Article Highlights
Plasmatreat on Atmospheric Pressure Plasma
07/20/2018 | Barry Matties, I-Connect007
Overcoming Growth Challenges
07/19/2018 | Neil Sharp, JJS Manufacturing
Tackling Reliability Challenges in Low-Temperature Soldering
07/18/2018 | Barry Matties and Stephen Las Marias, I-Connect007
Nearing Retirement, Juki's Bob Black Reflects on a Long Career
07/17/2018 | Barry Matties, I-Connect007
ASM Assembly Solutions on CFX
07/16/2018 | Barry Matties, I-Connect007

Latest Articles

Evaluating Cleaning System Performance

IN SUMMARYThough quantitative tools to assess the performance of electronics assembly equipment and processes abound, the industry lacks a reasonable means for evaluating cleaning systems’ performance.

RoHS Wins Converts Despite Exemptions

In SummaryMedical devices currently are exempt from RoHS. Yet, many medical device manufacturers are requesting RoHS conversion from their EMS providers due to concerns about long-term component availability and reliability.

Intrusive Reflow of Lead-free Solder Paste, Part II

In SummaryIntrusive reflow describes the process of stencil printing solder paste in and around a thru-hole, placing SMT and thru-hole devices, then reflowing the entire assembly as part of the SMT process.

Traceability on the Line

Traceability means many things to different facets of the electronics assembly market.

From the Editor
Back to Business

For me, returning from a long Thanksgiving weekend means plugging back in to the world's news and events. I think we need these little breaks to come back into the hustle-and-bustle world with a refreshed perspective and renewed interest in business, economies, politics, and global happenings. Midway through the week and firmly back in the swing of things, we've grabbed a few headlines from these areas that really caught our attention as electronics-minded editors.

How to Publish in SMT

As an engineering- and manufacturing-focused publication centered on surface mount technology, SMT strives to bring to light important R&D and case studies, materials and equipment advances, and trends and business news in electronics manufacturing. We publish original articles, news releases, product launches, opinion pieces, and event itineraries, and want to give you the chance to participate in our monthly print issues and weekly e-newsletters.

From the Editor
Productronica: Worldwide Electronics Conference Reflects Market

Productronica, the conference that happens only every other year, by all measurements, was an overwhelming success. Approximately 40,000 visitors from around the world travelled to the Neue Messe, a former airport that has served as home to this important meeting for electronics production for many years. After a so-so 2007, 2008 seems to reflect a future that is bright with growing demand. According to most predictions from the show, we can expect healthy growth for electronics production.

QA: More than Meets the Eye

By Jacob Rubin, Proventus Technologies Ltd. - - To the main challenges that the electronics manufacturing industry is facing today belongs the question: how can the industry's conversion-cost roadmap be reduced in the cost per I/O of each assembly over time? An important factor in minimizing this conversion cost is assuring higher quality, thereby delivering higher utilization, shorter product cycle times and reduced cost of test, and lowered instances of repair and scrap.

RoHS: Eighteen Months Later

By Ronald Lasky, Ph.D. - - Eighteen months ago, RoHS went into effect with predictions of imminent economic, logistic, and end-product-reliability disasters hanging in the air. I think it is now insightful to reflect on what has actually occurred.

From the Editor
Welcome!

San Jose is a city that respects and, more importantly, loves technology and electronics. This was evident from the moment I stepped off the plane, with "San Jose Welcomes IMAPS 2007" signs along the baggage claim and taxi bays. The Tech, Museum of Innovation was bustling with people of all ages. In this tech-friendly atmosphere, I was in the right mood to study harsh-environment medical electronics during "Biomedical Materials, Devices, and Packaging."


More Productronica Highlights

Marantz, Juki, Pickering Interfaces, DKN Research, Aegis, Palomar, BTU Europe, Asymtek, Ovation, Kester, Lloyd Doyle, Inovaxe, BPM, EVS, KIC, VJ Electronix, Kyzen, RMD, and Balver Zinn will launch products from aqueous cleaning chemistries to AOI systems, components, XRF analyzers, solder pastes, programmers, and more at Productronica, November 13–16 in Munich, Germany.

Productronica Product Preview

Following are products and services debuting or being demonstrated at Productronica, November 13–16 in Munich, Germany. AOI systems, reflow ovens, probe testers, cleaning solutions, placement systems, and other tools will be introduced by Mydata, Agilent, CyberOptics, Europlacer, Viscom, Essemtec, YESTech, atg Luther & Maelzer, High-Tech Conversions, Smart Sonic, Electrolube, and Finetech.

From the Editor
Local and Niche Conferences Still Draw Crowds

NEPCON East, October 30–31, 2007, at the Boston Convention & Exhibit Center happened at an unlikely time. Exhibitors were beginning to complain about toting around large pieces of equipment and extending their tradeshow budgets. Even worse, the first day of the show occurred just as the Boston Red Sox celebrated their World Series victory. And yet, NEPCON East still drew crowds to the large convention center.

E-waste Management: Coping with End-of-life

By Meredith Courtemanche - Over the coming months, your personal electronic devices — i-This and i-That — will come to the end of their product life cycles and go from i- to e-. E-waste, e-pollution, e-scrap and e-recycling are the buzz words of the electronics industry and international communities looking to reduce impact on the earth at end-of-life. SMT surveyed companies and associations to sort out preparing for an assembly's life after end-of-life.

Elusive BGA Intermittent Connections

By Zulki Khan, NexLogic Technologies, Inc. - - BGA intermittent connections (BICs) can originate from various root causes and produce periodic faulty operation involving BGAs. The worst characteristic about this problem, however, is its elusive nature, which can consume inordinate OEM engineering time and money and delay product launches. At this point, an OEM's top management is forced to intervene to determine causes of delays in its product introduction.

Q&A with a BGA/Electronics Assembler

Lightspeed Manufacturing in Methuen, Mass., opened in 2003, surviving the thin years in electronics manufacturing by relying on BGA services to attract packaging customers as well. As EMS in the U.S. grows healthier, Lightspeed has been able to expand both its SMT and BGA services and capacity. SMT spoke with Rich Breault about the EMS niche developing in the U.S., lead-free and its effect on BGA and electronics assembly business, and how boards will look in the near future.

NEWS ANALYSIS

Cobar, Balver Hope to Exploit MERGER BEnefits

Non-Contact Streaming Technology Enhances Dispensing

The dispensing industry within electronics manufacturing represents a diverse marketplace; different materials can be applied in different ways.

Minimizing Voids in Lead-free Array Packages

Voids in lead-free alloys and their effect on reliability, causes, and classification have been debated extensively.

Intrusive Reflow of Lead-free Solder Paste

There is renewed interest in intrusive reflow of thru-hole components with the advent of lead-free solder processes.


X-ray Choice for SMT Manufacturing:

In an X-ray inspection system purchase, as part of a test-functionality strategy within SMT manufacturing processes, different types of equipment are available from a range of manufacturers.

Printed Electronics in Next-Gen Mobile Phones

By Peter Harrop, Ph.D., IDTechEx - Printed electronics are an emerging $300 billion business of transistors, memory, displays, solar cells, batteries, sensors, lasers, and more printable or potentially printable electronics. End products manufactured in this manner will be foldable, conformal, wide area, low cost, edible, rollable, transparent, and biodegradable, as needed. The printed electronics industry will be pivotal to the future of mobile phones.

From the Editor
A School for Ants?

There's no doubt in anyone's mind that the majority of electronic products are shooting for higher density, more miniaturization, and smaller form factors. In the midst of all this scaling down, the human factor bungles things up. If problems arise, manual rework may be required on such delicate and miniaturized components that they may better fit into a doll's electronics, or, as Ben Stiller ineptly exclaims in the movie Zoolander, in "a school for ants."

NEPCON East Product Preview

Assembly New England/NEPCON East, October 30–31 at the Boston Convention & Exhibit Center in Boston, will host various local and national exhibitors. Following is a spotlight of products and services Juki, Lightspeed, Digitaltest, High-Tech Conversions, Ovation, Aqueous, and more companies will exhibit.

DfT Yields Bottom-line Returns

By Mark Laing, Mentor Graphics Corporation - With advances in modern PCB technology, it has become more challenging to optimize test-and-inspection strategies. Reduced bed-of-nails accessibility places more emphasis on DfT and use of complementary process verification techniques. All PCB manufacturers create defects in their processes; with intelligent implementation of DfT practices, these defects can be caught and addressed in a timely manner.

Datron Celebrates Octoberfest in N.H.
with German Chef Smackdown

By Gail Flower, editor-in-chief - MILFORD, N.H. — Datron, a precision machining company providing tools for depth-controlled trace cutting and milling, tab routing, depanelization, and micro-hole drilling in PCBs, celebrated their "German Engineering" heritage by offering a battle of the German chefs — Bruno Meissner from Giessen and Dieter from Rhein-Main competed at Datron's Customer Appreciation Oktoberfest.

Greener Production: An Interview with Tim Walker, Victrex

When designing and constructing a second polymer manufacturing plant in Lancashire, U.K., Victrex plc made layout, equipment, and structural choices to minimize energy and water consumption, while producing PEEK and PEEK-based polymers cost effectively. SMT spoke with Victrex about its green roadmap. The facility will ramp to eventually boost Victrex's PEEK output by about 50%, and also will benefit Victrex's bottom line through the hallmark reduce/reuse/recycle concept.

