Customised SMT Cleaning Technology Leads To Greater Productivity

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SMT line at Mahape facility (Interfab Electroncis)As the market for electronics grows, the manufacturing industry gets a boost, and in turn, all associated industries, including that for product servicing and maintenance, also grow

By Anwesh Koley

The SMT industry requires constant monitoring of quality during the operation cycle of the SMT machines. This calls for the appropriate cleaning equipment and technology, to complement these high-value machines.

Emerging market trends
In the last decade, the market for capital equipment increased manifold, though the growth was slower than anticipated. But with the ‘Make in India’ programme, this market is bound to grow at a faster pace, leading to improved business for equipment suppliers. Sharing his views on the emerging trends in this segment, Pankaj Saxena, director, Mectronics Marketing Services, says, “Earlier, the SMT cleaning and washing support equipment market was not very big because of low production volumes, which resulted in lower cost-effectiveness, but as the market grows, the demand for support equipment is growing.”
Major SMT cleaning equipment suppliers have been concentrating on developing technology which caters to the specific requirements of machinery manufacturers. “The aim is to achieve near-zero dust levels and faster process times during the cleaning process. Cleaning of SMT equipment was never a focus area in India, but as its complexity increased, the industry started paying attention to this important aspect of electronics machinery maintenance. It was always a challenge to maintain production machinery according to the desired results,” says Saxena.

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Technological innovations
There are two key factors that come into play when choosing between the ‘cleaning’ process and the ‘no cleaning’ process in SMT assembly. The first factor is the need to reduce the cost of building the assembly lines and the second is the need to align the cleaning process to the increasingly complex SMT machines, which today operate in harsh environments or varied climatic conditions. “The key challenge is to decide what is the right choice for the SMT assemblies. The electronics assembly industry has evolved over the years and turned predominantly to the ‘no cleaning’ process. More than 90 per cent of all machines assembled in the world use the ‘no cleaning’ process,” says Saxena.
For many years now, high reliability equipment have used the ‘no cleaning’ technology successfully while making products for the telecom, automotive, industrial controls and computer industries. This process reduces the cost per assembly, decreases cycle time and reduces material handling defects by eliminating the cleaning process. It also avoids the increasing costs of floor space, cleaning equipment, chemicals, water and electricity—all of which are required for the cleaning process.
The patterns of demand for cleaning technology are changing due to the need for highly reliable machinery for the automotive, aerospace, defence and other sectors. Therefore, a cleaning solutions provider must first understand the reasons for cleaning, and customise solutions accordingly. “If the SMT machine is not compatible with the downstream process, further care is required at every level. However, this does not guarantee reliability of the product; hence, it is crucial to determine the test procedure to replicate the actual or anticipated working environment. Then one can be confident of a 100 per cent reliable cleaning process,” says Saxena.

The way forward for the electronics industry
The Indian electronics market is one of the largest in the world and is anticipated to reach US$ 400 billion in 2022 from US$ 94 billion by the end of 2015. The market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 24 per cent during 2012-2020. Quality services which complement the electronics equipment industry have become increasingly crucial for the industry.
Many industry players feel that a lot more can be done to promote the electronics sector in the country. “Although the government has now started providing incentives to the IT and electronics industry, China still offers several cost advantages as compared to India. The ‘Make in India’ programme represents an attitudinal shift in how India relates to investors. Many companies are setting up their first-stage manufacturing base in India, and gradually these will turn into complete manufacturing hubs,” believes Saxena.
The government of India has set-up Electronic Hardware Technology Parks (EHTPs), Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and brought about a favourable climate for foreign direct investment (FDI). These initiatives, coupled with the industry being eager to embrace new and innovative technology, are sure to propel the Indian electronics industry to greater heights.


Chip-HuaModel: UC-250W, Brand: Chip Hua, Manufacturer: Chip Hua Equipment & Tools Pte Ltd, Singapore

The UC-250W is specially designed for SMT line use. It is able to clean the top surface of PCBs and even the chip components attached on the bottom side. The machine’s anti-static bar (ioniser) is prepared as standard to neutralise static and to prevent dust from settling on the top surface of the PCB. It can remove glass fibre, dust particles, etc, from the top surface of the PCB before solder paste printing and improve production yields. The product is suitable for PCBs on which extremely small components are mounted.

Key features:

  • Easily removes dust and other objects from the surface of the PCB
  • Uses strong adhesive rollers that do not damage the board surface
  • Adhesive clean roll removes all kinds of dust
  • The ioniser removes electric static on the PWB, and protects the electronic components and CMOS chips
  • The adhesive tape roll is easy to pull and cut

Contact details: 65-62983088, [email protected], www.chiphua.com


Trident-DuoModel: Trident CLO, Brand: Trident, Manufacturer: Manncorp Inc., USA

The Trident CLO offers affordable automatic SMT cleaning and cleanliness testing. This system captures, filters and completely de-ionises ordinary tap water while eliminating the need for a drain line, and enables waste water management, thus saving money and time. The system can be connected to a water line or refilled manually. With no drain required and the water line connection being optional, this cleaning machine can be placed anywhere on the production floor.

Key features:

  • Cleaning of assemblies with water soluble fluxes
  • On-board cleanliness tester for specified level cleaning
  • Real-time display of estimated completion time, cleanliness values and operating temperature
  • Statistical Process Control (SPC) for traceability and tracking
  • Bar code scanner for quick and easy data access to a specific assembly

Contact details: 215.830.1200, [email protected], www.manncorp.com


NIX-power-cyclone-3DModel: Power Cyclone 3D, Brand: Nix, Manufacturer: Nix Inc., Japan

The Power Cyclone 3D is an SMT inline cleaning machine that thoroughly removes dust and particles from PCB surfaces before solder application by utilising a combination of a brush, high-pressure air knife and vacuum removal. Unlike adhesive roller type cleaners, this machine requires minimum supervision and the brush needs to be replaced approximately once a year. This helps in providing clean bare PCB boards to the screen printer.

Key features:

  • High quality in-line electronic machine cleaner
  • Combines brush, high-pressure air knife and vacuum removal
  • Top side brush only (standard), two-sided brush type (optional)
  • Easy height adjustment of the brush
  • Anti-static electrostatic discharge cleaner
  • Maintenance-free, low running costs
  • Lifespan of brush is approximately 500,000 boards

Contact details: +81-45-221-1410, www.nix.co.jp


Shenzhen SamModel: SM-8550, Brand: SAM, Manufacturer: Shenzhen Sam Electronic Equipment Co Ltd, China

The SM-8550 is a comprehensive cleaning machine which utilises compressed air power without any hidden danger. It consists of a scientific spraying trajectory design, where the nozzles move from left to right, incrementally, and in an up and down dislocation type distribution.

Key features:

  • Automatic mode for cleaning and drying at the clean room
  • Cleaning capacity can be customised for non-standard large product sizes
  • Simple operation interface through one-click push button operation
  • Two glass filters to ensure optimum cleaning effect and stability
  • Spray chamber structure and double seal design spray room

Contact details: 86-755-27620900-824, [email protected], www.sam-smt.com

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