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Thermal Profiling of Reflow Solder Process

High quality soldering of Surface Mount technologies requires correct setup of the thermal profiles.  Both solder paste parameters and component peak temperatures need to be verified to be within specification.

The SolderStar reflow systems provide the most comprehensive platform for setup, optimisation and ongoing verification of reflow profiles.

Whether you need periodic profiling or continuous profiling, Solderstar have the equipment, experience and technical support network to provide the best thermal profiling solution for your reflow soldering process.  Follow the links to read more about our products and how they can improve the reliability and quality of your PCB manufacturing.

SYSTEM ADVANTAGES

  • > Complete profiling solution under a single software platform.
  • > Highest thermal protection of profiling instrumentation.
  • > Smallest instrument footprints for low tunnel height applications.
  • > Profile setup and optimization software tools
  • > Periodic or continuous monitoring options
  • > Integrated tools for SPC.

Thermal Profiler

REFLOW THERMAL PROFILER AVAILABLE WITH 6 AND 16 MEASUREMENT CHANNELS AND 2.4GHZ TELEMETRY

The SolderStar PRO thermal profiler systems include our latest evolution of ultra-compact datalogger featuring the unique SolderStar ‘SmartLink’ connector system.  The datalogger unit is docked into a protective heat shield and thermocouple adapter combination to provide the number of measurement channels required for the product profiling applications. Future upgrading or servicing is a simple and cost effective procedure, with only the Thermocouple Adapter needing to be changed to allow 6,9,12 or 16 Type-K measurement versions.

The‘SmartLink’ concept results in a smaller profiling instrument footprint, allowing the systems to easily pass though ovens with low tunnel heights or when narrow electronic assemblies are being produced. Additionally it provides a quick connection to a range of accessories for capture of profile and SPC information from reflow, wave/selective and vapour phase soldering processes.

For profile optimisation, the AutoSeeker Profile Optimiser can be added to the systems to provide rapid profile setup. Once a profile has been captured from the process, the AUTOSeeker will search through millions of combinations of oven set points, to provide suggested settings for both temperature and speed.

The systems can optionally provide live profiling data direct to the engineer computer via our class leading 2.4 GHz wireless telemetry system, the bespoke system used in SolderStar products provide a full two way link, resulting in no data loss during the streaming of live data.

These profiling systems provide the engineer with all the necessary software tools for rapid profile setup and analysis, along with data management, profile simulations and integrated SPC charting tools.

System Features

  • Compact size for profiling of narrow PCB formats or ovens with low tunnel clearance.
  • Support for 6 to 16 measurement channels for profiling of the most complex PCB assemblies.
  • Smartlink connection system provides quick datalogger connection to a range of products and accessories.
  • Software tools including profile analysis and simulation, plus integrated SPC management features.
  • High temperature USB rechargeable battery system.
  • Connectivity via standard USB cables or 2.4Ghz Wireless Telemetry.
  • Extendable for control of wave / selective or vapour phase soldering.

Oven Verification Fixtures

Instantly and accurately detect process changes due to variations in oven loading, convection levels, conveyor speed or zone set points errors.

The SolderStar DeltaProbe is periodically passed through the reflow process to allow rapid verification of oven conditions against a stored baseline profile.  Process change, due to variations in convection levels, conveyor speed or zone set-points, are instantly and accurately detected and the operator is notified visually through the PC analysis software.  Integrated SPC tools allow the operator to produce process control charts for ongoing process control measurement, evaluation and corrective action.

The DeltaProbe solution removes the need to use fragile test boards for periodic profiling required for ongoing control of the reflow process.  Although profile setup requires a temperature profile to be captured from a real test PCB, ongoing periodic process monitoring can be achieved by measuring the difference from an established process baseline.  The DeltaProbe device is passed periodically through the process to provide oven verification and ease SPC data capture.

With matched sensors and no test card or long trailing wires, the DeltaProbe streamlines the procedure of daily testing of the reflow process and generates highly repeatable oven measurements.  It incorporates an adjustable carrier frame which can be set to the production conveyor width and can be used without any disruption to production flow.

A 'gold standard’ for each process is established in 3 easy steps:

  1. 1)Optimum oven settings are first established by product profile capture and simulation
  2. 2)The DeltaProbe is passed through the reflow oven to capture a 'golden process profile'
  3. 3)Tolerance limits are set around temperature traces and process parameters

Process change, due to variations in convection levels, conveyor speed or zone set-points, are instantly and accurately detected and the operator is notified visually. Integrated SPC tools allow the operator to produce process control charts for ongoing process control measurement, evaluation and corrective action.

Error Conditions Detected

  • Conveyor speed errors.
  • Process Set-point & convection level errors.
  • Unauthorised change of process settings.
  • Incorrect oven profile loading.

