Application of Solder Paste


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Application of Solder Paste

  1. 1. APPLICATION OF SOLDER PASTE IN PCB CAVITIES*) Markus Leitgeb, Christopher Michael Ryder Austria Technologie & Systemtechnik AG Leoben, Austria ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION Two major drivers in the electronics industry are electrical and mechanical miniaturization. Whereas lines and spaces have been getting smaller over the years (current HDI standard is 50/50µm), mechanical miniaturization has thus far been mostly limited to decreasing layer-count and material thickness. The use of cavities in the PCB industry is nothing all too new. Local depth reduction (through various methods and technologies) has long been applied to achieve a number of design and/or application linked results. With new technologies available allowing for component terminals in the cavity itself (pads, etc.), the challenge of soldering these components is becoming a stronger focal point. One further solution is local height reduction through the introduction of recessed cavities on the PCB. These cavities can be used assembling components and/or device elements to reduce overall PCBA z-axis dimension. The cavity forming method referred to in this paper allows for unlimited flexibility in shape and depth of these cavities, thereby enabling greater freedom in material selection and PCB design rules. Solderable surfaces and soldermask patterns can also be applied on the cavity layer. As much as this provides a solution for z-axis miniaturization, the challenge of assembling components with standard and even advanced surface mount technologies remains a critical aspect of successful implementation of these technologies. This paper aims to demonstrate initial trials to address the challenge of component assembly within recessed cavities on the PCB using various stencil configurations. Two major proponents of the trials presented here are AT&S with its 2.5D® Technology and Christian Koenen GmbH, a stencil manufacturer. The ultimate target of these trials and this paper is not a final and universal solution, but rather attempts to clarify the initial challenge scope and explore existing or further possible solutions. KEYWORDS Component placement itself is not the biggest challenge in the assembly process. It is well known that the assembly of the components can be easily altered by adjusting the zAxis in the placement programming. However, one challenge remains largely open: “How do I get a solder paste into the cavity in an effective and process-efficient manner?” Of course, there are well known methodologies in the market like jet printing and nozzle dispensers, which can fulfill these requirements, but there are as yet still limitations in terms of throughput, application volumes, etc… As stencil printing is still the most widely used and currently the most cost effective solution in the market for volume production of standard PCBAs, it would make sense to have a cavity solution which is compatible with standard stencil/paste SMT. AT&S (PCB manufacturer) has started together with Christian Koenen GmbH (stencil manufacturer) a project to identify the any current limits of using stencil printing for solder paste application in cavities of varying depths on a single test vehicle. The next logical step after this investigation would, of course, be to identify any other applicable paste printing methods and possible variations in terms of component soldering and reliability performance when comparing to standard (cavity-free) surface mounted components. PCB, Cavities, Solder paste in cavity, Step stencil *) Originally distributed at the International Conference on Soldering and Reliability” Toronto, Ontario, Canada; May 4-6, 2011 1
  2. 2. TEST MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT test) (see figure 2). Minimum distance from the test pattern to the cavity wall for the experiment was 2mm. Test Vehicle As there is no standard test vehicle for the testing of solder paste printing in cavities available, an attempt was made to create a vehicle based as much as possible on a stencil printing manufacturer`s design. The vehicle created contains a number of typical component footprints: 0603, 0402, 0,5mm and 0,4mm fine pitch pads, and µBGAs with 0,5 mm 0,3 mm pitch (see Figure 1). Figure 2. Test board with cavity areas Figure 1. Test pattern The exact copper feature dimensions can be found in Table 1 and 2 below. Table 1. Copper features Footprint 0603 0402 Fine Pitch 0,5mm Fine Pitch 0,4mm µBGA 0,5mm µBGA 0,3mm Pad Dimensions x [mm] y [mm] P [mm] 0,66 1,06 1,50 0,46 0,66 1,00 0,31 1,66 0,50 0,26 1,66 0,40 d = 0,33 0,50 d = 0,20 0,30 Figure 3. Schematic process flow of cavity formation. Table 2. Stencil apertures Footprint 0603 0402 Fine Pitch 0,5mm Fine Pitch 0,4mm µBGA 0,5mm µBGA 0,3mm The build for the 2,1mm thick PCB was a 12 layer multilayer with Panasonic R1650M material (halogenated epoxy resin based prepreg). This stack up and production method enables the removal of 5 layers at varying depths on a single card. The specific depth is achieved by the application of a paste on the release layer with subsequent