Structural Integrity and Reliability in Electronics – Enhancing Performance in a Lead-Free Enviro... Print E-mail
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Monday, 26 January 2004 19:00

ImageW.J Plumbridge, R.J. Matela and Angus Westwater
Published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004

The publishers should have picked up on the first thing that striked me: the title is not ideal. Sales would have been higher when the book hit the streets if "lead free" was in the main title.

The book is divided up into 17 chapters with 400 pages and is well illustrated with diagrams and photographs. The chapters cover three main topics: materials, components and assembly, as well as what is referred to as the Designers Perspective—material that can be used to understand and predict product life expectancy.

Chapter 1 describes the manufacturing process and the evolution of the different types of printed board assembly. It then leads into the reasons behind the change from the well-known tin/lead solders into the new age of lead-free soldering. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on material properties and the way they react under different mechanical strain. The next section relates directly to micro solder joints and how mechanical testing can be used to understand and predict the properties of the joints. The diagram from Instron on the different methods of testing microelectronics really causes readers to realize the breadth of the subject.

The next two chapters examine the testing of bulk solder and actual solder joints, providing a comparison of the information that can be gained. These pages highlight the difficultly of taking data for bulk materials and relating it directly with micro joints. Solder joint sections illustrate the changes in structure that can occur using different testing, although more micro structure images might help the reader better understand metallurgy issues.

Chapters 7, 8 and 9 take readers through component manufacture, assembly and failure analysis. Understanding the construction of parts makes the failure types easier to understand. Knowledge of the construction of components also shows why poor assembly control can lead to intermittent or complete failure. One of the authors used drawings, photographs and x-ray images to show part construction of components. The failure analysis section illustrates the most common problems associated with the assembly process and is well illustrated. The techniques used to examine parts and examples of actual failures are provided for the reader to reference.

The last section looks at the methodology of prediction and the different ways in which data can be presented and interpreted. The key issue is that it all depends on the quality of the data.  The Open University has been working in the area of lead-free material characterisation for the last few years and has considerable data that allows them to work with predictive tools.

The book is an informative read and well worth the investment. The authors will be presenting a workshop on lead-free reliability with the SMART Group in March. The event will provide an opportunity to have a copy of the book signed by the authors.

Kluwer also has a number of other titles that engineers should check out, including an area array handbook written by two IBM engineers and the new title by John Blade on multi-chip modules. Check the publisher's website for other useful titles.


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