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Thermal profiling: A key element of process control

Posted on Sep 01, 2008

There is no doubt that in today’s more sophisticated electronics market, with boards populated with everything from BGAs to SiPs (System in Package), process control is more important than ever. At the center of achieving that control, you will find thermal management. And since thermal management cannot be achieved, or documented, without thermal profiling, thermal profiling brings us to the heart of the matter.

There are basically two ways to achieve successful thermal profiling: profiling the board, or profiling the oven. We will discuss both, and compare the two. Two things are essential to both of them. The first is the target profile. It is this profile, correctly established and achieved, that determines the success or failure of the board’s solder joints, as well as safety of or damage to the components. Thus, it is important to develop the target profile correctly, and then ensure it is repeatedly achieved in the most timeand cost-effective manner.

The second thing essential to both board and oven profiling is the use of the prototype. Even in oven profiling, there must be at least one board prototyped to show that OEM target profiles are met. Without measurements from the thermal profile of the prototype, you can neither determine if it meets the required specifications, nor prove that your process is in control. But once you have a successful profile, you can duplicate it run after run, whether through board or oven profiling.

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