integrated Arduino 101 compatible board that is capable of running games and videos in 4K. But while the success of the UDOO X86 is impressive, so is SECO's ability to develop this game-changing product with low-cost technology for mass appeal and affordability.

Voiding Control at High-Power Die-Attach Preform Soldering

Voiding in the solder joint is a concern for high-reliability and high-performance devices. This paper discusses a study on voiding behavior of large pad high-power devices simulated with Cu coupon to Cu coupon sandwiches. A flux-coated preform was studied in this assembly, with variation in solder alloy type, quantity of solid flux coated on solder preform, Cu coupon pre-oxidation extent, reflow temperature, and pressure exerted onto the sandwich during reflow.

The Benefits of Applying Flux Directly to a Micro BGA

Technology trends continue to drive miniaturization in electronic components. As a result, product designers are often forced into specifying smaller and smaller devices on their bill of materials. Sometimes, miniature devices offer OEMs cost savings, which is seen as a good thing; other times, there is simply no choice.

Keeping an Eye on the Next Generation

Why should a company in our industry dedicate hours to providing professional development to a group of temporary student interns? Why should they open their doors to kids, some of whom haven’t even entered high school? For Indium, the short answer is, it makes them better. Read on to find out why.

The Challenge of Filling PCB Assembly Positions

U.S. manufacturers are having a difficult time filling open positions. They cannot find workers with the necessary skills to fill the openings. If we look specifically at the PCB assembly industry, the rhetoric is similar. There are more openings than people to fill them. The discussions reveal that lower wages, lack of skills, and sometimes the reported low unemployment rate in the United States is part of the problem.

Predicting Solder Paste Transfer Efficiency and Print Volume

Being able to predict the transfer efficiency and print volume reproducibility of solder paste are valuable data points for any circuit assembly process. Knowing how many good boards that can be expected from a jar of solder paste is critical for a contract manufacturer working on paper thin margins.

The Complex World of Soldering

Industry veteran Happy Holden and Saline Lectronics Senior Process Engineer Cathy Cox discuss the various challenges and issues that users face in soldering, including the lack of a "one-size-fits-all" approach in the process, and some key factors that the PCB assembly industry should consider when it comes to different applications and markets.


RTW NEPCON China: Metcal Highlights Innovation in Hand Soldering Technology

At NEPCON China, Bryan Gass, vice president of Metcal, discusses how their Connection Validation soldering station will revolutionize the hand soldering technology industry.

What a Tangled (Soldering) Web We Weave!

Soldering remains one of the most critical processes in the PCB assembly industry. Which is why it is of the utmost importance that the soldering process should be perfect. But soldering is just too complex a process, and further complicating the situation, the requirements and technologies vary between our industry’s market segments. There are just a lot of factors to consider before you put your boards into the reflow and let them run.

Achieving Successful Flex Circuit Assemblies

In this article, Yousef Heidari, vice president of engineering at EMS firm SigmaTron International, talks about the varying challenges in flex-circuit assembly. Chief among these are the solder paste printing process, especially for designs that have multiple areas with fine-pitch components, as well as the subsequent handling of the assembly before final product integration.

JJS Stresses Need for Baking Prior to Flex Circuit Assembly

From an assembly perspective, baking the flex circuits prior to manufacturing assembly is crucial as they can be susceptible to delamination. In this interview, Russell Poppe, director of technology at JJS Manufacturing explains why, as well as discusses other challenges in flex circuit assembly and strategies to address them.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Metcal Brings Disruptive Technology in Hand Soldering

Christopher Larocca, president and CEO of OK International (of which Metcal is a division), tells I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties their strategy for improving the hand solder process. He describes a lack of process feedback to the operator as a core problem inherent in the hand soldering process, and discusses how OK International has developed an innovative solution to address the issue.

