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46 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2018 Welcome to the first installation of "Quest for Reliability." The goal behind this column is to use my experience at an independent labo- ratory for over 18 years to help readers under- stand PCBA reliability issues, and more importantly, prevent suspect conditions in the first place. The laboratory I work in has served every sector of the elec- tronics industry, from oil and gas equipment designed to function miles below the surface of the earth, to aerospace companies and every- where in between. Not every column will be filled with data, photos, and 8D reports, but they will take a more hands-on approach to the assembly process from the perspective of analytical testing. I hope this column gives you a sneak preview of some of that priceless experience by provid- ing answers to reader questions or shining a light on a p r o b l e m you didn't know you had until this point. I was once told, "Experience is something you receive right after you need it," and this certainly applies to PCBA manufacturing. This first column will focus on the basics of why contamination is bad for your product. It seems like a simple enough topic, and it is, but the heart of the issue is how to determine what the contamination is and how it was intro- duced. After you identify these items, you are armed with the information necessary to opti- mize the process and eliminate the problem. When you look at the overall cleanliness of the product, you must remember that it's not only what your processing introduces, but also what every process has introduced. Processing steps include, but are certainly not limited to, the following: component manufacturing, PCB fabrication, assembly, and all the handling time in between point zero and the final pack- aging out the door. The first and most likely result of excessive amounts of contamination is elec- trical leakage, which is normally a precur- sor to electrochem- Quest for Reliability by Eric Camden, FORESITE Contamination: The Enemy of Electronics Eric Camden

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