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On-line non-destructive ultrasonic rheology measurement of solder pastes

On-line non-destructive ultrasonic rheology measurement of solder pastes

Seman, Anton (2010) On-line non-destructive ultrasonic rheology measurement of solder pastes. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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In surface mount technology (SMT) electronics assembly, the solder paste is printed onto the PCB's surface through a stencil and the components are later placed over the solder paste deposits. Since 2007, the use of extremely small SMT components for assembly of SMT devices has been widespread, and achieving consistent print deposits for fine pitch (the distance between the leads of the components) components has become a real challenge. The majority of the defects at the printing stage, such as skipping and bridging, were found to be related to the quality of the solder paste. These defects are usually carried over to the reflow process, causing defective final products. Hence, it is important to monitor the quality of the solder paste.

Conventional techniques for monitoring the quality of solder pastes during the production and packaging stage are usually based on the viscosity measurements of the solder pastes from the viscometer and rheometer. One of the potential limitations of viscometer- and rheometer-based measurements is that the collection and preparation of the solder paste samples can irreversibly alter the structure and flow behaviour of the sample. Due to the sample preparation process (removal, preshear/ pre-mixing), repeatability issues were often encountered when taking measurements using a viscometer or rheometer. Secondly, rheological measurements and the interpretation of rheological data comprise a very technical and time consuming process, which requires professionally trained research and development (R&D) personnel. Finally, the monitoring/inspection process usually employs random sampling technique from the production batch. Hence, measurement may not represent the actual quality of the whole production batch. This would mean that the conventional solder paste quality control that has been employed in the industry as a benchmark for printability (i.e. checking the viscosity of the paste before being despatched to the customers), would need to be re-evaluated for its feasibility and other possible methods of solder paste quality control would need to be considered. This has brought the ultrasound technique into context as it can offer a non-destructive evaluation of the quality of the solder paste in terms of viscosity. Also, it can be used at different stages of paste production and processing. It is for these reasons that materials suppliers that formulate and produce solder pastes, as well as solder paste consumers (especially contract electronics manufacturers), are keen to see the development of simple, easy-to-use and accurate techniques for the rheological characterisation of solder pastes.

This thesis concerns the study of a non-destructive ultrasonic technique for characterising the rheological properties of solder pastes and, specifically, the use of through-mode microsecond ultrasonic pulses for evaluation of viscoelastic properties of solder paste materials. In this study, a wide range of flux systems and solder alloy particle distributions used in the industry are investigated to determine the correlation of the ultrasound attenuation and velocity to the viscosity of the solder paste and their correlation to paste printing performance. The work is part of a bigger study aimed at the development of an on-line quality control technique for paste manufacture based on both conventional rheological tests and ultrasound measurements.

Results from the work on the comparative study of standard fluids and both commercial and newly formulated solder pastes and flux vehicle systems have been used to demonstrate the utilisation of the ultrasound technique for on-line, non-destructive measurement of the viscosity of non- Newtonian materials such as solder pastes. The study also found that the viscosity of the solder paste is governed by the intermolecular forces between the solder particles and the flux. The strength of these intermolecular forces depends on the probability of these particles rubbing up against one another while the paste is being sheared. Provided that the right correction factor for a particular shear rate is used, the ultrasound viscosity results obtained were found to be comparable to the rheometer viscosity results or to the viscosity provided by the solder paste manufacturer. The ultrasound technique produced consistent results and was also proven to work at low temperatures. The ultrasound technique may be used to help solder paste manufacturers to add the correct amount of flux or solder particles to their paste in order to reach a desired viscosity. Otherwise, it can be used as a quick go/no-go monitoring tool in the production line for predicting printing quality. Based on the foregoing, it can be concluded that the ultrasound technique is a viable alternative to using a rheometer.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: ultrasonic testing, rheology measurement, solder particles, solder pastes,
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics
T Technology > TS Manufactures
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Engineering
School of Engineering > Electronics Manufacturing Engineering Research Group
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2019 12:30

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