Looking Forward to Day 1


Reading time ( words)

By Carl Wesselmann

This is the third in a series of articles about APEX, held January 22-24 in San Diego. It provides a guide to activities taking place during the first day of the show.

Walking, we're told, is great exercise. But the experience has a way of tiring one if the direction is aimless, as in the adage: "If you don't know where you're going, any road will do." As at a luscious buffet table, the conference program encompassing the four major job functions ? assembly, materials, design and test, and inspection ? are set out below for your selection.

It is a guide to assist you in negotiating APEX's myriad activities and exhibits with a view toward highlighting those of greatest personal interest and professional benefit. The goal is to maximize your use of time and energy. Please refer to the APEX Show Directory for a final list of events and times.

The Advantages of "Earlybirding"Attendees arriving Saturday, January 19 already will have an indication of what APEX 2002 will offer and how it will proceed. Some will attend the Professional Development Courses that end Monday, January 21, which include, for the first time, sessions on the critical issues of optoelectronics (OE) assembly. They also will choose from other (more than 60) programs taught by industry experts, which feature courses on such essential topics as lead-free soldering, X-ray inspection, conductive adhesives and ball grid array (BGA)/chip scale package (CSP) rework. For those attuned to how the industry performs its main activity ? electronics assembly ? the various standards development and committee meetings of the IPC, JEDEC and NEMI convening on Saturday and continuing until conference end on Thursday, January 24, are a good bet.

For most attendees, however, APEX means products and services on view. This year more than 500 exhibitors in more than 80 categories are on hand to display and explain their new wares. The following offers a way to make sense of all this so that one can optimize his or her time by concentrating on areas of particular concern, be they design, assembly, test and/or materials use. Don't worry, it will include exercise enough.

Beginning Your DaySix conferences, or "tracks," will run concurrently over these three days: lead-free technology; OE manufacturing; test, inspection and quality; electronics assembly, including advanced packaging and components, process control, materials, and solderability; and electronics manufacturing services (EMS) business and supply chain issues. Paper presentations will begin as early as 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 5:15 p.m. A convenient check of actual times, which may change, is available by picking up a Show Directory.

After attending, perhaps, the First-Timers' Welcome Breakfast at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, January 22, you may want to hear the opening keynote speaker Donna Shirley, manager of NASA's Mars exploration program. (A keynoter for Wednesday's program, Chris Israel of the U.S. Department of Commerce, also is planned.) Her topic is "Managing Creativity" (8:15 to 9:30 a.m.), a quality much in evidence in view of the successful landing on the Red Planet by the Mars Pathfinder and Sojourner vehicles. Those in attendance will not miss the opening of the exhibits; they'll run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., after which all are invited to a free reception on the show floor.

A Conference Special: Free ForumsThis year APEX includes a series of Free Forums beginning Tuesday, January 22 and concluding on Wednesday, January 23. These paperless sessions will stress new business/markets and, hence, will feature opinions that promise to be forthright and insightful. For example, at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, IPC's David Bergman will review today's testing strategies and how they stack up against the test dilemmas now evolving. At the same time, Fern Abrams, also from IPC, has EPA compliance issues in mind. Specifically, the session will explain the limits all companies processing lead must heed and report. The morning concludes with Jack Crawford's (IPC) demonstration of how standardized processes can be coordinated for minimized set-up times and costs.

Tuesday afternoon's program includes four forums, beginning at 1:30 p.m. with Lisa Hamburg of Circuits Assembly Magazine leading a panel on purchasing via the Internet, and concluding with three concurrent discussions (at 3:15 p.m.). Topics include the prospects for OE by Greg Munie. Ph.D.; an explanation led by Timothy Estes of the IPC's D-36 Subcommittee on the new Printed Circuit Quality and Relative Reliability library of test patterns; and a discussion led by Barbara Goldstein of NIST on managing supply chain communications. It will detail NEMI's findings on how best to link an OEM's information system with those of its suppliers. The goal is rapid product introduction.

The Lead-free Technology Conference in a ConferenceThe subject of Lead-free Assembly is acute. Market pressures are such that manufacturers must become knowledgeable and able to install the technology at any moment. Accordingly, this conference will look at state-of-the-art processing as reflected by worldwide implementations.

The eminent soldering and materials authority, Jennie Hwang, Ph.D., will introduce the presentation of papers on lead-free soldering on Tuesday, January 22. It will cover the new technology's effect on components, printed circuit board (PCB) finishes, materials, assembly processes, and, on Wednesday, test and rework.

