Cleaners and Aerosols

  • The best presaturated wipes for circuit board cleaning

    If you’re familiar with the PCB stencil printing process, you know that it takes great care and precision. Stencil printing requires the use of three main materials: a stencil, solder paste and a printer. The solder paste is spread over the printer to establish electrical connections with the PCB. Sometimes a squeegee blade is used to apply the necessary force to spread the paste across the stencil and onto the PCB. In order to keep your printing process running smoothly, you need to clean your stencil, boards and tools regularly. While you can attempt to clean them by using your everyday household products, that might not be the best option.

    A man attempting to clean his boards before printing encountered this very issue. He asked, “What is the best solution for cleaning dust and debris from printed circuit boards? I currently use paper roll wipes, but upon inspection I still find particles on the boards.”

    Mike Jones, Vice President of MicroCare and a specialist in the field of electronics cleaning and stencil printing, encouraged everyone that experiences this type of issue to get rid of the cheap paper wipes and switch to a lint-free presaturated wipe. “Presaturated wipes are desirable because they remove operator errors from the wiping process,” Jones said. “Every wipe is exactly the same, and carries exactly the same amount of solvent, so the cleaning can be very consistent.”

    MicroCare MCC-MLCW

    That is why MicroCare developed the MCC-MLCW MultiTask Surface Cleaner Presaturated Wipes. This product works to remove solder paste, flux residues, finger prints, uncured epoxy residues, light oils and grease from your surfaces before printing. Like Jones recommended, these wipes are lint-free and also won’t rip during use. The packaging has a unique “slam shut” design that ensures a long service life.

    The Techspray 1608-100DSP IPA Presaturated Stencil Wipes are another great option for SMT surfaces. They can be used to remove all types of solder paste and other adhesives from screens, misprinted boards, stencils, tools and equipment. These wipes are comprised of 70%  Techspray 1608-100DSPIPA and 30% ionized water, and are also lint-free. They are safe to use on plastics, have a two-year shelf life, and are non-ozone depleting. Having a dependable cleaning wipe at your disposal is important to achieve the best printing results and ensure maximum production.

    Both of these products can be found right here on the GoKimco website at an affordable price with fast shipping. GoKimco is a proud supplier of many other MicroCare and Techspray products, so be sure to check them out!

  • The five parts of the MicroCare Circuit Board Cleaning Kit

    Who doesn’t love kits? For less money, you receive a variety of products that were specifically picked to work together. The MicroCare MCC-CBCSK Circuit Board Cleaning Station Kit is no different. In today’s blog, we’re going to dissect all five pieces included in this kit, and why they’re all essential pieces to add to your work space if you frequently clean circuit boards.

    1. MCC-ESD Trigger Grip Cleaning System

    This is the heart of this kit and the main focus piece. This system makes circuit board cleaning faster and produces less waste. The amount of cleaning fluid use is reduced by 66%, cleaning the board in seconds and thus producing a safer work environment while cutting cleaning costs. It is reusable and ESD-safe.

    MicroCare Trigger Grip Cleaning Kit

    1. MCC-SPR High Purity Flux Remover Cleaning Fluid

    The MicroCare kit also includes a clear liquid heavy duty flux remover that comes in a 12 oz. aerosol can. This nonflammable and ESD-safe liquid removes grease, acrylic conformal coatings and instant drying flux with low odor and no residues. Its compatibility with the Trigger Grip Cleaning System is why it’s included in the kit and a great flux remover for circuit boards.

    1. MCC-RBNB Natural Bristle, Short Nose Trigger Grip

    The short nose trigger grip with natural bristle is designed with a flow-restrictor to reduce solvent flow and is highly economical. The brush can be removed and replaced with a number of alternative brushes if desired.

    1. MCC-BK3 Bench Mount Kit

    The bench mount kit works to hold the aerosol can and trigger grip neatly at your workbench. It prevents any of the solvents from tipping or falling over, extending the life of the trigger grip and ensuring the aerosol can will empty completely.

    1. MCC-WF44 High-Performance Lint-Free Dry Wipes

    The last product included in this kit is a pack of 50 high purity, lint-free polyester wipes. The wipes are 4” x 4” and each one can typically be used between 10 and 20 times before disposal. You won’t find any glues, bleach or cellulose on these wipes, which means you won’t have to worry about it degrading end-faces. The chemical makeup of the wipes makes “wet-dry” cleaning fast, easy and consistent.

    One piece is good but all five pieces of this kit together are great. Click here to add it to your work space for a discounted price today. GoKimco is a proud seller of many MicroCare products, so be sure to check them out.MicroCare Trigger Grip Cleaning Kit

  • Why would you need canned air for circuit board assembly?

