Solder paste is a crucial component of the Printed Circuit Board assembly process — connecting surface mount components to pads on the board, but it can be an expensive and temperamental process. The material commonly has a limited shelf life and must be applied immediately once the container is opened to maximize functionality. Poor quality or improperly-handled paste can lead to shorter-than-desired abandonment time on the production line — the time that machines can be left idle and then restarted. Without a high-performing paste, manufacturing lines can be completely shut down.
Economic and environmental considerations also come into play. Many operations require the consumption of 200-250 jars of solder paste monthly. At a cost of $50-70 for a small jar, the outlay for materials mounts quickly. The inclusion of expensive metal alloys and lead in paste formulations complicates scrapping, as hazmat requirements are imposed during disposal.
An electronic manufacturing services company in the Midwest was experiencing some of these issues with their solder paste. Abandonment times were 15 to 20 minutes, which caused manufacturing stoppage, delays, and in turn, a reduction in volume.
They reached out to Eric Traxler, an ESR (Engineering Sales Representative) at Ellsworth Adhesives to assist in finding a new solder paste to solve these issues. Eric’s knowledge and relationships with specialty chemical manufacturers led him to suggest Henkel LOCTITE’s GC 10 solder paste, due to its temperature stability and long abandonment time.
After testing, GC 10 still wasn’t exactly what the manufacturer was looking for. Eric reached out to Henkel and after a few months of formulation and testing, the three together developed a new temperature stable solder paste with extended abandonment times of 48-72 hours. Results were seen immediately including:
- A reduction in scrap due to the extended time interval.
- A 40 percent reduction in solder paste usage, which is now 80-110 jars/month.
- The ability to reuse paste until it is completely consumed, further reducing scrap volumes as well as capital outlay.
- The maintenance of production volumes.
To make sure the electronics manufacturer never runs out of solder paste, Eric integrated the Ellsworth Adhesives’ ePlus Inventory Solutions program at their facility. ePlus is web-based inventory management software that automatically orders more solder paste when it reaches a specific inventory level using a barcode scanning system. They can set their own min/max levels on products and track inventory using custom reporting and real-time information directly in ePlus, further reducing down-time and maintaining production volumes.
To learn more about Ellsworth Adhesives, ePlus and GC 10 solder paste, call (877) 454-9224 or go to ellsworth.com. Ellsworth Adhesives is a global distributor of adhesives, specialty chemicals and related equipment, driving global design and process performance through an advanced level of technical expertise and building relationships with manufacturers and supplier partners.