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September 19, 2019

Components Falling Off During Reflow

Can excessive solder paste volume contribute to components falling off the bottom of the circuit board during topside reflow?

L.W.

Expert Panel Responses

Theoretically yes, but there are a lot of factors that would determine the point at which that would happen. The most important factor would be the ratio of solder contact surface area to component mass since the surface tension of the molten solder is what holds the parts in place during the 2nd reflow cycle.

I would not expect relatively small deviations from optimal solder volume to cause parts to fall off unless the mass of the part is too large to begin with.

You should allow for a significant factor of safety - do not expect parts to stay in place if you are close to the limit of the retention force for a given surface area. High mass, low contact area parts can be retained with thermal cure epoxy.

The epoxy would usually be applied between the solder paste screening and component placement of the 1st side process. The epoxy cures below reflow temperature, so it could be applied any time before 2nd side reflow.

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Rick Kompelien
Principal Product Engineer
Benchmark Electronics, Inc.
27 years experience working with electronic and electro-mechanical manufacturing and design (medical, automotive, military, computer, and industrial controls). Military veteran - served as a Combat Engineer with the United States Marine Corps.

Excessive solder paste volume on the 2nd side (top) should not lead to components falling off of the 1st side (bottom). Low solder paste volume on the 1st side (bottom) may lead to components falling off.

It is best to run the side with the smaller lighter components first, so the surface tension of the solder has a better chance to hold those components in place during 2nd side reflow.

Another option is to use glue dots, a pallet or fixture to hold the bottom side components in place during 2nd side reflow.

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Tony Lentz
Field Applications
FCT Assembly
Tony has worked in the electronics industry since 1994. He worked as a process engineer at a circuit board manufacturer for 5 years. Since 1999, Tony has worked for FCT Companies as a laboratory manager, facility manager, and most recently a field application engineer. He has extensive experience doing research and development, quality control, and technical service with products used to manufacture and assemble printed circuit boards. He holds B.S. and M.B.S. degrees in Chemistry.

No, I do not see excessive solder paste volume contributing to components falling off the bottom of the circuit board during topside reflow.

If anything, more solder means a more robust bond formed.

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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.

Excessive solder will not contribute to component falling, but it may result in bridging, solder balling, and tomb stoning of components. I presume you are facing component falling issue, and on high density components it’s usual to see component falling.

A high temperature in reflow during secondary process can cause this to occur, advise you to try solder paste with higher melting temperature on bottom side, and paste with low melting temperature on Top side. Many suppliers have different alloys and they can help you selecting high and low melting paste considering your board. Hope this should solve your issue!

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Swaroop Pawar
PCBA Industrialization
Schneider Electric
Have 18 years of experience in electronic Industrialization. Specialties in PCB Design & manufacturing process, PCBA Process Development and Continuous Improvement.

In a word, yes. That's particularly true if the situation was marginal to begin with (part mass too close to retention force). Inverted reflow adhesion is a widely misunderstood phenomenon. It depends mainly on the ratio of the mass of the component to the retention force.

The retention force, in turn, depends on the peripheral length of all the solder joints at their smallest cross section. It does not depend on the solder joint area. The retention force also depends on the solder alloy, the aggressiveness of the flux employed, and the atmosphere (e.g. air, nitrogen) and needs to be greater than the part mass, including some safety factor.

The reason that excess paste can be a detriment is that it can create a situation where the peripheral length of the solder joints is decreased, for instance by wetting above the foot of a gull-wing lead.

In this case the peripheral length at the smallest cross section is only the distance around the lead (2*W*L) instead of the distance around the foot of the lead. This allows the part to drop away from the PWB surface, the solder to be drawn into an extended drop, and finally to snap off.

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Fritz Byle
Process Engineer
Astronautics
Fritz's career in electronics manufacturing has included diverse engineering roles including PWB fabrication, thick film print & fire, SMT and wave/selective solder process engineering, and electronics materials development and marketing. Fritz's educational background is in mechanical engineering with an emphasis on materials science. Design of Experiments (DoE) techniques have been an area of independent study. Fritz has published over a dozen papers at various industry conferences.