Electronics Manufacturing Training

Technical Articles From ACI Technologies, Inc.

Read technical articles about electronics manufacturing added by ACI Technologies, Inc.

32 technical articles added by ACI Technologies, Inc.

Company Information:

ACI Technologies, Inc.

ACI, an authorized IPC Training Center operating the National Electronics Manufacturing Center of Excellence providing analytical testing, manufacturing and repair services to the electronics industry.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Consultant, Design, IPC Standards Certification Center, Service Provider, Training Provider

  • Phone 610 362 1200
  • Fax 610 362 1290

ACI Technologies, Inc. website

Company Postings:

(24) products in the catalog

(67) upcoming training courses

(32) technical library articles

(1) news release

Tin Whiskers: Risks with Lead Free | Part I

Jun 19, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Tin (Sn) metal displays the characteristic of growing “tin whiskers” from pure tin coatings (most actively on relatively thin, electrodeposited or immersion tin coatings), usually months or years from the initial deposition of the tin. Tin whiskers are electrically conductive, filamentary, single crystals of white (beta phase) tin. These filaments of single crystal tin are usually one to five microns in diameter, and a few microns up to several tens of millimeters long, that grow spontaneously from the tin coatings. Alloying additions of several percent (by weight) of lead (Pb) prevents these electrically conductive tin whiskers from growing. Pb alloyed into the Sn was discovered to prevent the occurrence of tin whiskers in electronic assemblies in the 1950s as the Bell Laboratories solution to the problem of tin whiskers. The alloying of the tin with lead has thus quietly averted incalculable losses from short circuits in electronic equipment for the last 60 years....

Use of Pelseal® 2078 Viton® Caulk in Decapsulation of Electronics Components

Jun 18, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

ACI Technologies is tasked with decapsulation of electronics components for testing and investigative purposes. In the normal method of decapsulation, an analyst will drill a small indentation, with a rotary tool, in the hermetic sealant material and then apply Nitric acid to eat through the polymeric encapsulant....

Fiducial Marks

Jun 17, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Very often pick and place machines are programmed using CAD data. This data increases the accuracy, precision, and repeatability of its component placement objectives. CAD data makes fine pitch and small component assemblies repeatable, but cannot adjust to a particular board unless it is exactly the same size and shape of the original board used for programming. The process by which printed circuit boards (PCBs) are made only allows some minor changes inboard size and shape, but these small differences are enough for parts to be misplaced. For this reason we use fiducial marks to increase the chances of precise component alignment....

BGA Placement on Rework Station

Jun 12, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

The success of ball grid array (BGA) placement on electronic assemblies is as much a matter of proper preparation and planning, as it is technique. In some designs, it is more appropriate to apply BGAs using a rework station that isolates the placement of the device, without subjecting the entire assembly to thermal reflow. This is especially beneficial in board constructions where the number of BGAs is limited, and the application of the solder paste is difficult, due to small pitch features that stretch the limitation of the stencil construction. Another application for rework stations, involves very large and thermally conductive BGAs, which will not uniformly reflow with other components on the assembly, and may require special process parameters for their proper placement. The most common use of BGA rework stations are for assemblies requiring BGA removal and replacements due to failures in the initial assembly stage....

Reflow Experiment

Jun 11, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

An experiment was recently performed ACI Technologies for a customer that was interested in comparing the wetting of lead-free solders with varying temperature profiles and atmospheric conditions. In order to deliver an objective measurement of solder wetting (in addition to subjective inspection analysis), a simple wetting indicator pattern was added to the solder stencil in an area on the test vehicle that had exposed and unused copper....

Component Failure Analysis - Hermetic Packaging

Jun 11, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Recently ACI Technologies was asked to perform failure analysis on a hermetically sealed transistor for potential electrostatic discharge (ESD) or electrostatic overstress (EOS). ACI was asked to determine if the field-failed transistor was damaged by ESD or EOS. In order to properly assess the failure, additional samples were requested....

Surface Finish Issues Affecting Solderability and Reliability

Jun 07, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

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....

