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stencil cleaning 'technology' ..

Phil Lauziere


stencil cleaning 'technology' .. | 14 August, 2000


What's the latest on stencil cleaning technologies; particlarly 'spray' (whether air or emmersion )versus 'ultrasonic' ?? What are your experiences with this ?? Has anyone completing any testing on cleaners recently - that you'd be willing to share of course ??

We are finding it very hard to do any head-to-head testing. Naturally, both camps are claiming their technology is best and safest and point to reports and whatnot. Currently, we have two spray cleaners, but will need another shortly and will also be converting to no-clean as well (our cleaning chemistry has already been selected). I've used ultrasonic systems elsewhere, but am finding it hard to justify to mgmt this change. Our spray systems work fine too.

The archives seem to be full of stuff written by 'manufacturers', unfortunately.

Any help would be appreciated...

Phil L

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Re: stencil cleaning 'technology' .. | 16 August, 2000

Recently I completed a process evaluation on various stencil / misprinted PCB cleaning systems. They were both ultrasonic (theoretically can damage PCB�s) and the more conventional method of high pressure rotary bar method.

I found that the best system on the market at the moment was the Kerry SC1000. But only just! It appears that there is a huge market for anyone who can manufacture a rotary spray unit that is robust enough to survive the day to day punishment that surface mount operators can throw at it. The system will clean to a very good level for both PCB�s and stencils, although it did delaminate some stencils and further work was necessary to obtain a happy medium for the working temperature of the unit. To save the embarrassment of the others I will refrain from naming them but if you wish send me a mail and I will give you further information.

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Re: stencil cleaning 'technology' .. | 16 August, 2000

Phil, I know it must be frustrating to try and weed through all of the hype that is put out by various stencil cleaner manufacturers. However, there is some impartial published data available.

An article by Richard Clouthier (now with Photo Stencil) was published in EP&P and Asian Electronics Engineer titled "SMT Stencil Cleaning: A decision that could impact production." Mr. Clouthier discusses the various types of machines and chemistries used to clean stencils from a stencil manufacturer's perspective and points out how print yields may be improved when using the proper cleaning process.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the primary regulating agency over your current and future stencil cleaners, has independently evaluated the Smart Sonic Stencil Cleaning Process for environmental impact, user safety and process efficacy. As a result, the California EPA has Certified the Smart Sonic Stencil Cleaning Process and validated all performance claims made by Smart Sonic. This was also verified by the U.S. EPA as part of their Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program.

There is also an article posted in the SMTNet library by Chuck Currie. And, Nick Lester, previously of Circuits Assembly, published an article in the November 1998 Circuits Assembly Magazine.

The EPA data is available at the following Web Site:

Mr. Clouthiers' and Mr. Lester's articles are on our Web Site:

Go to the SMTNet library to get Mr. Curry's article.

If you should have any questions, I am available with my biased opinion also. 1(800) 906-440-R or e-mail me. Best of luck.

Regards, Bill Schreiber

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