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PCB assembly and soldering

Soldering remains the principal joining technology used by the electronics industry. However, demand for packaged devices of increasing complexity means that joints are becoming ever smaller, more stressed and much less easy to inspect. Additionally, environmental legislation and commercial pressures are driving companies to rapidly replace Pb-based solders:

With these trends likely to continue, there is a definite need for ensuring good joint design and production in order to avoid costly failure.

TWI provides expertise, services and facilities in microelectronics, metallurgy, troubleshooting, structural integrity and testing - a complete service for companies wishing to ensure the fitness-for-purpose and durability of solder joints.

A recent addition to TWI's facilities is the surface mount assembly line and wave soldering equipment at its Regional Electronics Assembly Centre (REACT) which is now available for PCB assembly. The line was converted to work on lead-free assembly in early 2003 and can handle conventional and SMT board assemblies with its DEK printer, Philips placement machine, BTU reflow oven and Blundell wavesolder machine using the new stabilised Tin-Copper Eutectic lead free alloy from DKL. This line is available to companies to run pre-production trials.

TWI offers the following services to companies involved in PCB assembly and soldering:

  • Design (materials, assembly processes)
  • Prototyping
  • Modelling and simulation
  • Testing (mechanical, environmental)
  • Training
  • Troubleshooting (on your site or at our laboratories)
  • Failure analysis
  • Environmental audits
A large number of projects have been performed by TWI for industrial members both singly and collectively. Find out more about the processes by looking at the Knowledge Summaries and Best Practice Guides. The outcome of a significant amount of work performed at TWI is given in a number of published papers and reports.


Projects performed in the PCB Assembly and Soldering area

The Core Research Programme (CRP). Member companies have free access to these generic R&D projects. The work forms the basis of TWI's multi-million pound funded programme of industrially aligned research. The projects relevant to the PCB Assembly and Soldering area are given below.
  • Modelling the reliability of solder joints for FC/BGA applications
  • Pb-free solder materials
  • Characterisation of glob top materials for COB components
  • Wettability of new lead free solder/flux compositions

Group Sponsored Projects (GSPs). These R&D projects are funded by a number of member companies, usually to address the medium term needs within a particular industrial sector. Results of the work are only available to the group of participating sponsors. The projects relevant to the PCB Assembly and Soldering area are given below.

  • Replacement of solders by conductive adhesives for SMT
  • Techno-economic appraisal of flip-chip on board technology

Projects being formed

  • High speed in-line inspection system for BGA packages

Single Client Projects (SCPs). TWI conducts several hundred of these strictly confidential projects per year. The following list gives an indication of the types of projects undertaken. The Case Studies, which have all been cleared with the sponsoring companies, give further details.

  • Design of PCB boards to withstand high g-forces
  • Design and selection of materials for a PCB board low cost liquid level sensor
  • Selection of solder materials for fine pitch and high temperature environments
  • Selection of solders and PCB materials/finishes for harsh environments
  • Development of soldering techniques for low tempeature/cost PCB
  • Development of laser soldering for telecoms systems
  • Replacement of solders for wire/lead frame termination
  • Fluxless ultrasonic/laser soldering
  • Determination of solder joint failure mechanisms on PCBs and encapsulated components
  • Laser via hole drilling in PCBs
  • Microfocus X-ray for detecting faults on BGA package
  • Adhesive surface mount technology Case Study
  • Ultrasonic Welding Of Thermoplastics Encapsulated Electronics Case Study
  • TWI aids in product development Case Study
  • Soldering quality under test Case Study
  • Miniature design creates big business Case Study
  • Microfocus inspection system a winner Case Study
Postgraduate Training Partnership (PTP) work ongoing which is relevant to the PCB Assembly and Soldering Industry Sector





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