It’s no secret that electronics and their high-tech components have become ubiquitous within our daily lives. From desktop computers and mobile technologies to modern car engines, electronics allow us to work, play, travel, and relax. To put it quite simply, we rely on them—a fact that’s certainly not lost on electronics manufacturers.
As a result, electronics manufacturers work hard to design, develop, and deliver high-quality products that are safe and function as intended—and Innovatech Labs helps make that happen.
After more than two decades in business, we’ve become a trusted electronics failure analysis partner, working with companies to troubleshoot contamination and product quality issues. Using a variety of surface analysis techniques, our goal is to help our clients ensure the quality, durability, safety, function, and competitiveness of their products.
How do we do this? Below are just a few ways.
Identifying Microcontamination with Cleanliness Testing
For all manufacturers, product contamination is a risk at every stage of the production process. But for electronics manufacturers, microcontamination—which is invisible to the human eye—is one of the biggest threats to product function and safety.
As a result, cleanliness testing can be an important microcontamination prevention, discovery, and troubleshooting tool. Cleanliness testing includes techniques such as Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and ion chromatography (IC), and aims to determine the levels and types of contaminants that are present on an electrical component. Some of the contaminants that are often uncovered include ionic contamination and non-volatile residues (NVRs).
So, whether an electronics manufacturer wants to proactively identify potential microcontamination risks or troubleshoot a known problem, cleanliness testing techniques can provide answers.
Uncovering the Cause of Electrical Shorts
Circuit boards are complex and critical components of any electrical device, and when an electrical short occurs, you need to find answers fast to help you mitigate the issue and stay on your production schedule.
In the case of one of our electronics clients, they were experiencing shorts in their circuit boards and suspected that the rinse water used during production could be the culprit—but they needed proof.
To find answers, our scientists extracted the circuit boards using deionized water, which was then analyzed using ion chromatography. Test results showed a high level of sodium and potassium, consistent with hard water.
With this information in hand, our client was able to change the rinse water, which resulted in a significant reduction in sodium and potassium cations and the elimination of the shorting problem.
In a different case, there was a white residue present on a circuit board that was experiencing electrical shorts. The white residue was analyzed using the microscope attachment to our Fourier transform infrared spectrometer and compared to the flux used during processing.
The results showed that the flux was a match. Our client was then able to work with operators to limit the amount of flux applied to circuit boards and improved the cleaning process after soldering to eliminate the shorting issue.
Identifying Foreign Materials
Foreign materials can come into contact with small and large components at any stage of the production process. Like any contamination scenario, uncovering the source is important for ensuring a functioning product and mitigating extended production delays.
As an example, an electronics manufacturer reached out to us for help in identifying a haze on a thin polyimide film. To get to the bottom of the issue, our team of analysts used electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA), which is a surface analysis technique that uses an x-ray beam to excite atoms on the surface of a sample.
After scanning the hazed area, we were able to identify that chromium was present in the sample, which signaled that a chromium film had not been completely etched away during production. As a result, our client was able make adjustments to that stage of the production process and mitigate the issue.
We Want to Help You Build Better Electronics
At Innovatech Labs, we’re dedicated to helping you ensure the quality, safety, and competitiveness of your electronic products and components. Learn more about our work with electronics and other manufacturers, or get in touch with our team.