Advanced Packaging of SMT Assemblies for Greater Cost Reduction

Jun 06, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Legacy electronics assemblies, such as through-hole (Figure 1) and connectorized component packages, are robust and prevalent throughout industry. However, each of these assembly methods have reached their limits in terms of weight, volume, reliability, and most importantly cost. With cost reduction of assemblies now the primary focus area throughout the electronics industry, there is more of a need than ever to implement the latest advancements in surface mount technology (SMT) into electronics assembly designs. Although SMT has been utilized in the electronics industry for many years, implementation of the technology is still in the ever-evolving process of reducing component footprint size, component spacing, and component I/O pitch. Implementation of the most up-to-date SMT processes provides optimal weight, volume, and cost savings, for any type of assembly....

Ceramic to Plastic Packaging

Jun 05, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

As electronic products increase in functionality and complexity, there is an emphasis on affordability, miniaturization, and energy efficiency. The telecommunications, automotive, and commercial electronic markets are the leading drivers for these trends. These markets see high volume manufacturing with millions of units priced to the fraction of the cent. The choice of the packaging material for the electrical components for these markets can have a substantial effect on the cost of the final product. Therefore plastic encapsulated components are almost universally used in non-military applications over the conventional ceramic or metal electronic packages....

Platings for Interconnections

Jun 04, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Interconnection technology relies very heavily on the ability of the conductors on a printed wiring assembly to maintain reliable signal integrity. Harsh environmental factors can precipitate a loss of conductivity due to oxidation and corrosion. Connections are typically soldered or inserted using pressure fitted connectors to obtain enough surface contact to meet the electrical conductivity requirements. In pressure contacts, surface integrity is especially critical where the abrasive effects of retraction and insertion can wear off the metallic finish from the contact area. This can expose the underlying copper or nickel and lead to increased resistance at the contact points. These types of conductors are frequently found in card edge connectors where the terminations are plated with a layer of nickel and gold (frequently referred to as gold fingers). A hard gold is typically used containing very small amounts of nickel and cobalt to increase the wear resistance....

Corrosion Analysis

Jun 03, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

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)....

The Power Packaging Laboratory at ACI Technologies

May 31, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Microelectronics is the manufacture of systems built from extremely small electronic components. In today’s electronic world, devices must be portable, equipped with wireless technology and are driven by size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C). These system level drivers are crucial to all current and future electronic applications from personal computers and cellular telephones to military-fielded hardware, biomedical instrumentation, and space-flight hardware....

SMT Component Reliability for RF Applications

May 31, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

ACI Technologies (ACI) characterized the reliability of surface mount RF components. The RF frequency band of interest was the X band (10.7 to 11.7GHz). A two pronged test for reliability of circuit card assemblies (CCA) was designed for both extreme thermal cycling and vibration. The rapid thermal cycling and extreme vibration testing simulates the total stress encountered by the assembly over the life of the product but accomplishes it in a relatively short period of time. In order to perform the reliability testing, a test vehicle consisting of a printed circuit board with test structures and components, was designed, fabricated, and assembled at ACI....

COTS Cooling

May 31, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

ACI Technologies (ACI) is working on a project where one of the challenges is removing a large quantity of heat from audio amplifier circuits. This challenge is further complicated in that the heat generating circuits are located in a rack mounted box that needs to be shielded from electro-magnetic interference (EMI). Mechanically, this means that there cannot be open passages into the rack mounted box. We will first review the basic types of cooling available as commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) systems for the electronics industry, then discuss the pros and cons of each for different applications, and finally reveal the criteria and solution for the ACI project....

Thermal Interface Materials Testing

May 30, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

There exists a need to efficiently remove heat from power electronics within power systems to enhance performance. Thermal management is a critical function to that operation. Reducing the junction temperature of semiconductor power electronic devices enables them to operate at higher currents. Lowering operating temperatures reduces the thermal stress on electronic devices, which improves efficiency and reduces failures. To improve the heat removal process, the current heat transfer design of a power system has been analyzed and a variety of thermal interface materials (TIMs) and cold plate technologies have been evaluated. This paper will review some of these results....

