The increasing demand for electronic devices associated with the increasing competitiveness between enterprises, pushes towards process automation to decrease production costs. The reflow soldering has proven to be effective in this regard. This is composed by a series of steps or processes, such as: (a) stencil printing, (b) component placement and (c) reflow oven soldering. Each process has its specific traits that contribute to the overall process efficiency.

The present study is directed towards process (a), which includes the rolling of the solder paste over the stencil surface, followed by the subsequent filling of the stencil apertures. Several parameters influence the solder paste behaviour and thus the effectiveness of the rolling process. This work focuses on the solder paste non-Newtonian viscosity properties, with the solder paste presenting a thixotropic behaviour, necessary for the filling of the stencil apertures. Although the increase in the squeegee velocity causes extra shear in the solder paste and consequently lower viscosity, the excess of velocity may cause defects in the aperture filling process. In addition, during the rolling process, air may become entrapped in the solder paste.

The complexity of this process is addressed by numerical simulation, in particular, using the work-package ANSYS to study the solder paste progress, during the rolling process, as well as the parameters influencing it. The fluid flow simulation is solved using the solver FLUENT®, a simplified 2D domain with real case dimensions, a transient prediction of the viscosity, which is a function of the solder paste solicitation, and finally by using the Volume of Fluid (VOF) method to track the solder-air interface boundary. Dynamic meshing methods are also employed to replicate the movement of the squeegee wall, in its task to push the solder paste tumble over the stencil.

This study enlightens the role played by the printing velocity in the stencil aperture filling, a logarithm correlation can be found between them. It was found that lower print velocities provide better results than higher speeds.

It was observed that the back tip of the squeegee blade causes a partial removal of the solder paste from the aperture, which is higher for faster print processes.

An analysis of the filling process over time concluded that, independently of the printing velocity, 90% of the filling occurs in the first quarter of the process.

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