Why Should I Clean “No Clean” Fluxes and Pastes? Can I Just Skip the Cleaning and Save Some Money?

Why would anybody want to clean no-cleans? Well, it happens all the time. Cleaning delicate circuitry is easy with MicroCare solvents, even when no-clean fluxes are used. Probably most of the companies using the No-Clean Flux Remover – VeriClean™, the Alcohol-Enhanced Flux Remover – ProClean™ sales and almost all of our Lead-Free Flux Remover – PowerClean™ customers are using them on “no clean” flux residues. An unofficial estimate from the sales team at MicroCare suggests that about 50% of our business now involves helping people clean “no cleans”. Here’s why…

The Ten Most Common Reasons to Clean Circuit Boards Made with “No Clean” Fluxes and Pastes

  • Flux residues are not the only material being removed (ink, salts and solder balls, fingerprints)
  • Flux residues make visual QC inspections nearly impossible
  • Flux residues cause automated visual alignment systems to fail
  • Flux residues cause “bed of nails” test systems to fail
  • Flux residues cannot be tolerated on high-voltage systems
  • Flux residues add noise on analog-to-digital conversion circuits
  • Flux residues make troubleshooting field repairs failures very difficult
  • Flux residues make R&D work, like troubleshooting new designs, difficult
  • Flux residues detract from the cosmetic appearance of the boards
  • Flux residues make conformal coatings fail

And what are all these people cleaning? Many are cleaning circuit boards during manufacturing, rework and repair. But even if the classical benchtop cleaning process is ignored, there’s lots of cleaning to be done in today’s electronic assembly facilities:

Ten Common Cleaning Jobs Found Even in “No Clean” Production Environments

  • Stencil cleaning
  • Cleaning mis-printed boards
  • Pre-tinning of components requires activated fluxes
  • Equipment maintenance (reflow ovens, pallets, degreasing light oils from pick-and-place machines, test machines) on the production line
  • Incoming inspection from subcontractors
  • Removing labels, tapes and adhesives, such as bar codes or Kapton tape
  • Head cleaning on tape recorders, VCRs and disk drives
  • Removing dirt and grime from cabinets and housings
  • Cleaning products before they are repaired (warranty repairs, product returns)
  • Repairing products which have failed in the field.

It makes you think about the “no clean” claims!