Identifying Battery Load Qualification Test Parameters

May 30, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

In a previous Tech Tip (see Battery Selection for Electronic Systems), considerations were discussed for selecting an appropriate battery for an application. After selection, testing should be performed to confirm that the battery can provide the power required for the specific application. Some battery definitions should be understood when discussing power load qualification testing of batteries....

BGA Reballing

May 30, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

In the current economic environment, the ability to reuse ball grid array(BGA) components that have failed due to solder defects may be an efficient way for electronics manufacturers to reduce costs. Cost may not be the only driving factor in the decision to engage in this recycling practice. The increasing demands placed upon the complexity of microprocessors and integrated circuits (ICs) has decreased the availability of some components, and increased their lead time. Because of this, reballing may provide a means to meet schedule, reduce rework turn-around time, and give a manufacturer a decisive advantage over other companies in an ever increasingly competitive market. This article will discuss the process of reballing BGA components (Figure 1), examining preparation (the preform method, the screen method), and cleaning and bake-out....

Battery Selection for Electronic Systems

May 29, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Battery selection should be considered early during the design phase of affordable electronic systems. The important choice of an appropriate battery can reduce system acquisition costs and keep logistics support costs down for the life of the system....

Design for Test

May 29, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Design for Test or Design for Testability (DFT) can best be described as the techniques utilized to add testability features to an electronic hardware product design. These added features make it easier to develop and apply manufacturing tests to assure that the product functions correctly....

Decapsulation of Integrated Circuits

May 29, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Decapsulation, or de-cap, is a failure analysis technique which involves the removal of material packaging from an integrated circuit (IC). After de-cap, visual inspection by optical microscopy of the internal circuitry may reveal areas where damage is most likely to have occurred. In addition, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) can identify the composition of any anomalies present after de-cap under higher magnification. The removal process of package material can be done either mechanically or chemically depending on the design of the integrated circuit. With ceramic packaging, de-cap is usually done mechanically by chiseling off the top with a fine razor and small hammer. For plastic packaging, de-cap requires chemical etching by strong acids. In this Tech Tips article, de-cap by chemical etching will be outlined step by step....

Decapsulation of Integrated Circuits

May 24, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Decapsulation, or de-cap, is a failure analysis technique which involves the removal of material packaging from an integrated circuit (IC). After de-cap, visual inspection by optical microscopy of the internal circuitry may reveal areas where damage is most likely to have occurred. In addition, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) can identify the composition of any anomalies present after de-cap under higher magnification. The removal process of package material can be done either mechanically or chemically depending on the design of the integrated circuit. With ceramic packaging, de-cap is usually done mechanically by chiseling off the top with a fine razor and small hammer. For plastic packaging, de-cap requires chemical etching by strong acids. In this Tech Tips article, de-cap by chemical etching will be outlined step by step....

Coating Application Methods

May 24, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Conformal coatings are applied to Printed Circuit Board Assemblies(PCBAs) using a variety of different methods. There are six main methods of applying conformal coatings: manual spraying, automated spraying, dipping, brushing, selective coating, and vacuum deposition....

Preparation for Reflow Profiling

May 24, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

There is a smaller process window and a much narrower margin of error when creating and using lead-free reflow profiles for surface mount parts on printed circuit boards (PCBs). Solder balls, dewetting, tombstones, voids, and head-on-pillow problems will occur much more frequently because lead-free alloys behave differently than eutectic pastes. Problems are compounded due to the extra heat necessary for some lead-free pastes to reach their melting points....

Identifying Flux Residues

May 23, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

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....


May 23, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Solvent and co-solvent cleaning involves the use of engineered solvents in a vapor phase system. The solvents classically used were Class 1 Ozone Depleting Substances, but new types of solvents have been developed that are less environmentally harmful. In some cases, isopropyl alcohol is used with a co-solvent. In these types of cleaning systems, a cloud of boiling vapor solvent is maintained between a boil sump and a cooling coil. When the items to be cleaned are immersed in the vapor cloud, the solvent condenses on the assemblies and acts to dissolve the residues. These processes usually involve a final rinse step outside of the vapor cloud to ensure that all dissolved residues are washed off the assemblies (Figure 1)....

