The electronics manufacturing industry is gradually migrating towards to a lead-free environment. During this transition, there will be a period where lead-free materials will need to coexist with those containing lead on the same assembly. The use of tin-lead solder with lead-free parts and lead-free solder with components containing lead can hardly be avoided. If it can be shown that lead-free Ball Grid Arrays (BGAs) can be successfully assembled with tin-lead solder while concurrently obtaining more than adequate solder joint reliability, then the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) will accept lead-free components regardless of the attachment process or material used. Consequently, the Electronics Manufacturing Service (EMS) providers need not carry both the leaded and the unleaded version of a component. Solder voids are the holes and recesses that occur in the joints. Some say the presence of voids is expected to affect the mechanical properties of a joint and reduce strength, ductility, creep, and fatigue life. Some believe that it may slow down crack propagation by forcing a re-initiation of the crack. Consequently, it has the ability to stop a crack. The primary objective of this research effort is to develop a robust process for mixed alloy assemblies such that the occurrence of voids is minimized. Since there is no recipe currently available for mixed alloy assemblies, this research will study and 'optimize' each assembly process step. The difference between the melting points of lead-free (217°C) and tin-lead (183°C) solder alloys is the most important constraint in a mixed alloy assembly. The effect of voids on solder joint reliability in tin-lead assembly is well documented. However, its effect on lead-free and mixed alloy assemblies has not received due attention. The secondary objective of this endeavor is to determine the percentage of voids observed in mixed alloy assemblies and compare the results to both tin-lead and lead-free assemblies. The effect of surface finish, solder volume, reflow profile parameters, and component pitch on the formation of voids is studied across different assemblies. A designed experiments approach is followed to develop a robust process window for mixed alloy assemblies. Reliability studies are also conducted to understand the effect of voids on solder joint failures when subjected to accelerated testing conditions.

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