Process Engineering: process optimization and process control solutions to improve accuracy

Christi Beck-Levicki Blog

As highlighted in our previous post, Saline Lectronics’ process engineers are the magicians behind the curtains actualizing the ideal manufacturing process for each circuit board assembly that we build. This group is not only responsible for creating systems for new projects, but they also work to improve and optimize current processes in order to increase efficiency as well as overall product quality.

Recently, the process engineering group analyzed our in-house conformal coating process and discovered numerous opportunities for development. Through real-time process optimization measures, they performed an overhaul to the existing system in order to improve quality results.

Conformal Coating Process EngineeringOne of the major changes done to the conformal coating process eliminates the need to mask components that must be coat-free on assemblies that run through the PVA650 automated conformal coating machine. By working closely with the equipment manufacturer, our team made minor modifications to improve the accuracy of coat dispensing. Since eliminating the masking requirements, the conformal coating cycle time on specific PCB assemblies is now four times faster! Moreover, we have successfully cut costs in this area due to reducing the amount of hand labor for previously required touch-up work.

In closely evaluating machine parameters, our process engineers also began to challenge inconsistent coating results. Collaborating with Humiseal and PVA representatives, minor tweaks were made to the process that enhanced the overall quality of conformal coated assemblies. Since these changes, we’ve demonstrated consistent and repeatable coat thickness for every production lot. We no longer lose time optimizing the machine for each new job, and experience stable results from one job to the next. In fact, we provide this quality data to specific clients with high-reliability products.

Additionally, the old coating process required a physical PCB assembly to properly program the PVA650 machine. Now, we’re able to program it with gerber files, which has improved spray accuracy for strict coating keep-out area requirements.

Lectronics process engineering group improved consistency in the conformal coating process by fully exploring and challenging the capabilities of the PVA650 machine. The implemented process control solutions reduced both cycle time and cost while increasing quality through repeatable, consistent coating results.