Reworking Silicone Conformal Coatings

By Barry Ritchie and Marjorie Dwane, Dow Corning Electronics and Advanced Technologies, Dow Corning Corporation - - Conformal coatings continue to see increased usage and popularity. Silicone coatings are soft, flexible materials that provide moisture resistance, stress relief, and low durometer. Component complexity will determine the most appropriate method for removal. Knowing your removal and repair options upfront and how to choose can save time, money, and frustration.

From the Editor
Birds of a Feather

Its autumn in New England, and geese that spent the summer commingling with local waterfowl and nesting in small groups now congregate en masse to migrate south. The principle is simple — align to reach a shared objective. Nam Tai Electronics decided this week to reorganize its businesses, grouping PCBA, flex, and display manufacturing together under its EMS branch, and shifting a software group into a separate sphere of operation.

A Tale of Two Shows

By Michael L. Martel - - I went out to Assembly Tech Expo and IPC Midwest to see what was going on in the industry. After all, I have somewhat of a vested interest in what's happening; after twenty years in this electronics manufacturing business, it's a lot like being on a sand-spit in the bay with the tide rising. At first it seems like a big place, but after a while the rising water creates a shrinking piece of dry ground; what, if anything, will be left once the tide reaches flood?


IPC Midwest Review

Since I originate from the Midwest, I packed in a visit to relatives and friends on my way to the IPC Midwest Conference and Exhibition, September 22–28. So, with a copy of the Michigan Yooper DVD "Escanaba in da Moonlight" in my briefcase and gifts of fancy jewelry and hand-tied fishing flies tucked in my suitcase, I took the Amtrak train to Union Station and began the business side of things.

ATExpo in Review: Product Spotlight

ATExpo, September 25–27 in Rosemont, Ill., highlighted production equipment and materials, with products from Electrolube, FlexLink Systems, Zierick, IDENTCO, KUKA, and Unovis, among other exhibitors.

Improving SMT Yield with AOI and AXI

By An Qi Zhao; Xin Yong Yu; Li Ming Gong; Zhen (Jane) Feng, Ph.D.; Mark Evans; and Murad Kurwa, Flextronics International Inc. - - As PCB assembly (PCBA) becomes more complex, AOI and AXI systems are more widely used in electronics manufacturing. AXI has good defect detection capabilities, but its TaKT time becomes a concern when compared to other machines on the SMT line. How can these two testing machines be used effectively to test production?

Where Are All the Engineers?

By Gary A. Tanel - - Following my May 2007 column,1 I received many calls confirming the direction of the EMS industry and voicing additional concerns on other trends. Another common theme is the concern regarding manufacturing technology skills being lost in the U.S. This takes the shape of American students losing interest in technical fields and the increased interest by hard-working students in emerging Asian countries.

Products

Following are products from some companies exhibiting at Productronica, November 13-16, 2007, Munich, Germany.

Examining Cost of Ownership Challenges

The most important consideration when purchasing equipment is to examine the challenges the electronics industry faces this year to understand how it affects cost of ownership (COO) decisions.

Low-cost Optical Interconnects in SMT

The main challenge is inexpensively getting light signals on and off an IC chip, planar lightwave circuit (PLC) chip, or photonic integrated circuit (PIC).

Paper Substrates for RFID Tags

The first step to ultra-low-cost paper substrates for RFID tags is to demonstrate conductors on paper substrates from a processing standpoint, and characterize the electrical performance of paper substrates (up to 2 GHz) from a design standpoint.

STEP 9: Test & Inspection

Fast-evolving technology on circuit boards and quick-turn production requirements place new demands on circuit board test strategies and platforms.

INDUSTRY VIEW

First introduced in 1986 by Takaya, fixtureless flying-probe testers have become a mainstay in most electronics manufacturing facilities.


J-STD-609 Standard:
Labeling and Marking for Harmony in a Lead-free and Tin/Lead World

By Lee Wilmot, TTM Technologies; Jasbir Bath, Solectron Corporation; and Jack McCullen, Intel - - After JEDEC and IPC published separate standards for labeling lead-free components and assemblies in 2004 and 2005, the J-STD-609 committee was created to work on a joint standard, "Marking and Labeling of Components, PCBs, and PCBAs to Identify Lead, Lead-free, and Other Attributes" joint standard. The demand for a harmonized standard is high.

CEO Perspectives: Manncorp's Henry Mann

Manncorp distributes and supports a range of SMT equipment, tooling, and consumables. With a main customer base in North America, Manncorp uses Web-based business techniques to remain cost-sensitive and to provide instantaneous data that suits the North American consumer's mindset. SMT spoke with CEO and founder Henry Mann about the American market, the power of internet salesmanship, and integrating personal and electronic support to maintain a customer's equipment.

Vias in SMT Mounting Pads

By Terry Kern, Axiom Electronics - The filling of plated through vias is not an entirely new process, and has been a necessary step to partially filled vias in circuit boards. However, these vias were located outside of SMT pads used for mounting components. Recently, as component density increased and lead pitches became smaller, it became difficult or impossible for designers to find circuit board real estate for connecting SMT mounting pads to discrete conventional vias.

East Meets West at NEPCON/EMT South China 2007

By Simon Lian, Editor-in-Chief, SMT China - Held August 28–31, 2007, in Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center, the largest and most comprehensive international SMT and electronics manufacturing show in China saw more than 19,776 high-quality professional visitors. The show served as an arena for local industry players to learn more about the latest products and technologies on the electronics manufacturing market.

DEK Opens Manufacturing Facility in Shenzhen

By Simon Lian, Editor-in-Chief, SMT China - DEK is reinforcing its commitment to the Asian electronics market by opening a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China. Covering an area of 2,600 square meters and featuring production, office, training, and exhibition facilities, the manufacturing center will initially focus on the production of entry-level and medium-range printer platforms.

Undulating Coils Humanize PCBAs

Collaborative development work between Belgium's University of Ghent and IMEC produced a molded interconnect device (MID) that can stretch up to 100%, while still conducting signals between surface mount devices (SMDs) and other components. SMT spoke with Jan Vanfleteren, researcher, University of Ghent, about the consumer and medical end-products enabled by stretchy PCB assemblies (PCBAs), the assembly process, and the design and materials engineering that led to this.

Don't Miss SMT's RoHS Lead-free Manufacturing Webinar

As more electronics manufacturing firms move into lead-free assembly, practical issues play an ever-growing role in determining how well RoHS compliance can become second nature to those in control. To help manufacturers hone their skills in meeting RoHS regulations, while still maintaining a productive, profitable transition, SMT will host its "RoHS Lead-free Electronics Manufacturing" Webinar on Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. EST.

Three Musketeers of SMT Assembly

A series of three pick-and-place systems — dubbed "The Three Musketeers of SMT Assembly" — is said to cover all applications in mid-range surface mount assembly area.

Measuring the Cost per Cleaned Part

By Harald Wack, Ph.D., ZESTRON - Cleaning processes in the electronics manufacturing industry are driven by two factors: achieving cleanliness requirements and optimizing economic efficiency. The only true method of analyzing a cleaning process is to use a systematic approach that analyzes the process with regard to four criteria: substrate being cleaned, contamination being removed, cleaning agent, and cleaning equipment.

Lead-free Alchemy
The Full Story

By Meredith Courtemanche, SMT - - In the lead-free era, R&D dollars are devoted to understanding metallurgy. This article looks at how much of reliable lead-free assembly comes from process, and how much comes from the fundamental materials involved.


Henkel Appoints Todd V.P. of PD&E

(Sept. 4, 2007) Irvine, Calif.— Michael Todd, Ph.D., was promoted to the position of vice president of product development and engineering for semiconductor and assemblies technology at Henkel.

New Products

Following are products from companies exhibiting at SMTA International (SMTAI), October 7-11, 2007, Orlando, Fla.

Reducing Total Cost of Ownership

Many variables comprise total cost of ownership (TCO). To determine TCO for the life cycle of a product, variables such as bill of materials (BOM), time-to-volume (TTV), field return rate (FRR), and end of life and product ramp-down processes (ELPR) matter most, and often get insufficient attention.

Corner and Edge Bond Dispensing for BGAs

The underfill process was designed to improve the reliability of flip-chip packages, specifically the fatigue resistance of C4 interconnect bumps during thermal cycling.

Component Traceability Issues

In addition to the nightmare of managing component-lot traceability from receipt to final assembly, manufacturers also must routinely manage RoHS-compliancy, time- and moisture-sensitive devices (MSDs), and the integration of vendor- or customer-consigned materials into the product.

The Need for More Than Speed

Pick-and-place equipment providers often highlight capabilities such as component-per-hour (CPH) placement metrics, flexibility, and placement accuracy.

Lead-free Alchemy

In lead-free manufacturing, R&D dollars are devoted to understanding metallurgy - how does lead-free solder work; and what changes will make it wet better, or reduce brittle joints? Adjusting reflow profiles, assembling with nitrogen, underfilling and encapsulating, and designing boards with end-use in mind are all important to global electronics assemblers - the lead-free solder alloy that performs as well as or better than tin/lead.

Focus on Expansion and Time-to-Market

Much has happened since I visited JOT Automation - now part of Rohwedder’s Electronic Production Solutions (EPS) - in Tallinn, Estonia.

3D Inspection has Quaint Beginnings

Nestled in the quaint village of Tring in Hertfordshire, England, U.K., is a company that has positioned itself for growth in the electronics manufacturing industry - with roots in industrial inspection equipment.

STEP 8: Cleaning

As the demand for cleaning increases, some essential rules remain the same. For example, do not combine too many different cleaning processes into one machine using the same cleaning product.


