With the slogan “Ersa Technology & Hands-on Tour 2012 – Printing, Selective Soldering, Rework”,Ersa, a leading manufacturer of soldering systems, had invited customers and industry professionals to attend their roadshow held 5 German locations and in Vienna/Austria. The Ersa roadshow offered all participants an attractive mix of theory (presented in the form of technical papers) and practice (in the form of hands-on on systems at the venue) during October and November.
Aside from their own experts, Ersa had invited experts from solder paste and stencil suppliers to present technical papers. A VERSAPRINT S1 stencil printer, an ECOSELECT 1selective soldering system and a HR600 rework system were at the venue for the practical part of the event. Being attended by more than 200 participants at the locations Itzehoe, Delbrück, Wertheim, Munich, Radolfzell and Vienna, the event has to be considered a rousing success. The attendants came from many different areas of factory operation: designers and process engineers, operations- and production managers or staff members with line responsibility. It was their unanimous positive assessment, that the combination of theory and practice represents a welcome alternative to the more commonly held technology days. Especially appreciated was the mix of participants from different areas of operation, and therefore from different tasks found in a modern production facility, as it lead to vigorous discussions and a fruitful exchange of experiences.
The morning sessions were always dedicated to technical papers covering the subject “Challenges and new trends in the assembly of printed circuit boards”, while during the afternoon sessions which were devoted to more practical issues three specific critical process steps were investigated.
Why the correct selection of a metal stencil is extremely important, and which parameters lead to the best printing results was discussed in the expert presentation held by the expert of Messrs Christian Koenen, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-tech stencils. Amongst other aspects, he pointed out that a close cooperation between the customer and the supplier of the stencil is particularly rewarding, as it serves to eliminate undesirable surprises. The reflow process, as allegedly the most simple core process of an SMD line, should also not be neglected. How important a stable process and a reliable system really is, became apparent during the presentation on the reflow process by the Ersa specialist.
Using the correct solder alloy for the process can have a substantial impact on the cost of the process. The presentation of the metallurgist from Alpha Metals showed that an analysis can lead to savings very quickly. The importance of selective soldering processes is still rising considerably. Demands and risks vis-a-vis wave soldering or processes such as pin-in-paste were examined and assessed. These presentations were rounded off by considering the rework process and its special challenge which is that the reworked assemblies may not differ from those of the original production run.
A frequent subject of the discussions was the sensible use of AOI systems as part of an SMD production line. One possible solution are Ersa’s VERSAPRINT solder paste printing systems with integrated AOI. Due to the use of a line scan camera, which shows the full area of the board itself as well as of the metal stencil, a 100% inspection at the line speed is possible. Defects are recognized immediately, and a statement as to the quality can be made without delay. Furthermore, print defects can be corrected fully automatically, and the stencil can be cleaned automatically and outside of the previously programmed cleaning intervals. The functionality of the S1 could be impressively demonstrated during the afternoon “hands-on” sessions, and the participants could observe for themselves how simple the system is to operate and how effective it is in operation.
Since selective soldering has not yet been introduced in all manufacturing plants, the interest in this process was, as could be expected, particularly large. With the ECOSELECT 1, the newest and smallest of the family of Ersa selective solder systems was presented. Suitable especially for small and mid-sized companies with a limited number of boards to solder, the ECOSELECT 1 is the ideal entry level system. It was the general impression of all the participants that this small system is well on its way to become a great success, even more so after having watched the solder process, on the build-in camera.
Equally great interest was aroused by the HR600 rework system. This new flagship of the Ersa rework portfolio combines the advantages of manual controls and automatic implementation of individual process steps. The fact that board repair is indeed taking place is something companies do not like to advertise. Yet, for many production facilities it is a daily challenge, and a continuous weighing up of the cost of exchanging components that are placed incorrectly or defective. Industry expects automated rework systems with safe and repeatable process parameters. In the end, it is not permitted that there be a difference between an “original” and a reworked assembly. And just that feature could be impressively demonstrated on the HR600 during this roadshow.
This event exemplifies once more that our customers expect an extensive process-, training- and service support going beyond the simple selling of equipment and systems. Quite a few participants vocalized the desire that Ersa offer, for specific customers, similar technology events at the Ersa Application Center. It should be noted that this type of event at the application center of ERSA has been in place for years already, utilized, for example, by some large customers from the automotive industry.
For 2013, Ersa is already planning a roadshow, this time focusing on “Soldering Stations and Rework”. The final dates will be published during the first quarter on the Ersa website.
We would like to express our gratitude to all participants, our business partners and the staff, whose efforts have allowed the Roadshow 2012 to become such a great success.