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SMTA Capital Expo in Manassas, VA 03/07/2024

Expos have seen dwindling attendance since COVID. This means the few who do attend get the advantage of additional attention from vendors teaching and displaying new technologies.

"Even though I only attended half of the event, the latest developments surprised me!" – Chris Plumlee

Technical Presentations:

  1. Criteria for Solder Alloy Adoption by Michael Osterman, Ph.D., CALCE. Michael is an academic researcher performing a unique slow-path study on solder joint reliability. He has found numerous discrepancies between the standard industrial assumptions about acceleration factors used in Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) and real life applications. These erroneous assumptions in HALT testing generally result in additional failure modes that do not represent real failures of the assembly in the target environment. In other words HALT accelerators often introduce false failures. The slow path is to run representative assemblies through a real time (non-accelerated) life test in numerous target environments (temperature and vibration) over the course of years. This would never happen in industry, and I’m really glad someone in academia took on this project. He is still running the study and will be publishing soon. The result will be a table mapping a variety of solder metallurgies to a variety of applications.

  2. Overcoming the Challenges for Implementing IPC J-STD-001 in your factory by Denis Barbini, Ph.D. Denis presented an overview of a CM’s validation responsibilities under J-STD-001. He gave various examples of process changes a CM would make including:

    1. Reasons to change

    2. Risks

    3. How to select the appropriate validation to fulfil the J-STD-001 requirements.

Technologies presented by vendors:

The standard offering of the latest and greatest assembly and test equipment, solvents, and materials were there. Each company had experts present ready and willing to discuss specific applications. A few items that were new to me follow:

  1. Promosolv Coat UT10-UV by Inventec Performance Chemicals – a conformal coating so thin that rather than mask the connectors you allow the contact mating force to brush aside the coating.

  2. Foil Strain Gages and datalogger by Kyowa Americs – attached to a circuit board these give live feedback on circuit board flex and strain. Afraid your board is being damaged in any of the following steps? Instrument it up and find out for sure!

    1. ICT Test loading

    2. Assembly

    3. End Use Cases

  3. Scanning Acoustic Microscope by PVA TePla is an alternative to X-RAY specializing in detection of solder cracks and joint or PCB delamination.

Final Thoughts

Engineers are not the most social people and may take some convincing to get to events. The pressure against attending big public events has not worn off; attendance by engineers not running a vendor table was low. What engineers need to know is that they are missing great advances in technology presented at these expos! I attended for only half the day and was surprised by the latest developments.

If you are interested in learning more about upcoming technologies hit the button below.

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