Creating Added Value with Analysis and Materials Technology

This is a provocative opening question, which in the current procurement market situation has taken on special significance for manufacturers of high-value, durable and reliable mechatronics products. In order to create added value in material-intensive product life cycles, special material and process knowledge, like analytics, is elementary for the success of a product. 

With its 30 employees - everything from skilled workers to natural scientists and engineers - Analysis and Materials Technology is an independent specialist department at Zollner Elektronik AG. This high amount of effort is more of a novelty for a mechatronics service or EMS provider. As Europe’s leading provider on the EMS market, Zollner has made this expertise part of its basic understanding and culture - what we make, we should also be able to analyze.


Worldwide Expertise as a Primary Competence

Here Zollner not only pulls from its own, in-house know-how but also works closely together with research institutes, universities and technology partners - and this long before a customer’s idea has become a producible product. Direct and quick access to component, raw material and material data from globally networked databases plays a decisive role for Analytics at Zollner Elektronik AG. Particularly during the product development phase, decisions are made about the success or failure of a product. Thus, inadequate material selection can place a product and its product costs at the border of competitiveness in spite of an innovative idea.


Why does Zollner Elektronik AG invest in an Analysis Laboratory?

Investment in preventative analysis at the start of a project pays off in the long-term and sustainably. Minimizing risks and faultless function during the defined lifetime under the planned environmental conditions are the leading goals of our customers. Preventative measures, also in unison with ‘Design for eXcellence’ (DfX), help to plan for these goals, as well as to replicate the achievement of them under simulation conditions in the Analysis Laboratory, and with that to guarantee them.

The so-called “Rule of Ten” of defect costs is based on the scientific fact that, in a process chain, every defect costs ten times more than the previous one. Defect costs develop exponentially during the product life cycle. The later a defect occurs in the product development or manufacturing process, the more expensive it will be.


Analysis Laboratory Functional Principle

At Zollner, various analyses are applied in the preventative and reactive areas, depending on the task assignment. The first level is made up of well-known analytical methods, like the solderability test, contamination measurement of electronic assemblies or layer thickness measurement of soldering surfaces. Their application is found in the first qualification of parts in incoming delivery, for components stored for a longer period or in environmental simulation, as well as assessment of delivered quality and lot quality but also for sensitive topics, like component performance to counteract production and field failures.

Process capable curing of adhesives and coatings, like the material properties of a PCB, can be determined using existing DSC equipment (DSC: Differential Scanning Calorimetry). FTIR spectroscopy used in the analysis cycle (FTIR: Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy) provides fast information about the material used, the material composition and the origin of foreign materials in the supply part.

Based on inspections under light microscope, an assessment of conventional bonding types for solder and welded joints can be made with a possible, maximum 1,500x optical magnification.

For the evaluation of sophisticated samples, a powerful, raster electron microscope is available in the Analysis Division with the most widely varied detectors. With that, magnification of up to 60,000x - paired with element analysis for line or area scan - is possible in the shortest amount of time.

The requirement is increasingly posed by the customer to produce in a controlled environment. Thus another task of the laboratory is the routine analysis of dirt particles in these rooms. »A number of factors play decisive roles in the elimination of disturbance factors, which could negatively influence the long-term reliability of products, like size, composition and origin of particles - the keyword is ‘prevention’.« explains Zollner Elektronik AG’s Analysis and Materials Laboratory Director, Stefan Penzenstadler.


Test for “Authenticity” as a Standard Process of Analysis and Materials Technology

One topic is much more present now than it was just a few years ago. When procuring components, all possibilities of purchasing a counterfeit product must be ruled out. Especially critical attention is required in the case of low-priced Last Time Buy offers and high warehouse stock levels of obsolete components. Undetected counterfeit components are without a doubt a tinderbox for products in IPC product categories 1 (flawless function desired), 2 (flawless function expected) and 3 ( flawless function essential).

For this reason, counterfeit analysis using the IDEA-STD-1010 standard - that is testing for “authenticity” - has become a standard process in Analysis and Materials Technology. The process steps of “optical inspection of markings/characteristics”, “electrical characterizing of the component compared with the data sheet and so-called Golden Sample”, “x-ray analysis with CT support”, “wet chemical opening” and “analysis at chip level with REM (Raster Electron Microscope)” as well as a plausibility check of all results allow the experienced Analysis Technologist a very quick overview of whether a component coincides with specifications or, if there is a suspicion of a counterfeit.


Qualitative Analysis and Materials Technology Combined with Environmental Simulation Equipment

These methods are rounded off with a broad array of instruments for mechanical and electrical measurement technology and in particular with comprehensive equipment and methods in the area of environmental simulation. The latter not only serves validation and certification processes but preventative endurance testing during development in particular. These stretch from relatively simple temperature cabinets to the passive and active storage of products using temperature change and shock equipment and all the way to IP testing stations, salt spray chambers and mechanical test facilities for vibration and shock. Here, too, Zollner Elektronik AG differentiates itself as one of the few European companies with its own specialist department in this field.

Therefore, Analysis and Materials in combination with environmental simulation equipment creates the basis for goal setting, innovative, high-value and safe systems, produced by one company. As a Swiss EMS company within the Zollner Group, Zollner Electronics GmbH can offer these services to its customers individually or as a total package and with that make a contribution to a sustainably high level of quality across the entire product life cycle.