relamination of the entire board. A laser cutting process then trims and cuts at the predetermined shape to separate the relaminated layers from the release layer. The final step is then “cap removal” and paste stripping (see Figure 3). What remains is the solder footprint pattern. Diverse surface finishes and also application of solder mask may be employed in the cavities, but for the sake of this experiment solder mask was only used on the outer layer (0µm cavity). Entek HT (Organic surface protection) was used as a surface finish for all solderable surfaces. Stencil Aperture x [mm] y [mm] 0,60 1,00 0,40 0,60 0,25 1,60 0,20 1,60 0,33 0,33 0,20 0,20 This footprint pattern was placed on the test vehicle on recessed areas of 0µm (no cavity), 50µ, 250µm, 500µm and 750µm (The 100µm cavity was not employed for this The unused copper on all inner layers was “hatched”, which means they were not full copper surfaces. This is standard practice in PCB design to achieve warpage control and enhance thermal reliability performance. Fiducials for SMT registration and cavity printing were located on outer layer to enable printing the solder paste in a one step process. Therefore the only influence for registration is the layer shift caused by the several relamination steps. However, this shift is by any means compatible with current HDI manufacturing standards. Testing Material and Equipment *) Originally distributed at the International Conference on Soldering and Reliability” Toronto, Ontario, Canada; May 4-6, 2011 2
  3. 3. To distinguish whether solder paste type (ball size) plays a role in cavity printing performance, two different types of solder pastes were used for the printing trials: • • Manufacturer A (Type 3) Manufacturer B (Type 4) Figure 5. Squeegee blade with moveable parts The sloped edges of the step openings ensure that excess paste is removed from the stencil during printing (see Figure 6). Both solder pastes are widely used lead-free pastes for volume stencil printing process. The solder paste printing system used in this trial is a two part system consisting of a step stencil and a customized squeegee. The stencil was a laser cut stainless steel stencil glued in polyester mesh and tensioned in an aluminum frame. The dimensions of the stencil were (736 x 736 x 40 mm³). Stencil base thickness was 1mm. Stencil thickness in the print area was 80µm. The depth of the stencil is adjusted for each individual cavity and is furthermore recessed on the top side of the stencil to achieve a consistent aspect ratio throughout the print (i.e. the stencil thickness 80µm is constant for all areas despite cavity depth) (see Figure 4). Figure 6. Cross section of Step stencil with sloped edge The printer used was an Ersa Versaprint. The parameters employed are shown in Table 3. Table 3. Printing parameters Parameter Speed F/B Squeegee pressure F/B Snap off speed Snap off distance Value 50/ 50 25/ 25 50,0 2,0 Unit mm/s N mm/s mm A Koh Young KY-3020T tabletop full automatic system was used for the inspection of the volume and printed surface coverage of solder paste. Figure 4. Overview Step Stencil on PCB The customized steel squeegee is 150mm in length and is designed with movable sections to account for variable depth. Therefore the multi-depth top side contour of the stencil is accounted for through the varying pressure of the movable squeegee sections (Figure 5). A Cyberscan CT300 was used for profiling the solder paste and 3D image evaluation after printing. TEST METHODOLGY The first step in the trial methodology included the depth inspection and verification of the cavity depths on the test vehicle (nominal depths: 0µm, 50µm, 250µm, 500µm, 750µm). Measurements points were soldermask surface on the outer layer (outermost point of solder stencil contact) to copper surface in each cavity. Depth tolerance should be understood as the accumulation of the single layer thickness tolerances (i.e. +-10% for dielectric thickness). All test vehicles were verified for as within tolerance for the given depths. The stencil and customized squeegee were subsequently installed and registered. The squeegee must be aligned to the specific cavities for which the movable parts are designed. This was done manually using the alignment of arrow markings on both stencil and squeegee (Figure 7). *) Originally distributed at the International Conference on Soldering and Reliability” Toronto, Ontario, Canada; May 4-6, 2011 3
