Removing potentially harmful contaminants is essential in electronics manufacturing. Effective cleaning extends the product’s life by ensuring good surface resistance and preventing current leakage leading to PCB failure.
When to Clean
There are many stages where cleaning is required :
- Before stenciling and soldering
- removes contaminants from the many previous production stages
- After stenciling
- removes excess adhesive
- After soldering
- removes corrosive flux residues and any excess solder paste
- Before protection media is applied
- prevents issues with adhesion and performance of the protecting media used
- After rework of coating and adhesives
What Solutions Are Available?
There are two main categories of cleaner currently available – solvent-based and water-based.
1. Solvent-based Cleaners (typically divided into three sub-sections):
- Flammable solvent cleaners
- Non-flammable solvent cleaners
- Non-flammable halogenated solvent cleaners such as HFCs and HFEs
All three types have their advantages and disadvantages, but overall solvent cleaners can be described as fast evaporating, single-stage cleaners. However, they require specialist equipment and extraction to protect against toxicity and other possible hazards.
2. Water-based Cleaners
Developed to replace ozone-depleting chemicals as well as offering a solution to reduce solvent emissions. It has several advantages over solvent-based cleaners including non-flammable properties, low odor, low/non-VOC, and very low toxicity.
There are many applications for cleaning, all of which depend on the type of equipment available. Whether it be ultrasonic, spray under immersion or dishwasher type application, identifying the correct water-based cleaner for the specific job is essential.
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