Ask the Experts
June 3, 2009 - Updated
June 1, 2009 - Originally Posted

Technology to Measure Oxidation Levels

Does technology to measure the level of oxidation on surface mount pads exist? If not, can you suggest a way to quantify or categorize oxidation levels on surface mount pads?

A. D.

Expert Panel Responses

Yes. We use an instrument from ECI Technology to measure oxidation on certain types of surface finishes. The technology is called Sequential Electrochemical Reduction Analysis or SERA. SERA can be used to measure oxidation levels on copper and solders, immersion tin, etc. It will report a thickness value in Angstroms, and it will also report the presence of intermetallic oxides in tin/copper mixtures. We use this piece of equipment to correlate oxidation levels to artificial ageing of different surface finishes. ECI Technologies website. I hope this helps.

Mike Scimeca
FCT Assembly
Mike Scimeca created FCT Assembly after the purchase of Fine Line Stencil, Inc., and consists of two major operations: stencil manufacturing and the manufacturing of electronic assembly products such as solder paste, flux and solder bar.

There are several companies that specialize in Solderability Testing. I think that would be a better place to start.

Edward Zamborsky
Regional Sales Manager
OK International Inc.
Ed Zamborsky is a Regional Sales & Technical Support Manager for Thermaltronics, located in New York. His position requires frequent customer visits throughout North America and the Caribbean and his position encompasses not only sales but the role of trainer and master applications engineer for all of Thermaltronics products. His expertise includes such specialties as hand soldering, convection and conduction reflow techniques, array rework, fluid dispensing equipment, and fume extraction. Ed has authored many articles and has presented many papers on topics such as; Low Volume SMT Assembly, Solder Fume Extraction, SMT Rework, BGA Rework, Lead-Free Hand Soldering, High Thermal Demand Hand Soldering, Lead Free Visual Inspection and Lead Free Array Rework.

The answer is the use of a Wetting Balance Tester to determine the wet ability of the surface mount leads. The technical term is a meniscograph which measure the time to wet and max force in a graphical basis. There are companies which provide this service or you can purchase the machine.

Mark McMeen
VP Engineering Services
STI Electronics Inc.
Mark T. McMeen is STI Electronics Inc.ʼs Vice President of Engineering Services. He oversees the daily operations of the Engineering Services division of STI. He has over 18 years experience in the manufacturing and engineering of PCBs.
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