Sparked by innovation in the assembly of electronic components, electronics have become smaller, lighter and less expensive. Currently, oxidation reaction, poor wettability and high peak temperature during soldering of printed circuit boards create harm to electronic solder joints. To offset these effects, using nitrogen to inert the atmosphere during soldering has become a globally accepted practice within electronics manufacturing.
Adapting to a fast-evolving market
To stay competitive in today’s market of electronics manufacturing, manufacturers must keep pace with evolving technologies, while reducing costs and navigating the latest regulations. Air Liquide has supported electronics manufacturing actors since the 1990s, with solutions for every step of their processes from assembly through testing, storage and cleaning.
Comprehensive solutions, equipment and audits
Our Nexelia™ solutions are a range of all-in-one solutions for the electronics manufacturing industry. While the main feature is nitrogen supply, it extends to application equipment and audit services. These are an important step as they assure our solutions best reflect our customers’ unique processes. Using the audit system, we are able to:
Measure the optimal inerting atmosphere inside the reflow oven
Ensure quality and safety with verification of the atmosphere in the oven, and conduct leakage checks
Optimize performance, including the quality of soldering and nitrogen consumption
"The industry has tried various different methods to solve the tin oxide problem, but only using an inert atmosphere has been effective."
There are two soldering processes used in electronic assembly. One is wave soldering and the other is reflow soldering. The solder used in these processes is a tin alloy, and when the solder is transferred to a liquid phase to fill holes or wet component pins, the liquid tin is very susceptible to oxidation.
The industry has tried various different methods to solve these tin oxide problems, but only the use of an inert atmosphere has been effective. Nitrogen – the cheapest inert gas – can insulate liquid tin from oxygen and lead to savings in the amount of tin needed (sometimes resulting in as much as a 95% reduction). Inert atmosphere can also reduce problems with reflow soldering, greatly increase product reliability and reduce defects, especially as components become smaller and smaller. Nitrogen is also a green resource that does not impact on the environment.
What are the advantages of using hot nitrogen in wave soldering?
Hot nitrogen, where nitrogen is heated higher than 200℃ before being spread by a special porous pipe, offers five main advantages in wave soldering. It can greatly increase PCB board temperature, which can reduce the temperature shock of the PCB board and increase PCB board reliability.
It can also reduce the temperature drop between two waves. Sometimes it’s even possible to retain the solder joint’s liquid status, which can increase the robustness of the joint. In addition, the process can increase the overall temperature of PCB board, which can help hole fill capability. Hot nitrogen can avoid problems with flux and reduce the need for porous pipe preventive maintenance. Heating nitrogen can also help reduce nitrogen consumption.
What makes Air Liquide’s soldering offers competitive?
Our Nexelia™ brand provides our customers with a one-stop service that combines all our gas, equipment and technology experience in one solution. Air Liquide’s extensive experience in inert hood design, especially when it comes to the mature manufacturing process and the key components supplier chain, also provides us with an edge over our competitors.
Our ALTEC team is continuously improving our solutions for more than 500 customers globally. New technologies, such as our cooling systems development, will continue this cycle and help Air Liquide’s customers to stay competitive in the future.
Assembly is the focused core process. In this regard we offer solutions to achieve controlled nitrogen atmospheres, thereby reducing the negative effects of oxidation for wave or reflow soldering. The Nexelia™ offers for electronics manufacturing include the following solutions:
Nexelia™ for Wave Soldering is a solution dedicated to the wave soldering process, it includes patented customized application equipment, right inert gas supply and the support of our worldwide experts
Nexelia™ for Reflow Soldering is a solution dedicated to reflow soldering process: it involves deep-level inspection and diagnostics to understand the customer’s assembly processes and propose a tailored solution to improve them
ATMOSPHERE CONTROLLER-E ensures a continuous analysis of the atmosphere in reflow soldering: for better savings and quality control, it monitors and manages the soldering atmosphere by controlling its oxygen content
Testing and storage solutions
The DRY-P CABINET is a patented solution for long- or short-term storage of electronic components sensitive to humidity, oxygen or air pollutants. Easy to install, our cabinets deliver a fast and reliable atmosphere without the need for an electricity supply and with totally independent compartments.