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Because electrochemical failure risk is site-specific, different components need different plans.

Highly dense electronic assemblies incorporate bottom-terminated components. Miniaturized components create numerous challenges, resulting in a shorter distance between conductors of opposite polarity, solder sphere size reduction, low-standoff gaps, flux entrapment under the bottom termination, blocked outgassing channels, and more significant potential for leakage currents.1

In the presence of humidity, moisture (mono-layers of water) hydrogen bonds with ionic contaminants to create an electrolytic solution. Ions such as flux activators can dissolve metal oxides present in the flux residue at the soldered connection.2 When the system is in operation, the electrical field attraction of the positively charged metal ions migrate to the negative conductor. These metal ions can plate small dendrites, resulting in leakage currents and/or parasitic leakage. As such, ionic residue testing is used to test for problematic residues that could hinder reliable circuit function.3

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The EMS behemoth is on the cusp of an all-automated future.

By almost any measure Universal Scientific Industrial is an EMS behemoth. Yet most of the press surrounding USI over the past few years has been tied to its recent acquisition of AsteelFlash. The deal, completed last month, added 17 manufacturing sites and about $1 billion in topline revenue. For the first time, USI will have sites in the US, Africa and Western Europe.

Today, USI has 27 manufacturing locations in 10 countries, over 24,000 employees and revenue of more than $7 billion. That’s good for the 11th spot in the current CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY Top 50 rankings. There’s no missing the company now.

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As a pandemic crashed the industry, EMS companies responded with vigor and speed.

2020 will be remembered as the year of Covid-19. It hit China first, spurring a national response that included the shutdown of all industrial activities, including manufacturing.

That’s no small matter. China produces some 90% of all electronics worldwide. In anticipation of the Chinese New Year, most companies outside China had increased their inventories of raw materials, so the impact on the supply chain wasn’t immediately felt. As buffer stocks dwindled, producers in the US and Europe were socked with virus-related shutdowns. Meanwhile, China came back online. So, while materials weren’t always where manufacturers needed them, even critical components generally were accessible in relatively short order.

Throughout much of the West, demand for most end-products ground to a halt. Aerospace, especially for commercial jets, and industrial electronics were hit hardest, offset for some by spikes in demand for PCs, tablets and related networking gear as telecommuting for work and school became an overnight worldwide phenomenon.

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Results of melting behavior, solder joint formation, tensile strength and high-temperature creep tests.

There has always been a latent interest in low-temperature solders, as they can 1) potentially reduce material cost by enabling use of cheaper PCBs and components due to the lower processing temperature, 2) promote long-term reliability by reducing exposure to thermal excursion, 3) reduce labor cost, 4) reduce energy cost, and 5) reduce dynamic warpage in sensitive components.

SnPb alloys have been historically used for making joints. In the case of electronics, eutectic 63/37 SnPb was a very good choice, as solder joints could be soldered at relatively low temperatures, considering its melting point at 183°C. Eutectic SnPb also produced solder joints with very good mechanical reliability. The transition to lead-free was mostly a matter of regulatory compliance, and in the early 2000s various lead-free alloys were considered substitutes for eutectic SnPb, including the eutectic 42Sn58Bi alloy.

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A look back at friends and colleagues who left us in 2020.

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Assessing the impact of six solder mask options on under-component cleanliness.

Why consider solder mask selection as a factor that can affect cleaning process effectiveness? The solder mask impacts the component standoff height. Of the three options – solder-mask defined (SMD), non-solder-mask defined (NSMD), or no solder mask (NoSM) – NoSM can increase the standoff height, which may enhance the cleaning process. Standoff height will vary depending on board design and component selection, so it is difficult to quantify standoff height for each solder mask selection and specific component. Reference TABLE 1 for average standoff heights for specific component groups.1

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