  4. 4. Figure 7. Alignment marking on Squeegee and stencil The type 3 solder paste was mixed accordingly and applied to the step stencil surface. Using the print parameters described above in Testing Material and Equipment, several test prints were then carried out to verify effectiveness and accuracy. The test prints were first inspected manually with an optical microscope to inspect general print status in terms of accuracy and application. Considerations were made to evaluate any obvious differences between the cavities, the component footprints and/or solder paste types (type 3 and 4 were used, as mentioned above) (Figure 8). Figure 9. 3D paste print verification with CT300 (750µm cavity) The first paste used for testing was the lead free type 3 from manufacturer A. Ten test vehicles were then printed. Subsequently the 10 PCBs were analyzed for paste volume and surface coverage (2D evaluation of print coverage versus aperture opening) with the Koh Young. The results will be discussed in the “evaluation” section of this paper. The next step after ultrasonic cleaning of the step stencil was to print the type 4 solder paste onto 10 further test vehicles. The test vehicles were subsequently analyzed in the Koh Young AOI device. The complete results, as stated above will be discussed at a later point. Due to obvious and somewhat expected paste voids with the type 3 solder paste (see Figure 10), it was decided to proceed only with type 4 as it was deemed more suitable for further analysis. Figure 8. Alignment check with optical microscope (750µm cavity) During manual inspection some slight misregistration was observed, whereupon the stencil was realigned to the PCB test vehicle. New prints were carried out, inspected and registration was verified. The test prints were then measured with the solder paste print AOI device (Koh Young) in order to assess transfer efficiency (paste volume V) and surface coverage (SC) measurement capability for varying focal points (i.e. varying cavity depths). The device was able to successfully scan the single test vehicle despite the depth variations. The results were verified using the CT300 (Figure 9). Figure 10. Comparison type 3 and 4 solder balls in fine pitch area A further 10 cards were paste printed with type 4. Furthermore the element of stencil cleaning was added with this run, whereas the stencil was cleaned with a solution after every 2nd print. The cards were subsequently analyzed with the AOI device. *) Originally distributed at the International Conference on Soldering and Reliability” Toronto, Ontario, Canada; May 4-6, 2011 4
  5. 5. To summarize, a total of 30 test vehicles were printed as such: • • • Excluding the 0µm surface coverage values, a mean value of 95,1% was found over all footprints and depths. 10 PCBs with type 3 10 PCBs with type 4 10 PCBs with type 4 (with stencil cleaning) TEST EVALUATION After AOI measurement and evaluation was carried out the data was entered into Minitab and Excel to explore interactions, deviations and trends. The first trial with type 3 paste revealed the following results. Broken down into component footprint, paste volume analysis revealed a clear and reproducible trend. The paste volume at 0µm (i.e. no cavity) was on average 113,9%. Highest value was 147,9% on the 0402 footprint and lowest value was 57,9% on the 0,3mm µBGA. The overall higher values on the 0µm footprints are linked to the presence of solder mask and in particular the 25µm delta between copper and solder mask height (Figure 11). The exceptionally low value of 57,9% on the 0,3mm µBGA can be traced to the presence of solder paste voids due to the nature of the type 3 solder ball size (as illustrated above in Figure 10). Otherwise a general trend of decreasing paste volume was observed as cavity depth increased (with few exceptions). Excluding the 0µm paste volume values, a mean value of 62,9% was found over all footprints and depths. Figure 11. Type 3 – Paste Volume per footprint and cavity depth In terms surface coverage (SC) a similar trend was of course noticeable (Figure 12). Highest value was for 0402 footprint with 116,7% at 0µm and lowest value was 0,3mm µBGA footprint with 57,1% at 750µm. Reasons for this variation are similar to those described above. Otherwise a general trend of decreasing surface coverage was observed as cavity depth increased (with few exceptions). Figure 12. Type 3 – Surface coverage per footprint and cavity depth The second trial with type 4 paste revealed the following results. Broken down into component footprint, paste volume analysis revealed similar results with some variation to those of the type 3 paste. Excluding the 0µm paste volume values, a mean value of 93,7% was found over all footprints and depths. Compared to the 62,9% mean paste volume value found with the type 3 paste, a clear indication of improved performance is recognizable (Figure 13). Figure 13. Type 4 – Paste Volume per footprint and cavity depth In terms of surface coverage a similar trend was noticeable, whereas the deviation between type 3 and type 4 was not as pronounced. The mean value of 102,7% over all footprints and depths (excluding the 0µm depth) compared to the 95,1% from type 3 is indicative of the 2D nature of the testing (Figure 14). *) Originally distributed at the International Conference on Soldering and Reliability” Toronto, Ontario, Canada; May 4-6, 2011 5
