News


  • Fast and Local—Reflow Where You Need It.

    A developmental laser selective reflow soldering tool is now operational in our assembly laboratory. In this custom tool, localized solder reflow is accomplished through the controlled impingement of a 980nm (IR) laser. Custom beam shaper optics redistribute the Gaussian spot beam to a user selected, uniform rectangular area beam. This selectable incident area ranges from 4x4mm to 100x200 mm. Beam power is controlled from 50 to 2000W. We will be exploring process capabilities of this technology within the 2017 consortium research portfolio. The tool is however also available for product specific assembly trials by our customer community. Suggestions for novel joining materials or processes enabled by this technology are welcome.

  • Constant Current Power Cycling On-line.   Our custom design power cycling system is now on-line and functioning.   Sixty four channels of precision controlled constant current sources can be run with a user defined square wave to produce internally generated temperature cycles.  All channels are monitored for electrical failures using event detection circuitry as well as analog recording of net resistance drift.   MLF80 packages powered to 125C peak temperature have been chosen for the first power cycle reliability test.

  • Now Heating with Ten Zones.  The APL is the proud owner of a new BTU Pyramax 125N convection reflow oven.  This unit was recently installed in our third SMT line.  In addition to ten zones of temperature control it offers us a wide rail spacing for 18”x 24” server board reflow and 350C maximum temperature for high temperature electronic assembly.  We can now apply some real heat to your toughest reflow jobs.

  • Paste Printing 101.  We hosted our mid-year consortium project update meeting at the end of June.  Attending members were treated to the usual progress updates for key research projects but this year’s agenda included a marked emphasis on paste printing studies.  Most notably was a long-running APL study to determine dynamic feedback algorithms for manufacturing printer control.  Other topics included reliability consequences of isolated underprints, aperture placement limits for stencil patches and new paste material evaluations.  There was even some printing trials for automated assembly of sintered silver paste materials.

    • Feeling the Power.   The design of our new power cycling test apparatus has progressed to the prototype stage.  A simple two channel prototype board has demonstrated cyclic current induced heating of SMD 1206 resistors over an extended period.  The circuit board design for the final power cycle apparatus is being routed now. It will boast eight test channels, each with cyclic control of a constant test net current, electrical event detection and circuit resistance logging. 

    • Defense Against Electronic Failures.  The Department of Defense Executive Agent for Electronic Interconnect hosted a roundtable discussion immediately following the APEX equipment show in March.  
      A key objective of the meeting was to assess the potential contributions of various electronic industry consortia in addressing the reliability concerns of the DoD.  Dr. Denis Barbini represented our own AREA Consortium in this venue, reporting back that the skills and tools we bring to bear on our member inspired research projects align quite well with the current DoD needs and challenges.  

    • You Can Observe a
      lot by Just Watching.  Following some well-known advice from baseball sage Yogi
      Berra, we are now observing the dynamics of BGA solder joint formation using our new MetCal side view camera.  This camera system is now operational on our OKi Scorpion hot gas rework tool.  It can record soldering events with real time video as well as capture high magnification still photos of reflow events under the rework nozzle.


    • No Fly Zone for Pb-free Solder.  We were invited to meeting #27 of the IPC PERM Council recently held in Phoenix, AZ.  This distinguished group of military/avionics electronics experts was specifically interested in the scope of AREA Consortium research addressing the reliability of Pb-free solder assemblies. Highlights of the experimental approaches we use for evaluating Pb-free solder alloys in the APL were shared in the following talk:


       “Evaluating Alternative Pb-free Solder Alloys”  

      by B. Arfaei and J. Wilcox

      At our regular consortium meetings, our members routinely see all the data generated from these laboratory methods for many member proposed alternative alloy soldering systems. 
    • Boards, Boards and more Boards!  Some customization of our large Thermotron F110 environmental chamber was required to accommodate our ambitious 2016 alternate solder alloy evaluation project.  The improved temperature uniformity from two added auxiliary heater units has increased the functional capacity of this chamber by 30%.   This extensive alloy reliability project includes five new solder alloys along with the common alloys (SAC105, SAC305, SnPb eutectic) acting as controls.  A massive wiring effort by our intrepid graduate student team prepped several hundred test boards for electrical monitoring.

      More than 100 boards are now cycling in our newly enhanced F110 environmental chamber. 

