Smarter cleaning for electronics equipment

Louise Davis

Julia Vorley presents a case study on a complete cleaning solution for silicon wafer assemblers

An expert in electro-chemicals manufacturing has developed an innovative cleaning solution for PCB wafer assemblers, following collaboration with a number of manufacturers to improve their cleaning capabilities as well as speed up throughput, reduce costs and decrease environmental impact.

Although cleaning processes can vary from plant to plant, the silicon wafer manufacturers in collaboration with Electrolube all had many issues in common.

These included experiencing a bottleneck in production due to a slow cleaning process, using a solvent-based cleaning product - which produced disappointing cleaning outcomes as well as increased rejects and re-work - and concerns with environmental impact.

The existing solvent-based products in use also displayed a relatively low contamination ‘load bearing’ capability, which resulted in a more frequent need to replace material for a fresh batch.

In a recent case study, Electrolube’s Safewash Super (SWAS), proved how one product change can result in an entirely new cleaning process experience for wafer assemblers.

The customer used a USA-made solvent-based cleaning agent in a multi chamber machine, consisting of five cleaning tanks plus a loading and unloading station.

Electrolube addressed the client’s concerns by introducing SWAS into its process.

As a direct result of implementing SWAS, the customer was able to reclaim considerable floor space at their facility by reducing its existing five tank configuration to a three tank configuration (clean/QDR & QDR De-Ionised).

SWAS considerably improved the assembler’s cleaning performance with no residue on the wafer and enabled throughput to increase by as much as 50%, a vast increase assisted by the decreased time in the cleaning tank and the reduced tank configuration.

SWAS can absorb a maximum of 5%-15% of its weight of flux (RA, RMA, no-clean and water-soluble) whilst still cleaning to high military standards.

Due to the product’s capacity to ‘hold’ high levels of contaminant particles, the customer effectively reduced the number of cleaning agent changes per week.

Costs were reduced even further thanks to the water-based formulation of SWAS. Designed to clean to well within the world's military cleanliness standards - ANSI-J-001B/IPC TM-650 - SWAS is non-flammable, 100% ozone friendly and biodegradable.

The cleaning agent is low-odour and is far safer for employees to work with and to store.

It has become very evident that SWAS is a cost effective and technically capable cleaning product in this application, indeed for a majority of wafer manufacturers and PCB/production equipment cleaning applications.

SWAS is ideally suited to removing all types of flux residues quickly and efficiently, with minimal environmental effect using low cost, readily available cleaning equipment. It is particularly well suited for the removal of very stubborn flux resides and no-clean fluxes, which can be extremely difficult to remove.

Julia Vorley is with Electrolube.