Today I made my rounds in the office, collecting ideas for you from our tech guys - ideas to help you speed the alloy and flux selection process. The team gave me ideas from the start of the design process all the way up to speeding the order process, and all the steps in between. These are solder basics, but they can help you get your process up on its feet quicker - if you put together a little information up-front:
1) Call a tech guy early, but be prepared by knowing the specifics of your material needs, like powder size, flux type, and any design requirements.
2) If you’re an engineer specializing in component attachment, get yourself involved with the component or board design team. It may mean extra meetings, but it will save many headaches in the long run after you help the team remember the meaning of “design for manufacture”.
3) Define the details of your application, equipment, and process before selecting a material. For instance, knowing the needle size that you will be utilizing in a dispense machine will speed the powder size selection for die-attach solder paste.
4) Be aware of cleaning requirements and your current in-house cleaning equipment and chemicals before choosing a flux or flux vehicle.
5) Understand the operational temperature of your assembly and the maximum processing temperatures of the components. This will make alloy selection much faster.
6) Don’t get hung up at the ordering process – know what size packaging you need. Do you have equipment that only fits a certain size syringe or cartridge? Knowing this ahead of time will save you a second call to verify while talking with an Account Specialist.
7) For alloy compatibility and metallurgical considerations, be prepared to lets us know the composition and thickness of your surface finish. This will also save a second call, because it is required information in order for us to get you the right alloy and the perfect flux for your application.
8) For solder paste printing recommendations, know the specifications of the stencil you will be using. Aperture size, stencil thickness, and any other dimensions you can provide will help guide which flux vehicle and powder size we will recommend to you.
9) For preform selection, try using thinner preforms. For prototype situations you can stack the thinner preforms to build solder volume, and it is much quicker to order preforms in 1 thickness as opposed to many thicknesses.
10) Understand your process bottlenecks. By letting us know your material needs we can usually suggest a few materials, but perhaps one of those materials can help eliminate a problem that is slowing your process down.
11) Consider your company’s roadmap for the next 5 years. It doesn’t make sense to select a material and need to select a new one only a year later. Save yourself the time involved in a second solder evaluation and know what the future holds regarding safety/environmental concerns. Likewise, understand the roadmap of your supplier, their future materials, and how their current materials will fit your company’s future plans.