Original Date: 04/20/1998
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : No-Clean, Low-Residue Soldering Process
In 1993, ITT Aerospace/Communications Division (A/CD) approached its customers and proposed changing the electronic assembly soldering and cleaning processes at the company. Based on environmental, process improvement, and cost reduction issues, ITT A/CD wanted to switch from a Resin Mildly Activated (RMA) high solid flux and solder paste system to a No-Clean, Low-Residue Soldering process. In mid-1996, the company obtained customer approvals, and made the commitment to change to the new process.
The RMA-based system required operators to thin the high solid flux with isopropanol alcohol approximately twice per shift for the RMA-based wavesolder machines. In addition, these older machines used a thinning oil which made cleaning difficult. Maintenance was continual with filter changes; flow level checks; impure solvent changes; holding tank cleaning; and pumps and blower upkeep. In January 1998, a new Delta wavesolder machine was brought on-line to replace the two RMA-based wavesolder machines and associated in-line cleaners and solvents, and reduce upkeep, emissions, and waste. By switching to a No-Clean, Low-Residue Soldering process, ITT A/CD eliminated the RMA flux and thinner requirements. The new process also reduced the company’s volatile organic compound emissions and the handling/storage of hazardous materials. A two-fold increase in throughput was realized for the soldering process, and the elimination of RMA-based cleaning procedures improved ITT A/CD’s cycle times by approximately 30 minutes.
Since implementing its No-Clean, Low-Residue Soldering process, ITT A/CD saved approximately $700,000. Other benefits include reduced labor costs and the elimination of semi-aqueous in-line cleaners; thinning oil; flux chemical mixing; and titanium, nitrate-coated Z-wave baffles. Although all previous emission levels at ITT A/CD met Indiana standards, the new wavesolder process reduced the company’s emissions by 38 tons per year.
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