  6. 6. Figure 14. Type 4 – Surface coverage per footprint and cavity depth Figure 16. Type 4 / with cleaning – Surface coverage per footprint and cavity The third trial employed type 4 paste with manual stencil cleaning after each second print. The following results were found. The mean paste volume value for all footprints on the 0µm depth was 89,4%. The mean paste volume value for all remaining footprints and depths was 70,7%. Here we see a lower overall volume when compared to the type 4 paste without cleaning results (Figure 15). However, the standard deviation for the type 4 with cleaning is 4% lower than without cleaning (respectively 10% and 14%). The greatest observable difference in standard deviation was seen in 0,3mm µBGA: without cleaning 35,9% and with cleaning 19,1%. The interaction plots between the individual test elements (paste type, footprint, cavity depth and cleaning y/n) revealed some clear indications. Figure 15. Type 4 / with cleaning – Paste Volume per footprint and cavity depth Figure 17. Interaction plot for paste volume The data for surface coverage with type 4 and stencil cleaning after every second print presented a more homogenous pattern than the other trials, especially considering the 0µm footprint performance with the cavity depth performance (Figure 16). Similar to the situation described above with paste volume, surface coverage overall is less with the type 4 cleaning trials compared to the type 4 without cleaning trials. However, once again we see a lower standard deviation with the type 4 with cleaning trials (with cleaning 6,9% and without cleaning 10,7%). First we will investigate the interaction plot for paste volume (Figure 17). The interaction between paste and component footprint demonstrates a slight overall superiority of the type 4 paste versus type 3. However, the performance indicators run relatively parallel (i.e. better performance on larger component footprint compared to smaller). The interaction between paste type and cavity depth demonstrates somewhat better overall performance with the type 4 paste. However, performance in the cavities regardless of depth can be viewed as consistent. The visible difference on the 0µm cavity depth is, once again, linked to the presence of solder mask and therefore a higher contact plane for the stencil. The interaction between footprint and cavity depth demonstrates consistent patterns with exception of the 0,3mm µBGA. In general, the larger component footprints fared better as did the smaller depths. The 0,3mm µBGA showed a consistently low performance regardless of cavity depths. *) Originally distributed at the International Conference on Soldering and Reliability” Toronto, Ontario, Canada; May 4-6, 2011 6
  7. 7. The interaction between paste and cleaning is moot as the cleaning trials were carried out only with the type 4. The interaction between component footprint and cleaning provides conflicting results. The 0,3mm and 0,5mm pitch BGAs as well as the 0603 demonstrated slightly improved performance in terms of volume when cleaned, the remaining footprints, however, demonstrate slightly less volume when cleaned. The plot for cavity depth and cleaning demonstrates the largest interaction at 0µm cavity depth. Here we see the largest reduction of volume on the type 4 with cleaning compared to no cleaning. Otherwise, no major interaction can be extrapolated. Now we will examine the interaction plot for surface coverage (Figure 18). The interactions for paste/ footprint, paste/ cavity, footprint/ cavity and footprint/ cleaning can be considered in line with the paste volume interaction analysis described above. The plot for cavity depth and cleaning revealed a somewhat more pronounced interaction for the larger cavity depths. These depths demonstrated an increased surface coverage after cleaning. coverage. The biggest variations in performance can be accounted for with the solder mask height delta over copper on the 0µm cavity depth and the 0,3mm µBGA. Regarding the solder mask we would suggest this is a common a phenomenon on standard non cavity PCBs. In future trials, there would be the possibility of applying solder mask in the cavities as well to aid in more direct comparison. The somewhat inferior performance of the 0,3mm µBGA, we would also suggest, is demonstrative of general limitations of the stencil printing method on this pitch and not related necessarily to cavity depth. It would appear after these initial trials that with some further optimization in terms of both material and process improvements could be made to increase transfer efficiency and surface coverage. Such optimizations would also have to consider the specific PCB design and component footprint (design rules). Considerations will be made on our part to examine the manufacturing and reliability performance of the paste printed cavity PCBs as a next step. Additional and/or alternative printing and soldering processes and materials may be drawn into the further trials. Figure 18. Interaction plot for surface coverage SUMMARY The initial task at hand was to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of using a standard method of paste printing to print on to PCBs with varying cavity depths. The trials employed, however, a non-standard stencil and squeegee solution. Despite the usage of non-standard materials (i.e. stencil/squeegee system and multi-cavity depths PCB), the printing process as such did not deviate from general volume manufacturing practices. In general, the trials demonstrated successful solder paste printing results in terms of paste volume and surface *) Originally distributed at the International Conference on Soldering and Reliability” Toronto, Ontario, Canada; May 4-6, 2011 7