Fixturing: Key to Accurate Flex Circuit Assembly

Adrian Nishimoto, operation manager at Spectrum Assembly Inc., talks about the critical factors to consider during flex circuit assembly, such as fixturing and accurate thermal profiling. He also mentions why jet printers are suitable for use in assembling flex circuits.

Rework and Repair on Flex Circuits

With this surge in usage of flex, the standards for rework—replacing devices while still meeting the initial specification and functionality—and repair—repairing the physical damage on a flex circuit—of flex circuits has not kept pace.

Strategies for Addressing Flex Circuit Assembly Pain Points

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Steve Fraser, VP of Operations at Firstronic, discusses the key factors that have the greatest impact on the quality of flex circuit assemblies, the challenges they face during assembly, and their strategies to ensure the reliability of the products.

How to Solder SMT Components with Varying Solder Paste Heights

While miniaturized components offer product designers some benefits, such as energy efficiency and the ability to build in greater functionality, mixing "old and new" technology together on the same PCB design can add complexity at the build stage. As a result, it is sometimes necessary to change the way solder paste is applied to the PCB during production.

Supportive Tooling: The Magic Ingredient for Flex Circuit Assembly

Flex circuits have changed the way product development engineers can design and package their electronic products. Flex applications have opened the doors for PCBAs to move out of square, box enclosures and fit into small, tight, even oddly shaped three-dimensional spaces that can withstand harsh vibration and multiple flex uses. While these flex assemblies may perform in the same way a traditional rigid PCBA does, they have their own set of assembly rules and manufacturing nuances.


Navigating the Complex World of Flex Circuit Assembly

We recently conducted a survey on flexible printed circuits to know more about the challenges that designers, fabricators, and assemblers face when dealing with flex circuits. We asked what steps in their processes have the biggest effect on yields; the challenge they face when dealing with flex circuit materials; as well as the factors that have the greatest impact on the quality of their flex circuit design, fabrication and assembly.

Assembly of Flexible Circuits

No matter the method, the assembly of electronic flexible circuits is tedious because of its inherent flexible nature. Therefore, we must give extra attention to the assembly process. This article details some of the key considerations when assembling flexible circuits.

Alpha Papers Investigate High-Reliability Solder Alloys

During SMTA International, Morgana Ribas, manager of Metals Technology Group at Alpha Assembly Solutions, presented a pair of papers that focus on the company’s reliability testing of solder alloys. I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy sat down with Morgana to discuss these papers, and some of the surprising results that the testing yielded.

Evaluating a PCB Assembler

When it comes to technology and quality, an SMT assembler's capabilities will be reflected when you go through the key elements in the SMT process. This article provides key points to consider in evaluating a PCB assembler, which allows you to test whether your circuit boards assembled in that factory conform to your required standard.

Alpha on New Technologies to Tackle Voiding

Tom Hunsinger, vice president of marketing at Alpha Assembly Solutions, discusses with SMT Magazine how their company is addressing voiding—one of the greatest challenges in soldering. He talks about the latest market development trends that are shaping product innovation strategies at Alpha. Hunsinger also details some of their latest solder technologies, and how they are helping their customers address their soldering challenges.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Ray Prasad Discusses Revised IPC-7530 Reflow Profile Guidelines

IPC Hall of Famer Ray Prasad, chairman of the IPC-7530 committee, provides an overview of the newly revised IPC-7530, which provides users with guidelines on how to successfully profile and characterize PCB assemblies with high levels of efficiency.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Alpha Highlights Technologies Dedicated to Eliminating Solder Voids

Robert Wallace, marketing manager for the Americas at Alpha Assembly Solutions, discusses their new product introductions for this year and their level of customer support as these products are rolled out. He also talks about how these technologies are helping address the issue on solder voiding.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Indium Discusses Industry Trends and Reliability Issues

Indium Corp. Product Manager Chris Nash talks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about how they are helping customers address their reliability issues, and discusses the success of their "Avoid the Void" campaign.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: The Power of Synergies with MacDermid Enthone and Alpha Assembly Solutions

