Titanium soldering mask technology for complex selective soldering at SMT

Since 1998, Eutect GmbH has produced customized soldering masks in its in-house manufacture. Due to continuously progressing miniaturization and that fact that soldering is performed directly in plastic housings, soldering masks are becoming increasingly more complex in order to guarantee a good soldering end result. Aside from process evaluations, the company’s in-house technical department supports the development of possible mask and solder nozzle designs and the functions of these in order to provide the end customer with a complete solution from Eutect.

“In selective soldering or respectively soldering using miniwave and mask technique, the customer can only achieve true process stability and benefits if the solder nozzle was designed and manufactured in relation to the mask and, as a result, their joint function is ensured,” as Matthias Fehrenbach, Managing Director of Eutect GmbH explains. Increasingly complex components – be it due to miniaturization or due to difficult to access and sensitive geometries – require new solutions, which Eutect has designed and successfully installed in product lines over the past 20 years.

“For specialist solder nozzle/mask combinations, the use of composite materials has its limitations.
For example, if printed circuit boards are already installed in housings, lower-side SMD components are arranged very close to the housing and the THT solder joints to be soldered, the walls, spacer webs and connections must be very thin. Nevertheless, the metal webs must be stable in the long term, which is why we manufacture all masks from titanium,” Fehrenbach states.

Titanium is a reliable material, especially for web widths of far less than 1 mm and for the required long service life. Its high strength permits the manufacture of web widths of less than 0.5. But titanium offers even more benefits. The metal is very durable and resistant to flux, aggressive cleaning substrates and other chemical influencing factors. “As the temperatures reached in our soldering processes are very high, and due to the high process throughputs at our customers, we manufacture our soldering masks as full titanium masks,” as Fehrenbach continues to explain.

Sometimes, the masks are even equipped with functions. “If components or connectors must be aligned or secured, we provide the mask with specific catch geometries or fixation systems so that all components stay in the desired position. The transport of the mask can thus be executed using a workpiece carrier on an inline system,” as Fehrenbach points out. The mask geometry, hold-down devices, alignment elements and sliders are defined during the evaluation and project development. In the process, the fixation system comprising spring and latching elements guarantees a high functionality. Effortless loading and unloading of the masks is also ensured.

All masks from Eutect are produced in the company’s in-house CNC production. The end customer thus receives the automated soldering process and the mask technology from one supplier. Apart from significant time savings and short communication channels during the development, any rework on the mask can be implemented quickly and uncritically in terms of time after the first few test runs. “Ultimately, we adapt the mask to the customer requirements. As we are involved in the project from the very beginning, any adaptation is merely a formality. Thanks to this close cooperation, we can increase the number of produced masks every year,” Fehrenbach comments.

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

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