For spread and wetting performance, certain finishes stand out. 

Electronic assemblers have myriad material and process choices to make, not limited to board materials, solder masks, laminate Tg’s, components, surface finishes, assembly materials and design for manufacturing (DfM) process conditions. High-reliability alloys such as Innolot are designed to meet harsh automotive conditions and extend service life of the solder joint. Applications requiring higher operating temperatures and increased number of cycles to failure have benefited by implementing that alloy. While solder alloy selection is an important factor in determining reliability of the solder joint, considerations should be made for surface finish selection to further enhance performance. This study explores surface finish factors such as IMC formation, voiding and solder spread that contribute to reliability.

Each choice can have a significant impact on the in-service reliability and commercial success of the assembly. This multi-part article will focus on data developed from an extensive study of surface finishes and solder pastes used by many global, high-reliability assembly manufacturers. The study included two commonly used solder alloys in paste form:

  1. SAC 305 (96.5%Sn, 3%Ag, 0.5%Cu) powder size distribution (PSD) type 4 with novel “CVP-390” paste flux
  2. Innolot (91.95%Sn, 3.8%Ag, 0.7%Cu, 3.0%Bi, 1.4%Sb, 0.15%Ni) PSD type 4 with the novel paste flux and five variations of surface finishes, including

a. Organic solderability preservative (OSP) (MacDermid Enthone Entek Plus HT) using two thickness levels
b. Immersion tin (Ormecon CSN)
c. Immersion silver (MacDermid Enthone Sterling)
d. Electroless nickel/immersion gold (ENIG) (MacDermid Enthone Affinity).

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