Don Cullen, global director of marketing communications with MacDermid Enthone, and Tom Hunsinger, VP global marketing with Alpha Assembly Solutions explain the structure of MacDermid Performance Solutions, which combines the former MacDermid, Enthone and Alpha Assembly Materials businesses to provide PCB and EMS industries with enhanced innovation and service throughout the supply chain, with unified sales strategies and improved processes.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: KIC on Smart Factory Technology Approach in Thermal Ovens

Bjorn Dahle, president of KIC Thermal, discusses with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Dick Crowe their approach to measuring temperatures in thermal ovens and networking the information to a main frame, to enable the process engineer to statistically monitor a specific process.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Alpha Highlights Solder Reclaim Technology

Mitch Holtzer, director of Americas Reclaim Business for Alpha Assembly Solutions, discusses the company’s reclamation technology, which takes solder dross, used solder paste, and solder paste debris and converts it into reusable soldering materials. He also talks about how solder reclamation can help sustainability efforts, and how it helps customers when it comes to their waste materials.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Manncorp on Having a Solutions-centric Approach

Manncorp father-son team Henry Mann and Kyle Mann talk with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Kelly Dack about providing excellent guidance, service, training and support for companies who may be unsure of the best route to take in selecting the right SMT equipment.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Indium’s Eric Slezak Talks Project 99

Indium Corporation's Eric Slezak talks with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Steve Williams about the launch of their new Project 99 wave solder process flux system. Indium has created an exciting new spin on this technology by using a comic book theme, with "villains" representing common wave solder defects and "superheroes" representing their flux solutions to combat the problems.

Metcal Brings Big Science and High Reliability to Hand Soldering

Recently, Judy Warner visited the Metcal facility in Southern California and meet with Product Support Engineer Robert Roush. They talked about Metcal's patented hand-soldering technology, which promises to bring a new level of science and control to the world of hand-soldering.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Rehm Highlights Reflow Improvements for Reliable Solder Results

Michael Hanke, CCO of Rehm Thermal Systems, highlights the latest developments in their reflow solutions, which are targeted at improving the reliability of the soldering process. He also discusses their complete solution, which is inline with the Industry 4.0 trend.

Real Time with...IPC: Tim O'Neill Discusses Latest Developments in Lead-Free Soldering Market

With RoHS requirements in full swing, companies must adapt and adapt quickly as lead based soldering will be completely phased out by 2019 in Europe.

Real Time with...IPC: Alpha Discusses Improving LED Reliability Issues

At this week's IPC APEX EXPO 2017 in San Diego, California, Steve Godber, LED Commercial Manager at Alpha Assembly Solutions, discusses with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias the reliability and voiding challenges in the LED market, and how the company is helping their customers address these issues through their solder technologies.

11 Points to Consider When Buying Selective Soldering Equipment

Although there are clear benefits from investing in a selective soldering equipment, there are also a number of considerations to make prior to purchase. This article looks at 11 points that require further thought, to ensure you select the right piece of selective soldering equipment for your products.

What’s Driving the Rapidly Changing Electronics Assembly Industry

Since the EMS landscape has become so competitive, staying on top of new advances in technology and being able to rapidly adapt to changing customer needs, market demands, trends and technological advances is critical. This article highlights some examples of how electronics assembly technology developments have impacted the EMS industry in recent years and will likely continue shaping the industry in the future.

Achieving Repeatable, Consistent Control over the Selective Soldering Production Process

Selective soldering is a process with more than 100 different parameters that may impact soldering performance. A robust selective soldering process should have a wide process window that is able to handle variations in material quality. In this paper, critical process parameters are discussed as well as methods that can be used to widen the process window.


The Impact of Via and Pad Design on QFN Assembly

Thermal via arrays under QFN components are used to conduct heat away from the device. However, thermal vias can create more voids or result in solder protrusion onto the secondary side. This paper discusses a study on the impact of via size and via design on QFN voiding and solder protrusion.

