Eutect introduces the laser knife as alternative to thermode soldering at SMT

Thermode soldering, also referred to as hot bar soldering, permits optimal results when soldering flexible foils, cable strands and ribbon cables. This soldering technique achieves high quality results and an excellent reproducibility. However, thermode soldering has its limitations as far as energy efficiency and process speed are concerned. This has prompted Eutect GmbH to present the laser knife, which takes soldering of flexible foils, cable strands and ribbon cables to a new level.

Eutect successfully offers the thermode soldering technology as machine TL XS 800 and as individual module. The TL thermode soldering module provides customers with a controlled and adaptive soldering process including process data recording. “In some aspects, however, the thermode comes with certain technical restrictions,” as Matthias Fehrenbach, Managing Director of Eutect GmbH, points out. As it involves three process phases – scanning, fusing, refilling – plus cooling at the end, thermode soldering is not one of the fastest soldering processes. Add to this a high energy requirement as well as product-specific thermode moulds that must be produced depending on the component.

“These reasons prompted us to look for a new solution that would help avoid these limitations,” as Fehrenbach describes the reasons for the development. The result was the design of the laser knife, which has the same process target as thermode soldering. The laser knife consists of a path-controlled hold-down device that joins the two surfaces to be soldered in a defined manner, and a laser, which is also built in the current laser solder modules from Eutect. The temperature input is thus implemented contactless via the laser beam. The temperature-controlled laser is equipped with an integrated pyrometer and a camera, guaranteeing maximum process stability, quality and traceability for the user.

“The laser has enabled us to accelerate the soldering process massively without compromising reproducibility and quality of the result. Depending on the component, the laser knife is 10x faster than the current thermode. In addition, we have achieved a 70% reduction of the energy requirement,” Fehrenbach states. As an additional plus, no product-specific thermode moulds and Kapton tapes are required. “Moreover, due to its technical possibilities, the thermode has limitations as far as geometry sizes are concerned. When using the laser knife, these limitations will no longer be relevant,” Fehrenbach emphasizes. As soldering of the surfaces is contactless and thermode wear is no longer an issue, the maintenance and service effort for the entire module will also be reduced.

Nevertheless, Fehrenbach makes it clear that both technologies are still relevant: “The laser knife will not make thermode soldering obsolete.” Due to the laser technology used, the laser knife technology is more expensive than current thermodes. “The laser knife only presents a feasible option for those customers that require a faster, reproducible, more energy-efficient soldering process of SMD contacts, flexible foils, cable strands and ribbon cables, or where complex or very small geometries are to be soldered,” as Fehrenbach explains. Nevertheless, the further development of the thermode soldering module has not been stopped and, by the beginning of the third quarter 2018, a new, more compact, more accurate and optionally by 50% faster thermode soldering module will be available that will additionally offer customers new process options with new functions.

Eutect will present their Laser Knife technology at the SMT 2018 hall 4, stand 131.

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