System Highlights

  • Simplified Oven Verification.
  • Adjustable to production line-width.
  • Removes need for fragile test PCBs.
  • Reduced possibilities of oven jams.
  • Minimal impact on productions throughput.
  • Independent limit settings per oven zone gives more control in critical zones.
  • Errors detected easily include speed, conveyor and recipe loading and editing errors.

Realtime/Automatic Profiling Systems

AUTOMATIC PROFILING SYSTEM (APS)

100% TRACEABILITY FOR REFLOW SOLDERING PROCESSES

With increasing electronic assembly complexity and values, combined with the need for long term reliability or safety critical products, the need for continuous monitoring of productions processes has become common place.

The SolderStar APS provides full time process monitoring of the reflow soldering process, the system is capable of recording process conditions and the temperature profile for every electronic assembly that passes through the assembly line.

Ultra-thin temperature probes are permanently mounted along the length of each oven conveyor allowing measurement of variation within product level temperature.  This newly developed probe allows for a smaller physical size which offers two significant advantages, fast response to changing oven loading and the reduction of shadowing problems associated with components mounted close to the conveyor rails.

Product speed and position are monitored by way of dedicated speed monitoring instrumentation, combined with optical sensors and a new software algorithm, resulting in a 'True Profile' for every board processed.  PC software automatically calculates all important process parameters and checks for values outside defined limits for the process.

On exit of the PCB assembly from the oven all process conditions and calculated profiles are stored along with a unique ID in a database for complete product traceability.  Should the measured parameters drift outside process limits the system immediately stops further entry of assemblies into the machine via a standard SMEMA interface and alerts line staff that remedial action is required.

Traceability, barcoding and SMEMA integration

Where barcoding is available the APS has the ability to automatically detect product changeover on the production line, allowing for automation of batch/product changeover.  APS can also integrate with the oven controller to request recipe changes automatically.

Additionally, the APS has SMEMA functionality which allows the APS to control the flow of product into the reflow oven, these two features make a very powerful system.

Error Conditions Detected

  • Automates recording of the profiling process.
  • Reflow parameters outside tolerance.
  • Incorrect recipe loaded.
  • Conveyor speed faults.
  • Heater and fan failures.
  • Unauthorised change of process settings.
  • Incorrect oven profile loading.

System Highlights

  • Automates recording of the profiling process.
  • Provides 100% product traceability for every electronic assembly produced.
  • SMEMA Integration.
  • Email alerts.
  • Automatic changeover detection via barcode interfaces.

Profiling Software Tools

POWERFUL PROCESS ANALYSIS AND OPTIMISATION TOOLS

At the heart of all Solderstar’s profiling solutions lies the powerful and intuitive Profile Central Software suite, regarded by many as the best available.

It has been designed to be user-friendly for both temperature profiling novices and experts alike. Industry terminology, coupled with our unique form of process parameter verification functions, allows users to quickly set up, optimise or verify their soldering processes. The software makes the next step, from a simple profiling tool to streamlining the capture and management of process control information from the shop floor.

AutoSeeker - Profile Optimisation Software

  • This simulation tools enables the user to make virtual changes to temperature and conveyor speed parameters and view the effects of those changes on the thermal profile and process. The procedure is offline so it does not impact real production; it is fast, as it eliminates real, trial-and-error procedures, and it is extremely easy to execute and understand, as SolderStar replaces the more conventional ‘tables of meaningless numbers’ with a graphical format that enables the user to see clearly whether changes improve or impair the process.

Profile Viewer and Explorer

  • Profile Explorer automatically stores downloaded profiles against the user's product name, creating a chronological record of profiles for each product, allowing users to organise their profiles and providing process traceability.Profile Viewer allows any profile in the database to be viewed instantly.Profiles can be measured, annotated, or downloaded into professional, comprehensive reports in hardcopy or digital format.

Process Checker

Profile Checker takes downloaded profiles and automatically calculates the process parameters of interest, plotting them against solder paste process limits to illustrate how well each of the process parameters is centred on the appropriate process window. The entire process is evaluated on a single, easy-to-understand visual that displays good(green)/bad(red) results.

Product Manager

For every product manufactured, Product Manager records and manages profiling parameters including test card details, datalogger settings and sensor attachment points, facilitating future process set-up.

Machine/Solder Library

The integrated machine and solder paste libraries includes many of the most common data required for production. By selecting their data from the library, users automatically analyse their soldering process using predefined templates for common solder pastes or oven type.

Test Reports

Professional, configurable test reports and process documentation can be generated at the click of a mouse. Reports on products, recipes and machine settings, temperature profiles and process checker graphs can be printed out or emailed.

SPC Reporting

Process trends can be monitored and process yields and quality can be improved through continuous SPC. Using SPC Manager, users can evaluate process trends for profiles selected from the database, illustrating these on professional Xbar and Range charts that include Cp, Cpk and control limits. Charts can be output in hard copy or digital format.

Help at every step

Profile central has many software help wizards to walk you through common task, from simply adding a new machine to a complete walkthrough of profiling operations.

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