Manual stencil cleaning FAQs

Summary

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How do you use the USC400 Stencil Cleaning System?

The process of cleaning a stencil manually is very simple using the USC400. The process works for both a stencil removed from the printer or still in-situ.

  1. The stencil is placed flat on a surface with disposable wipe material underneath the apertures.
  2. The operator sprays the stencil with cleaning fluid.
  3. They move the hand tool over the stencil after spraying
  4. The transducer in the hand tool vibrates the contamination in the stencil through even the smallest stencil apertures.
  5. The residues are collected on disposable wipe material under the stencil.

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What are the key features and benefits of the USC400 Stencil Cleaning System?

  1. Best method for cleaning. Direct contact ultrasonic cleaning is the most effective way to remove lead free solder paste residues from fine pitch stencils. This improves process yields, particularly on fine pitch applications.
  2. Effective cleaning. The system is suitable for cleaning all printable materials, including pastes, inks, resists and SMD adhesives when using the correct solvent for each.
  3. Economic to use. The stencil cleaning process ensures minimal use of cleaning fluids. Therefore, there are lower costs in production and less VOC’s.
  4. Advanced technology. Advanced transducer auto-tuning system gives optimum cleaning performance on all applications however the pressure is applied to the head. Other systems sub-modulate the output causing damaging vibration.
  5. The system is safe to use. The system uses low voltage, high efficiency transducer drive circuitry. This means it conforms fully to the EU Machinery directive.
  6. Flexible processing. The system is suitable for both offline and on printer cleaning operations. Stencil cleaning can be carried out on the printer without removing the stencil frame by placing a cleaning pad under the stencil and clearing the blockage with the hand tool.
  7. Compatible with all stencils. Suitable for all stencil materials including plastic. No risk of damage to delicate Stencils.
  8. The system is versatile. The system is portable and can be easily moved between work areas or printers. An optional ultrasonic mini-bath is available which extends the versatility by allowing cleaning of machine accessories such as placement nozzles, glue dispensing needles and test probes etc.
  9. Simple. Easy to operate. Requires no operator setting.
  10. Affordable. The system has a low acquisition cost.

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What are you trying to clean with an ultrasonic cleaning system?

Contamination on the stencil includes solder paste, solder ball and solder residues that are being cleaned. It is also suitable for cleaning all printable materials, including paste and inks.

The SMT USC400 excels in removing difficult high tack residues such as those found with lead free solder materials and in particular particles trapped in the corners of laser cut fine pitch stencil apertures.

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How does the technology of the USC400 Stencil Cleaning System differ to other systems?

The USC400 uses an advanced transducer auto-tuning system that gives the optimum cleaning performance on all stencil cleaning applications.

How the system works is that it uses a custom phase lock loop auto-tuning technology. This means that irrespective of changing hand pressure on the transducer head during cleaning full power is always applied to the output contact plate.

This may not be the case in other systems where changing pressure will dampen the transducer and reduce the output power to the head.

This is because lower quality systems tend to sub-modulate the output to vibrate the transducer plate at low frequencies.

The concept is that by minimizing contact of the transducer pad with the stencil then the chances of damping and therefore changing the resonant tuned frequency of the transducer are reduced.

To overcome the lack of efficiency the competitors overdrive the transducer at high voltages. Besides being less safe, it builds up heat in the transducer and limits operations to a few minutes at a time.

The USC400 does not suffer from this over heat problem and can be continuously used.

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Why is direct contact ultrasonic cleaning is the most effective way to remove lead free solder paste residues from fine pitch stencils?

The simple reason is that the maximum level of ultrasonic power that can be transmitted when cleaning stencils is achieved by direct physical contact between the transducer head and the stencil.

Offline cleaning in automatic cleaning systems is effective. However, it can still fail to remove particles trapped in the corners of laser cut stencils.

As a compromise, the USC400 can be used with offline cleaning systems as a complimentary process.

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