Technical Library | 2020-11-04 17:49:45.0
OEMs and CMs designing and building electronic assemblies for high reliability applications are typically faced with a decision to clean or not to clean the assembly. If ionic residues remain on the substrate surface, potential failure mechanisms, including dendritic growth by electrochemical migration reaction and leakage current, may result. These failures have been well documented. If a decision to clean substrates is made, there are numerous cleaning process options available. For defluxing applications, the most common systems are spray-in-air, employing either batch or inline cleaning equipment and an engineered aqueous based cleaning agent. Regardless of the type of cleaning process adopted, effective cleaning of post solder residue requires chemical, thermal and mechanical energies. The chemical energy is derived from the engineered cleaning agent; the thermal energy from the increased temperature of the cleaning agent, and the mechanical energy from the pump system employed within the cleaning equipment. The pump system, which includes spray pressure, spray bar configuration and nozzle selection, is optimized for the specific process to create an efficient cleaning system. As board density has increased and component standoff heights have decreased, cleaning processes are steadily challenged. Over time, cleaning agent formulations have advanced to match new solder paste developments, spray system configurations have improved, and wash temperatures (thermal energy) have been limited to a maximum of 160ºF. In most cases, this is due to thermal limitations of the materials used to build the polymer-based cleaning equipment. Building equipment out of stainless steel is an option, but one that may be cost prohibitive. Given the maximum allowable wash temperature, difficult cleaning applications are met by increasing the wash exposure time; including reducing the conveyor speed of inline cleaners or extending wash time in batch cleaners. Although this yields effective cleaning results, process productivity may be compromised. However, high temperature resistant polymer materials, capable of withstanding a 180°F wash temperature, are now available and can be used in cleaning equipment builds. For this study, the authors explored the potential for increasing cleaning process efficiency as a result of an increase in thermal energy due to the use of higher wash temperature. The cleaning equipment selected was an inline cleaner built with high temperature resistant polymer material. For the analysis, standard substrates were used. These were populated with numerous low standoff chip cap components and soldered with both no-clean tin-lead and lead-free solder pastes. Two aqueous based cleaning agents were selected, and multiple wash temperatures and wash exposure times were evaluated. Cleanliness assessments were made through visual analysis of under-component inspection, as well as localized extraction and Ion Chromatography in accordance with current IPC standards.
Technical Library | 2017-07-27 16:51:57.0
Reliability Expectations of Highly Dense Electronic Assemblies is commonly validated using Ion Chromatography and Surface Insulation Resistance. Surface Insulation Resistance tests resistance drops on both cleaned and non-cleaned circuit assemblies. It is well documented in the literature that SIR detects ionic residue and the potential of this residue to cause leakage currents in the presence of humidity and bias. Residues under leadless components are hard to inspect for and to ensure flux residue is totally removed. The question many assemblers consider is the risk of residues that may still be present under the body of components.
Technical Library | 2019-09-23 09:35:00.0
Failure analysis (FA), by its very nature, is needed only when things goawry. Before any testing is performed on the sample, a decision mustbe made as to whether or not the sample is allowed to be destroyedin the process of testing. Non-destructive testing can allow for re-use of the assembly since the functionality is not altered, but there still remains the possibility that inadvertent damage can occur through the course of the analysis. If non-destructive testing is preferred, then the following types of analysis can be performed. The testing can be divided into four categories: visual, X-ray (X-ray imaging and X-ray fluorescence), cleanliness (resistivity of solvent extract, ion chromatography, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy), and mechanical (non-destructive wire bond pull).
Technical Library | 2019-05-23 10:42:00.0
Why identify flux residues? The primary purpose of flux is to reduce species of metal oxides from solderable surfaces, and to act as a mechanism for lifting and removing debris. If the assembly is not properly cleaned after manufacturing, flux may continue to reduce metals and may eventually corrode the assembly. When the assembly is powered, the metal ions may precipitate along electromagnetic field lines and form dendritic shorts. In addition, the presence of residue can alter the insulation properties of a board, affect the adhesion of the conformal coating, or interfere with the moving parts of the assembly. In radio frequency (RF) applications, flux may change the RF properties on the surface of the printed circuit board (PCB) such as the dielectric strength, surface resistance, and Q-resonance.
