Great Collaborations, Great Event!

■ The three Workshop Amigo’s.


A couple of weeks ago I attended the first Conference arranged by the SMART Group and the SMTA called the the Contamination, Cleaning and Coating Conference. It took place close to the Amsterdam airport and was the first such event in mainland Europe for both organizations.

The conference kicked off with a workshop on Cleaning Printed Circuit Assemblies, Design & Process Control, and which was free to conference delegates. However, this was no ordinary workshop, headed up one of the cleaning industries gurus Bob Willis and assisted by two very senior technologists from competing companies, Kyzen and Zestron. I have never seen or heard of a line up like this before and it worked wonderfully well.

A packed room heard Helmut Schweigart, Ph.D. from Zestron and Mike Bixenman, DBA, from Kyzen Corporation discuss the relative merits of different cleaning technologies and offer a real in depth insight to these critical processes and their controls. Each delegate received a FREE set of cleaning inspection and quality control wall charts which also cover defects seen during assembly. But more importantly, they left with a great knowledge on the subject after a very enjoyable afternoon, Bob Willis commented, ‘this was a great way to kick off the Conference and I really enjoyed this unique workshop. Putting contamination front and centre in the headline has added a whole new dimension to the normal conference topics’. Everyone was full of praise for the amount of technical content and the relaxed atmosphere of the workshop.

■ The workshop presenters at work.

A Welcome Reception was held in the Foyer after the workshop, allowing delegates time to chat and view the Tabletop booths, network with their peers and sample a variety of traditional Dutch snacks. Attendees came from most of the major manufacturers in Europe and a few traveled further to attend the event. The venue location was chosen because it was easily accessible by air, train or car and was really appreciated by the delegates.

The first Keynote was given by from Prabjit Singh, Ph.D. from IBM Corporation. He spoke on Occurrence and Prevention of Electronic Hardware Failures due to Gaseous and Particulate Contamination in Data Centres. A very honest and thought-provoking start to the Conference from a real expert in his field. He covered everything from Corrosion Mechanisms, data center environments, their monitoring and cleaning through to accelerated test method development.

Session 1 covered Residues Trapped under Component Terminations, as electronic devices build in more features using smaller form factors, there will be limitations, obstacles and challenges to overcome. Advances in component technology can create other issues that may have time delayed effects. One such effect is device failure due to soldering residues trapped under bottom terminated components. If the residues trapped under the component termination are active and can be mobilized with monolayers of moisture, there is the potential for ion mobilization causing current leakage. How clean is clean enough is a question that OEMs struggle with when designing electronic hardware. Today, more than 50% of components placed onto the board assembly are bottom terminated. The number of connections, component pitch, standoff gap, flux composition and volume of solder reflowed under the bottom termination can impact reliability.

Speakers included: Karthik Vijay, Indium Corporation, Bruno Tolla, Ph.D., Kester, Martin Wickham, NPL and Vladimir Sitko, PBT Works who gave a great presentation on Cleaning Process Performance Measurement.

■ The ‘Virtual’ Doug and Dave show!

The rest of Day 1 was handed over to the headline How Problematic are Contaminants Left on Printed Circuit Assemblies? and Session 3: Process Control and Cleaning Material Innovations, very hot and current topics, with the presenters headed up by Doug Hillman and Dave Pauls from Rockwell Collins USA, acknowledged globally as two of the best speakers on the circuit today. Unfortunately, their hectic schedules meant that they were only a virtual presence at the event, beaming in over the interweb which worked perfectly, even allowing a great Q and A Session, but they did have to get to the office early. A couple of ‘Doug and Dave’ masks added to the enjoyment, (see pic above) and the audience really enjoyed their ‘tag team’ presentation approach and the great humor and knowledge imparted in equal measure.

At the Wrap-Up of Day 1 it was obvious to all that the two organizations had pulled together a very successful event and the whole mood was one of relaxed learning and motivational networking. Trevor Galbraith from Global SMT and Packaging attended as the event’s media sponsor. As Editor-in-Chief, he has been to many conferences and his view was that it was a great event, really addressing the issues and bringing together a team of very strong presenters and had a great vibe about it.

■ Dutch Coffee Time.

Day 2 started with a Keynote Address from Ruediger Knofe from Siemens AG, entitled Cleaning of Electronics: Analysing Cleaning Results and Potential Damage Risks when the Cleaning Process is not Optimal. Covering Cleaning Processes, Cleaning Agents, Influencing Factors for the Cleaning Results, Evaluation of the Cleaning Results, Potential Damage Risks and Customer Requirements, an excellent way to lead into Day 2. He was followed by another strong line-up including David Foote from Nordson March, covering Optimizing the Plasma Treatment Process Prior to Conformal Coating to Eliminate ESD Induced Failures without Impact on Coating Performance. Marie Kaing from Humiseal, speaking on the very current topic of Conformal Coating Materials for High-Temperature Automotive Applications. Rakesh Kumar, Ph.D., Specialty Coatings, Challenges of Designing Electronics for Conformal Insulation to Enhance their Protection and Reliability and others covering Plasma treatments and moving from manual to automated coating systems.

At the event closing everyone was happy, having enjoyed their time together immensely and the feedback was great. Maurits van der Laken, MD of Partnertec one of the tabletop displays said, ‘my team and I have really enjoyed this event, we have had great networking opportunities with key people at potential customers. I am very glad we got a table here before they all sold out’. Peter a Technologist from Philips Electronics Design Services, ‘It was a pleasure for me to join this conference, and I am looking forward to any other event you are organizing’. There was much more positive feedback, but I will end with the words of Tanya Martin, Executive Director of the SMTA and Co-organiser. ‘The event was made successful by a strong technical program with presentations from focused, industry experts, as well as an attendee base from some of the largest manufacturers in Europe. Mike Bixenman, Bob Willis and the rest of the technical team did a fantastic job. The partnership of SMTA and the SMART Group worked really well and created an environment that promoted the sharing of technology and facilitated personal connections, with more than a little fun too!

If you missed the conference you can still order the proceedings from the SMTA, using the link below:


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