Techspray’s TechLab offers state-of-the-art cleaning, coating and analytical services to help customers optimize their processes. Our cleaning equipment includes batch, ultrasonic, and vapor-degreasing systems. This equipment allows us to better duplicate your production environment for process optimization and troubleshooting, while ensuring compliance, safety and affordability. Depending on your needs, whether it be cleaning or identifying a problematic process or product, or to identify a product to assist your normal processes, our staff, equipment and expertise are here for you.
In our TechLab Analytical Facility, we can analyze incoming raw materials, outgoing finished materials or troubleshoot any kind of chemical problem our customers might be having.
Figure 1: FTIR (Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy)
Our FTIR (Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy) can actually give quite a detailed fingerprint of a chemical or a chemical blend. We use this as a final check on some of our blends and incoming materials to make sure that everything is exactly as it should be.
One of our most useful tools is our Gas Chromatographer (GC). The GC can separate out the components of volatile solvent mix. How they separate and are detected at the end of the process informs the exact chemical composition and quantity. We use the GC both to support customer’s analytical needs as well as to qualify our own solvent blends to make sure they are precise.
With the GC, we can identify unknown fluids and identify the molecular level component. Knowing what the molecule is and the atoms in it informs us about what the product does, how it’s supposed to accomplish it, and whether it is working properly.
Figure 2: Gas Chromatography Unit.
The GC and FTIR are critical devices to help us determine if there is a contaminant in a product. By identifying the specific molecular composition of the material we can see if there is a contaminant and at what level. For example, the FTIR can determine if silicone is a contaminant, as silicone will absorb IR at a specific wavelength.
Techspray makes volatile chemicals for various purposes, but we also make coatings ourselves. We check viscosity of a number of our products to ensure batches are formulated correctly.
We also have all the basic instruments one would expect for product assurance or to test customer specimens. Flow cups, densitometer, PH meters are essential complements. Moisture is a critical quality control feature, so for most of our solvents we use Karl Fischer Titrators to measure moisture content. That can be a critical test for any problematic solvent a customer may be encountering.
Contamination and Cleaning
The Techlab Analytical room is often just the first step for many products sent in by customers. One common issue that customers need assistance with is contamination. Specifically they need help to identify it, but also to remove it or to determine the best way to remove it. We use our equipment and expertise to lay out the ideal contamination removal procedure for their in-line processes.
For almost every soiled part that comes into the Techlab, vapor degreasing is the first and often times only step needed. Because of our unique process, we can set the times needed and the various solvent processes safely optimizing the cleansing process for customers. But for more mysterious contaminations, we analyze it first.
In addition, since most customers will need to clean their products during the manufacture process, they need us to qualify our solvent with their parts and potential contamination, that is to identify and ensure the best solvent for their application. The first question with a cleaning opportunity is what is the contamination and what is the substrate. It’s imperative we remove the contamination yet not adversely affect the parts or components.
Our Techlab is able to use our vapor degreaser to closely simulate a customer’s cleaning process. In this way we can set the sequence of cleaning and the time needed in the actual degreaser to be efficient, effective and safe when it comes to removing contamination back at the customers facility.
Vapor degreasers are a perfect solution to clean parts because you are always washing with pristine, clean solvent as it self-distills and self-purifies as part of the process.
Our protocol entails cooling the part by first putting it in the cold sump which is equipped with an ultrasonic. This cools the part and also mechanically removes the contamination. When that cycle is done, we remove the cold part and put it in the vapor zone. The vapor will condense on the part resulting in a pristine part.
If there is stubborn contamination, we run the part through multiple cycles, submerge in a sump with ultrasonics, or use a spray wand. Some soils may require mechanical cleaning in addition to the vapor degreasing.
Click here for more information on vapor degreasing.
Figure 3: The TechLab Vapor Degreasing Unit.
We also aim to be environmentally friendly and do a fair bit of water-based cleaning. Our batch cleaner here scales up in small quantities. We can work with one or two gallons with parts customers send in, then check the cleanliness and performance.
We make our own parts here, which is a great way to test cleaning processes on new substrate materials to match precise customer specifications. We can do printed circuit boards, with surface mounts and through holes. Once we make the test boards with the various fluxes we want to test, we bring it to our batch cleaner and run through our cycles with either neutral or alkaline cleaners.
Recently, we’ve identified some very good neutral cleaners in our batch cleaners. After those test cycles, we take them to other locations with inline cleaning and scale up further. That’s where we get to the 10 or 20 gallon range and clean a long run of boards. There we test the aging and how the entire process goes.
Click here for more information on water-based cleaning.
Figure 4: Aqueous Batch Cleaner.
Other Cleaning Processes
TechLab adapts to the component, the customer needs and the contamination as another method may be preferred or even required. We check discrete areas of the soiled part with brushes, swabs, or with wipes. We put together the best process for our customers. The cleaning process chemistry may not quite fit with the goals of the customer. We simulate the best process among all our services for the customers to find the best, most efficient process for them.
Click here for best practices for manual cleaning electronics.
We want to make sure that our conformal coatings are tested, applied, and developed on actual machines that the customers will use. To accomplish this, we use a lab-size PVA machine to test all our new conformal coatings, whether that is a silicone, urethane or acrylic-based, to make sure it operates as designed on the line. We also use the PVA to do larger series of panels for statistical or UL testing as well.
Figure 5: Conformal coating selective spray system
As the main purpose of conformal coating is to insulate the board so things don't ground out, we want to make sure that the board or the coating will insulate up to specifications. For example, to test up to 6,500 volts, we use a panel from UL 746E testing coated to the desired specified depth, hook it up to the machine with leads, and then we test it at incremental increases to test where it is susceptible. We start at 1,000 volts, and if we achieve 6,500 volts without a spark or breakthrough then we know we have a good product.
Manufacture Test Boards
Being focused on customer satisfaction and trust, we need to be able to test our products on substrates that they will be using, which means we need to test our products on printed circuit boards as close to what our customers have specified as possible. To achieve that, we manufacture our own printed circuit boards simply to test our products.
We have a lab-size reflow oven to apply surface mount components onto boards. We have particular boards and dummy components, and depending on our clients’ needs, we use a range of fluxes and solder pastes. We create the board with a variety of flux or solder pastes, then in the cleaning steps we can identify which of those fluxes or pastes a given solvent can efficiently remove.
Figure 6: Reflow oven to manufacture boards for testing.
Again, we are testing not only our product but the customers. If a customer is considering changing a process to include a new solder paste, then we get it, apply it to the boards per the instructions of their proposed process, and after making them we can test them. Since we manufacture our own dummy boards, we can also do destructive testing to identify critical flaws, especially what may be stuck beneath surface mount devices.
Free TechLab Qualification Testing
Contact Techspray for free TechLab qualification testing. We are available to help qualify new cleaning processes, evaluate current processes, or troubleshoot contamination issues. We can test actual production samples or use our specially designed cleanliness testing board.
The Techlab is used to develop new products for our own use, and to service and demonstrate our various products for both manufacture or cleaning, and to help you, our customers, optimize your processes for the changing technology landscape.
Let’s work together to optimize your cleaning & coating processes. For more information, contact your Techspray application specialist at 678-819-1408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.