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Universal Instruments’ APL Hosts AREA Consortium Meeting

Nov 06, 2009

Universal Instruments’ Advanced Process Lab hosted the third 2009 Advanced Research in Electronics Assembly (AREA) Consortium meeting at the Treadway Inn in Owego, NY on October 28-29. More than 75 attendees from the 29 member companies participated in the two-day event and a much larger number has signed up for subsequent webcasts of the presentations. Topics ranged from lead-free solder microstructure and reliability to environmental stress screening procedures.

Attending companies included industry leaders such as Alcatel-Lucent, Asymtek, BAE, Boston Scientific, Brocade, Celestica, Curtiss Wright, Dell, Ericsson, Harris, IBM, Indium, Lord Corporation, MIT Lincoln Labs, Motorola, Multek, Northrop Grumman, Plexus, Qualcomm, Rockwell Automation, Sun, Texas Instruments, and Textron.

The agenda format was consistent with previous meetings, featuring concise presentations with the opportunity for detailed follow-up discussions in a final poster session. The Wednesday session opened the event with a review of systematic results of thermal cycling of lead-free soldered assemblies and then progressed to a neural network analysis of this and previous thermal cycling data. This information revealed a systematic trend of considerable importance for assessment of acceleration factors to life in service. Other Wednesday morning topics included pad cratering research and new thermal interface materials (TIMs). Previous pad cratering research has led to protocols for choosing the most reliable among the many new printed circuit board materials.

The afternoon session on the opening day featured presentations on the reliability testing of various TIMs, as well as a discussion on new insights into lead-free metallurgy. Also examined was the evolution of lead-free solder microstructure. "The so-called Manhattan Project, headed by a team of deep subject matter experts from the military and aerospace community, has identified our current inability to account for the effects of long-term aging and combinations of different loads on lead-free solder reliability as particularly critical,” stated George Westby, Director of Universal’s Advanced Process Lab. “These issues and their consequences have therefore been the focus of in-depth research efforts in recent months, and we were delighted to see technical leaders from across the industry travel to our meeting to learn and discuss our results," continued Westby. Further analysis of these results will improve the ability to measure and predict reliability and make our military and aerospace vehicles safer. Low-Ag SAC alloys and the minimization of reflow temperatures were other topics rounding out the day-one session.

Day two of the event kicked off with updates on edge and corner bonding, a topic of ongoing interest to many, and efforts to define a practical, safe screening test for the identification of inferior electrolytic Ni, i.e. Ni/Au coatings that may give 'missing balls' and/or brittle failure of the inter-metallic bond right after reflow. Current screening tests are now suspected of doing more damage than previously thought, presenting a safety issue. Other day two topics included flux dipping of flip chips, reballing, ENEPIG coatings, and an overview of all past consortium reports and how to effectively use them for reference. The event was concluded with the poster session, including in-depth discussions of the major projects with the researchers, as well as networking opportunities.

About Universal Instruments:

Universal Instruments is a global leader in the design and manufacture of advanced automation and assembly equipment solutions for the electronics manufacturing industry. Universal provides complete assembly lines to EMS Providers, ODMs and electronics assemblers around the world, leveraging its portfolio of compatible and flexible equipment platforms that address the diverse requirements of high-speed chip and multifunction placement applications as well

as component insertion. Universal Instruments is headquartered in Binghamton, with offices in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

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