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106 SMT Magazine • March 2014 by rachel miller-Short phoTo STenCil llC a ShOrT ScOOP coluMn 10 common Stencil Questions There are a wide range of stencils and sten- cil technologies available and many questions arise when the time comes to select one. This month's Short Scoop answers the 10 most com- mon questions our customers ask. 1. What type of stencil do I need? The need to satisfy more rigorous printing requirements due to finer pitch components leads to a natural hierarchy of stencil technol- ogies based on the application. A few general stencil technologies are available on the mar- ket today. They include stencils that are laser- cut on some form of stainless steel material, la- ser cut stencils on 100% nickel foils, and elec- troformed stencils for the most chal- lenging applica- tions. With each of these basic stencil types there are many coatings and post-process steps available to tailor the basic stencil further. The specific sten - cil types and op- tions available are dependent on the supplier selected. Each of the key technologies and secondary pro- cessing options has its qualitative benefits for spe- cific applications, and it is not un- common in the industry today to see stencil us- ers deploying a combination of all three stencil types in their factories. There are three main questions to ask and answer to help determine the correct stencil: 1. What is the smallest pitch to be printed? 2. What is the mix of components being placed on the board? 3. What is the area ratio calculation of the smallest component? Stencil users who optimize the correct sten- cil technology for their specific application and processing parameters typically enjoy greater yields and significantly lower rework. As al- ways, it is about selecting the right tool for the job. 2. how much will it cost? C u s t o m e r s are continually pushing for cost reductions. The improved capa- bilities of avail- able stencil ma- terials, combined with high-per- formance lasers, enable many ap- plications to be fulfilled using straight laser-cut stencils. If that option works for your application, it provides a fast turn, low price- point option to satisfy your ap- plication. The use

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