Cleanliness of PCB Assemblies Leads to Medical Device Reliability

Component manufacturers are continually developing new and smaller packages for components that are mere fractions of a millimeter and have board to component clearances of less than a mil.

By Mo Ohady and David Estes, Digicom Electronics, Oakland, CA

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Pick and place machines have new accessories that allow placement of these almost invisible parts. Components are placed extremely close together. After a considerable amount of research and experimentation, we found that it takes a special combination of chemicals, temperature, wash cycles, timing, and equipment to adequately clean under parts that small.

Research shows that many failures are a result of printed circuit boards that are not clean enough of contaminants from the manufacturing process. For medical devices, however, the potential for failure is very real and the effects of failure can be devastating.