Effect of Solder Composition, PCB Surface Finish and Solder Joint Volume on Drop-Shock Reliability

Lead free solder joint reliability in drop shock loading has been a recurring issue in mobile and handheld consumer electronics. Changing solder composition may offer an opportunity to improve joint drop reliability. This study focuses on different failure modes in circuit board assemblies as observed based on solder composition, board surface finish, and solder joint volume.

Evaluation of the Use of ENEPIG in Small Solder Joints

When soldering to ENEPIG, all of the palladium is dissolved into the solder joint, and creates a palladium-rich region at the base of the solder joint. The shrinking solder joint sizes due to the ever decreasing size of parts cause the relative size of this palladium-rich microstructure to grow relative to the overall joint thickness. This study evaluates the impact of industry standard Pd thicknesses on thin solder joints through shear testing.

A New Organizational Model Using Logic, Cost-Effectiveness and Customer Service, Part 2

In previous articles, Tom Borkes talked extensively about one of the controllable components of labor cost: the counterweight to competing against low labor rates—using automation to reduce labor content. Over the next few months he will drill down into the other controllable component of labor cost: indirect labor.

More Than Just Dry Air: Controlling Oxidation and Intermetallics in Moisture-Sensitive Devices

Our new columnist Richard Heimsch will be focusing on the management of moisture sensitivity in his column “More Than Just Dry Air.” His inaugural article talks about controlling oxidation and intermetallics in moisture-sensitive devices.

Choosing the Correct Flux—Advantages/Disadvantages

While often overlooked, the flux chosen for the selective soldering process has a great impact on solder joint quality, long term reliability and overall selective soldering performance. This article outlines the critical factors of commonly available selective soldering fluxes and how they impact the soldering quality, reliability and equipment performance.

The Influence of Clean Air on the Value-Added Chain in Electronics Production

A multitude of different processes in modern electronics production—from connection and separation technologies, surface processing such as marking and drilling, the utilisation of fluxes, up to production processes such as soldering, welding and gluing—generate harmful substances that might have extreme health impacts and affect production plants and products.

Reducing Warpage on BGAs During Rework

This article highlights one of the challenges associated with BGA rework--the effect of device warpage. To address this, Bob Wettermann writes about strategies to reduce device warpage on BGAs to avoid shorts and open circuits post rework.

Editor's Note: Understanding Plating and Surface Finishing

This month’s issue of SMT Magazine focuses on the impact of plating and surface finishing in electronics assembly. True, plating and surface finishing may be more directly significant in PCB fabrication, but surely they are important issues as well when it comes to the assembly side. In fact, according to our recent survey, 82% of the respondents said surface finishing impacts their assembly process.

Real Time With...HKPCA & IPC Show 2016: IPC Hand Soldering World Championship in China

IPC President John Mitchell speaks with Editor Stephen Las Marias about the highlights of this year’s IPC Hand Soldering World Championship, which was held in China for the first time. He discusses how IPC has managed to keep the event so popular and successful for such a long time.


How to Create the Perfect SMT Reflow Oven Profile

While EMS providers will have their own preference when it comes to machine type and brand, broadly speaking, the process steps they go through to produce PCBAs are the same. However, one step that can make all of the difference when it comes to quality and consistency is reflow. This article details how EMS companies can go about creating the perfect SMT reflow oven profile.

Rework and Repair Standard Getting Updated

The IPC-7711/21 Rework of Electronic Assemblies/Repair and Modification of Printed Boards and Electronic Assemblies is being “upreved” from version “B” to version “C” and will soon be released to the industry. This article talks about a couple of notable changes that strengthened, modernized and brought together changes from the previous “B” version, which was approved in 2007.

LA/Orange County SMTA Tech Expo a Success

On November 3, I had the pleasure of attending the LA/OC SMTA Tech Expo in Long Beach, California, and meet with chapter President Kathy Palumbo and Vice President Scott Penin, to learn more about this annual event and the chapter’s ongoing activities.