Packaging Passives

By Craig Hunter, AVX Corporation - - Many innovations in passives can be traced back to the need for smaller, lighter devices. For capacitors, that has resulted in shrinking case sizes from 1210 down to 0201, and even to 01005s. The need to make passive components thinner, as witnessed by increased sales of newer, thinner MP3 players, adds to this. For passive component manufacturers, this means meeting the requirements of the smallest semiconductor package available.

Black Pad — And Then Some

By Duane Benson, Screaming Circuits - - Reflow-related problems are more common today, especially on larger BGAs. This article examines one less-common, but persistent BGA assembly issue — black pad.

Nepcon South China Product Preview

Nepcon South China, August 28–31 in Shenzhen, will showcase emerging and flagship products for the Asia assembly market. Following are the materials, inspection systems, production equipment, and additional tools being exhibited at the show.

Certifications and Accreditations

Following are the announcements of internationally recognized certifications, government awards, and standards oversight in Europe, the U.S., and China from Elcoteq, P.D. Circuits, and GSPK Circuits.

August Product Preview

Following are the new software systems, reflow technologies, epoxy-cure ovens, handlers, components, and other products launched by Cimmetry Systems, International Manufacturing Services Inc. (IMS), BPM Microsystems, Vitronics Soltec and KIC, Manncorp, Ultrasonic Systems Inc. (USI), OK International, Grieve Corporation, and PROMATION.

PRINTING MINIATURIZED COMPONENTS

Moore’s Law governing chip density is just one of the curves defining the ongoing miniaturization of electronic products.

When 2-D X-ray Isn’t Enough

In the few cases where non-destructive 2-D X-ray inspection is not sufficient enough to detect defects, the standard practice has been to cut out the part of interest, encase it in a plastic cylinder, and grind it down slowly to see the interior using standard optical microscopy.

Changing BGA Solder Ball Metallurgy

In portable devices, such as cell phones, PDAs, DVDs, and MP3 players, stress can cause intermetallic failures, as can impacts common to shipping-and-handling. According to one component manufacturer, customers have received BGA packages with missing solder balls because they had fallen off the BGAs during shipping.

STEP 7: Soldering

The lead-free initiative continues to affect all areas of manufacturing - none more so than the reflow process.

PCB Fab & the Paperless Office

SMT Magazine visits P.D. Circuits, a PCB supply-chain management firm in Hampstead, N.H.


Industry Prospects:
Will Printed Electronics Be Sustainable?

In many ways the end product is only as good as the equipment used to produce it, and market penetration is only as good as the manufacturing infrastructure that supports it. With printed electronics, success will be measured in the precision and throughput achieved by printing equipment. NanoMarkets analysts report that manufacturing capacity at present is negligible, and the standby screen printer will lose market share to high-volume printing methods over the next five years.

Tracking the Flow of Solder Defects

By Zulki Khan, Nexlogic Technologies - - Soldering defects can occur from reflow, wave, or hand soldering. However, the most prone to defects is reflow soldering for SMT. Reflow soldering is more complex compared to other forms of soldering. Reflow soldering requires the development and use of a correct thermal profile.

The Pulse of SMT in North America

By Gail Flower and Michelle M. Boisvert, SMT - - To plan your destination, you must first assess where you are. Therefore, SMT has gathered data on where the surface mount equipment, materials, and EMS/ODM markets are, and where they are headed. High-volume board production is occurring outside of North America. The migration of electronics assembly to areas of low-cost labor continues. North America boasts low-volume/high-mix electronics assembly.

Green Giant — Green China

By Craig Hunter, AVX Corp. - - China has gone green. The giant has seen massive industrial growth and has polluted their air, water, and soil while consuming vast natural resources. In response, they are implementing environmental legislation in an attempt to reduce the effects of pollution caused by rapid industrial development. A 1998 WHO report on air quality concluded that seven of the world's 10 most polluted cities were in China. Enter China's RoHS environmental initiative.

Pick-and-Place: Users & Vendors Speak Out

SMT surveyed EMS providers to learn about their placement needs. Following are their responses.

Process Development of the Stencil Printing Process

The need for more reliable, lighter, and smaller products has increased the use of flip chips (FCs), chip-scale packages (CSPs), microBGAs, and 0201s in applications where reliability is a main concern.

IPC-7351 Revs Forward

PC-7351 represented a major shift in how land patterns were defined and created, and provided the industry with multiple geometries for a given part, enabling designers to select a land pattern that best matched the printed board component density configuration.

Reducing Design Cycle Times

Traditionally, designers are pulled in from other projects to assist with meeting deadlines, usually by adopting shift-work routines or physically splitting the design into multiple pieces.

ANSI/ESD S20.20 Revisions

The ESDA created the original document in 1999 at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to have an industry standard for developing an ESD control program, and has since become a globally recognized standard for the industry.

Automotive EMS in Singapore

Singapore’s EMS and precision-engineering supply base has seen growth in the automotive sector, in terms of both annual volume and product range.


Flux Residue & Selective Soldering

During wave soldering, much of the flux is washed off the PCB during; this is not the case in selective soldering.

New Products

Prototyping Line

American Competitiveness Institute — Technology Sharing

By Michelle M. Boisvert, managing editor - - PHILADELPHIA — The American Competitiveness Institute may be one of the "best-kept secrets" in the surface mount assembly industry — so secret that even some military agencies don't know all that it has to offer. The ACI is a research corporation for the Department of Defense and industry. What many people do not know is its full extent of offerings for CMs and EMS providers, as well as capital equipment manufacturers.

Interview with a Mixed-assembly EMS Provider

Specializing in automated SMT assembly and mixed-technology PCBAs, Innovative Circuits (Corinth, Miss.), performs a range of manufacturing and engineering services. Production varies from small- through medium- and high-volume runs. With two SMT lines and thru-hole capability, Innovative Circuits performs consignment and turnkey manufacturing. SMT spoke with Jim Usery about the EMS provider's operations and screen printing equipment and stencils, fine-pitch, and PCB design.

SAC Solder Paste

SAC3 XM5S is formulated with a synthetic base to withstand higher lead-free soldering temperatures and provide reportedly good wetting and void-free joints. The no-clean paste is designed for stencil printing; it is said to print with good definition and without smearing. The paste reduces the frequency of required stencil wiping.

Paste Volume Inspection Module

The VP3 paste inspection module offers in-line 3-D solder paste inspection, measuring and evaluating paste volume, height, shape, smears, and other characteristics. It incorporates isotropic polychromatic fringe projection technology to illuminate paste deposits and provide reportedly high accuracy at line speeds. The inspection system recognizes systematic and sporadic defects, optimizing printer use.

Economical Lead-free Reflow

Targeting lead-free solder applications, the R-500 reflow oven offers 10 reinforced PID temperature controllers in each of its five upper and lower chambers, allowing precision in reflow profile parameters, along with three thermocouple inputs to monitor component and PCB temperatures.

Associations in the SMT Industry

There are several associations within SMT meant to offer companies a source of information on industry developments; and to give individuals a networking platform and opportunities to further their education or knowledge in the surface mount manufacturing and assembly market. Below are some industry associations, what they do, and how to contact them. Beyond the basics there are working groups, standards committees, and other organizations within the association.

Maintaining Quality through IPC Training & Certification

By Michael Martel - - The impact of IPC "Training and Certification Programs" on the electronics manufacturing industry cannot be overestimated. Hundreds of thousands of people involved in the production of circuit boards and assemblies have benefited from these programs. Major OEMs and EMS companies have become leaders in the program, with impressive results.

The Need for a Stencil Cleaning Handbook

By Bill Schreiber, Smart Sonic Corporation - - During the infancy of SMT, cleaning 50-mil-pitch brass stencils and emulsion wire screens was a straightforward task for the maintenance crew using a CFC solvent vapor degreaser. In 30 years, product changes have been driven by environmental regulations and the "faster, smaller, cheaper" technology syndrome. The only thing for certain is change. The IPC is providing help with Stencil and Misprinted Board Cleaning Handbook, IPC-7526.


AOI for Process Improvement

Expanding the role of AOI from defect detection to line-quality improvement tool, the ADVISOR process control software and AOI system solution provides an easily accessed data bank for all relevant SMT quality data, such as AOI resource information, process machine parameters, and set-up data. It automatically links post-reflow inspection data with paste inspection data and paste-inspection results with printer system events.

Intrusive Reflow Challenges Wave Soldering

A process referred to as "Intrusive Reflow" for lead-free solder paste reportedly will increase efficiency by eliminating the wave soldering process. Bill Coleman, Ph.D., authored a technical paper detailing the process, which outlines proper pin-to-hole ratios and screen printer settings for successful lead-free thru-hole solder joints.

Lead-free High-tack Flux

TSF-6592LV lead-free no-clean tacky soldering flux is a high-tack paste flux that minimizes skewing with BGAs, CSPs, flip chips, or other surface-mount devices. It suits flip chip attach, rework and repair, sphere and ball attach, and lead-free reflow.

Environmentally Conscious Technologies: Does Green Equal Competitive Advantage?

Every electronics manufacturing company will be affected by the rise of green activities.

Reflow Methods Using Integrated Preforms

Solder fabrications, or preforms, can be made to fit many unique applications. Preforms are designed to have a particular shape and deliver a specified volume of solder to the joint.

Electroformed vs. Laser-cut: A Stencil Performance Study

There have been claims in the industry that laser-cut electroformed nickel foil blanks provide stencil print performance comparable to electroformed stencils.

Strategies to Minimize Rework Challenges

OEMs generally do not include a rework strategy as part of their product development plans.

