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74 SMT Magazine • October 2015 by robert Voigt ddM nOVaSTar SMt QuIcK tIPS Selecting a reflow oven, Part 3 COluMn In this conclusion of a three-part series on selecting and evaluating a basic reflow oven configuration for a circuit board assembly envi- ronment, we'll address methods of control and profiling techniques. Methods of control Any reflow oven, regardless of the type and number of heating zones, needs a method to control the temperature and recipe profile of the product being processed. These can either be built in to the oven (i.e., on- board) or PC-based and connected via a com- munications cable. As with everything else, there are advantages and disadvantages to each type. on-board control On-board control means that the oven has a stand-alone controller built in to the system. It requires no PC or external source of informa- tion to create recipes to run the process. It can be controlled via a simple user interface dis- playing input prompts and readouts. In most cases, the interface is fairly basic and generally rather small. Pros: • Very good functional performance • Generally more affordable than external PC-based system Cons: • Some restrictions in storage capacities for recipes • Software updates can be more limiting due to the machine's limited hardware capacity • User interface is typically minimal, displaying the bare essentials of inputs and outputs Pc-based control In this scenario, the oven plugs into a PC or laptop, which hosts the software via a com- munications cable. (It is not common to see wireless connections for this equipment; hard- wired connections are considered more stable.) Pros: • Software updates are more frequent, allowing on-going usability enhancements offered by the manufacturer figure 1: on-board control interface on a multi-zone oven.

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