When it comes to the soldering of printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs), an inert environment is key
Soldering—with molten tin, copper, or silver alloys—is the primary method by which components are joined to a printed circuit board (PCB). When soldering takes place in ambient air, these metals are subject to oxidation. And oxidation results in soldering defects. To mitigate this, nitrogen gas may be plumbed up and around the soldering device’s nozzle, so that when it makes contact with the PCB, it does so in an inert atmosphere. But when a company stores liquid nitrogen onsite, it’s faced with issues of space, cost, and safety.
This is why, in 2019, PRIDE Industries purchased the Mikropor MNG-US-450 Nitrogen Generator—a decision that continues to prove sound.
Alleviating issues of space, cost, and safety
“Now there’s never a safety concern from a liquid nitrogen tank rupture,” said Andrew Williams, Engineering Manager for PRIDE Industries. “There’s not enough highly compressed stored nitrogen inside the building for this to happen.”
The MNG-US-450 is one of a series of nitrogen generators manufactured by Mikropor. According to this leader in atmospheric air filtration solutions, the MNG-US series generators employ a carbon molecular sieve (CMS) to “absorb oxygen and water vapor molecules under certain pressure while allowing nitrogen to pass through.”
Not only has this machine boosted safety and saved space, it’s also saved money. “Before the [nitrogen] generator, we had our nitrogen tanks refilled at a cost of $1,500 per month,” said Williams. “The amortized cost of the generator comes out to between $800 and $900 in monthly savings—immediately.”
Endless nitrogen supply
The generator’s on-site presence translates to an endless nitrogen supply—which, aside from eliminating the need for monthly refills, also puts an end to occasional emergency refills. “If, say, we used a ton of nitrogen more quickly than usual, we’d have to get a very expensive emergency delivery,” said Williams. “Now, we just continually make our own.”
The Mikropor MNG-US series boasts several features, including:
- Simple structure, compact design, and fully automated operation.
- The ability to replace manifold usage.
- A touch screen PLC for controlling the complete system.
- PLC screen/s for monitoring and visualizing the progress.
- A rapid start-up and safety system.
- Superior silencer design, providing low noise levels during depressurization and purge.
- Durable piston valves for long-life operation.
- On-demand production and low cost.
- Consistent high performance.
- Minimum maintenance cost. (*Replace filter element periodically only and service your compressor as normal.)
“Securing the Mikropor Nitrogen Generator has given us a consistent supply of high purity ‘Five 9s’ Nitrogen—99.999% pure, as demanded by the EMS industry,” said Williams. “This greatly reduces the associated costs and risks of using liquid nitrogen dewars.”
Cost savings and defect-free solder joints
“It boosts our customers’ confidence,” said Mike Douglas, General Manager of Electronic Manufacturing Services for PRIDE Industries. “These are extremely complex PCBA designs being processed through our selective soldering equipment—of the highest quality—which converts to great customer satisfaction.”