    Techspray 1671-10sIn 2008, a bowling alley employee was performing her everyday responsibilities.  A paper shredder needed cleaning and a can of compressed air seemed like the perfect tool to get the job done. However, this canned air did not have “nonflammable” in its label. The employee tilted the can and sprayed the liquid onto the shredder. The liquid turned into a gas which then ignited a fire, causing burn marks on her face.   Get more info on the incident from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries posting.

    The incident prompted the US Department of Labor to issue a hazard alert to those that use canned air and to list safety tips to avoid the risk of injury or death. Canned air is not the same as the air you breathe. It consists of compressed gases that if used in a poorly ventilated area, could ignite a fire, as in the case of the bowling alley employee.

    Don’t be alarmed, though. You can eliminate the reality of facing a situation such as this one simply by switching to a non-flammable air can. In fact, this is one of the US Department of Labor’s main safety tips. Now that you know this is the safer option for you, it’s time to choose which one to go with. The Techspray 1671-10S is a great nonflammable option. It’s odorless, leaves zero residues and has a ten-year shelf life. With this product, you can properly clean your electronics and keep them working longer.

    The Techspray air duster can be used to clean a wide number of surfaces and is especially useful for circuit board assembly. It is also safe to use on plastic materials. The air removes microscopic contaminants, lint, dust and metallic oxide deposits before they build up and cause overheating or shortages. Having this nonflammable canned air in your workspace will ensure the safety of you and your projects.

    To give you an idea of the versatility of this product, you can use the Techspray 1671-10S on:

    • Audio/Video Equipment
    • Computers and Other Electronic Equipment
    • Fax Machines
    • Laboratory Instruments
    • Photo Equipment
    • Printed Circuit Boards
    • Printers
    • Surface Mount Devices

    Lastly, since we’re on the topic of safety, here are some tips on how to properly use your Techspray product:

    • Hold the can in an upright position while spraying
    • Never tilt the can more than 40 degrees or shake before or during use
    • Before spraying, press actuator to clear the valve of any liquid product
    • You can use the extension tube to remove dust in tight areas
    • Use short bursts to prevent cooling of can

     

     

     

     

  • Is Water Harmful to Electronic Components?

    hose-spraying-waterMany experts in the electronics assembly world will cringe when they hear about a manufacturer hand-washing their boards with soap and (gasp!) water. The first point to bring up here is that boards should never need to be washed. This is a clear indication that you are somehow bringing dirt into the process, whether through alcohol, brushes, or something else the boards are coming in contact with.

    Know Your Water Grade

    There are three grades of water that you can use to clean the boards; tap water, distilled water, and deionized (DI) water. For this type of precision cleaning you should never use tap or distilled water, which themselves contain contaminants that can affect your boards. If you must clean your boards with water, the only choice is deionized water.

    Deionized water is measured by the water’s resistance to electric current. 50kOHM is standard and can be purchased easily and at a relatively low cost. 1 megaohm is really the minimum required for this type of precision cleaning. In high-precision manufacturing, such as semiconductors, 20 megaohms is the industry standard. Obviously cost and availability are both big factors. As you increase the pureness of your water, it also becomes more difficult to handle.

    One option is a sealed, closed-loop system which purifies the water, performs the cleaning task, and then recycles the water. However, this type of system is costly and can result in a slow through-put. Given these restrictions when using water in the cleaning process, more and more manufacturers are switching to cleaning with solvents. The ideal solvent is strong enough to remove the contamination, while still mild enough to not damage any components on the board.

    GoKimco has a complete line of solvents, ideal for finding this healthy balance for cleaning your boards.

  • Epoxy Bonding Problems on RoHS Boards

    epoxy bonding rohsIf you have seen problems with epoxy bonding components to RoHS circuit boards, you are not alone. This may be related to the surface energy of the board. Generally high surface energy is a good thing, while low surface energy is detrimental. The surface energy of the solder resist varies with the many types available. Oven curing the solder resist tends to lower the surface energy because the silicones are then forced to the surface during the curing process.

    It may be useful to perform a simple control test to investigate the surface energy of the boards. This can be done using dyne pens or a contact angle test. If you are using a dyne pen, 36 to 38 dynes is average. A no-clean, assembled board would be about 32 dynes, and you would not want to work with anything lower than this.

    To perform the contact angle test, measure the contact angle of a droplet to see how much the droplet beads up or wets out onto the surface. If when you perform the droplet test you find that the beads are quite round and do not wet this indicates low surface energy and poor bondability.

    From here you should conduct a suitable gas plasma treatment on some of the boards and see if this improves bondability and adhesion. You can bond actual parts to both the control and plasma treated boards to confirm any improvement in adhesion.

    If you are bonding to a metal surface, you should always first prep the surface with etch or alcohol. This will ensure the area is clean prior to any epoxy applications. GoKimco offers a complete lining of cleaning wipes to prep the area. Visit

    To find the best epoxy solution for your application shop GoKimco.

