Soldering Throughput Savings with Photonic Soldering

Throughput Savings with Photonic Soldering


Photonic soldering offers many advantages, including the ability to solder temperature-sensitive materials, excellent solder joint quality, and substantial cost savings. Part of the low operational cost stems from minimal energy consumption and easy tool maintenance. But what about the throughput capacity of PulseForge photonic soldering tools? In this blog post, we will explore how the lightning-fast cycle time of PulseForge digital thermal processing enhances operational flexibility and reduces the real-world total cost of ownership of reflow soldering equipment.

First, let’s consider why PulseForge photonic reflow soldering has such high process throughput rates:

  1. The tools offer wide-area processing, fully scalable according to PCB panel length.
  2. The photonic reflow cycle is completed in seconds.
  3. The required tool footprint is minimal.
  4. The process parameters are set digitally and require zero time to change.

The combination of wide-area processing and short cycle time means that photonic soldering is inherently fast. Since the total process time required depends on the size of the panel, it is useful to consider an example: for a 12-inch product, a typical cycle with photonic soldering takes between 5 and 20 seconds, whereas cycle time for the same board in a standard reflow oven can be in excess of 140 seconds, noting that photonic soldering is at least 10 times faster. The short cycle time in this example is even more impressive considering the small footprint of the equipment being used: a PulseForge In-Line tool is less than 2.4 meters long, while a traditional reflow oven can span up to 5.5 meters. This results in over 50% floor space savings. This compact footprint is possible because the process area required for photonic reflow is limited to the area immediately underneath the light source, with no additional heated length required. By contrast, oven reflow requires several meters of additional floorspace to achieve comparable TAKT times.

The throughput comparison is even more favorable when photonic reflow is compared to laser-assisted or robotic hot-iron reflow, where soldering is carried out one pad at a time. With photonic soldering, all solder pads within a large, fixed exposure area are processed simultaneously, and TAKT times scale with the total length of the product. This wide-area processing means that, for typical high-density PCB layouts with tens or hundreds of thousands of individual pads, photonic soldering is hundreds or even thousands of times faster than laser soldering and other point-wise reflow heating methods. In practice, this translates to significantly fewer reflow tools required in the manufacturing line for the same production targets.

Finally, the impact of tool utilization on throughput capacity is also worth considering. This concept refers to the proportion of tool uptime during which actual manufacturing is taking place, and is yet another metric where PulseForge digital thermal processing offers exceptional benefits:

  • Bringing PulseForge tools online takes seconds, whereas reflow ovens can take tens of minutes, or even hours, to reach steady operation.
  • Similarly, profile changes are painless and virtually instantaneous with PulseForge tools.
  • Process profile setup takes just a few seconds with PulseForge tools, meaning that moving to a new board design is simple. No registration of individual components is required.
  • Process changes on PulseForge tools are digital, so they can be made on the fly without slowing or stopping production.
  • Multiple products can be processed simultaneously on a single PulseForge® tool, with separate process profiles for different panels in the same setup.

In any competitive production facility, better throughput is closely linked to higher profitability, selecting the optimal reflow soldering tools to meet your throughput targets is crucial. Please contact us at PulseForge by email or phone call to discuss your technical questions and production needs.

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Written by the PulseForge Applications Team

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