Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services


Water-based cleaners for electronic assemblies

26 February 2021 Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services

The purpose of cleaning, specifically within the rapidly expanding electronics industry, is essentially to improve product lifetime by ensuring good surface resistance and by preventing current leakage leading to PCB failure. This developing market sees modern and future electronics becoming smaller and smaller, and the requirement for high performance and reliability is stronger than ever. In order to achieve good insulation resistance and ensure adequate adhesion of conformal coatings and encapsulation resins, the cleanliness of the electronic assemblies is essential, points out Electrolube.

Water-based cleaners were also developed to replace ozone depleting chemicals as well as offering a solution to reduce solvent emissions. Water-based cleaning has several advantages over solvent-based cleaners, including non-flammable properties, low odour, low/non-VOC and very low toxicity.

There are many applications for cleaning, all of which depend on the type of equipment available. Whether it be ultrasonic, spray under immersion or dishwasher-type application, identifying the correct water-based cleaner for the specific job is essential.

Water-based cleaners tend to be much more complex than their solvent-based counterparts. They utilise surfactant technology to assist the removal of contaminants from a PCB by reducing the interfacial tensions and suspending or emulsifying them in solution. Alternatively, water-based flux removers work by saponification, neutralising the flux acids. The only major disadvantage of water-based cleaners is that they require multiple stages to complete the cleaning process, including a two-stage rinse process and a final drying stage.

Finally, there is also a newer type of surfactant-free, water-based cleaner. Based on glycols, these cleaners combine the advantages of water-based and solvent-based cleaners with only minimal rinsing required.


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