STEP 6: Component Placement

Component placement needs have undergone significant changes in the past few years.

WEEE Comes Full Circle

Environmental legislation, such as the EU’s WEEE Directive, places responsibilities on producers of electronics products - through the product’s entire useful life and beyond.

SMT Heads for the Mountains

SMT Magazine visits Photo Stencil, a stencil manufacturer in Colorado Springs, Colo.


New Products

Pick-and-Place

News from Nepcon NEC 2007

By Michelle M. Boisvert, managing editor - - BIRMINGHAM, U.K. — I had the chance to again visit Nepcon NEC, May 15–17, 2007. Considered a regional U.K.-based show, Nepcon NEC is host to more than 400 exhibitors within the PCB assembly, test-and-measurement, components, PCB fabrication, and microelectronics markets. Overall, I found the show to be livelier than last year, and exhibitors noted more confidence in the health of electronics manufacturing in the U.K.

Developing World Creates Electronics Niche

Conventionally, high-volume consumer electronics are manufactured in the developing world and marketed to developed regions throughout Western Europe, North America, and Asia. In recent years, however, the developing world has edged into the consumer market, and shown potential to grow into a larger segment. The increasing popularity of cell phones in India and Africa attests to this trend, and low-cost laptops — between $100 and $200 — could carry the electronics market's momentum.

Electronics Manufacturing Trends in the U.S.

By Gary Tanel - - Each of us has a perspective on where we think the country is going regarding electronics manufacturing. Recently, I posed that question to 700 EMS executives across the country. Below are the general thoughts and some specific comments as the EMS industry looks to the second half of 2007.

The Maturing of Lead-free Assembly

From Implementation to Optimization - By Jim Hall, ITM Consulting - - When we observe all the new materials being offered and all of the product and process data that is being published, it appears clear that lead-free (LF) assembly is transitioning from initial implementation to an optimization phase. Or from "How do I build an acceptable LF product?" to "What can I do to my materials and processes to make my LF products less expensive, easier to assemble, and more reliable?"

Vapor-phase Soldering Systems

Suited to lead-free or tin/lead production, the Asscon vapor-phase line of soldering and rework systems is said to eliminate temperature differentials and failed liquidous during reflow or component removal/replacement.

Thru-hole Plating

The Contact RS, and MiniContac RS for smaller PCBs, thru-hole plating system targets professional prototyping and small-batch PCB production. The systems fit small runs and tight work areas.

PCB Stacking Component

The Solderball Pin is a discrete surface mount component comprising high-performance conductive copper interconnect and a solder-ball interface. The mother-to-daughter PCB connector provides additional solder for final assembly interconnects and allows the sub-assembly to drop and align with the host PCB during reflow, compensating for up to 0.020" co-planarity variance.

ESD Ionizers

By Jay Skolnik, Skolnik Technical Training - - With an impetus on meeting RoHS requirements, companies should not forget another hazardous phenomenon — electrostatic discharge (ESD). Electronic parts are becoming smaller, silicon layer geometry is shrinking, pin pitches are reducing, and speeds are increasing, making ESD problems more prevalent than ever. ESD findings vary widely in deficiencies; however, ionizers are, by and large, the culprit of confusion.

From the Show: Nepcon Shanghai

The Most Important Platform for China's Electronics Manufacturing Community - By Simon Lian, editor-in-chief, SMT China - - With China becoming the world's most important electronic manufacturing locale, Nepcon Shanghai 2007/EMT China 2007 has become the most important marketing platform for China's electronics manufacturing industry. Covering the full spectrum, over 35% of the exhibitors showcased their newest products and technologies at this edition.


IPC Video Programs: The History of Training an Industry

By Michael Martel - - As a young kid growing up in the 1960s, I vaguely remember what was involved in making home movies. I remember the unwieldy light bar, the bulky camera loaded with reels of film that had to be processed later, the disappointment when something went wrong. Still, home movies were all the rage, but required a substantial investment in equipment, and the willingness to accept the fact that, quite often, the results would be poor quality.

Speedline Today

By Gail Flower, editor-in-chief - - FRANKLIN, Mass. — Well noted in the SMT arena for wave soldering and reflow, cleaning, stencil printing, and dispensing, Speedline Technologies is in full production of new products, as well as legacy lines that just keep ticking. The company produces its MPM and Camalot machines at its Franklin, Mass., headquarters.

ICT Discussion Probes Future Technology

By Meredith Courtemanche, assistant editor - - BOSTON — The SMTA Boston chapter presentation on in-circuit testing (ICT), from John Bonsante of Everett Charles Technologies, covered lead-free choices and testing variations, PCB trends, and spring probe requirements through house- and beta-test results and analysis. ECT's findings on higher preloads, working forces, and the range of spring choices revolved around lower test costs, longer spring life, and pointing accuracy.

Global Impact of Rising Metals Costs

Originally published by IPC - By Bruce S. Moloznik and Mitch Holtzer, Cookson Electronics; Stan Rothschild, Metallic Resources Inc.; Doug Dixon, Henkel Technologies; and Ross Berntson, Indium Corp. - - The IPC Solder Products Value Council is compelled to clearly articulate to the electronics industry the current costs situation regarding the global supply and demand of two crucial metallic elements to the electronics industry: tin and silver.

Solder Paste Detection System

OPASS technology, designating offset placement after solder screen printing, addresses solder paste alignment errors during manufacturing. It detects and compensates for solder paste misalignment automatically, reducing the errors caused by forward expansion, scaling, contraction, and other process variables.

RoHS/Leaded Component Offerings

The IRC advanced film division of TT electronics (Corpus Christi, Texas) will offer RoHS-compliant and leaded versions of most of its products, a decision based on the number of customers still manufacturing non-RoHS-compliant assemblies. As long as demand for leaded components is sufficient, both versions will be available, noted the company.

Inline Vapor-phase Reflow

The RD52 inline vapor-phase reflow oven targets higher-volume production environments with adjustable-pin chain conveyors, a four-zone preheat section, and horizontal reflow position. Product flows left-to-right.

SMT Presents the 15th Annual VISION Awards

On February 19, 2007, at the Wilshire Grand Hotel during the APEX/IPC Printed Circuits Expo, SMT toasted the winners of the 15th Annual VISION Awards.

VISION Awards Winners

SOLDERING MATERIALS

Transfer Efficiencies in Stencil Printing

The goal of stencil printing is to deposit the proper amount of solder paste in the proper location.


Successful Jetting in SMT

Jetting is the process in which fluid is ejected rapidly through a nozzle, using the fluid momentum to break free from the nozzle.

Precision Engineering & Medtech EMS

After shifting focus away from low-cost manufacturing, Singapore’s electronics and precision-engineering supply base moved to offer high levels of responsiveness, industry specialization, and technical support, combined with access to satellite manufacturing facilities in lower-cost regions.

Eutectic & Lead-free Defluxing in One Process

The examination of the cleaning process for lead-free has raised a critical question: Can an existing chemistry-based cleaning process be used to clean both eutectic and lead-free alloys in the same equipment?

STEP 5: Adhesives/Epoxies & Dispensing

Several materials are dispensed in electronics production including SMAs, solder paste, underfills, encapsulants, conformal coatings, and pottings.

Nepcon Shanghai News

The doors of the Everbright Convention and Exhibition Center in Shanghai opened on Tuesday, April 24, 2007, for Nepcon Shanghai 2007 and EMT China 2007, bringing together more than 650 exhibitors from 22 countries within the surface mount industry. Throughout the four-day event, several key companies will showcase new products and services geared specifically to the Asian electronics manufacturing market. Following are some product highlights from the show.

Components & Pick-and-Place Equipment

MYDATA, BPM, Assembléon, Practical Components, Universal Instruments, Manncorp, and WKK China are demonstrating innovations in pick-and-place and components at Nepcon Shanghai. High-mix and high-speed are key features.

Cleaning Materials & Equipment

Products from Aqueous Technologies and Kyzen Corporation at Nepcon Shanghai demonstrate cleaning of flux, rosin, SMT adhesives, and all solder-paste types. The products include wash systems and cleaning materials. Tom Forsythe of Kyzen presented a paper on advanced cleaning fluids at the SMTA China East conference, in conjunction with Nepcon.

Factory Solutions

From materials for all steps in the SMT process to software that manages and documents factory activity, products from Electrolube, Cogiscan and Fuji, and Europlacer highlight improved efficiency and facility management. SMTA China co-sponsored the "China State Education Project for High-demand IT Talent — SMT Technical Training Program," for technicians in the SMT industry.

Test & Inspection at Nepcon Shanghai

Following are the test-and-inspection products highlighted by Teradyne, YESTech, Innov-X, the X-tek Group, Agilent, RMD Instruments, and Checksum at Nepcon Shanghai. RoHS screening and increased defect detection are key at this year's show.

Soldering Materials & Equipment

KIC, Indium, FINETECH, VJ Electronix, EVS International, and Kester are exhibiting various products from lead-free solders to reflow process controls and rework, to reduce waste and costs and increase reliability. Indium's Ning-Cheng Lee, Ph.D., is teaching a lead-free reliability course.


Predicted Cleanliness Defluxing for High-yield Applications

By Michael Konrad, Aqueous Technologies - - The overused phrase, "How clean is clean?" most frequently refers to cleanliness in the past tense. Literally, it would be more accurate to ask "How clean was clean?" In the world of surface mount assembly, cleanliness normally is determined after the cleaning process has been completed. Like many things, we exert effort, hope for the best, then, when the work is complete, we validate the process.