Technical Library | 2020-03-09 10:50:17.0
A customer called the Helpline seeking advice for cleaning no-clean fluxes prior to applying a conformal coating. The customer's assemblies were manufactured with a no-clean rosin based solder paste (ROL0) and were cleaned with an isopropyl alcohol (IPA) wash. After cleaning, a white residue was sometimes found in areas with high paste concentrations and was interfering with the adhesion of the conformal coating (Figure 1). For conformal coatings to adhere properly, the printed circuit board (PCB) surface must be clean of fluxes and other residues. In addition, ionic contamination left by flux residues can lead to corrosion and dendrite growth, two common causes of electronic opens and shorts. Other residues can lead to unwanted impedance and physical interference with moving parts.
Technical Library | 2014-10-23 18:10:10.0
The functional reliability of electronic circuits determines the overall reliability of the product in which the final products are used. Market forces including more functionality in smaller components, no-clean lead-free solder technologies, competitive forces and automated assembly create process challenges. Cleanliness under the bottom terminations must be maintained in harsh environments. Residues under components can attract moisture and lead to leakage currents and the potential for electrochemical migration (...) The purpose of this research study is to evaluate innovative spray and soak methods for removing low residue flux residues and thoroughly rinsing under Bottom Termination and Leadless Components
Technical Library | 2019-06-03 15:32:40.0
ACI Technologies was pleased to assist a customer by conducting elemental analysis on several assemblies displaying severe corrosion. Several board assemblies had failed in the field and exhibited areas of corrosion in close proximity to onboard components. The most common source of corrosion on electronic assemblies is residual flux. Fluxes are specific chemistries applied during the soldering process which improve the wetting of the solder to both the pad and component when forming the solder joint. They can be highly reactive chemicals that, if left on the assemblies, can lead to corrosion, electrical degradation, and decreased reliability. In the presence of moisture and electrical bias, flux residue can enable dendritic growth as a result of electrochemical migration (ECM).
Technical Library | 2019-06-07 14:49:54.0
ACI Technologies was contacted in regards to poor solder joint reliability. The customer submitted an assembly that was exhibiting intermittent opens at multiple locations on a ball grid array (BGA) component. The assembly’s functionality did not survive international shipping, essentially shock and vibration failures, immediately making the quality of the solder joints suspect. The customer was asked about the contract manufacturer and the reflow oven profile as well as the solder paste and surface finish used. The ACI engineering staff evaluated the contract manufacturer’s technique and determined that they were competent in the methods they used for placing thermocouples in the proper locations and developing the reflow oven profile. The surface finish was unusual, but not unheard of, in that it was hard gold over hard nickel, rather than electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG). The customer was able to supply boundary scan testing data which showed a diagonal row of troublesome BGA pins.
Technical Library | 2020-11-04 17:57:41.0
Residues present on circuit boards can cause leakage currents if not controlled and monitored. How "Clean is Clean" is neither easy nor cheap to determine. Most OEMs use analytical methods to assess the risk of harmful residues. The levels that can be associated with clean or dirty are typically determined based on the exposed environment where the part will be deployed. What is acceptably clean for one segment of the industry may be unacceptable for more demanding segments. As circuit assemblies increase in density, understanding cleanliness data becomes more challenging. The risk of premature failure or improper function is typically site specific. The problem is that most do not know how to measure or define cleanliness nor can they recognize process problems related to residues. A new site specific method has been designed to run performance qualifications on boards built with specific soldering materials, reflow settings and cleaning methods. High impedance measurements are performed on break off coupons designed with components geometries used to build the assembly. The test method provides a gauge of potential contamination sources coming from the assembly process that can contribute to electrochemical migration.