Case Study: Seagate Technology qualifies Asscon Vapor Phase Reflow - A-Tek Systems Group Case Study

July 31, 2013 -- Longmont, CO -- Seagate Technology is a leading provider of hard drives and storage solutions. Founded in 1979, Seagate employees 50,000 people worldwide and is one of Longmont Colorado’s largest employers. The Longmont operation includes a small prototype design center providing manufacturing services to Seagate engineering teams , and is an integral part in process of taking a product from development to product launch.

Building printed circuit boards (PCBs) in the lab is a labor intensive manual process. Solder paste is first printed on contact pads where the surface mount components are to be placed. Electrical connection is made once the board passes through a solder reflow process. Seagate was using a
standard tabletop rework/reflow station for this application. On average, the Seagate lab builds ten circuit boards a day.  The rework/reflow station is only able to reflow one circuit board assembly at a time and assembling ten boards tied up laboratory production resources for a full day.

A-Tek Systems Group introduced vapor phase reflow to Seagate in May of 2012. Vapor phase soldering uses condensation of a high boiling point inert liquid to heat the assemblies. Using vapor as the heat transfer medium brings the solder product to peak temperature homogeneously, regardless of size, shape, weight, or component mix. Vapor Phase eliminates overheating of the assemblies, damage to components, or delamination of the parts, because the maximum solder temperature can never exceed the boiling point of the medium.

Another advantage is that the high vapor density medium displaces oxygen from the soldering zone, eliminating oxide corrosion of the parts.

The unit that A-Tek installed is an Asscon VP450 vapor phase reflow oven, a self-contained system with electronic controls and sensors for monitoring the heaters, fluid, and temperatures to ensure process reliability. Real estate space is a premium at the Seagate laboratory and the small footprint of the VP450 takes up half the space (2' x 2.5') of the rework/ reflow station. The
VP450 proved to be an ideal instrument for this application.

Today all parts are assembled in the morning and moved to the reflow station. Each assembly is approximately 3" x 5". The work piece carrier in the VP450 is 18" x 18"and can accommodate up to six assemblies, increasing throughput efficiency by more than 200%.

The outcome of this upgrade is that circuit boards are now assembled and reflowed in less than four hours.  The efficiency gains have freed up resources that can be allocated for other value-add tasks such as X-Ray inspection, test and rework. The additional capacity also allows the lab to accept additional work orders from other engineering groups, increasing the profitability of the lab.  

A-Tek Systems Group is a national distribution company headquartered in Longmont, CO.
We deliver customer value to PCB manufacturing clients by supplying and supporting the finest assembly equipment and tools, including - (Asscon) vapor phase reflow, (Kolb) PCB and stencil cleaning, (Ebso) selective soldering, and (Getech) back-end automation cells.

For more information, please contact A-Tek Systems Group at 970-532-5100

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