Real Time with...HKPCA & IPC Show 2016 Slideshow - Day 2

The 2016 IPC Hand Soldering World Championship was held concurrently for the first time at the International Printed Circuit & APEX South China Fair (HKPCA and IPC Show 2016) in Shenzhen, China. View the slideshow here.

Tin Whisker Mitigation Methodologies Report from SMART Group, Part 2

Since the introduction of the RoHS legislation in 2006, the threat of tin-whisker-related short circuit failure from pure tin finished components has remained a major concern within the high-reliability electronics manufacturing industry. In the second part of this two-part article series, Editor Pete Starkey concludes his review of the SMART Group's recent seminar, which is focused on tin whisker mitigation methodologies and strategies.

Solder Voiding, Autonomous Autos, and Statistics—So Much to Learn from Dr. Ron

While at the 2016 SMTA International conference and show, I had the lucky opportunity to talk with Indium Corporation’s Dr. Ron Lasky. He gave a great synopsis of the extensive testing done by Indium Corporation’s Chris Nash on solder voids, outlined in a paper co-authored by the two, which was being presented by Ron at the conference.

SMTA Tech Expo Panel Session: It Takes a Village to Discuss Proper Cleaning Solutions

An expert in cleaning processes, Barbara Kanegsberg is known as “The Cleaning Lady.” She moderated the technical session “Ask the Experts: Meeting the Challenges of Effective Cleaning, Defluxing in Southern California.” Here Barbara discusses the myriad of challenges regarding cleaning PCBs (particularly in heavily regulated California) and what transpired during the open forum technical session.

HKPCA & IPC Bring Hand-Soldering Competition World Championships to China

Helen Guo, member services director at IPC Greater China, discusses with I-Connect007's Edy Yu IPC’s activities and initiatives in China. She also discusses the upcoming International Printed Circuit and APEX South China Fair 2016, which will feature the hand-soldering competition world championship for the first time in China.

Tin Whisker Mitigation Methodologies: Report from SMART Group, Part 1

Since the introduction of the RoHS legislation in 2006, the threat of tin-whisker-related short circuit failure from pure tin finished components has remained a major concern within the high-reliability electronics manufacturing industry. In this article, Editor Pete Starkey reviews a recent seminar by the SMART Group to discuss tin whisker mitigation methodologies and strategies.

KIC Shows Solutions to Voiding Problems via Optimized Reflow Profiling

At the recent SMTAI event, MB (Marybeth) Allen of KIC speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about her company, and discusses some of the details of her presentation titled "Optimized Reflow Profiling to Minimize Voiding".


Living Up to Their Name at Alpha Assembly Solutions

At SMTAI in October, I-Connect007's Judy Warner spent some quality time with Alpha Assembly Solutions' Jason Fullerton, to discuss Alpha's innovative new products. Fullerton also discussed a paper he was presenting, which compares two lead-free, silver-free alloys in a selective soldering application.

The Impact of Vias on PCB Assembly

Via technology has been one of the solutions to address the miniaturization and component density challenges in current electronic assemblies. However, vias are not without their own set of challenges. As per our recent survey, these include impedance matching, routing, placement of vias, minimum size limitations, aspect ratio, and the limitations for the PCB manufacturer.

To Bake or Not to Bake: Examining the Impact of Waiving PCB Pre-Baking Prior to Assembly

Moisture plays a critical role in lead-free PCB assembly—and one process that aims to drive moisture out of the PCB is baking. In this article, Yash Sutariya explains the results of his study on the impact of waiving PCB pre-baking prior to assembly. His study includes via integrity, via life impact, via failure, and overall reliability failures.

How to Improve PCB Reliability

Component failure rates have steadily declined over the years to the point where non-component failure sources have become the dominant cause of failures for a PCB. If the reliability of the components is becoming a non-issue, then the only way to improve electronics further—for this article, automotive electronics—is to look at the non-component aspects of the electronics, and a significant one is the PCB.

