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28 The PCB Magazine • May 2016 by Yash Sutariya SATuRN ElECTRoNICS/SATuRN FlEx SySTEmS Most folks associate quality improvement initiatives with upfront expenses and ongo- ing cost increases. Fortunately, when done ef- ficiently and with enough forethought and planning, quality improvement programs can pay for themselves in the form of increased throughput, reduced labor steps, and reduction in materials consumption. Increased yield im- provements are then a pure bonus. The follow- ing project, centered on Saturn's LPI solder mask operation, was implemented about 13 years ago and details just such an example. It was one part of a comprehensive review of our processes prompted by customer complaints of scratches on their incoming PCBs. The results, including a customer award, galvanized us to our current continuous improvement modus operandi. Cleanroom Fixes Following LPI solder mask application, pan- els were partially cured in a tunnel oven and then scheduled for LPI imaging. A number of cosmetic defects were found to be related to mishandling and air cleanliness of the imaging area. To reduce mishandling, a new transporta- tion cart system was implemented. To reduce opens due to dust, the entire area was enclosed with clean room curtains and station HEPA fil- ters with particle counting machines. Figure 1: Cleanroom with curtains and hEPA filters in place (odd points of light are reflections). feature

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