  • Why Would You Have to Clean a No-Clean Soldering Flux?

    no clean flux residueIt sounds like an oxy-moron but it is a common misconception that no-clean flux never needs to be cleaned. Many in the industry have experienced the conductive residue that can be left behind by no-clean flux. This residue can be extremely hard to remove, which becomes a big problem if you are working with sensitive boards. Because the no-clean fluxes are designed to not need to be cleaned they do not come off easily, which can be problematic.

    The amount of residue that is left on the board is dependent on several factors including the amount of solids-resins, gelling agents and activators contained in the flux. There is less flux residue left on the boards when the solids content is lower. Most of today’s no-clean flux contain between 50 and 70 percent solids.

    Despite all of this, no-clean remains the most widely used type of flux. Manufacturers are in the habit of running all of their boards with no-clean, and simply cleaning only those boards that require it.

    It may be tempting to not clean your dirty boards, simply because you are using a “no-clean” flux but this can have significant adverse effects down the road. In the past, assemblers saw problems arise with in-circuit testing on these un-cleaned boards. The residues from these no-clean fluxes also lead to malfunctions in circuits with clock speeds.

    acl staticideWhile in most cases not every board being soldered with no-clean flux will need this extra step, you do need to be on the lookout for the tell-tale residue left behind and clean these boards to prevent problems down the road. One great product for doing this is ACL Staticide 8623-12 No Clean Precision Flux Remover. This product can be purchased online at KIMCO Distribution https://gokimco.com/search?form_key=OhbYqHgT3MbeEp53&q=ACL+Staticide+8623-12+No+Clean+Precision+Flux+Remover.

  • Proper Tecniques for Printed Circuit Board Cleaning

    Proper Tecniques for Printed Circuit Board Cleaning

    Printed Circuit Boards are delicate pieces of electronics and it is important that they be cleaned and maintained properly. Though many may feel that dusting a PCB is sufficient for removing potentially harmful build up, there are a few different methods for removing sediment that can help extend the life and improve performance of a PCB.

    canned-airThe first and most common item used for cleaning PCBs is canned air. This highly compressed air is great for pinpointing dust and particulates without damaging or disturbing the rest of the circuit board in the process. Using a dust rag or other, harsher cleaning agent can dislodge connections and can cause major issues down the road. Rough or abrasive cleaning can break connections and damage the circuit board to the point of replacement.

    ACL StaticideThe next cleaning agents to consider are solvents. Sometimes dusting is simply not enough to remove particulates and other dust that is on a PCB. Solvents can help to remove large deposits like corrosion, rust, solids that have formed on the surface, and other issues that can damage and even stall the function of a PCB. When choosing a solvent it is always important to choose a product that has vapor rinse. This will help to remove all residue that is left after soldering.

    There are a few different ways that residues can be removed, the first is submersion of the PCB in the proper solvent. For soldering residue, water based submersions work best. It may also be sufficient to use air based cleaning to remove these harmful build up. For tougher residues using a solvent can help.

    Branson Ultrasonic CleanerUltrasonic cleaning can help to dislodge residue without much contact. The less users have to touch the PCB to remove residue the better. Extensive handling can cause damage without truly cleaning the PCB. Because these circuit boards are so small and delicate, it is important that precision is used to remove any dirt or other sediment. Taking the time to find the proper solvent for the issue at hand can save time and money in the long run and can insure a clean and well functioning PCB.

  • 10 Important Caveats When Cleaning PCBs

    PCB ImageWithout question printed circuit boards (PCBs) are extremely fragile pieces of equipment. To that end, cleaning them requires proper attention and care. Here are some mistakes to avoid when cleaning PCBs:

     

    1) Avoid using regular vacuums. In addition to possibly being too powerful (air-pressure wise), they may carry a charge that can be damaging in terms of ESD. Instead, use smaller units specifically designed for electronics.

    2) Use liquid detergents and water with extreme caution. Some delicate components (older crystals) may be irreparably damaged; this goes for things like labels.

    3) Use heat to dry "washed boards" only in controlled amounts. The use of an oven, for example, may be okay, as long as low heat is used and the oven is turned off when the board is put in it.

    4) Let only those persons who know what they are doing clean PCBs. This is not something to delegate to just anyone.

    5) Read up on the dos and don’ts of PCB cleaning before attempting it.

    6) Don’t be afraid to clean up sticky grime, paint, solder flux, etc. These types of debris can impair function in the long run.

    7) Corrosion (especially from battery acid) should always be cleaned up. Not doing so risks undergoing continuous damage.

    8) Take proper ESD precautions. Some people forget that ESD is still an issue when cleaning PCBs.