Wedge Bonding Tool Selection

May 23, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Increasing I/O numbers, device complexity, and product miniaturization requires high precision bonding tools, and sophisticated equipment. Careful consideration should be given to wedge geometry while selecting the tool for a fine pitch wire bonding application. Wire bonding is a process that creates an electrical connection between a die and a substrate or lead typically using gold or aluminum wire. Wedge bonding is a specific type of wire bonding that uses a wedge shaped tool to create the welds. The design of the wedge tool has changed very little over the past decade. The wire is fed at an angle through the back of the wedge. This angle is typically 30 to 60 degrees and is application dependent. Some applications require a higher feed angle due to package clearance issues. Some deep access applications require a 90 degree feed angle. In this configuration, the wire is fed through a hole in the shank of the wedge tool. Wire feed is shown in Figure 1....

Experimentation for Success

May 23, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

The technical tips have offered valuable details and techniques into various aspects of electronics manufacturing. This has been validated by the reader responses concurring with our assessments, offering additional insight, or in some rare cases, stating divergent points of view on any particular matter. In a bit of a strategic departure from the normal range of electronic manufacturing topics, ACI Technologies,Inc. would like our readers to consider the importance of being well prepared in the arena of designed experiments in order to properly qualify a manufacturing process. This particular topic has relevance because of the associated scope of work ACI Technologies encounters in numerous projects from material R&D to manufacturing process optimization, which require appropriate experimental designs to ascertain the significant data....

Flip Chip Attach Techniques

May 21, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Last month we presented Flip Chip Rework.As promised, this month we follow up with attachment techniques. Flip chip assembly is a key technology for advanced packaging of microelectronic circuits. It allows attachment of a bare chip to a packaging substrate in a face-down configuration, with electrical connections between the chip and substrate via conducting “bumps.” Flip chip technology was first invented by IBM for mainframe computer application in the early 1960s. Semiconductor devices are mounted face down and electrically and mechanically connected to a substrate (Figure 1). IBM called this manufacturing process a C4 process (controlled collapse chip connection)....

Flip Chip Rework

May 21, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Flip chip components have been gaining popularity in the electronics industry since their introduction in the 1960s. Advances in attach methods and adhesives, as well as the drive for smaller and faster electronic devices made the technology take off. The basic premise of the flip chip is that the chip (semiconductor device) is mounted flipped from the traditional position. The traditional method of mounting a die is to mount it on a lead frame with the circuit and bond pads face up. The bond pads then receive a bond wire which then connects to the proper lead on the lead frame. Flip chips are mounted face down onto a substrate using small bumps on the bond pads to make direct electrical connection to their respective pads on the substrate. Stay tuned for more information on attachment techniques next month. This article will focus on how to rework flip chips....

Conformal Coating Inspection

May 21, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

In the field of electronics manufacturing, the end use of the product will always dictate the processes, procedures, and methods, not only for building the product, but also for testing, cleaning, and protecting the assembly in order to assure the level of quality required for proper operation. The need to protect an electronic assembly from its end use environment may stem from anyone of a number of hazardous (or potentially hazardous) conditions. Choosing the type of protective material is dependent upon matching that material’s characteristics with the conditions to be overcome. Naturally, the use of a protective (conformal) coating will require some method of verification to ensure the desired level and type of protection is achieved....

Thermal Profiling for Reflow

May 21, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Reflow temperature profiling is the most important aspect of proper control of the solder reflow process. It may appear to some to be a magical art practiced by a select experienced few, who are able to divine the proper settings for a reflow oven by reading graphs as if they were tea leaves. This does not have to be true. This article outlines a systematic method by which engineers and technicians can implement a successful reflow process from scratch....

Die Attach Dispensing Methods

May 21, 2019 | ACI Technologies, Inc.

Die attach material selection and process implementation play crucial roles in any microelectronic assembly. The chosen attach methods ultimately affect die stress, functionality, thermal management, and reliability of the assembly. Die attach applications are designed to optimize mechanical attachment of the die to the substrate, to create a thermal path from the die to the substrate, and to create an electrical path for a ground plane connection. Some of the more commonly used die attach materials in the microelectronics industry today are epoxies,polyimides, thermoplastics, silicones, solders, and special low outgassing, low stress, anisotropic adhesives. ...

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