For example, the session on components (9:30 a.m.) will look at placement techniques and solder sphere alloys (lead-free vs. tin/lead). Of special interest will be concerns of BGA/CSP placements. Following at 10:45 a.m., three papers on finishes will focus on solder joint formation: an evaluation of two specific lead-free surfaces and the reliability of Sn/Ag/Cu solder joints on gold finishes.

Next come the effects of lead-free processing on materials. Data from several years of evaluations are now available and, at 1:30 pm, the properties of no-lead/no-clean alloys and pastes will be examined in the form of a case study. How a Bi/Sn/Ag alloy may be suitable for consumer products is the subject of the paper, and the session concludes with a look at a Sn/Zn system for wave soldering.

At 3:15 pm, the papers on lead-free assembly begin with a presentation on formal development of a lead-free electronics manufacturing operation, and conclude with an evaluation of the comparative solderability of lead-free solders in nitrogen.

On Wednesday, January 23 at 10:30 a.m., Gail Stout, editor-in-chief of SMT Magazine, will lead a panel discussion on implementing lead-free solder.

The Electronics Assembly Conference in a ConferenceTaking in advanced packaging and components, the presentations on Electronics Assembly will focus on increasing efficiency, troubleshooting, and the build-up and maintenance of the supply chain. The largest of APEX's conferences, the speakers will be from leading manufacturers, OEMs and suppliers who will bring state-of-the-art viewpoints on mixed technology, lead-free assembly, automation, throughput improvement, and repair and rework.

Three concurrent presentations, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, find Kim Hyland. of Solectron chairing a field of two papers on 1) advanced packaging dealing with the future of integrated circuit (IC) packages, and 2) the benefits of the system in a package (SiP) idea. IPC's Dieter Bergman heads a discussion on Design for Excellence (DFX). Two papers in this session explain design principles in the face of utmost control of cost and throughput. The first details ways to maximize the use of automation, i.e., how tools can verify that individual processes are optimized. The second looks at a special product (pacemakers) and its need for an expanded manufacturing analysis. Lastly, Mike Martel leads the third concurrent session with a discussion of assembly of pressfit connectors, a component described as "emerging." To be heard, via two papers, are the pressfits' history, implementation, applications and process control.

Martel stays on at 10:45 a.m. to chair a discussion on the all-important (and ever-changing) area of advanced repair and rework. What's the latest thinking in handling the new, challenging components, the odd-form connectors, the high-pin-count devices and the use of the laser? The three presentations tackling this costly, yet necessary, activity include a discussion on handling the new generation of surface and straddle mount connectors, reworking dense contact connectors using fiber optics, and an assessment of the laser's proper role.

Also at 10:45 a.m., AT&T Fixed Wireless Services' Harry McLean will introduce three papers on testing for an "acceptable" quality with improved profitability. Subjects include accelerated life-testing techniques, other steps one may take while stress testing and the options presented when crystals fail.

Solectron's Steve Harris is at the head of the last assembly sessions beginning at 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday. He looks at CSP underfill and why it still is needed through the views of three presenters. They will cover processing and reliability, use of special fluxes and an investigation of "mirror-image" package performance under thermal test.

Three concurrent sessions at 1:30 p.m. start the afternoon program on Tuesday, concerning flip chip reliability, process control and adhesive printing. Dan Baldwin, Ph.D., Siemens Dematic Electronic Assembly Systems, slates three presenters on the reliability of flip chip assemblies at the package and board levels. The first deals with a reliability study of assemblies with Ni/Au and Ag finishes. The second looks at the FCBGA, while the third returns to the subject of underfilll materials, i.e., how they affect processing/reliability of ultra-fine-pitch flip chips.

For process control, Karin Groen of Celestica Canada guides a discussion of developing SPC methods for use with AOI equipment in a contract manufacturing environment.

The adhesive printing part of the afternoon's sessions, chaired by Loctite's Chris Marinelli, deals with the technique for the purpose of parts attachment before wave soldering. Stencils are in the picture as are clinched axial and radial leads and cleaning. Learn about metal stencils for adhesive printing, the special treatment for their performance and cleaning, and how to dispense 30 million dph.

Siemens' Dan Baldwin, Ph.D., returns for the second program of discussions on flip chip assembly at 3:15 p.m. Four papers deal with advanced processing involving no-flow underfills and wafer-level processing. Specifically, they address processing on laminate assemblies, minimizing defect-prone voids, assembly using wafer-applied underfill and high-speed processing possibilities via no-flow underfills. The latter are just starting to advance into volume production application.

