Design

Energy-efficient drying and hardening in small spaces

14th September 2022
Paige West

In electronics manufacturing, optimal drying and hardening of lacquers, adhesives and casting compounds is of decisive importance for the entire process.

In addition to the numerous specific requirements in regard to the drying process, particular challenges are faced by manufacturers with limited production space, whether in the aerospace, automotive or semiconductor segments.

Rehm Thermal Systems offers the best solution for every application. Sophisticated drying systems developed by the company not only process all common adhesives, lacquers, electropastes, casting compounds, casting resins and underfill materials, but also offer energy-efficient drying and hardening in the smallest space. The Rehm Thermal Systems portfolio currently includes four specialised drying systems with a small space footprint.

With the Alteco vertical dryer, the Pramo continuous-belt dryer, the RDS magazine dryer and a drying system with a meander-based design, Rehm offers uncompromisingly space-saving systems yet reliable high throughput capacity.

The solution for electronic modules: the Alteco vertical dryer

Designed specifically for flat modules with an overall height of up to 70mm, the Alteco vertical dryer is the compact system of choice where the highest possible throughput is required for long hardening processes yet in the smallest possible space. This is achieved by loading the circuit boards onto goods carriers that pass through two process towers, each equipped with up to four heat zones stacked vertically above one another. With an overall length of barely four metres, the Alteco replaces a comparable horizontal dryer 40 metres long – with no loss in the quality of the drying or hardening processes.

“With its two-sided heat supply, a reproducibly uniform heating is obtained even in a vertical system and even with heavy assemblies,” explains the head of mechanical construction at Rehm Thermal Systems, pointing out the advantages of the vertical dryer system. A further benefit of this system is the reduced energy consumption compared to the conventional design. Its compact, upright design results in only a small surface area from which heat can be radiated, and so heat loss is small.

The Alteco offers flexibility in terms of its loading options. Firstly, the automatic goods carrier adjustment system allow two different lacquered boards to be dried simultaneously in one system. And since the width of the carrier is adjusted automatically to the product width, the dryer can be loaded with subsequent batches of different sizes with no setup time. An optional cooling section can also be added, either in a segmented form or integrated into the heating tower. In the latter case the system will be taller but will offer the same throughput capacity.

Ideal for heavy assemblies: the Pramo drying system

Unlike with the Alteco, in the Pramo continuous dryer the modules are processed using a looped belt system. Goods carriers with ‘shuttles’ pass through a series of zones in which they are first heated and then held at the specified temperature for the drying and/or hardening process. This design offers a number of benefits. In addition to a small footprint, the belt transport system enables not only a high throughput with variable cycle times but also reliably guarantees both optimal and flexible drying and hardening results, including for special shapes and higher assemblies. To inspect the process, suitably prepared measurement gondolas can be used with ease thanks to a quick-release fixing.

Optimal for power modules: the RDS magazine dryer

The RDS magazine dryer from Rehm Thermal Systems is no less economical of space. Neither designed as a vertical dryer nor fitted with continuous belts, this system is loaded – by hand or using a handling system – with magazines containing multiple items, which then pass into the heat zones. The system reaches temperatures of up to 300°C and residual oxygen levels of less than 5000 ppm O2. Meanwhile, optimal heat insulation assures a stable temperature profile for the process. This makes the magazine dryer particularly suitable for power modules and high-temperature applications or for the thermal treatment of semiconductor applications, hybrid structures and electronic modules such as are used in wind turbines, electric vehicles, and solar energy applications.

Precision for small parts and sensors: the meander dryer

The ‘meandering’ construction that gives this specialist dryer from Rehm its name enables a large number of parts to be accurately positioned and passed through the process chamber, all in the smallest of spaces. The loading position is located outside the chamber; it is loaded either manually or with the aid of a robot. Conceived as a special system, the exact design of the meander dryer can be individually tailored to suit customer requirements.

Four designs for distinct purposes – but with economy and compactness in common

The Alteco and Pramo drying and hardening systems, the RDS magazine dryer and the meander dryer from Rehm Thermal Systems are each particularly suitable for processing specific types of module. What they have in common is a small space requirement yet high throughput and long drying times compared to conventional dryers. This is accompanied by an attractive price-to-performance ratio and comparatively lower energy consumption.

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