Trace Systems Consulting: Computer Controlled Solder Rework
Example of Windows Software to Control Hardware:
PACE Computerized Hot-Air Rework Station Replaces Large Surface Mount Chips On Dense Printed Circuit Boards
PACE Thermo Flo Software
What Client’s Equipment Does
This client is the world leader in soldering / unsoldering equipment of all sorts, including rework stations for manufacturers. These rework stations are used to unsolder and replace large surface mount chips from dense printed circuit boards. To avoid damage to the printed circuit board, the unsoldering must be done in a carefully controlled multi-phase temperature cycle.
To replace the chip that was just removed, a new chip must be carefully aligned with contact pads on the PCB. This is done with live video, which must be displayed in the PC program during the manual alignment process. A TV camera mechanism containing a partially silvered mirror is used to display superimposed images of the PC board and the IC leads.
During the alignment process, the camera box comes out from the machine under computer control, and the PC commands the movable heater arm to come down, pick up the new chip with a vacuum suction cup, holding the chip above the camera box so the operator can see a combined video image of the PCB pads and the integrated circuit leads, so he can line things up.
When alignment is complete, the PC software commands the camera box to retract, the movable heater arm gently places the IC onto the pads on the boards, and then covers the IC with a cowling while it blows hot air in a precisely controlled multi-phase temperature cycle. This melts the solder, connecting all the leads to the pads on the board at the same time.
What Our Software Does
Trace Systems Inc. develops and maintains Windows software for this client: software that communicates with a microcontroller in the machine, orchestrates all the movements of the mechanisms in the machine, and manages the temperature phases.
The software displays the live video during alignment or inspection (capturing still images if required), graphing the temperature cycle (and saving the data if required), and saving temperature profiles for later re-use.
"Most Advanced Available"
This software is very easy for an unskilled factory operator to use, and is generally considered to be the best software in the client's industry. PACE's brochure calls our software the "most advanced available."