Purpose - The study investigates the sub process behaviour in stencil printing of type-6 and type-7 particle size distribution (PSD) Pb-free solder pastes to assess their printing limits. Design/methodology/approach - Two solder pastes were used in a design of experiments approach to find optimal printing parameters Findings - Solder paste printing has been achieved to ultimately produce 30 µm deposits at 60 µm pitch for full area array patterns using a type-7 Pb-free solder paste. For a type-6 PSD solder paste, full area array printing was limited to 50 µm deposits at 110 µm pitch. However, for peripheral printing patterns, 50 µm deposits at 90 µm pitch were obtained. The disparities in the behaviour of the two paste types at different geometries can be attributed to differences in the sub-processes of the stencil printing. The paste release of the type-6 paste from the stencil apertures at fine pitch was superior to the type-7 paste, which may be attributed to the finer particle paste producing an increased drag force along the stencil aperture walls. However, the type-7 paste was able to fill the smallest aperture openings, ultimately to 30 µm, thus producing full array printing patterns at uniquely small pitches. Practical implications - This advancement in the stencil printing process has been made possible by refinements to both solder paste design and stencil manufacturing technology. Adjustments in the solder paste rheology have enabled successful printing at ultra fine pitch geometries. This, together with selecting appropriate printing parameters such as printing speed, pressure, print gap and separation speed, allows a practical printing process window. Moreover, advancements in stencil fabrication methods have produced "state-of-the-art" stencils exhibiting very precisely defined aperture shapes, with smooth walls at very fine pitch, thus allowing for improved solder paste release at very small dimensions. Originality/value - The results can be used to present a low cost solution for Pb-free flip chip wafer bumping. Furthermore, the results indicate that type-6 and type-7 solder pastes should be applied to/selected for specific application geometries. © Emerald Group Publishing limited.
- Integrated circuit technology
- Printed circuits