    •    
      Solder Paste Inspection.  Consortium member Koh Young Technology has graciously installed their latest Dual Projection SPI tool (model 8030-3) in the APL surface mount assembly line.  We are planning a detailed look at the SPI data produced by this new tool.  It will be used routinely for all future APL assembly runs and will also play a key role in solder paste printing projects planned for the consortium research portfolio.
    • Teaching the Next Generation.  On December 4th, Universal hosted 75 undergraduate engineering students into the Advanced Process Laboratory for an interactive demonstration of surface mount assembly manufacturing.  The students, from the Systems Science & Industrial Engineering department at Binghamton University, were offered live demonstrations of solder paste screen printing, automated component placement and convection reflow soldering.  Key manufacturing inspection methods and analytical tools were also reviewed.  

    • Coming Attractions.  The AREA Consortium research plan for 2016 has been documented for member review and comment. You may read through the abstracts of various planned projects using the Research Plan links in the left sidebar of this page.  
    • Illuminating the Assembly Process.  The APL skill set is often directed at process problem solving for new  technologies.  The rapidly growing LED lighting industry is a prime example.  Compiling the lessons of several case studies from our LED assembly experience, Denis Barbini will be providing a technical presentation at the upcoming LED Assembly, Reliability & Testing Symposium in Atlanta entitled

      "LED Electronics – A Guide to Developing a Manufacturing Process".  

      The presentation, scheduled for November 18, 2015, will examine key considerations for the design and assembly manufacturing of LED products.

    • Sharing the Results. The AREA Consortium 2015 fall meeting was held on October 14th and 15th on the Binghamton University research campus.  The day and half technical agenda was organized into six themed sessions such as conformal coating, solder interconnect reliability, SMT assembly process and others.  Also included were were excellent presentations by our industrial collaborators on the following topics:

      Hot Topics in SMT Assembly Fluxes

      Conformal Coated Resistor Corrosion

      0.3mm Pitch (Part 2): 

      Assembly and Reliability Results



      BGA Interconnect Stress during SMT Cooldown Simulation Study

      Meeting presentation content is available to the consortium membership through the 2015 Meetings link. 
       

    •   Peer Review. The APL team of Harry Schoeller, Jim Wilcox, and Denis Barbini shared some select content from the Consortium data archives at the 2015 SMTA International conference held in Rosemont, Il.  The first morning session of the Thursday Pb-free Symposium (LF1) was dedicated solely to Universal AREA Consortium research on three topics:

                        Metallization and Surface Finish Effects on Pb-free WLCSP Thermal Cycle Reliability

                        Thermo-mechanical Evalution of Alternate Pb-free Die Attach Materials

                        Harsh Environment Reliability of QFN Components and Conformal Coating Effects

      These papers were well received by our industry peers. Our highest audience rated paper however was given by Dr. Schoeller in a separate Monday morning Harsh Environment session (HF1):

                        Isothermal Fatigue of High Temperature Solder Joints.

    • Packaging Integration. Consortium studies on the reliability of fine pitch copper pillar interconnects require precise alignment and assembly of these advanced packaging interconnects before they can be tested. 

      Jim Wilcox has teamed up with the Universal Instruments placement tool engineering team to document 
      the placement challenges associated with manufacturing such new 2.5D packages.  Using the placement of High Bandwidth Memory cubes on a recently announced 2.5D graphics processor unit as a case study, a paper entitled
        
        "2.5D Packaging Integration
      Assembly Placement Challenges"


      was prepared for presentation at the recent iMAPs workshop on Advances in Semiconductor Packaging.  This workshop was held on the campus of SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Marcy, NY on September 24th.

    • Move it to Production. Drawing on various examples of assembly technologies addressed by the APL in recent years, Denis Barbini has compiled a two day workshop entitled:  "Five Steps to the Implementation of Advanced Technologies."  Examples of technologies covered include fine pitch printing, package on package assembly, 01005 passives, as well as use of novel laminate materials.  Dr. Barbini was invited to run this new workshop at the Electronex Exhibition held in Melbourne Australia on September 9-10, 2015. 
        

    • Summertime Fare. AREA Consortium mid-year research project updates will be starting the week of June 22nd.  Each session will present the status of several commonly themed projects in an interactive web meeting format.
      • June 23:  Laminate Materials
      • June 25:  Solder Paste Printing
      • June 30:  Solder Interconnects
      • July  02:  Die Attach Materials
    If you haven't received your members-only meeting invitation, contact <jim.wilcox@uic.com>.

     




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