Another returnee at 3:15 p.m. is Celestica's Linda Scala, who assembles a three-member panel on solder pastes and spray fluxing. The methodology for the latter has no-clean processing in mind while that for solder paste is directed toward fine-pitch printing. Leading is a look at solder paste for fine-pitch stencil printing, followed by a study of solder paste behavior in a rheometric pump print head. The last paper concerns optimizing and controlling spray fluxing for the wave soldering operation.

Soldering development concerns comprise the day's last session, which is chaired by Armin Rahn, Ph.D. It is well known that latest developments in products call for new interconnect technologies. Selective soldering, by any reasoning, certainly is new, as the first paper makes clear in addressing its state-of-the-art status. Vapor-phase soldering definitely is not new; however, the technique brings something to bear on a new challenge, as will be detailed in two presentations. Finally, a lead-free wave soldering process from Finland is explained as a solution for several challenging soldering situations.

IPC Standards Development MeetingsWhat could be more important than seeing how decisions are made that affect the specifications customers, suppliers and competitors use?

What indeed! This rhetorical query has in mind the benefits that could accrue to an APEX 2002 visitor who feels that he or she might influence the process of standards construction. Which is why the various standards writing committees of the IPC, JEDEC and NEMI have opened these meetings to all. These deliberations are considered so important that APEX has blocked an entire week, beginning with JEDEC's meeting on Friday, January 18, on quality processes and methods and ending this Friday, January 25, when the JEDEC committee will wind up its second day of sessions on silicon device reliability at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Of course, the Saturday, Sunday and Monday meetings are history. They included discussions on developments in component mounting, stencil design and cleaning, alternate finishes, OE, and ionic conductivity. Other subjects tackled included chip carrier cracking and product assurance, the latter a two-day discussion on makeup of the PA Handbook. But the heart of these meetings remains to be examined during the three days left in the conference (Tuesday through Thursday). Attendees are invited also to take lunch today and tomorrow with committee members (after registering) where an opportunity will be afforded to meet with industry leaders who undoubtedly will provide more detailed answers to individual facility problems.

Tuesday's standards sessions begin in earnest at 9:30 a.m. when Sonoscan's Steve Martell will conclude a two-day meeting of the plastic chip carrier cracking task group, which is investigating moisture reflow sensitivity of these devices. Also at 9:30 a.m., NEMI's Ron Gedney convenes leaders of the Technology Interest Groups and Technology Projects to review progress.

At 9:45 a.m., the task group responsible for the IPC's contribution to document 7095 (BGA design and implementation) meets and will be led by consultant Ray Prasad. At the same time, David Hillman of Rockwell Collins will convene the standards group concerned with PCB solderability. The standard is J-STD-003A on wetting balance, steam aging and other test protocols. The last of the troika of sessions for this period is the Global Centre for Process Change's Bill Kenyon, who will assemble the task group on semi-aqueous cleaning. Its task: Revision A reworking to account for new technologies and issues.

The Tuesday afternoon sessions kick off with no less than five concurrent meetings, beginning at 1:30 p.m. They commence with Dave Nicol's task group on component and process compatibility. The attempt here will be to combine IPC-9501, 9502 and 9504 documents to eliminate redundancies dealing with wave and reflow profiles. Next is James Rausch of Delphi Delco who chairs the group on flip chip mounting strategies. This group published J-STD-012 on this technology and now is working on high-density interconnection (HDI). Rockwell Collins' Dave Hillman then returns from his morning sessions to lead a discussion on revisions to J-STD-002, which is concerned with solderability tests for leads, lugs, terminations and wires. Flux Specifications Karen Tellefson of Alpha Fry Technologies celebrate the Revision A publication of J-STD-004. Last in the 1:30 p.m. slot is the report by the subcommittee on repairability. Co-chaired by Jeff Ferry of the Circuit Technology Center and Dan Foster of Soldering Technology International, the meeting will center on IPC-7711 and 7721 for which new and revised procedures are under development.

The final two standards meetings for today both begin at 1:30 p.m. Brian Toleno of ACI/EMPF, leading the task group on underfill adhesives for flip chips, will bring the J-STD-030 guidelines for qualifying, selecting and using adhesives up for review. And lastly, CSL's Terry Munson, heading the group on rework cleaning, will suggest guidelines to address issues involved in repairing assemblies.

At 5:30 p.m., attendees are urged to gather on the show floor for a free reception. EP&P's Magazine's Excellence in Electronic Production Awards presentation occurs at noon on Tuesday, January 22. SMT Magazine's annual VISION Awards program at 6:30 p.m. recognizes companies who have introduced imaginative new products and services in various categories.

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