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Nortech Systems Counts on the ezLOAD Board Support System to Reduce Changeover and Increase Revenues

Posted by Z.Shook on 3/24/2014 to Articles and Awards

Based in Wayzata, MN, Nortech Systems Inc. is a full-service electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider of wire and cable assemblies, printed circuit board assemblies (PCBA) and higher-level complete box build assemblies for a wide range of industries. Markets served include industrial equipment, aerospace/defense and medical. The company’s expertise includes medical device, industrial equipment, military/aerospace, machine vision, EMS contract manufacturing and wire & cable assembly solutions. Additionally, the company has a wide range of specialized, high-tech facilities used for the customized design, manufacture, testing and repair of its contract manufacturing solutions and cable assembly operations.

Over the years, the company has realized that circuit board designs have continued to become smaller and more densely populated. These designs use many fine-pitch components on both sides of the circuit. With these changes have come challenges in achieving adequate solder transfer during the screen printing process. After analyzing the process, Nortech Systems discovered that one of the biggest difficulties was providing adequate support for double-sided boards.

“We began to notice a growing failure trend related to the printing process. Solder bridging, solder voiding and inconsistent printing causing line stoppages prompted us to start looking at our options for achieving consistent and efficient printing,” said Michael Fritz, Maintenance Technician at Nortech Systems. “Several of the options that were tested came with new challenges, including increased setup times and rubber tooling tips that would wear out and cause component damage. We also tried reducing array sizes to reduce the need for boards; however, this option can increase board costs and reduce throughput.”

To combat these issues, the company looked to Count On Tools for its ezLOAD universal board supports.

Fritz confided that he was fairly skeptical that the flexible fingers would be adequate when printed double-sided boards. As a result, Nortech Systems requested a demo and tested it out in the following applications:

  • 150-piece production run of a 14-up assembly array (7 x 2) with 10 mil BGA apertures. This test resulted in zero defects on the BGA. This was great news and the customer was pleased with the increased quality of its product.
  • 100-piece production run of a 6-up assembly array (6 x 1) with extensive routing and S0-8 package components located at the edges of the circuit that were known to produce solder bridging. The test run was completed with zero defects on the S0-8 components.

Not only did the company reduce or even eliminate defects, it also decreased the amount of changeover time with the ease that the ezLOAD printed circuit board (PCB) support system provides. Nortech Systems has now tested the board support system on four different assemblies known to have solder voids and solder bridging and has achieved great results each time.

Count On Tools’ ezLOAD PCB support system not only reduces changeover times, but improves product build quality, increases revenues by providing significant cost savings, and can eliminate component damage during the assembly process.

The ezLOAD system features a modular universal design with only two parts: the support pad and the base. There are no mechanical functions to fail and it requires no air, electronics or communication from the user. The support pads feature ESD-safe active grip technology to securely hold boards during the assembly process. The support pads are capable of supporting densely populated, double-sided boards. The ezLOAD support pads are extremely durable because of the soft, flexible design, and are proven to be reliable after testing in the most hazardous conditions. Additionally, the ezLOAD base is precision machined from aircraft grade aluminum alloys to provide a strong and reliable support for boards. The magnetic locking base enables a quick, easy installation in the user’s machine. Other base designs are available for machines that feature non-magnetic tables.

Most importantly, the ezLOAD PCB Support System is affordable compared to competitive products on the market. Each component can be replaced or upgraded based on the customer’s specific product, equipment or application. The ezLOAD PCB Support System is simple to use: Simply place the unit on the equipment’s board support table and align as required. Multiple units can be arranged in rows (X & Y) for more support on larger boards. The ezLOAD PCB Support System is compatible with any SMT equipment, from pick-and-place to chipshooters, screen printers, dispensers, AOI and more. The ezLOAD system can be customized depending on machine requirements, specialized components or specific design application requirements.

“With the ezLOAD system, we continue to notice a significant reduction in defects on component issues including micro BGAs, fine-pitch ICs and leadless components,” added Fritz.

 For more information about Nortech Systems, contact Michael Fritz at 1120 Wayzata Blvd. East, Suite 201; Wayzata, MN 55391; 952-345-2244; Web site: www.nortechsys.com.