Optical Inspection Station

The SPM ProberStation 150 combines 3-D inspection and modern optical microscopy in a vision inspection system for atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning probe microscopy (SPM) studies. Travel area across the motorized stage accommodates samples up to 150 × 250 mm; measurements are said to be highly repeatable at ±200 nm for measuring surface roughness and features.

Vision Sensors for High-speed Lines

The In-Sight 5600 product line includes standard 640 × 480 resolution and two-megapixel (1600 × 1200) models for high-speed applications. The vision sensors offer ruggedized design and performance with twice the processing speed and memory of the previous generation.

Lead-free Paste Can Improve Hole Fill

SACX, formulated with ingredients designed to improve wetting performance and hole fill in lead-free processing, targets performance parameters comparable to a tin/lead solder. The alloy is said to generate low levels of dross and produce reliable lead-free solder joints. Good drainage characteristics reportedly reduce bridging.

Call for News from Nepcon Shanghai

SMT Magazine invites your company to be a part of our tradeshow coverage from NEPCON Shanghai, April 24–27. Send us your show news, complete with candid booth photos, product and press releases, and insights and opinions on this year's show.

News

Buried Capacitance Method Decouples Components

Route SMT

SMT Magazine visits New Brunswick Industries, Inc. (NBI), a contract manufacturer in El Cajon, Calif.

New Products

CLEANING MATERIALS & EQUIPMENT

EMS Success: Moving Forward in Tier I

With the success of its equipment distribution business in the Asia market, WKK expanded into the electronics manufacturing service (EMS) sector in 1986.

Adding AXI to a PCBA Test Process

More PCB manufacturers are considering automated X-ray inspection (AXI) to solve inspection problems.


Reliability of Mixed-alloy Solder Joints

Completely mixing tin/lead solder with the SAC ball is critical to form uniform and homogenous microstructures.

Face-off: Destructive vs. Non-destructive Testing

Industry experts face off on destructive vs. non-destructive testing for RoHS compliance.

Driving Changes with Lean Manufacturing

Results of a competitive threat, poor financial performance, labor unrest, loss of a major contract, or a senior leadership team that wants the business to be its best typically drive the need for change in a manufacturing facility.

STEP 4: Printing

This article examines new tools and techniques that are emerging in the printing market to meet requirements for enhanced accuracy and repeatability.

A Look at an Engineering-focused EMS Provider

SMT Magazine spoke with Sean O'Neil and Scott Penin of Design Solutions, Inc. (Santa Barbara, Calif.), to learn about how the company assembles products based on an engineering and NPI mindset. DSI provides communication between design and fabrication aspects of the industry, with 2/3 of the staff in engineering and 1/3 in manufacturing. Customers are pushing for tighter tolerances and greater accuracy in dispensing equipment, O'Neil says, and they see reliability as a given.

If You Build It, They Will Come

By Michelle M. Boisvert, managing editor - - While China maintains its hold as a key low-cost outsourcing region for electronics manufacturing (hardware), India often comes to mind for its expertise in software development, with the markings for major growth in all electronics manufacturing sectors. Will it become a competitive low-cost region to China? This article looks at various aspects that India must overcome to reach its full electronics manufacturing capabilities.

Electrically Conductive Adhesive

The 118-15A/B is a two-part, silver-filled heat-cure adhesive. It suits electrical and mechanical bonds for attaching surface mount devices (SMD) to rigid PCBs, as well as thick-film circuitry, and flip-chip applications. Pre-measured bi-packs eliminate human error in mixing for dispense.

Auger Valve System

The Auger Valve system uses air pressure and timing and dispense controls to release reportedly accurate and repeatable deposits of particle-filled fluids, such as solder pastes, silver epoxies, and thermal greases. It includes a fixed head for lines and stripes or a sliding head and footed-tip assembly for irregular surfaces and micro-deposits.

Sockets Meet Future Challenges

By Gail Flower, editor-in-chief - - Though the basic requirements of sockets remain unchanged — make a stable electrical contact between test socket and device or from IC to PCB — the future holds more demands on this important electrical mechanical device. At present, sockets are used for burn-in, functional test, and device programming. As with any tool, socket design and eventual selection should be based on the right socket for a specific application.

Lead-free PCBs

By Robert Rowland - - The conversion to lead-free soldering has created significant material challenges for PCBs with materials that must be compatible with higher soldering temperatures and longer dwell times. Lead-free soldering temperatures are approximately 25°C higher for reflow, 10°C for wave soldering; dwell times 30–60 seconds longer for reflow soldering, 2–3 seconds longer for wave soldering. These requirements put emphasis on PCB material performance.


News from BiTS

As the 8th annual Burn-in Test and Socket Workshop (BiTS) — March 11–14 in Mesa, AZ — draws to a close, SMT collected news, events, and products around the industry focused on test, sockets, and the event. Following is news from Antares, Advanced Interconnect, Aries, FormFactor, and more.

Thermosetting, Polymer/silver Conductive Adhesives

The PC 3000 series of one-component, solvent-free conductive adhesives are designed to connect SMDs, LEDs, bare die, and other components to LTCC, flexible and ceramic substrates, and leadframes. Isotropic and lead-free, the products suit dispensing, screen printing, and stencil printing processes.

Non-conductive Paste Underfill

A non-conductive paste (NCP) underfill and encapsulant, Hysol FP5110 adheres flip-chip image sensor modules to two- and three-layer flexible printed circuits. The paste bonds to polyimide and epoxy adhesive materials. The product can be dispensed automatically, uses a 10-second cure at 180°C, and can be stored at -15°C.

Adhesives Bond to Thermoplastic Substrates

The ARALDITE series of high-strength epoxy and polyurethane adhesives encapsulate, insulate, and bond electronic components and PCBs. The products suit encapsulation and assembly of electronic automotive components, bonding of miniature high-speed telecom circuitry, bonding PCBs for medical devices, and other applications.

Surface Mount on Flex Circuitry

For decades, most components populated on flexible circuitry have been thru-hole-mounted. Recently, however, there has been a shift toward surface mount components on rigid and flexible PCBs.

Surface Mount on Flex Circuitry

For decades, most components populated on flexible circuitry have been thru-hole-mounted. Recently, however, there has been a shift toward surface mount components on rigid and flexible PCBs.

Process Optimization: More Profitable than Outsourcing

Outsourcing electronics manufacturing to the Far East continues unabated. Large, high-volume electronics manufacturers, particularly of popular consumer products, will continue to seek low-labor-cost avenues to realize the highest possible margins.

Conduction vs. Convection in Rework Operations

Value is added to a surface mount assembly at every stage of the production line - from paste printing through final assembly.

Process Optimization: More Profitable than Outsourcing

Outsourcing electronics manufacturing to the Far East continues unabated. Large, high-volume electronics manufacturers, particularly of popular consumer products, will continue to seek low-labor-cost avenues to realize the highest possible margins.

Conduction vs. Convection in Rework Operations

Value is added to a surface mount assembly at every stage of the production line - from paste printing through final assembly.


Detect Defects with SPI & AXI

As PCB assemblies become more complex, SPI and automated X-ray inspection (AXI) systems are widely used. The use of SPI to inspect/measure solder paste height, area, and volume has been considered to reduce reliance on AXI due to beat-rate concerns.

Detect Defects with SPI & AXI

As PCB assemblies become more complex, SPI and automated X-ray inspection (AXI) systems are widely used. The use of SPI to inspect/measure solder paste height, area, and volume has been considered to reduce reliance on AXI due to beat-rate concerns.

STEP 3: Solder Materials By Peter Biocca, Kester

The fundamental rule of soldering is unchanged - create a bond using flux to remove oxides and prepare surfaces to be joined with a low-melting alloy.

STEP 3: Solder Materials By Peter Biocca, Kester

The fundamental rule of soldering is unchanged - create a bond using flux to remove oxides and prepare surfaces to be joined with a low-melting alloy.

Universal Instruments

SMT Magazine heads to Binghamton, N.Y.

Universal Instruments

SMT Magazine heads to Binghamton, N.Y.

New Products

Selecting a Rework System

When selecting a rework system, no issue is as important as thermal management; without it, components other than those that are the focus of the rework process can be adversely affected. This article gives guidelines on evaluating and choosing a rework system.

New Products

QFN Layout Guidelines

By Duane Benson, Screaming Circuits - - While QFN and DFN parts are becoming more common, they aren't getting easier to use. Their form-factor advantages are clear — they allow smaller geometries, better grounding, and improved thermal properties over other types of surface mount packages. Most QFNs have a center metal pad on the underside of the part, typically for grounding or heat conduction. It's this center metal pad that makes this form factor so difficult to use.


Selecting a Rework System

When selecting a rework system, no issue is as important as thermal management; without it, components other than those that are the focus of the rework process can be adversely affected. This article gives guidelines on evaluating and choosing a rework system.

The Paperless Supply Chain

SMT Magazine interviewed David Wolff, president and founder of P.D. Circuits in Hampstead, N.H., to learn about his company's "from the ground up" approach to managing supply chain data. As a distributor of bare boards, P.D. Circuits interacts with customers as well as suppliers, and manages domestic and offshore operations. It operates almost entirely without paper records, due to a proprietary software system, PDC2006.

APEX Product Guide

Following is a conglomeration of products exhibited at the IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit, February 20–22, 2007, in Los Angeles.

QFN Layout Guidelines

By Duane Benson, Screaming Circuits - - While QFN and DFN parts are becoming more common, they aren't getting easier to use. Their form-factor advantages are clear — they allow smaller geometries, better grounding, and improved thermal properties over other types of surface mount packages. Most QFNs have a center metal pad on the underside of the part, typically for grounding or heat conduction. It's this center metal pad that makes this form factor so difficult to use.

