Component Management

SolderStar Engineers a New Profiling Platform to Ensure Quality Control of Today’s Complex Technologies

14th October 2014
Jacqueline Regnier

With technologies constantly changing and smaller and more complex designs being developed, it poses a problem in the manufacture of quality printed circuit boards making the use of reflow oven profiling ever more important. With this in mind, SolderStar Ltd, a leading specialist manufacturer in the design and development of thermal profiling equipment for the lead-free electronics industry, has developed the DeltaProbe, a new add-on technology that ensures a quality product.  

Mark Stansfield, Managing Director of SolderStar explains: “The need for a more streamlined method for periodic profile capture was highlighted within our customer base, especially with today’s tight production volumes and the need to reduce development cycles. The DeltaProbe has been developed to help in this procedure, and offers a process control and intelligence that matches manufacturers more intricate and detailed production requirements, without the need to use fragile test boards for periodic profiling.

“What makes DeltaProbe different is the unique SolderStar ‘Smartlink interface’, this makes for an intelligent fixture which can hold Product and Process Recipe information to allow efficient profile capture, download and organisation. The Smartlink provides the secondary function of a quick connection system eliminating the possibility of channel mix-up error.

Installed to this process, capture device are specially designed measurement sensors where all process records are captured without a test card or wires getting in the way of the procedure. This makes it not only robust, but the appropriate tool to generate highly repeatable results, an important requirement in technology manufacture today.

“DeltaProbe is conveniently fitted to an adjustable frame so it can easily be changed to the width of the PCB being measured, making it possible to simply ‘drop in’ during manufacture without the need to impact on production. With time and money constraints put on manufacturers we felt this was an important feature.

“Once the DeltaProbe has been passed through, a benchmark will be captured, what we refer to the ‘golden’ process profile. Then tolerance limits can be set around the temperature traces and process parameters, this ensures measurements are precise and any performance problems are flagged up across the whole PCB due to the separate sensors which capture the profile across the board. This make periodic testing of the oven more repeatable, convenient and user-friendly.”

DeltaProbe is a platform that helps to reduce rework costs and minimises early field failure. It offers a number of benefits;

•       The usual use of test cards need constant maintenance and it is not easily repeatable. This results in false errors due to measurement platform problems.

•       Statistical Process Control (SPC) gathering is easy and offers a more accurate measurement.

•       The matched sensors of the DeltaProbe show any performance problems across the width of the oven heater.

•       There is independent limit settings per oven zone which gives more control in critical zones.

•       A number of errors can be detected easily including speed, conveyor and recipe loading and editing errors.

All these benefits help to give a true picture of the process and result in a quality product.

The DeltaProbe platform can be used once a temperature profile is captured from a real test PCB. The ongoing process monitoring will then be achieved by measuring the difference from an established process baseline.

Periodically the DeltaProbe is passed through the process to allow rapid checks against the baseline profile and SPC data to be captured. Process change due to variations in incorrect oven profile loading, convection levels, conveyor speed or zone set points, will be instantly and accurately detected through the platform and the operator is notified visually through the PC analysis software, making the findings easy to follow. The advanced SPC tools create charts for ongoing process control measurement, evaluation and corrective action.

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