Electronics Assembly

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Contributors: Nate
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Washing

PCB with flux residue

Various steps of the manufacturing process leave residue on the board. If you’ve ever put one of our kits together, you know that soldering leaves a small amount of flux on the board. Over a period of months this flux residue becomes sticky, looks horrible, and can become slightly acidic leading to a weakening of solder joints. To prevent this (and to give our customers the best looking boards) we wash every board we produce.

Boards loaded in the dish washer

To get the boards clean again we load batches into what we call the ‘dishwasher’. This high temperature, high pressure, all stainless steel dishwasher uses deionized water to remove any residue from the manufacturing process.

The parts washer uses a closed loop system. After the completion of a wash, the waste water is collected in a basin below the washer and automatically tested for conductivity. If the electrical conductivity is very low (if the resistance is very high) then the wash phase is complete and the waste water is recycled through very high quality filters.

That’s right! We completely dunk your expensive electronics into water. The secret is in the type of water. Deionized water is very pure water that lacks any ions. Water doesn’t kill your cell phone when you drop it in the toilet, it’s the ions that allow electricity to short various parts of the device. Because DI water has no ions, it’s actually fairly toxic to humans. While handling DI water is safe, drinking DI water can cause serious damage to your body as it forces your body to give up ions as you ingest it. Because DI water has such a thirst (hah!) for ions, the inside of the dishwasher is made completely of stainless steel. Any other metal would quickly disintegrate.

Electronics in a crockpot

Don’t have access to an expensive washer? A cheap crockpot with deionized water and a toothbrush work swimmingly! If you’re cleaning just a few boards, a Q-tip with some isopropyl alcohol works very well.

Air drying a board

A fan or compressed air work well to remove any water that remains.