Ask the Experts
June 7, 2010 - Updated
June 7, 2010 - Originally Posted

No Clean or Water Soluble for QFN Components

We are placing 32 lead QFN and 14 lead DFN components. We can use either a no-clean or water soluble process. Which do you suggest? Is there a formula or standard that explains when to use a no-clean or water soluble process with these component types?

M. D.

Expert Panel Responses

I would recommend the no-clean process. The problem with a water soluble process for QFN and DFN devices, is that cleaning underneath is very difficult due to their low standoff. The residue from a water soluble process is corrosive, and, if not completely removed, can cause a variety of defects and, ultimately, package failure. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule for when to use a no-clean vs. a water soluble process. It really depends on the components you are placing and what your process needs are. For example, if you have a board where excessive levels of oxidation or contamination are present, you may want to select a water soluble process for its ability to aggressively strip oxides.

Doug Dixon
Douglass Dixon is the Chief Marketing Officer for 360 BC Group, a marketing agency with offices throughout the US. 360 BC specializes in consulting and implementing successful marketing programs that utilize the latest in marketing, sales and technology strategies. As an electronics veteran, Dixon has worked in the industry for over 30 years for companies like Henkel, Universal Instruments, Camelot Systems, and Raytheon. Dixon's electronics industry experience includes a broad skill set that includes engineering, field service, applications, product management and marketing communications expertise.

These component types have very low stand off heights and will be very difficult to clean underneath. Water soluble flux residues are normally corrosive and must be removed therefore I would not recommend using this option. No clean would seem to be your preferred route providing you are satisfied that it can stay on the board.

Bryan Kerr
Principal Engineer - CMA Lab
BAE Systems
Bryan Kerr has 35 years experience in providing technical support to PEC assembly manufacturing. His experience ranges from analysis of materials and components to troubleshooting and optimizing, selecting reflow, cleaning, coating and other associated processes.
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