The Paperless Supply Chain

SMT Magazine interviewed David Wolff, president and founder of P.D. Circuits in Hampstead, N.H., to learn about his company's "from the ground up" approach to managing supply chain data. As a distributor of bare boards, P.D. Circuits interacts with customers as well as suppliers, and manages domestic and offshore operations. It operates almost entirely without paper records, due to a proprietary software system, PDC2006.

APEX Product Guide

Following is a conglomeration of products exhibited at the IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit, February 20–22, 2007, in Los Angeles.

Vitronics Soltec Appoints Saxton President

(February 14, 2007) STRATHAM, N.H. — Mass soldering equipment manufacturer Vitronics Soltec named Aaron Saxton president, effective March 19. Saxton will work out of the company's Stratham, N.H. facility.

Limitations of ESD Gloves and Finger Cots

By Roger Peirce, Simco and Craig Zufelt, Xerox Corporation - - Personnel in electronics and semiconductor manufacturing environments use ESD-safe gloves, finger cots, and other types of hand coverings to prevent contamination on ESD-sensitive devices. While these provide benefits in the battle against ESD damage, severe risks still exist.

APEX Special Events

Visitors to this year's IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit will join the organization in celebrating its 50th anniversary. Attendees also can preview highlights of the iNEMI roadmap for 2007, participate in free forums, attend various paper presentations, and join others in the industry at the SMT VISION Awards celebration. Following are details of APEX events.

Industry Takes Pulse on Lead-free Medical Electronics

By Meredith Courtemanche, assistant editor - - As exemptions to the EU RoHS approach expiration, and China RoHS legislation is set to take effect in March with no exemptions offered for high-reliability electronics, the electronics assembly industry is taking measures to ensure that lead-free medical equipment meets reliability, cost, and market requirements. The responsibilities of OEMs and design firms, suppliers, and EMS providers vary.


Vitronics Soltec Appoints Saxton President

(February 14, 2007) STRATHAM, N.H. — Mass soldering equipment manufacturer Vitronics Soltec named Aaron Saxton president, effective March 19. Saxton will work out of the company's Stratham, N.H. facility.

Limitations of ESD Gloves and Finger Cots

By Roger Peirce, Simco and Craig Zufelt, Xerox Corporation - - Personnel in electronics and semiconductor manufacturing environments use ESD-safe gloves, finger cots, and other types of hand coverings to prevent contamination on ESD-sensitive devices. While these provide benefits in the battle against ESD damage, severe risks still exist.

APEX Special Events

Visitors to this year's IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit will join the organization in celebrating its 50th anniversary. Attendees also can preview highlights of the iNEMI roadmap for 2007, participate in free forums, attend various paper presentations, and join others in the industry at the SMT VISION Awards celebration. Following are details of APEX events.

Industry Takes Pulse on Lead-free Medical Electronics

By Meredith Courtemanche, assistant editor - - As exemptions to the EU RoHS approach expiration, and China RoHS legislation is set to take effect in March with no exemptions offered for high-reliability electronics, the electronics assembly industry is taking measures to ensure that lead-free medical equipment meets reliability, cost, and market requirements. The responsibilities of OEMs and design firms, suppliers, and EMS providers vary.

Isothermal Aging of Lead-free Joints

In the age of lead-free, many assemblers have chosen one of the SAC alloys recommended for lead-free soldering.

STEP 2: Process Control

The development of a controlled and robust reflow process exerts a significant effect on joint formation, and ultimately, board quality.

Isothermal Aging of Lead-free Joints

In the age of lead-free, many assemblers have chosen one of the SAC alloys recommended for lead-free soldering.

STEP 2: Process Control

The development of a controlled and robust reflow process exerts a significant effect on joint formation, and ultimately, board quality.

Route SMT

SMT Magazine recently visited SenDEC, an EMS provider in Fairport, N.Y.

Route SMT

SMT Magazine recently visited SenDEC, an EMS provider in Fairport, N.Y.


News

The American Association of Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) certified E-Certa laboratory of Bloomington, Ind., for X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis and ISO17025. XRF accreditation was based on ISO3497 and ASTM B568 methods. E-Certa’s laboratory performs component conversions, changing leaded to lead-free and vice versa. XRF testing is performed to ensure compliance with RoHS and related directives.

APEX Product Showcase

Following are some of the many hot, new products that can be seen this month at the IPC, Printed Circuits Expo, APEX, and the Designers Summit in Los Angeles, Calif.

News

The American Association of Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) certified E-Certa laboratory of Bloomington, Ind., for X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis and ISO17025. XRF accreditation was based on ISO3497 and ASTM B568 methods. E-Certa’s laboratory performs component conversions, changing leaded to lead-free and vice versa. XRF testing is performed to ensure compliance with RoHS and related directives.

APEX Product Showcase

Following are some of the many hot, new products that can be seen this month at the IPC, Printed Circuits Expo, APEX, and the Designers Summit in Los Angeles, Calif.

Advances in Ionic Testing

The need to test for residual ionic contamination has been around since the inception of the PCB. Ionic contamination can lead to corrosion and dendrite growth.

Advances in Ionic Testing

The need to test for residual ionic contamination has been around since the inception of the PCB. Ionic contamination can lead to corrosion and dendrite growth.

First Article Inspection: Understanding the Problems

In electronics manufacturing, the first article is built by SMT lines and sent to the inspection department to check the product assembled against its bills of materials (BOM), ensuring that the programs contained in the pick-and-place machine are correct, and that parts are placed into the feeders in the correct locations.

Test Goes Lean with Boundary Scan

The arrival of first-prototype hardware on the development engineer’s bench presents the dual challenge of debugging both the board and the design.

First Article Inspection: Understanding the Problems

In electronics manufacturing, the first article is built by SMT lines and sent to the inspection department to check the product assembled against its bills of materials (BOM), ensuring that the programs contained in the pick-and-place machine are correct, and that parts are placed into the feeders in the correct locations.

Due Diligence Verification: The Results

XRF technology is handheld, portable, and non-destructive to electronic components and systems. This methodology replicates the expected mode of RoHS-compliance verification used in the European Union (EU).


Test Goes Lean with Boundary Scan

The arrival of first-prototype hardware on the development engineer’s bench presents the dual challenge of debugging both the board and the design.

Due Diligence Verification: The Results

XRF technology is handheld, portable, and non-destructive to electronic components and systems. This methodology replicates the expected mode of RoHS-compliance verification used in the European Union (EU).

APEX Product Highlights

Following is a preview of some products that will be spotlighted at the IPC Printed Circuits Expo, APEX, and the Designers Summit, February 20-22, 2007, in Los Angeles. Look for more APEX reviews in the February issue of SMT, and comprehensive coverage online and in upcoming e-newsletters.

The Evolution of Environmentally Conscious Material Management

By Marjory Craw-Ivanco and Andrew Dreyer, Celestica - - Now that the July 1, 2006, EU RoHS deadline has come and gone, the electronics industry is left looking back — trying to determine the impact that this legislation has had on our industry. At one EMS provider*, through work with a diverse global customer base, it has been noted that this legislation has affected not only OEMs that place product onto the market, but many other companies as well.

APEX Preview

Following are some of the products to be presented at IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit, February 18 – 22, 2007, in Los Angeles. Look for more product information in our APEX Product section in the February issue, and online leading up to the show.

IPC Plans APEX Events

In planning your agenda for IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit, February 18 – 22 in Los Angeles, consider attending some of these highlighted programs. Look for more APEX news online leading up to the conference.

ERP and PLM: Addressing Differing Manufacturing Needs

By Chuck Cimalore, Omnify Software - - There is some confusion in the industry as to what role ERP and PLM systems play in a company's business process. Clarification of the key features of ERP and PLM, where they fit in the product development and manufacturing process, and how integrating these environments can deliver positive results is important for manufacturers to understand why each is critical to success and gain the most from their investment.

The Inside Line

The IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit, February 18-22 in L.A., follows the motto "It's Your Show!," offering targeted meetings, technical sessions, and a touch of celebrity.

Acoustic Imaging of Embedded ICs

Embedding active components within the layers of a printed wiring board (PWB) can deliver significant advantages, but developing successful embedding processes requires precise data about the embedded structures.

Shock Reliability of BGAs Using Underfill

SAC BGA packages are known to be more brittle than tin/lead BGAs at high stress levels such as drop testing.


Lead-free: China RoHS Requirements

China RoHS is very different from the EU’s RoHS. With the March 1st China RoHS deadline looming, the directive offers a new set of risks and opportunities.

Growing Repair Complexities

OEMs with low- to medium-volume installed user bases may find limited options for repair support.

STEP 1: Board Design

High-speed PCB design used to be the exception, rather than the rule. Advances in serial/deserializer (serdes) technology further fuel the demand for high-speed PCB designs, while low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) propels the importance of serdes technology.

Assembly Tools & Equipment

DepanelizerThe B300 depanelizer tool breaks carrier strips away from edge strips or PCBs with overhanging components, without excess stress on the PCB.

Avoid Electro-chemical Failure Using SIR

High-reliability electronic assemblies are used in applications where failure could result in a catastrophe. Manufacturers of high-reliability electronics take their responsibilities seriously.

From the Editor

I made the mistake of going to the local mall this past Saturday. Traffic was horrible, and parking wasn't easy. I had to take the "stalker" approach — follow a man or woman with bags in hand to his or her car; wait until they pull out, then pull my car into that spot before anyone else. We've all been there. Once I got into the mall, it didn't seem too bad. This made me wonder about consumer spending this season, and whether or not it would be a "record year."

