Circuit board cleaners improved down-hole logging tools possible

Paul Boughton

The evolution of 'smart' drilling, with advanced electronics being widely adapted for down-hole logging, has advanced enormously over the past 40 years. With this has come the problem of cleaning the devices to keep them reliable, accurate and efficient. MicroCare Corp has evolved several products that help to prolong the life of these intricate devices and avoid the costs of down-hole failures.

Two particular products, Heavy Duty Degreaser – SuprClean and No Clean Flux Remover - VeriClean both are being used on down-hole tools throughout the world, including off-shore in the North Sea, out in the Gulf of Mexico, in the Alberta fields and in Southeast Asia.

Down-hole tools are electronic systems that have a hard life, despite being built of the strongest possible materials and engineered to withstand temperatures in the hundreds of degrees Celsius and pressures of thousands of pounds per square inch (PSI). They also have to survive the vibration of the drill bit and being flooded by drilling mud. To help to withstand these conditions while incorporating all the smart new features oil engineers need, the machines have evolved to feature 'ball grid arrays' (BGA) chips and 'multi-chip module' circuit board designs.

These advances make cleaning even more crucial but problematic, Mike Jones, MicroCare Vice President explains: "Down-hole tools always have been very, very difficult to clean, but cleaning during refurbishment is absolutely critical to their success. Since any given tool might be cleaned hundreds of times during its operational life, cleaning quickly, thoroughly, safely and economically is paramount.

"Modern BGA and MCM designs are difficult to clean simply because they’re so small; the boards have more electronic connections per square centimetre. This is a big advantage, because more connections makes the tool 'smarter' and allows designers to add more features and capabilities. But these denser PCB designs run hotter, which makes the chips more vulnerable to corrosion from any salty flux residues that were put on the board when the PCB was being soldered together. A clean, salt-free, corrosion-free down-hole tool is a long-lived tool, and this is where SuprClean and VeriClean come to the fore."

Down-hole tools also may be coated with dirt, mud and hydrocarbon residues, Mr Jones notes, which also have to be removed for the equipment to continue working efficiently. SuprClean has proven itself to be a highly effective general degreaser.

Lastly, silicone coatings also are often used on down-hole tools. Silicone coatings are heavy, viscous materials that holds wires firmly in position, protecting them from vibration. Silicone also does not conduct heat very well, so it protects wiring and PCBs from geothermal and frictional heat. But silicone coatings are very difficult to remove using traditional solvents, which slows the refurbishment process. VeriClean has proven extremely effective at removing these materials, dissolving in seconds coatings that might take 20-40 minutes to dissolve with alcohol, if they could be removed at all.

Because it is an extremely powerful cleaner, Heavy Duty Degreaser – SuprClean is a double-duty defluxer and degreaser. It is non-flammable, ozone-safe and easily removes the highly-activated fluxes used on circuit boards. A key attribute of SuprClean that field techs like is the speed with which the solvent works and evaporates – unlike old-style solvents, non-flammable SuprClean dries almost instantly, allowing field repair techs to get on with their job.

No Clean Flux Remover - VeriClean is a highly effective and fast-drying cleaner that works particularly well on any ‘no-clean’ fluxes and solder pastes. VeriClean is the industry’s only circuit cleaner based on ultra-pure siloxanes. Recommended for use on most electronic components and materials, VeriClean also has ‘green credentials’ with a low VOC formula, is completely ozone-safe, low global warming and very safe for people.
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