Real Time with…SMTAI 2020: KYZEN on How Maximized Stencil Life Improves Yields
KYZEN Executive Vice President Tom Forsythe shares company updates on stencil cleaning with Nolan Johnson. KYZEN recently announced its newest stencil cleaning product—KYZEN E5631. Forsythe details how the product is best used, as well as the benefits it brings to maximizing stencil life and improving manufacturing yields.
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Nolan Johnson: Hi. Nolan Johnson here, virtually doing a video interview for Real Time with…SMTAI. And I’m talking virtually with Tom Forsythe from KYZEN. Tom, glad to have you here.
Tom Forsythe: Good to be here. Thank you so much.
Johnson: We’re here in the virtual ether sense, but we’re still talking about supporting a show. We’re talking about supporting SMTAI and some of the work that KYZEN has been doing and announcing during the show. What do you have on stage for everybody?
Forsythe: Of course, KYZEN is the cleaning people, cleaning materials for the electronics industry. And we have a broad range of materials. Last year, we introduced our Aquanox 4727. That’s going very well in the marketplace. This year, we’re talking about a new stencil cleaning product because stencil cleaning touches all the users in the industry. Everybody who’s doing assemblies, at some point, whether they’re doing it with a handkerchief or a more sophisticated process, has to clean up their stencils, so they get a good print. The old adage that I don’t know that anybody has ever proven, but no one has denied that well over 50% of the problems in assembly all go back to the printer, which comes back to the print and often lays at the foot of that whole print-stencil interface.
Johnson: That’s a pretty critical place to be then.
Forsythe: Absolutely. It’s not someplace that everyone focuses on. Stencil cleaning is whatever is worse than being a redheaded stepchild—I think maybe the cousin of a redheaded stepchild, or something like that. And that’s why a lot of the products that are used in that space are decades old. It’s not uncommon for that because there hasn’t been a lot of scrutiny. We’ve done a lot of research over the last number of years, digging into this, constantly moving the ball. And our new product, KYZEN E5631 really answers the mail on that from economics, health and safety, as well as utility, being able to be used under the screen on the printer and offline, and a stencil cleaner for that more periodic robust cleaning.
Johnson: For those who aren’t that familiar with stencil cleaning and the process, walk us through how you use the product and where it hits.
Forsythe: There are really two different ways that stencil cleaning happens. The easier way, or the least impactful way, is on the printer itself. Most of the medium- to high-end printers now come with a cleaning mechanism on it. That mechanism usually has three potential capabilities. There’s the under-screen roll, the little wiper thing that people are familiar with. There’s often a vacuum assist that sometimes is used, or not, to help kind of vacuum off the material. And there’s the solvent—some kind of solvent—that goes on there that actually does the cleaning part because we all know solder paste isn’t exactly like crumbs on the kitchen table.
Solder paste is gooey and has a lot of viscousness to it, and if you’re just pushing it around with a dry towel, that’s going to cause a problem downstream. You use that solvent material or aqueous material, in this case, to wipe that off—to get it off—and then you wipe it with the towel. That’s the one that many people are familiar with—that onscreen thing. And people do that every so many cycles or prints. The spaceship people do it after every print or darn near. And obviously, if they’re making consumer products, it’s after a whole lot of prints, and that’s more of kind of a local decision.
The other mode that stencil cleaning happens in is the periodic cleaning where that wiping and whatnot is all well and good. But after a while, you need to kind of do heavy-duty cleaning, get into the crevices and corners very effectively. Stencils get swapped out with little or no downtime doing that. And we take that stencil and put it into an offline stencil cleaning machine. A number of people make those. We’re not in the equipment business; we don’t do that.
Our material goes into the machine, and then you have a normal wash, rinse, and dry. Typically, it’s in a one chamber type of thing. It’s not conveyorized or anything like that. But they’re often designed and purpose-built for it. The stencils are roundabout three-foot squared—not quite—but only a couple inches thick. Stencil cleaners often look like toasters in that they have slots on the side or on top or skinny doors that the stencils just slide in, the door closes, and it runs its process.
One of the advantages of the E5631 is that it’s designed to be used in both of those applications. It can be used under the screen or in the offline stencil cleaning at economical concentrations—anywhere from 10 to 25%. It depends on the soil you’re cleaning, and—in some cases—how long it has been. If you’ve left it on the printer for 1,000 cycles, which is a vast overstatement, it might take a little longer to clean, and it might take a slightly higher concentrate.
Johnson: Is there an advantage to using one cleaning solution in both applications?
Forsythe: It’s just simplicity. If I’m cleaning stencils, I’m using product A, or in our case, product E5631, rather than having two different materials with two different stock numbers, two different things to run out of, and two different things that can—if somebody’s new—mix up and put the wrong one in the wrong machine. Most quality shops wouldn’t encounter any of those problems, but eliminating the potential for them is a fundamental positive.
Johnson: Product available as of?
Forsythe: The product is in the market now. It was introduced in the fall, I believe. We are in the fall. It’s the pandemic. I can’t even remember what time of year it is. My goodness.
Johnson: It’s true of us all.
Forsythe: It was introduced a bit earlier this year, and it is available. It has been in field trials and that sort of stuff for an extended period of time, but it has only been in common routine availability for the last few months. And we’re having some good success with it. We’re really excited about it.
Johnson: Great. Early customer feedback?
Forsythe: It has been very positive. They like the simplicity. They like the effectiveness and the fact that it’s a newer product, so things like health and safety and all that sort of stuff are up to the current standards. The older products were safe and totally reasonable for their day, but we live in a world where that was then, and this is now. And particularly on the health and safety side, people are always striving to hit a higher standard, and that’s what this new product helps them achieve.
Johnson: Are there any other things that we need to talk about with regard to E5631 before we wrap up, Tom?
Forsythe: It fits into the whole KYZEN portfolio of top of the line products that help meet people’s emerging needs. Our Aquanox A4727 leads the way on the aqueous cleaning side—more common for products and assemblies, both batch and conveyor. And it just fits right in there with modern state-of-the-art products that are designed after years of research and exhaustive field testing to meet people’s needs and expectations today.
Johnson: Great. Tom, thanks for taking the time virtually, from our respective offices, to have this conversation. It’s going to be the theme of the whole show, I’m sure. But I really appreciate you taking the time.
Forsythe: My pleasure. And thank you for taking the time as well. And everybody stay safe out there. But please do virtually dial into SMTAI. We’re all looking forward to it.
Johnson: For Real Time with…SMTAI, I’m Nolan Johnson. Thanks for watching.