How to Evaluate a Used Machine

There are some cases where you can get a good deal on used SMT assembly equipment and save some money over a new machine. This article will help guide you in your search and give you some tips to avoid getting a raw deal or actually spending more than new by the time you get that bargain acquisition in good working order.

Real Time with… SMTAI: Alpha's Strategies to Ensure Reliability of Assemblies

I-Connect007’s Judy Warner and Robert Wallace, regional marketing manager and channel partner manager for the Americas for Alpha Assembly Solutions, discuss how Alpha helps ensure reliability of their customers’ assemblies by providing soldering material set combinations that had been fully tested together for the J-STD-004B.

Real Time with... SMTAI: AIM’s Tim O'Neill on Soldering Challenges and Innovation

Tim O’Neill, technical marketing manager for AIM Solder, speaks with I-Connect007’s Andy Shaughnessy about the biggest problems related to solder paste printing in a typical manufacturing process—and how their M8 no-clean solder paste is helping address these issues.

Mitigation of Pure Tin Risk by Tin-Lead SMT Reflow – Results of an Industry Round-Robin

The risk associated with whisker growth from pure tin solderable terminations is fully mitigated when all of the pure tin is dissolved into tin-lead solder during SMT reflow. This article details a round robin study that has been performed by IPC Task group 8-81f, to guide high-reliability end-users on the applicability and limitations of this mitigation strategy.

IPC Certification Program's 'Space Hardware Addendums' Training and Certification

In this article, Sharon Montana-Beard of Blackfox discusses the IPC Certification Program's Space Hardware Addendums training and certification, the topics covered in the training course, and the benefits of the program.

Recycling Substrates and Components in Mil/Aero Assemblies: Secure Metals Recovery

In this article, Mitch Holtzer of Alpha Assembly Solutions writes about reworking defective military and aerospace electronics assemblies, and recovering the value of the substrate and components without compromising the top secret design of the circuit.


The Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 4

In this fourth installment of the series on the theory behind tin whiskers, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues on her discussion of the likely key processes engaged in tin whisker growth—lattice vs. grain boundary diffusion, and reaction and dynamic of intermetallic compounds.

How to Specify a Custom Machine

Let’s say you have an unusual product configuration, a unique space requirement, an unorthodox handling system, or an application totally unrelated to the PCB or SMT assembly business, and you can’t find a standard machine provider that can handle your requirements. What then? This article highlights key points to consider when going the custom machine way for your project.

Is Your Electronics Manufacturing Factory 'Smart'?

Despite the amount of content being produced around big data, Industry 4.0, digital manufacturing, mass customization and various other subjects, a large number of electronics manufacturing companies still don't fully understand this question. This article looks to provide guidance on how you can assess your manufacturing facility without investing huge amounts of time and money upfront.

Being More than a Manufacturer’s Rep

Matt Bonweg, process support specialist at manufacturers' rep firm Murray Percival Company, speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman during the recent SMTA Ohio Expo about the company's history and philosophy, as well as their strategies for success in this industry.

Silicon Valley SMTA Chapter President Kevin McClay on Evolution and Current Status of SMTA

Kevin McClay, president of Silicon Valley SMTA Chapter, speaks with I-Connect007’s Judy Warner on the activities of the SMTA in the Valley, and the challenge of attracting young talent to join the manufacturing engineering industry.

Real Time with NEPCON South China: BTU Talks Voiding in Automotive Electronics, Industry 4.0 Strategies

At NEPCON South China 2016, Bob Bouchard of BTU International Inc. discusses with I-Connect007’s Stephen Las Marias the challenges and opportunities in the China market, how BTU is helping address voiding issues in automotive electronics assemblies, and their Industry 4.0 strategies.

