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March 11, 2020

Why Clean PCBs

Times have changed. Gone are the days of the home VCR, the audio cassette and the slide rule.  What caused the change? The answer is simple - technology.  Technology is advancing at a faster rate than at any point in human history. This technological revolution is due to a multitude of factors, one of the largest being advancements in the printed circuit board (PCB).

As PCBs improve, we see the increased use of miniaturized components, higher component densities and lower standoff heights.  In complex environments, cleaning impurities from the PCB is not only more critical than ever but can also be more difficult than ever.

PCB Board Before and After (00000)-2

When a PCB is soldered, flux residues remain present on the board. Depending on the solder paste used, the amount that remains can vary. Even those using a no-clean solder paste must still consider the fact that flux residues will remain and can impact the performance and reliability of the assembly.  But for some, the question may remain, “At the end of the day, what’s the potential impact of allowing flux residues to remain? What’s the problem if the boards go uncleaned?” For starters, consider the risk of field failures, the risk of lost production time, or the risk of unreliability in the marketplace. Moreover, consider the real-world costs to your company associated with those risks.

To mitigate risk, a cleaning process using an engineered cleaning agent should be used. A chemistry-based cleaning agent will aid in eliminating the above-mentioned concerns. Additionally, remember that as PCBs have become more complex so has the difficulty in cleaning them.  The chemistry-based PCB cleaners of today are specifically designed with that in mind and are engineered to gain access to hard to reach places.

So now what? How do I begin the process of cleaning PCBs and mitigating the risks of not doing so? First, examine your process to determine a solution that is tailored to your unique needs. Second, finding the right cleaning product is critical. The use of an engineered PCB cleaning solution is essential to ensure flux residues are fully removed from the assemblies used in high-reliability applications. Third, don’t go it alone. Align yourself with a partner that can aid you determining a complete solution, and not just a product.

For more information on cleaning PCBs, please join ZESTRON Academy on March 26th at 1:30pm EDT for a FREE webinar entitled Should You Clean PCBs?.

Click here to register today.

 

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