Thousands of BGA Rework Stations are sold worldwide. There are more and more manufacturers introducing their machines into the market. The industry leaders include Pace, Metcal, Martin, and Zeph to name a few. Most if not all of these models are Hot Air based. With the developments of IR technologies many new companies started releasing machines at an affordable rate some of which include ACHI, Scotle, LY, Zhumao, Shuttle Star, Bauer and many others. The differences between BGA Rework Stations from these latter companies and the former companies is not just that they are less costly, and manufactured in China but that most of them use ceramic IR emitters. With the release of these Chinese Rework Stations, many small businesses and the hobbyists were able to afford them and offer BGA and SMT repair on consumer electronics.
The problem was that these companies needed to make the machines as cheap and as quick as possible. This ultimately caused the quality of repair to suffer. With many of these BGA Rework Stations being purchased by untrained rework operators the reason for the subpar repair was difficult to determine. Many sought to blame the fact that they were IR based and that Hot Air was a superior technology in the reworking industry. While warranted this claim was completely without merit. Ultimately they were comparing Chinese quality to that of USA/ European quality BGA Rework Stations. For more information Hot Air VS IR you can visit our previous blog article.
Ultimately the problem was the parts, and workmanship. By upgrading the parts and bringing the wiring up to code, the machine would not only provide better quality repairs but it would be more reliable, and safer. Lets start with some of parts used in the BGA Rework Stations. The ceramic emitters that were found in these machines were of high wattage but low quality. The high wattage would essentially lessen the life of the emitters and the quality would not provide consistent heating. The solution to this problem is to replace them with higher quality heaters such as those made in Germany. The SSR or Solid State Relays were high amperage rated but low quality. Being rated for a high amperage simply allowed for more power to pass through them, the quality however would cause them to burn out. The solution is to replace them with higher quality SSRs such as those made in USA, Europe, or some Asian countries such as Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. The heating control system used which basically controls how much heat is produced, at which speed and for how long. In most BGA Rework Stations this would consist of either PID or PLC based controllers. These controllers are I/O or input output based. They receive input data and based upon the values the output data is changed. By upgrading the controller to that of higher quality would allow for more reliable I/O functions to occur. This brings us to the last component Thermocouples, these are connected to the controller to provide current temperatures. If they are not accurate this essentially means the input data is wrong, and thus the output data will be wrong as well. The simple solution is to utilize high quality Thermocouples with the thinnest possible wire and bead.
With the parts being upgraded to higher quality and more reliable models, we can now tackle the problem of wiring. The problem lies with thin wire, improper crimps and lack of tidiness. By utilizing the appropriate wire in relation to the amperage passing through, the wire remains cooler and allows for cleaner power to be transferred. Improperly crimped connectors cause loose and unreliable connections, which will cause shorts and is a fire hazard. Ensuring the crimps are strong will not only provide proper current but peace of mind in regards to safety.
By performing the recommended upgrades listed you can be confident that your BGA Rework Stations are no longer not the problem when it comes to repair quality. You will also have a much safer, more reliable and longer lasting machine.