Solder paste printing attaches surface mount devices to printed circuit boards. Over 70% of Surface Mount Technology defects are driven by solder problems.* The choice of solder paste can make a huge difference. As devices and their components become smaller, the solder connections are also correspondingly finer. Its hard to fill apertures for these small devices with coarser type 3 solder paste. Type 2 solder paste is almost never used on Printed Circuit Boards. Rather, it features in power and industrial products where the chip package is bigger.
Until 2017, India had easy access only to type 3 solder paste which has 25-45 microns powder size. While it is possible to use type 3 solder paste for lead pitch between 0.3mm and 0.02mm , the reliability and durability of the boards reduces. Type 4 solder paste yields better results in our experience. We also use a Solder Paste Inspection system to ensure the right amount has been used.
Podrain has been sourcing and utilising type 4 solder paste, even though it entails a 20%-30% higher cost for the past 4 years. Now, we see an across the industry move to Type 4 solder paste and even the manufacture of Type 3 solder paste is coming down. We are currently evaluating switching to type 5 solder paste which has a powder size of 15-25 microns for components that need to go on the smallest PCB’s.
So when you are looking for a provider to make your PCBA’s, go beyond looking at the machines on the assembly line, and ask what solder paste is used.
*Biemans. 2011. “5D solder paste inspection merits beyond 3D technology.” Global SMT and Packaging 8-13
Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) constitute an integral part of many (expensive) electronic devices. The costs of failure of undertaking a full production run without adequate testing of the PCB are
very high. The ideal answer is a strong prototyping process which can help in identifying any design or performance issues. However, finding the right Electronic Manufacturing Service (EMS) partner for this early stage where volumes are small and the turnaround needs to be quick can be challenging.
Podrain Electronics, unlike other EMS providers ca- ters to this niche market of prototyping on small volume. Having high-end machines to build and test PCBA’s, Podrain caters to the complete needs and requirements of the customer. The company specializes in the supply of products with a fast turnaround without compromising on the rigor of testing. The typical customers for Podrain’s prototyping services are Start-ups and hardware design companies. “Prototyping needs us to be very flexible,” explains Shyam Chandran, CEO of Podrain Electronics. “We work most Sundays. There was one occasion when a client came in at 8 PM in the evening, wanting some- thing to be ready for a VC presentation the next day. We worked overnight. While we charge a higher price for such a quick ask, the result for our client can be priceless”, adds Shyam. The company has expertise in delivering complex assembly – BGA, PoP, LGA and other new modules that are introduced in the market. Podrain has the capability to assemble thin as well as flexible PCBs.
“Podrain Electronics caters to the niche market of prototyping on small volume.”
Rajesh Rajagopal, Director of Operations says, “We are seeing a trend for slimmer devices overall. One of our builds was for a smartwatch prototype for a leading Indi- an brand determined to deliver a world class product. We had to assemble a PCB of 0.4 mm thickness with a 0.2 mm BGA package. We constantly invest in keeping up our learning so that we can deliver the type of cutting edge products our clients design. We love this challenge
Shyam and Rajesh have both been in the EMS space for over 20 years with different organizations. They met while working for an EMS company in 2013. They put together the idea of Podrain Electronics specifically to cater to a gap they saw – an engaged EMS willing to work in the prototyping space using the type of high-end machines that the final manufacturing process will involve. In the past 3 years they have found many takers for these services. Shyam takes care of the business side, while Rajesh manages the technical and operations aspects.
The duo has big plans. Podrain is ISO 9001:2015 certified. The company has continued to invest in new- er machines including an X-Ray inspection machine. In addition to PCB assembly, Podrain does complete box build assembly. A set of reliable partners supply the plas- tic enclosures, sheet metal and cable harnesses which are then assembled, tested and packed out of Podrain. They are also doing evaluation kits for silicon chips for leading semi-conductor manufacturers.
The prototypes the company has partnered on are maturing into higher volumes and clients are requesting pro- duction support. The current location in Bommanahalli is just off the ORR and close to the start-up hubs of Koramangala, HSR Layout, Indiranagar, Jayanagar etc. But it’s pretty full. “We need to grow to keep up with our clients. We hope to start a bigger production facility in the near future. Perhaps in Electronic City, Bengaluru”, says Shy- am. And what about the original prototyping idea? Shyam further adds, “We will continue with this and start more prototype friendly units”. Rajesh continues, “Perhaps even one in Austin, Texas. The future is bright for us”.
PODRAIN ELECTRONICS: PROTOTYPE PCBAS WITHOUT COMPROMISING ON QUALITY.
India’s Electronics Manufacturing Services Industry is poised to grow six-fold to $152 Billion in the next 5 years according to some industry body estimates. Podrain certainly believes this growth forecast is possible.
Our increasing participation is being driven by a few factors.
We have a large market within India for electronics in different sectors. Whether it is cars and tyres, electronic vehicles and their charging stations or medical equipment, products from all of these industries are set to have high-end electronics embedded in them. Products that were previously electrical or mechanical are being upgraded with the addition of electronics. Intended for both the global and local markets, India’s 700+ electronics manufacturing services companies can all grow and there will be room for more players too. The speed with which Ola Electric has ramped up its manufacturing capacity or the success that Dixon Technologies has seen in contract manufacturing are examples that have been making the news in recent times.
At Podrain, we have witnessed this potential over the past 4 years. We’ve worked with traditional companies looking to move into the new digital age. Can adding electronics help a tyre manufacturer offer new business models? Can a traditional watch manufacturer move into the digital wearables business? Can a UPS perform better, delivering uninterrupted up time despite frequent power failures?
We’ve also worked with startups building products that are completely new and innovative – a medical testing device smaller than your set top box. Or an under the pillow device that can revolutionise healthcare. Or a monitoring system that allows parents to safely track their children. The possibilities imagined by our clients promise an exciting future.
Besides the push by private companies there is increased government focus on improving indigenous manufacturing capabilities in defence and aerospace.
Apart from demand side drivers, there are supply side factors influencing India’s position in the Electronics Manufacturing space. COVID 19 disrupted supply chains globally and many players, who had never looked past China are now looking at other countries to base manufacturing operations. Major global manufacturers such as Hon Hai, Electroplast, Wistron are setting up facilities in India. The government has also been incentivising manufacture of electronics products with tax breaks, more attractive labour laws, SEZ creation etc.
The future looks bright for the Electronics Manufacturing Sector globally and for India in particular.