PCB007 Magazine

PCB-Aug2015

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62 The PCB Magazine • August 2015 by Stephen Las Marias i-connecT007 "Failure, in electronics, while not necessarily desired by either manufacturer or consumer, is ex- pected. We are, in a sense, inured to failure. We expect problems." And so goes Joe Fjelstad's article on the top- ic, 'War on Process Failure,' which is the feature topic for all of our magazines here at I-Con- nect007—The PCB Magazine, The PCB Design Magazine and SMT Magazine—this month. Fjelstad is the owner and president of Ver- dant Electronics. His company has been pro- moting the Occam Process, an approach to electronics manufacture and assembly which circumvents the solder process and harbors the conceptual promise and potential for the man- ufacture of high-density, high-performance, high-reliability, lower cost and environmentally compliant next-generation solutions for prod- ucts ranging from consumer to milaero appli- cations. We invited him to write something on the above topic, as it is something that is close to his heart. In his article, Fjelstad notes that much is be- ing done in an effort to improve reliability with new solder alloys, new fluxes, new materials, new equipment and process parameters. But, as he says in the piece, the problem with focusing attention on improving reliability, exclusively within the existing manufacturing paradigm, is that it too often seeks ways to identify and treat symptoms while ignoring the disease. In electronics, the most prominent causes of defects and failure are found in the soldering process and the trillions of solder joints that are created annually. Soldering, Fjelstad concedes, is a useful technology—and will likely be used in much product in the future as it has in the past— but it comes with many challenges, which have been exacerbated by the forced conversion to lead-free solder to meet needless EU mandates. For evidence, look at any electronics industry journal or conference proceedings and one will find countless articles on solder-related challeng - es and defects and how to remedy them. The complexity of the soldering process and all of the expensive test and inspection equip- ment add cost, but no true value, he writes. He said that they are much like medical tests used to detect disease in humans; they may alert one to the problem but they do nothing to treat it. Detection should not be confused with treatment, but too often it is. We applaud our- selves more for finding defects than for elimi- nating them. Clearly, soldering is an imperfect process and one that is unlikely to ever achieve perfection, states Fjelstad. Moreover, it is cause for collateral damage to both com- ponents and PCB substrates because of the high temperatures required and the dele- terious effects associated with those high temperatures. Even after the product is built, solder remains the weak link. Failed solder joints are a leading cause product failure in use. Given the situation, how might one defeat such a formidable foe? Find out more by reading the complete version of Fjelstad's article in the August 2015 issue of SMT Magazine. PCB Stephen Las Marias is managing edi- tor of SMT Magazine. Declaring War on Failure in Electronics FeAture summAry 62 The PCB Magazine • August 2015

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