Taiwan Maneuvers in the Outsourcing Game

By Meredith Courtemanche, assistant editor - - "Outsourcing" has become a term intrinsically linked with China, but with several expansions, collaborations, and acquisitions, Taiwan is emerging as a diverse, lucrative region for contract manufacturing. What are Taiwanese companies doing? Outsourcing to China, of course.

Recollection: Thoughts on the EMS Industry

This recollection by Brian Throneberry is excerpted from the upcoming book, "From Vacuum Tubes to Nanotubes: An Amazing Half Century — The Emergence of Electronic Circuit Technology 1957-2007," published by IPC and released in conjunction with the IPC's 50th Anniversary, which will be celebrated at APEX 2007 February 18 – 22 in Los Angeles.

Route SMT

SMT Magazine hit the scenic highways of New England - visiting Distron Corp. of Attleboro Falls, Mass., and Proxy Manufacturing in Methuen, Mass.

2007 Industry Vision Forecast

Predictions for 2007 are optimistic to say the least. We asked two questions from every SMT expert we could find: What is happening at your company and your market in 2007, and What challenges do you foresee in the coming year? Out of all respondents, we received only a few negative forecasts for the year ahead.


Screen Printing in the Dawn of Fuel Cells

The world is ready for fuel cell technologies - more people are concerned with environmental damage from burning fossil fuels.

Supply-chain Management: Asset Recovery & Disposition

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Amherst professor Joseph Ellis, in commenting about his book Founding Brothers, made the following observation: If Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were to be resurrected, they would surely be impressed with our scientific and technological advances. But, they would likely be more impressed with the sheer quantity of material goods that we have.

Lead-free: Upgrading Thermoplastics for RoHS

When re-engineering to accommodate electronics and board components that can withstand the higher heat of lead-free soldering, one electronics manufacturer* met a new challenge - upgrading thermoplastic resins for connectors from a moderately heat-resistant one to a high-heat-resistant formulation.

2006 Product Review

ASSEMBLY TOOLS & EQUIPMENT

Highlights from Implementing Lead-free: A Hands-on Workshop

By Michelle M. Boisvert, managing editor - - Will the industry still have questions about lead-free process implementation after the July 1st deadline? When planning Implementing Lead-free: A Hands-on Workshop, in conjunction with Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), we asked industry experts, who noted that the industry was not ready for RoHS; and likely would not be fully compliant after July 1st. Following are some highlights of the workshop.

Industry Certifications and Accreditations

Several companies — from equipment manufacturers to factory-management providers — have announced recent accreditations from partner companies or standards organizations. Following is the news from Asymtek, PEER Group, and Transene Company.

Understanding Your Soldering Choices

By Ray Prasad, Prasad Consultancy Group - - There are various soldering methods such as hand soldering, wave soldering, reflow soldering (vapor phase, convection reflow), and selective soldering that are used to join two similar or dissimilar metals or alloys at different temperatures. Some of these processes have been around for many years, while others were introduced more recently. This article outlines some things to consider when selecting the most appropriate soldering solution.

Hand-soldering System for Lead-free

The compact, PS-800E high-power production soldering system suits repetitive manual soldering and precision touch-up tasks, for reportedly reliable and repeatable lead-free hand soldering.

X-ray Inspection System

The Jewelbox 90T — a microfocus, high-magnification, real-time X-ray inspection system — performs advanced laboratory R&D tasks. Auto-BGA image-processing software analyzes void percentages, roundness size, and bridging.

Letters to the Editor



SMT Webcast Explores Lead-free Rework

NASHUA, N.H. — With boards becoming more complex and lead-free pastes melting at higher temperatures, rework-and-repair operations have become a necessity. SMT hosted a Webcast to hear different perspectives on the tools for lead-free rework.

new products

The AML0603E series multilayer chip inductors are said to reduce high-frequency loss by 20-30% over the past generation.

Selective Soldering: The New Wave

The future of mixed technology is about smaller circuit boards with more complicated packaging.

A New Approach to Vapor Phase Reflow Soldering

The introduction of lead-free soldering processes has generated renewed interest in vapor phase reflow soldering for thermally challenging PCBAs.

Selective Soldering in Lead-free Assemblies

Most people are familiar with selective soldering, but may not completely understand its benefits.

Vertically Integrated Service Providers

Growing numbers of OEMs are placing greater emphasis on their core competencies.

STEP 10: Rework and Repair

Quality, efficient rework influences BGA implementation success. With lead-free processes, the quality of rework becomes crucial as temperatures rise.

News

U.S. Weighs In on Domestic RoHs

Lead-free Wave Solder System

The NU/ERA 16MP lead-free, computer-controlled, dual-wave soldering system includes a lead-free-compatible titanium solder pot that rolls out on a motorized drive. The pot can be swapped with other pots containing different lead-free alloy compositions.

Post-wave Conveyors

Featuring a static-dissipative, snap-link belt with full-surface ribs to increase cooling, the Hump-back conveyor system transports PCBs exiting a wave solder machine.


Selective Soldering System

The Rhythm selective soldering system from Tyco Electronics presents solder from the underside of the board without additional tooling or accessories. This system is said to provide an effective entry point to solder thru-hole and odd-form components into surface mount and mixed-technology PCBs.

Process Verification: Cleaning Inspection

By Tom Forsythe, Kyzen Corporation - - Process cleaning inspection is an inherent part of the electronic assembly verification process. The importance of inspection amplifies as new lead-free designs gain global market acceptance. Gaining an understanding of inspection options, and the information each provides, gives technicians knowledge of how these inspection techniques build on each other to enable statistical process control (SPC). This article reviews common techniques.

Software Suite

The SigmaSure software suite aids in conversion, compliance, and due diligence records for OEMs following the European Union's (E.U.'s) RoHS Directive. Products that have revised components, lead-free solder, or other RoHS-compliant changes can be monitored for quality and consistency.

Solder Spheres

Kester specifically engineered Ultra-Sphere solder spheres to resist surface-darkening induced by transit tumbling and ball-placement systems, to allow more accuracy with vision systems. Surface-darkening can lead to false missing-ball readings with detection devices.

Lead Detector Kit

A lead detector kit indicates the presence of lead on assemblies, workbenches, tools, machinery, and storage areas by displaying a pink to red color. Color intensity reveals the level of lead concentration. The detector wipes and swaps then can be sent to a lab for quantitative analysis of lead content.

ATExpo Product Wrap-up

(October 11, 2006) ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Assembly Technology Expo, held in conjunction with SMTA International (SMTAI) at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center this September, hosted companies involved in every aspect of SMT manufacturing. Following are a few of the products introduced and demonstrated at the show.

Stencil Printer Option

The Accela stencil printer has been optimized with SpeedVision, a high-speed inspection option, that can perform 2-D substrate and stencil inspection during the printing process.

Software for Solder Inspection

The remote teaching system (RTS) reportedly enables users to program off-line, without shutting down the system during programming.

Realizing the Expectations of AOI

By Matthew Holzmann, Christopher Associates - - With the resurgence of the electronics interconnect manufacturing industry there is renewed emphasis on AOI. Long-time users are in the market for new and improved technology, while other companies are ready to implement AOI on a wider scale. Price competition has thinned profit margins for both users and vendors, and yet AOI has still not achieved its original performance goals.

No-clean Solder Paste

An improved no-clean solder paste formulated for SAC 305 leaves a shiny, aesthetically-pleasing finish on solder joints. The clear flux residue does not interfere with inspection, and the paste is said to improve wetting capabilities.


Route SMT

SMT Magazine visited The Morey Corporation (Woodridge, Ill.), and Nexlogic, a San Jose, Calif.

New Products

Ultra PP dispense tips have flexible polypropylene shafts for reaching hard-to-access areas. The PP tips, which are compatible with air-powered benchtop dispensers or automated dispense valves, apply adhesives, lubricants, and other assembly fluids.

Embedded Passives - Stuck in the Chasm?

Every so often, new technologies promising to revolutionize PCB design enter the scene, and possibly the technology-adoption life cycle.

Feeder Flexibility in Placement Machines

Flexibility, adaptability, and cost savings are catch phrases in today’s electronics assembly industry.

Accelerated Testing Raises the Bar

Highly accelerated life testing (HALT) and highly accelerated stress screening (HASS) are being noticed in the boardroom and on the manufacturing floor as a way to aid profitability across a range of industries.

Managing the Heat in Medical Electronics

A review of the trends driving growth and innovation in the medical electronics industry highlights several key requirements for next-generation assembly materials.

Improving Lead-free Joint Quality with Nitrogen

Nitrogen inerting can reduce defects in lead-free reflow soldering. However, it is claimed that many solder pastes either do not need nitrogen, or work equally well in air.

STEP 9: Test & Inspection

From an inspection point of view, there are two types of solder joints in PCB assembly: visible and hidden.

ATExpo Brings Industry Together

As I walked the floor at ATExpo on opening day at the Donald Stephens Convention Center, I watched forklifts bringing boxes of large capital equipment onto the floor. There was the smell of exhaust fumes and smoke, the beeping of trucks in reverse. It felt like a rock concert about to happen.

Product Review: ATExpo

Following is a highlight of products to be featured at the 2006 Assembly Technology Expo, co-located with SMTA International in Rosemont, Ill., September 26 – 28. Check out SMT's September issue for more products, and look for more previews on our Website, leading up to the show.


