Page 54 In time, fixed-temperature sol-

dering and inductive heating became synonymous, even though they were technically separate issues. Manu - fac turers began to make the decision between fixed-temperature inductive systems and adjus table-temperature resistive systems, based on this need for absolute quality and precision.

Soldering Process Flexibility Recently, the industry has been

introduced to inductive heating sys- tems with adjustable temperatures. This enables the best of both worlds — precise, direct temperature control and greater throughput and perform- ance, while still managing process

control. Managing consumable tips is

vitally important. Adjustable sys- tems have tips that can be used at various temperature setpoints. Fixed systems require different tips for each temperature. Another decision is whether to

replace worn tip assemblies with complete cartridges or just with the tips. Complete cartridges engineered as a system, are likely to provide superior performance. Other factors to consider are the

relative costs of each replacement option and how frequently replace- ments must be made. The difference in cost between tips and complete cartridges can be several times.

While some specific manufacturers and models only allow one or the other, tips or cartridges, many mod- els provide the option try both or switch off. Different systems allow ranges

July, 2020

Improving Yields with the Right Hand Soldering System Continued from previous page

of tip geometries and sizes. This can be particularly important for prod- ucts that demand unusually shaped or sized tips. The trend toward small- er and smaller components necessi- tates that some soldering processes be performed under a microscope, requiring a smaller tip.

Ergonomics and Calibration Working room in many facilities

and benchtop space for each operator is at a premium. One way that man-

ufacturers are creating smaller sol- dering systems is by including the power supply as a separate feature, rather than built in. This significant- ly reduces the footprint of the machine, allowing the power supply to rest on the floor, rather than on the bench. Ergonomics are another differ-

entiator, especially considering long shifts, differences in employees’ hand sizes and other factors. The weight and shape of the handpiece, relative padding and the flexibility of cabling can affect productivity, and operator comfort and morale. Many OEMs are developing

peripherals to add functionality to soldering systems, usually powered by USB ports. Some interesting and potentially useful peripherals in - clude video cameras, fans, spot light- ing, and scanners. The number of ports should be

considered as well. Single-port sys- tems for production or single-iron high-thermal demand rework appli- cations are available and less costly. For end-of-line rework, which may require desoldering, tweezers and multiple irons, a system with multi- ple ports can save space on the work- bench. The user-friendliness and ease-

of-use among different soldering sys- tems can vary greatly. Some are more intuitive to use, while others require extensive training. Some offer just buttons and dials, while some have modern touchscreens. These relative features should be compared, especially for companies experiencing strong growth or high employee turnover. Also, many stations must be cal-

ibrated every so often and formal documentation provided to auditors. Some fixed-temperature units that rely on the Curie point for tempera- ture maintenance, never need to be calibrated. Adjustable systems may need to be calibrated, depending on the manufacturer.

Benefitting from the IoT The Internet of Things (IoT) is

providing access to real-time data to finetune processes on the fly, opti- mize maintenance efforts and trigger alerts to improve quality, efficiency and costs. IoT starts with connectivi- ty and we can expect that many sol- dering systems will be adding wire- less or Ethernet communication. Such communication might

ensure that the fume exhaust system is always working while the solder- ing system is operating, ensuring both respiratory safety and energy efficiency. IoT connectivity can enable operators to do more with col- lecting and using data, helping to optimize performance, find opportu- nities to increase yields, trace raw materials, and make better purchas- ing decisions. Every manufacturer can benefit

from the current generation of sol- dering systems, resistive and induc- tive. From improvements in tip costs and life, features related to the IoT and any number of innovations and feature additions still to come, man- ufacturers can enjoy considerable improvements in yield, throughput and profitability. Contact: Metcal, 10800 Valley

View Street, Cypress, CA 90630 % 714-799-9910 E-mail: Web: r

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