Cleaners and Aerosols

  • 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 http://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.

  • Using Compressed Air to trouble shoot circuit boards : Freeze Sprays

    Chemtronics_ES1052_FreezeSprayAll too often, troubleshooting a problem with a computer or other device that uses printed circuit boards turns into a long, drawn-out process. That's because figuring out exactly which board in the computer, printer, rack unit or whatever electronic device you're working on isn't always a cut and dried process. While shotgunning the problem by swapping boards out at random until the problem goes away may work, if the problem is a heat related issue in a chip, the problem could easily mask itself, letting the technician think the problem is fixed, only to have it crop up again later. Nobody hates having to come back to a service call or a repair more than the technician.

    One way to track down heat related problems, whether it be a circuit that is broken as components expand because of the heat or a chip that overheats and fails is to use freeze spray. Freeze sprays allows the technician to lower the temperature of different circuit boards, hopefully temporarily correcting the problem and allowing the tech to troubleshoot the system without shutting down and swapping boards. As too many techs know, doing that is too often counterproductive.

    However, you can't simply use some type of compressed air to cool boards. While flipping some aerosols and using the propellant as a cooling agent may work, you may actually cause more damage because of moisture and corrosive chemicals contained in the propellant. Freeze sprays like Chemtronics ES1052 Freeze Spray are designed to be safe for both boards and components and are designed to be used in "live" environments to help troubleshoot problems.

    Furthermore, using a freeze spray like Chemtronics ES1051 ESD-Safe Freez-It Freeze Spray are designed to be used in areas where electro-static dispersal is essential for circuit board protection. Anyone who works with computers and other sensitive electronics knows full well the damage static electricity can do and using a type of spray that causes static electricity can cause far more problems than it solves.

    Having the right tool for the job can be as simple as using something to cool down an overheated circuit to eliminate the issue once and for all. With a great freeze spray, a tech can track down the problem, replace the bad circuit board and have the repair completed within minutes instead of the hours it could take to troubleshoot the problem by shotgunning. Not only is freeze spray very effective when it comes to troubleshooting, its a very cost effective alternative to shotgunning a problem as well. If you're a tech or someone who has to troubleshoot printed circuit boards, having freeze spray on hand can save you a lot of time and a lot of money as well.ThinkingEngineer

  • How does a flux cleaner not leave a residue?

    Flux Cleaner

    When it comes to electronics, making a good connection is beyond important. If any electronic devices is going to work, the connections between components has to be essentially flawless. Of course, we use solder to affix components to a printed circuit board, but to make the best connections possible, solder flux has to be included in the mix to ensure solder flows evenly around the components and the connection. While using rosin core solder is the most common type of flux used, those who use solid core solder and separate flux from a container has to be taken into consideration as well since many automated soldering systems use this method. This leaves a clean-up job for a flux remover after the soldering has been completed.

    Leaving excess flux on a circuit board after assembly presents both manufacturers, technicians and hobbyists with issues. First and foremost, the brown residue simply looks unprofessional, even though once a circuit board is in place, no one should see it again. Secondly, and most importantly, excess flux can cause short circuits and be responsible for intermittent connections that are difficult to troubleshoot.

    That's where flux cleaners like Chemtronics ES1035, ES1631, ES1697 and others come into play. These cleaners are designed to dissolve and remove flux deposits left on circuit boards and components after soldering has been completed. Depending on the type of flux remover used, the resulting residue can either be rinsed off, wiped off or brushed off to leave a clean, flux-free surface. After the process is complete, the board is free from flux residue as well as any chemical residue from the cleaner as well.

    This means you don't have to be concerned about bad connections, intermittent shorts or hard shorts caused by flux build-up. The process is quick, easy to do and cost effective as cleaning a board costs only a few cents compared to the troubleshooting time it would take to do a repair. Electronics manufactures realize the importance of flux cleaners as a part of the manufacturing process. If you're a technician or a hobbyist, you'll want to have a can of flux remover in your kit, ready to clean up after your solder jobs as well.

  • Keep Your Areas Safe With ESD Chemicals And Dispensers

    There are many reasons why you will want to have different types of ESD chemicals and dispensers within easy reach. For anyone who works with electrical components they chemicals can be used in many instances from protecting parts, cleaning workspace, creating ESD safe tools, and protection from injury.

    Any work are, from the industrial setting to the home hobbyist, needs to have a good selection of ESD chemicals and dispensers to perform many different activities. For example, the 3M 8001 ESD-Safe Surface Mat and Surface Cleaner is great for removing dirt, grime and stains from all types of static control surfaces while also keeping the ESD properties in place. The R&R SBC-16-ESD Static Dissipative Spray Bottle has an average surface resistivity of 10^9 to 10^10 Ohms/sq. and will dissipate a static charge of +/- 5000V in less than 2 seconds.

    Working with computers, tablets, and other electrical devices to help with readings and calculations also need to be protected with different ESD safe products. By simply keeping your keyboard clean with a cleaner can help to dissipate static buildup while also keeping your tools and equipment clean.

    Kimco carries a wide selection of ESD chemicals and dispensers which can be used throughout your assembly plant of in different areas of your laboratory. They range from small individual dispensers to larger work space bottles which cover a wider area. Our prices are competitive with any other supply company and we ship out quickly. Take some time to check out the online catalog at Kimco to find the right product for your project or workspace.

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