Tara Fischer, President
Electronics production is a constant battle to pack more functionality into a smaller footprint at a lower cost. Product design, material selection, and increased automation all contribute toward achieving these objectives. Strict process control is also a key factor, ensuring yields are maintained at their highest possible levels. As electronic devices and systems continue to evolve, they become more complex. Component miniaturization, new interconnect methods, and materials bring new challenges. Safety and reliability expectations are forever increasing, especially in applications such as automotive and medical electronics.
Printed circuit assembly (PCA) still relies heavily on soldering to provide physical and electrical connections between the components and the substrate. Wave, reflow, and selective soldering are the three key machine processes used to create these joints, and the ability to measure and control them is critical. Increasingly, traceability at the component level is being demanded in many sectors of the industry.
In its almost 60-year history, Electronic Controls Design (ECD) has pioneered machine soldering process control. “From the introduction of the world’s first in-transit thermal profiler, ECD has continuously innovated data collection hardware, software analysis tools, and measurement precision to address today’s advanced electronics manufacturing challenges,” says Tara Fischer, President of ECD.
ECD has developed a platform approach to data collection, the basis of which is the SuperM.O.L.E.® Gold2 (SMG2) thermal profiler. The SMG2 is an award-winning traveling data logger that enables process engineers to establish the optimal time/temperature curve for a given combination of product, chemistry, machine type, and production demand. Thus, creating the largest possible process window.
Establishing the optimal thermal profile to maximize yield and throughput is, however, only the first step. Ongoing measurement, data collection, and analysis are essential if thermal processes are to remain under control. ECD adds to the “platform approach” with a range of high integrity, non variable machine verification pallets. Seamlessly integrating with the SMG2, the OvenRIDER™, WaveRIDER™, and the brand new SelectiveRIDER™ collect and analyze critical parameters ensuring machines are always operating within their optimal range.
Validating machine performance in this way eliminates the use of products as measurement devices and dramatically increases the level of visibility at the machine level. This was recently demonstrated when a major machine manufacturer was able to measure and correct the individual solder nozzle offsets within their machine using the SelectiveRIDER™. A single pass of the pallet provided them with the numerical information needed to accurately calibrate each nozzle in the X, Y, and Z axes.
ECD adds to the “platform approach” with a range of high integrity, non variable machine verification pallets.
Safety-critical applications such as autonomous vehicles, medical devices, and myriad others are demanding ever-increasing levels of traceability. The ECD OvenSENTINEL™ is a continuous reflow oven monitoring system that delivers this capability at a single board level. True Profile™ capability compares every assembly produced against a benchmark profile established during product set up. Data is collected by a machine resident sensor array and stored in a powerful database that can be interrogated to provide detailed reports. Alarms can be set to warn of process fluctuation and prevent the product from entering the oven if an alarm state exists.
Since ECD’s founding, the science of measurement has driven our product development – from electronics manufacturing to dry storage technology to commercial baking tools. However, measurement data alone is not enough; presenting it in a meaningful and actionable way is what makes the difference and is what ECD’s technology and expert team have done consistently for approaching 60 years. ECD provides our customers with process confidence through integrated precision measurement products that enable high-accuracy, advanced manufacturing operations.