    9) Avail yourself of the latest products and services. Some of them may save you money and time.

    10) Don’t forget to remove any components (even if it involves de-soldering something) that may hamper the cleaning process.MicroCare mcc-frc flux cleaner

    Conclusion

     

    PCBs, like everything else, do get dirty. While cleaning them can be risky (if damage is brought about), not cleaning PCBs also carries risks, especially if performance is in question, damage has already occurred (for which debris may be blamed), or debris can clearly be seen with the naked eye.

     

    Cleaning a PCB can be safely, conveniently and efficiently done, if you follow strict protocols and take all the necessary precautions.

  • Safely Cleaning PCBs -- Most Important Considerations

    Cleaning printed circuit boards is always fraught with some risk; consequently, you need to weigh the need for such cleaning with the possibility of damaging the board. Naturally, if you suspect that the messiness of the PCB may be the reason behind or may lead to malfunction, then, by all means, clean away.

    If you must clean a PCB, then you need to follow certain precautions. Other considerations that should apply include:

    • What type of debris are you dealing with?

    The easiest PCB debris to get rid of is, of course, free-flowing dust—especially if you remove socketed components from the board before proceeding. Dust and particles can easily be removed with pressured air (preferably from a low-power vacuum cleaner) and a gentle brush. Grime, on the other hand, presents a more serious, albeit manageable problem. Removal thereof (especially if wax or oil is involved) may require some scrubbing and, possibly, the use of water and liquid cleaners.

    • Does the board have components that may be especially vulnerable to liquids?

    Things like cardboard-contained components, carbon film/open-frame potentiometers and older-version, water-vulnerable crystals may be especially vulnerable to liquids (including water); that goes for paper stickers. Some such items might be de-soldered/removed to make the cleaning process more feasible/easier. By all means, properly dry out the board after such cleanings—possibly with the use of the oven set at a low temperature (i.e., 170 degrees).

    • Should you consider using professional cleaning supplies, equipment and techniques?

    In addition to special cleaning agents (i.e., “Brasso”), there are special techniques/services that you can employ, including media blasting, ultrasonic cleaning, and media tumbling. You can also hire people who specialize in such services or avail yourself of the literature on PCB cleaning fundamentals.

    Conclusion:

    Dealing with unclean PCBs is not just a matter of aesthetics. Debris and gunk in PCBs can hamper performance and, in the long run, lead to malfunction. By following strict protocols and cleaning PCBs only when absolutely necessary, though, you can avoid unnecessary, possibly expensive trouble.

    If the board is tainted with left-over solder flux, then you may use either flux remover or rubbing or anhydrous alcohol, making sure to dry the surface with lint-free towels/tissueThinkingEngineer

  • Why Compressed Air Dusters make electronic repairs easy and help maintain circuit boards

    As anyone who has ever looked inside electronics devices knows, they collect dust and fuzz like nobody's business. Technicians can tell you that first, electronics in use in virtually any environment from the home to the office are constantly exposed to dust (and, in the home environment, pet hair) and that secondly, the electrostatic charge that any electronics device generates attracts dust like a magnet does iron filings. It doesn't matter if the electronics device is a TV, home entertainment system component or computer, if its been in use any length of time, it'll have dust inside.ES1017

    The first thing a tech will do is use a product like Chemtronics ES1017 Duster to blow out the dust. Believe it or not, clearing the dust out of a system may actually repair a problem as some dust particles can be electrical conductors, making bad circuit connections and causing issues. Also, clearing the dust and debris out of a system with compressed air enables the technician to work in a clean environment which, in the case of computers that haven't seen a lot of maintenance can be very dirty indeed.

    In those cases, using a product like Chemtronics ES1024 Typhoon Blast Duster or Chemtronics ES1020 Ultrajet Duster with a heavier compressed air spray can make a huge difference. Dust not only can cake over chips and other components but can work its way under components and boards as well. With the higher pressure, that dust can be blown out where using a normal compressed air spray will require several tries to do it or won't do the job at all. Some dust "infestations" can actually leave a layer of fuzz on a circuit board that can literally be peeled away in a sheet before any duster can be used and in severe cases like these, having a high pressure duster is imperative.

    In normal situations, especially when a technician is doing maintenance runs, having an inexpensive duster like Chemtronics ES1217 Economy Duster is the best tool he'll have in his kit. Doing maintenance runs in an office environment is one of those necessary evils that may be boring to do, but saves time and money since keeping computers well-maintained is much easier than trying to repair them later and having a good supply of compressed air makes life a lot easier for a technician as well.

    When working on electronics, dust and debris is an unavoidable issue that any technician can tell you is simply part of the job. With compressed air to blow the dust and junk out of the device, not only can the technician get to work on the problem, using compressed air to maintain a system can actually keep problems from happening in the first place.

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