Intelligent Software turns rework into child's play

Soldering & Surface Mount Technology

ISSN: 0954-0911

Article publication date: 1 August 2004




(2004), "Intelligent Software turns rework into child's play", Soldering & Surface Mount Technology, Vol. 16 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Intelligent Software turns rework into child's play

Intelligent Software turns rework into child's play

Keywords: Ball grid array, Process control, Software

Innovative new software from PDR, the infrared rework technology specialist, reduces rework set-up and changeover times to minutes rather than hours and removes the human element from the process to make high-end repairs as simple as pressing a button. Version 3.21 of its ThermoActive software is intelligent enough to handle changes in both board and device type automatically without the need for teaching modes or expensive operator training (Plate 8).

The software is designed to be as easy as possible to use and is rooted in the company's philosophy of providing inline process quality for the offline rework process. It allows BGAs and other complex devices to be removed and reworked with the user-simplicity associated with hand tools, but the process control and capability of high-end, fully capable rework stations.

Plate 8 New rework control software from PDR, has effectively reduced set up and changeover times to zero – making precision rework as simple as pushing a button

A key feature of the latest ThermoActive release is its time and temperature modes for configuring soldering profiles. Together with accurate real-time feedback of board and device temperatures from the rework station, these modes allow the process to run fully automatic without the aid of a skilled technician.

The package is designed for use with PDR's X410 BGA and SMT Rework Station; a tool-free, gas-free system based on the company's patented Focused IR technology. In essence, the software controls the process while the X410 provides efficient lower and upper side heating plus the vital temperature feedback data.

The time and temperature modes allow each zone in a temperature profile to be defined as either reaching a specific temperature or running for a set length of time. For example, a typical soldering profile might feature two preheat zones, a temperature soak, reflow spike and cooling. The ThermoActive software reproduces such profiles using temperature mode to set target temperatures for each of the two preheat zones, followed by time mode to hold at the set soak temperature, then temperature mode to reach the solder melting point, and finally time mode again to control the reflow dwell and cooling periods.

During each phase, the actual board and device temperatures are monitored by non-contact sensors on the X410 and fed back to the software so that any profile can be closely followed in the most accurate and efficient way.

Besides simplifying rework batch runs, this approach also means that changeovers can be handled automatically without the need to change tools or run the system through a teaching mode for the new set-up, both of which require the skills of trained personnel.

When work is required on a different device, the operator simply has to adjust the infrared beam's spot size to cover the new device and press the start button for the system to take over and react to the new set up. Similarly, different board types are handled automatically, as the system recognises the different heating rates of larger or smaller masses and adjusts accordingly. And it also copes easily with both tin-lead and lead-free solders, where the only change required is to set the upper temperature limit higher to take into account the higher melting point of lead-free solders.

Whatever the combination of board, device or material technology used, PDR's ThermoActive software provides a simple and effective solution for delivering precision rework and high end yields.

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