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February 22, 2018

QFN Open Solder Joints

QFN Open Solder Joints
We are experiencing opens on assembled QFN components at a rate of approx 9%. This component has 2 rows of pads and the failure only appears in rows near the component center. See the yellow area in the photo. Usually only 1 or 2 pads have opens. Our boards are double side reflow and this component is mounted on the first side. What is happening?


Expert Panel Responses

Thereare lots of variable when installing these types of components of which someare definitely more important than others. Ifthey are happening as stated only on the inner row of pads I would check thereflow profile to verify the reflow temperature is met at these locations. Iwould also recommend checking for the thermal differences in the associatedpads or land areas. Anything connected to an inner layer will require longerdwell time to verify the connection is made. Check the amount of solder pasteapplied to the ground plane area to verify the molten solder does not raise thecomponent creating opens with the solder joint on the second row. Froma stencil perspective check the aperture openings to make sure they are correctand the correct amount of paste is deposited on those pads. In certain caseswhere we've seen this situation larger paste deposition was required. Froma board perspective check to see if there are any vias in the areas of the padsas this will draw the solder away from the pads and create an insufficientsolder condition on the pad.

Leo Lambert
Vice President, Technical Director
EPTAC Corporation
At EPTAC Corporation, Mr. Lambert oversees content of course offerings, IPC Certification programs and provides customers with expert consultation in electronics manufacturing, including RoHS/WEEE and lead free issues. Leo is also the IPC General Chairman for the Assembly/Joining Process Committee.

Iwould validate the amount of paste being deposited in the center/thermal area.If there it is 1:1 aperture to pad, then you are most likely "floating" yourpart just enough to cause the problem. To alleviate this issue, do a windowpane on the stencil aperture to reduce the solder paste deposition around10-15%.

T.J. Hughes
Manufacturing Engineer
Esterline Interface Technologies
Mr. Hughes has been in the electronics manufacturing field for 20 years. Operating the processes and as a manufacturing engineer for the last 14 years. He is also a CIT as well as an SMTA Certified Process Engineer.

I'drecommend you review your land pattern design, reflow settings, solder mask,amount of solder paste being deposited on those pads. Pay specialattention to the thermal plane and, if possible minimize the amount of solderdeposited on the thermal plane.

Edithel Marietti
Senior Manufacturing Engineer
Northrop Grumman
Edithel is a chemical engineer with 20 year experience in manufacturing & process development for electronic contract manufacturers in US as well as some major OEM's. Involved in SMT, Reflow, Wave and other assembly operations entailing conformal coating and robotics.

Mysuspicion is that possibly during the initial reflow, but more likely duringthe second reflow, row 1 (the outside row) is robbing row 2 (the inside row) ofsolder, causing an open. It does not have to take very much solder from theinside row for this to happen, and it may not be readily apparent in an X-ray,because the solder balls on the outside row may not be appreciably larger whenthis happens. I also suspect that it is happening mostly because you areprinting solder paste with an aperture reduction that is only perhaps 5%-10%smaller than the pads on the PWB and any imperfection in the paste print, evena few tiny solder fines between the pads of row 1 and row 2 at the diagonalcorners would be enough to cause this solder thieving to happen, especiallyduring the 2nd reflow. During the second reflow, you not only havethe large blob of solder on the belly pad causing the part to float aroundupside down, but any conveyor vibration or motion that causes movement of thepart can set off the thieving. A component of this size is going to warp or cupat least a small amount. If any cupping occurs during the second reflow thepressure in the z-axis is more pronounced on the inner row than the outer row,so the solder will wick outward, from the inner to the outer row. Irecommend you simply try applying a good corner bonding adhesive to the outsidecorners of the component after reflow, wash, touch-up and rework is completedfor side one. A good snap-cure corner bonding adhesive such as Loctite 4621 orany number of others can be used. I would even go so far as to recommend awater soluble temporary maskant be tried as a corner bond adhesive, that hasworked well for me but you need to be careful, not all soluble masks arecreated equal. Asthe CCA goes into the reflow oven for side two, the corner bond material curesprior to reflow temperatures, so even if the component's solder joints do gointo liquidus the corner bonds will prevent any component movement. Later youcan either wash away the temporary maskant as part of the second-side machinecleaning, or you can simply leave the corner bonding adhesive on which wouldrequire an ECN with approval from the customer (but it does improve long termreliability). Asa minimum, I would simply try this on a small batch of CCAs to see if thecorner bonding (whether temporary or permanent) AND controlling the pasteregistration, print setup, etc., fix the issue. If no opens appear on thetryout batch, further qualify the process to ensure no other harmful effectsare introduced. Qualify,qualify, qualify. The wall between engineering and production is never highenough, and sometimes the temptation to throw process changes over the wallbefore full qualification is too tempting.

Richard D. Stadem
Advanced Engineer/Scientist
General Dynamics
Richard D. Stadem is an advanced engineer/scientist for General Dynamics and is also a consulting engineer for other companies. He has 38 years of engineering experience having worked for Honeywell, ADC, Pemstar (now Benchmark), Analog Technologies, and General Dynamics.

Ifyou are experiencing opens with a QFN or in this case DR QFN, reflow is notoccurring evenly or something is holding the part up. I would review the datasheet for this component and makeSurethe pad design matches your pcb. Also make sure the stencil design and pastetype matches your process. The thermal pad should have a window frame cut outwith different size Anddimensions based on the lead pitch. Also make sure you have a robust profileallowing enough time for wetting to occur. For this package, a post printinspection is very important.Withoutknowing your board layout or part size, I can only suggest this type of part istypically placed and reflowed at second pass. If this is not possible, you maywant to check for opens after the firstReflowto see if its opening there or at the second reflow.

Brien Bush
Manufacturing Applications Specialist
Cirtronics Corp.
Mr. Bush has 20 years experience in electronics contract manufacturing. Major areas of expertise include through hole, SMT, wave and selective soldering.

There are two possible causes: It could be that the open is the result of insufficient solderpaste. Make sure that your solder paste is capable of adequate transferefficiency for that aperture size. If there is a trend in the location of theopen(s), it could be the result of a bad aperture(s) in the stencil. It is also possible that there may be too much paste on thecenter pad. During reflow the package can become buoyant on the solder on thecenter pad. This can actually lift the package up and cause it to lose contactwith the peripheral pad(s) creating an open.

Kay Parker
Technical Support Engineer
Indium Corporation
Kay Parker is a Technical Support Engineer based at Indium Corporation's headquarters in Clinton, N.Y. In this role she provides guidance and recommendations to customers related to process steps, equipment, techniques, and materials. She is also responsible for servicing the company's existing accounts and retaining new business.

With limited data, I can only guess at this time.
  • The suspect area is theground pad. The paste deposition over there will try to raise the component andthe outside pads, with limited surface tension due to small area will not beenough to keep the component down and getting it soldered properly.
  • Paste deposition is alsocritical - having consistent amount of paste deposited on both rows (theoutside rows) is a must for good reflow and consistent solder connections.
  • For the stencil I wouldrecommend to have a nano-coated one that will enhance the paste release andconsistency between prints.

Georgian Simion
Engineering and Operations Management
Independent Consultant
Georgian Simion is an independent consultant with 20+ years in electronics manufacturing engineering and operations.
Contact me at georgiansimion@yahoo.com.

Reader Comment
For us, it was all about the printing. Good aspect ratios and Nano coating solved the problem.
Joe laganella, Swemco