More ATExpo Product Highlights

Following is a highlight of products to be featured at the 2006 Assembly Technology Expo, co-located with SMTA International in Rosemont, Ill., September 26 – 28. Check out SMT's September issue for more products, and look for more previews on our Website, leading up to the show.

SMTA ToolBox
Lead-free Is Here. Where Are You?

By Peter Biocca - - The European Union's (EU's) RoHS Directive is here, and the Chinese version is coming soon — bringing with it another deadline, more confusion, and additional changes. RoHS has been the main topic at conferences in the last four years. Where do we stand today?

Joe Fjelstad Releases Flexible Circuit Technology, 3rd Edition

The third edition of Flexible Circuit Technology features new technologies and applications that have developed over the eight years since the second edition was published. This updated version on interconnection technology will be available from BR Publishing of Seaside, Ore., as a full-color PDF e-book, or in a traditional printed format.

Outsourcing Practices and Ethics Scrutinized

By Meredith Courtemanche, assistant editor - - Outsourcing is commonly perceived as a de-facto practice among consumer electronics manufacturers. Despite this, there is actually no de-facto standard across the various electronics manufacturing markets. In "Apples to Pomegranates, Outsourcing Across the Mobile Phone and PC Industries," Jeffrey Wu found that the two sectors do not behave similarly in the outsourcing realm.

ATExpo Product Highlight

Following are a few of the products to be featured at the 2006 Assembly Technology Expo, co-located with SMTA International in Rosemont, Ill., September 26 – 28. Check out the September issue of SMT for more ATExpo products.

Control and Stability in Lead-free Reflow

As the reflow process window closes, a number of enabling technologies are opening doors in a brave new lead-free world.

ATExpo Product Review

Following are a variety of products from a few companies exhibiting at the Assembly Technology Expo (ATExpo), September 26-28, 2006.

High-speed Placement of Wafer-level Devices

Advanced chip packages leverage the design advantages of bare die. Suppliers and manufacturers facing the challenge of placing more die at higher speeds, eliminating intermediate packaging, and feeding flip-chip devices at high speeds from wafer format, will meet the demands by combining SMT and semiconductor placement processes into one high-speed workflow.

ESD Susceptibility of Precision-film Resistors

The electronics industry has some misconceptions regarding the electrostatic discharge (ESD) susceptibility of certain reeled resistors thought to be invulnerable to damage.

Lead-free: Electrical Influence on Tin Whisker Growth

This article presents results of an eight-month assessment of whisker growth on matte-tin-plated copper in the presence of a constant electrical current.


Optimizing Test Operations to Cut Costs

Contract manufacturers (CMs) operate on razor-thin margins, where cutting excess costs is a way of life.

STEP 8: Cleaning By Michael Konrad

One must first decide whether or not to clean. Is the flux left on the board after reflow inert? Will reliability be an issue? This article focuses on batch-format cleaning technology and its use to deflux high-reliability applications.

AIM Opens Shenzhen Campus

SHENZHEN, China - Responding to an expanding customer base throughout China, AIM has opened a campus, including manufacturing and office buildings, two warehouses, and a dormitory, in Shenzhen, China, for its full range of tin/lead and lead-free solder pastes, bar and wire solders, and liquid fluxes.

Benchtop Robots – Making Their Mark on the Assembly Line

By Deepa Mathew, Frost & Sullivan analyst - - Benchtop robots for low-volume, high-mix production are becoming more important to European and North American assemblers. Mathew argues that a shift of high-volume, low-mix manufacturing from these regions to China — and other regions offering low wages and large raw material sources — has prompted more NPIs/R&D to be done in low-volume, high-mix regions. For traceablity, robots detect missing, skewed, or mismatched components.

SMTAI — Investing in Training

By David Raby - - As a valued industry colleague, you will be interested in the details of our 2006 SMTA International conference program. Your colleagues on the SMTAI Technical Committee have built on this success as they developed the comprehensive program of tutorials, paper sessions, and symposiums being offered this fall.

Developing ATExpo's EASi Line

Around January each year, Rick James of Electronics Manufacturing Solutions, Inc. starts to think about the assembly line. But he's not thinking of ways to make the line at his Mooresville, Ind.-based contract manufacturing facility leaner, faster, or more productive. He's thinking simple and inexpensive — and to September. James coordinates the Electronics Assembly Line (EASi Line), located in the Electronics Assembly Pavilion of the ATExpo, September 26-28, 2006, in Rosemont, Ill.

EKRA Notes Revenue Highs, 500th Shipment

EKRA America posted its largest six-month and rolling 12-month revenues with the close of the first half of 2006. The company also announced the shipment of its 500th machine to the American market in June.

Shea Keynote Looks Ahead

NASHUA, N.H. — Attentive to the electronics industry's burgeoning environmental responsibility, and the challenges associated with multiple, global legislative initiatives, Dan Shea, chief technology officer (CTO), Celestica, will offer knowledge and insight in his keynote address "Cradle to Rebirth — The Electronics Industry Goes Green," on October 17, 2006, at Implementing Lead-free: A Hands-on Workshop.

Conductive Inks Rework the Board

By Meredith Courtemanche, assistant editor - - Electrically-conductive inks challenge traditional etched or plated copper traces in circuit boards. Fast-drying and highly stable at room temperature, inks enable high-speed assembly with reduced product waste. Additional concerns, such as hazardous waste management and restrictions, as well as thermal management and cure time, determine the viability of conductive inks vs. copper traces on boards.

Celestica's Dan Shea Keynotes Implementing Lead-free: A Hands-on Workshop

NASHUA, N.H. — Sharing his extensive knowledge of the electronics industry's shift toward environmental responsibility, Dan Shea, chief technology officer (CTO), Celestica, will present the keynote address "Cradle to Rebirth — The Electronics Industry Goes Green," on October 17, 2006, at Implementing Lead-free: A Hands-on Workshop, at the Rochester Institute of Technology's (RIT) Center for Manufacturing and Assembly (CEMA) in Rochester, N.Y.


Route SMT

SMT Magazine is getting out of the office and hitting the highways to visit you - our readers within the surface mount industry.

New Products

The VIGON A 201 removes a number of flux residues with short contact times.

Assembly: Where Speed and Flexibility Meet

In any conversation concerning SMT assembly, achieving speed and flexibility simultaneously will almost always be cited.

Quality Control Software

The key to true quality control (QC) is prevention, rather than detection. Electronics-manufacturing operations demand quality management software that monitors and controls processes prior to and beyond inspection.

Economic Assembly of Small SMT Batch Sizes

For SMD prototyping or small-batch production, equipment requirements are different compared to those of mass production.

Line Buffering and Productivity Gains

Henry Ford implemented an assembly line more than 90 years ago. Productivity gains of more efficient manufacturing processes occur in small steps of continuous improvement.

RoHS Testing: Lead-free Is Not Trouble-free

PCB suppliers have focused on removing lead from their products to conform to RoHS requirements.

STEP 7: Soldering

Based on volumes of research, test data, and at the recommendation of industry associations, most companies have chosen one of the SAC alloys for lead-free processes.

A Successful Transition to Lead-free

Several factors drive electronics companies to switch to less-hazardous materials, including regulatory and market drivers.

PennWell's SMT Magazine and the Rochester Institute of Technology Center for Electronics Manufacturing and Assembly Announce Implementing Lead-free: A Hands-on Workshop

Nashua, NH?PennWell Corporation's SMT Magazine and Rochester Institute of Technology's (RIT) Center for Electronics Manufacturing and Assembly (CEMA) together announce Implementing Lead-free: A Hands-on Workshop, October 16-19, 2006, at the RIT campus in Rochester, N.Y.


PCB Designer's Notebook: Improving Industry-developed Standards

By Vern Solberg - - There are a number of standards that have been developed within our industry domestically and internationally. Some standards are created as guidance documents, while others specify materials, product requirements, and qualification criteria. Keeping these standards current and up-to-date is a daunting challenge; we often are asked to comply with a document that is several years old.

7/1/2006: Gone But Not Forgotten

By Meredith Courtemanche, assistant editor - - With the scramble to the RoHS deadline past, many companies must now look further down the road to determine their long-term viability. The July 1st implementation date represented a milestone for conversion to lead-free, but the future for businesses interested in the world marketplace will require meticulous record keeping for every product sold. Audits can be anticipated for any company exporting to the EU.

RoHS in Four Steps

By Duane Benson - - In many darkened hallways just outside of development labs — two weeks prior to design-freeze — a product manager will ask, "It meets RoHS, right?" If the answer contains any hesitation, then this article is for you.

Electropac Goes Flexible

Electropac Co., Inc., offers rigid flex and flexible products from single- and double-sided flex circuits to 4-10-layer rigid flex.

Choosing a Stencil

Is a stencil a commodity or a precision tool? A commodity is something that can be purchased from many suppliers, with the expectation that the performance will be the same.

Programming ISP Devices

Once seen mainly on complex, high-cost circuit boards, programmable logic has made its way into nearly every circuit board built.

A Proposed Remedy for Ball-in-Socket Defects

Ball-in-socket defects often occur randomly on BGA components without any obvious root cause.

Snap, Print, & Flip: Paste Printing for QFN Rework

As the industry looks to implement smaller components, MLFs such as QFNs that enable higher PCB component densities, are being incorporated into space-constrained products.

Maximize Your Investment: Re-qualify for Lead-free

A massive re-qualification process is underway to identify, test, certify, and learn to use new materials and processes for RoHS.

Solving the Mystery of Failed Components

Two keys to success in today’s electronics industry are being data-informed and customer-driven.


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