I-Connect Survey: A Look at the Mil/Aero Industry

I-Connect007 recently conducted a survey on the military/defense and aerospace markets. Respondents were asked about the greatest challenges when it comes to PCB design, fabrication, and assembly; their customers’ demands; whether lead-free components are still an issue; and compliance challenges.

Case Study: Flex Smart Factory at Fuyong

This paper discusses Flex's experience with their current project called Smart Factory, which is being implemented at their Fuyong facility in Shenzhen, China. It also highlights some of the benefits they have achieved, including traceability, improved productivity and quality, and minimized defects through process predictability.

The Industry Speaks

In the latest issue of SMT Magazine, we take a pause from covering the latest technology trends, challenges, and solutions in the electronics manufacturing and assembly industry. Instead, we are focusing on our readers—to give a voice to their thoughts on the industry, companies, jobs, interests, and even pain points when it comes to their respective specialties.

Local SMTA Expos Are Where It’s Happening!

At the recent SMTA chapter expos, Greg Vance with Rockwell Automation and Brett Crane with Bird Electronic Corporation speak with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about the event, and the trends happening in the electronics manufacturing industry.


Event Review: 7th Electronic Materials and Processes for Space Workshop

This year's Electronic Materials and Processes for Space Workshop discussed a wide range of technology issues and developments when it comes to PCB fabrication and assembly for space applications. From addressing reliability issues to dealing with cracks that may form during thermal cycling, to REACH regulations and their impact on space hardware, and tin whisker growths. Barrie Dunn provides the highlights.

Selecting a Selective Soldering System, Part 5

For the conclusion of his series on selective soldering discussion, Robert Voigt does a quick wrap-up to remind potential buyers about some important considerations that affect the purchase decisions they make.

How to Prevent Solder Bridges During Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Solder bridges occur when solder unintentionally connects one electronic component lead to another. Thankfully, a large number of solder bridges can be easily prevented. And while preventive measures may cost you a small amount of additional time and money, the long term payback can be significant.

Divergence in Test Results Using IPC Standard SIR and Ionic Contamination Measurements

This study will compare the results from testing two solder pastes using the IPC-J-STD-004B IPC TM-650 2.6.3.7 surface insulation resistance test and IPC TM-650 2.3.25 in an attempt to investigate the correlation of ROSE methods as predictors of electronic assembly electrical reliability.

Understanding How EMS Companies View Capital Investment Decisions

One of the great benefits of outsourcing your manufacturing is that it can largely remove the need to continually invest in expensive capital equipment. But when selecting an EMS partner, it is important to take a realistic view of their equipment list. This article explains why.

A New Dispensing Solder Paste for Laser Soldering Technology

A new solder paste of alloy composition of Sn-3.0Ag-0.5Cu in a dispensing way is developed for the automatic laser soldering processes. This paper presents the results of soldering BGA spheres on circuit boards with minimal voiding and no splash or solder balling issues.

ITRI’s Wang Talks Future of Soldering and Paste Printing

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Wang Chao, technology manager at UK-based ITRI Ltd, discusses the biggest challenges in solder paste printing, how the solder paste material impacts the process, and the future for soldering and paste printing.

Selecting a Selective Soldering System, Part 4

In the previous three chapters on selective soldering, Robert Voigt covered the different applications well-suited to this technology, the various types of fluxing and soldering methods available, and nitrogen inerting. In this chapter, he discusses programming software, and how you can figure out the best sequence to optimize production speed.

Hand Soldering: The Move Toward Automation

At the recent NEPCON event in Shanghai, JBC's Domingo Taberner discussed with I-Connect007's Barry Matties the hand soldering market in China, the move towards automation, the greatest challenges their customers have in soldering, and what to know about choosing the right temperature and tip.

Solder Paste Dispensing: Breaking the Limits of Printing

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Eric Gu, application manager at Nordson Asymtek China, talks about the greatest challenges and innovations in solder paste dispensing, and factors to consider when using solder paste dispensers.


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