IPC and NPL team-up to offer free defect clinic

18 March 2011

Manufacturing and quality engineers looking for solutions to process challenges will have an additional resource for answers with the new Process Defect Clinic at the IPC APEX EXPO conference and exhibition, from 12-14 April 2011, in Las Vegas.

Sponsored by IPC and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the free clinic will be held in booth 217 on the show floor to assist event attendees with assembly and soldering process problems, RoHS compliance issues, solderability concerns, field failures and other process-related issues. IPC APEX EXPO registrants can bring board assemblies for examination or process problems for discussion and walk away with solutions.

“Some managers are too quick to attribute defects to a particular process,” says industry guru Bob Willis who, with the assistance of inspection equipment on hand at IPC APEX EXPO, will assist visitors in understanding their process problems and offer guidance and suggested solutions. “People are always pleased if the defects suddenly go away, however those defects will return if you don’t find the true cause of failure. If you can turn a defect on and off then you know you’ve found the real culprit.” Willis will present awards to the individuals with the best questions and defects at IPC APEX EXPO.

In a recent IPC/NPL lead-free process defect webinar led by Willis, more than 380 engineers from 25 countries identified their most critical areas of process failures. Paste printing was a clear leader, identified by more than a quarter of the participants. Reflow soldering was a close second. The webinar can be viewed online at no charge at: www.IPCAPEXEXPO.org/defect-clinic.

Registrants of IPC APEX EXPO 2011 can make appointments with the NPL Process Defect Clinic at www.IPCAPEXEXPO.org/my-show or visit the clinic during show hours. In addition, questions can be submitted in advance by e-mail to processdefectclinic@ipc.org.

The clinic and the webinar are part of a co-operative agreement between IPC and NPL to promote the free NPL Process Defect Database. “The database is a very useful resource for engineers worldwide. It can only get better as more defects are added to the library,” explains Dr. Christopher Hunt, principal research scientist at NPL.

In addition to hosting the live presentation of the Defect Clinic at IPC APEX EXPO, IPC posts a ‘defect of the month’ series on its website. The series features short videos created by Willis that are based on the database. “The defect library and the videos on the IPC site have generated a lot of industry discussion,” says Kim Sterling, IPC Vice President of Marketing and Communications, explaining that some of the clips, such as the ones on solder wicking and solder balling, have had hundreds of views. “We’re excited to be working with Bob and NPL to bring real value to the industry and make a difference in productivity and reliability.”

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