Considerations for Picking BGA Rework StationFollow article
BGA or Ball Grid Array electronics packages are becoming more and more prevalent as electronics continue their general trend of shrinking smaller and smaller. When something goes wrong with BGA packages, it can be difficult to rework these components. Special rework equipement, typically called a BGA rework station, is needed. Deciding on a BGA rework station can be a daunting task. In this post, we share common facets that should be considered when picking the best BGA rework station for your application.
What to consider when choosing BGA Rework Station
Type or Heat Source
There are two basic types of BGA rework stations, hot air and IR or Infrared. Coincidentally, this also describes the primary heat source for the rework station. As the names imply, hot air rework stations achieve the heat needed to reflow BGA solder by blowing hot air onto the circuit card asseblies. IR BGA rework stations have IR lamps that admit infrared light used to heat BGA components to the point of reflow. There are pros and cons of both types.
Hot Air rework stations have been around the longest, so technicians may be more familiar with this type of system. Hot air systems are also typically more affordable than IR BGA rework stations. That being said, the drawbacks for hot air are difficulty sheilding surrounding components. There is also an issue with noise since the hot air must be pumped through nozzles and directed at the parts being reworked. Finally, high air flow can cause very small components to actually fly off of the circuit cards.
IR rework stations can be very good at locally heating the BGA components if the designed properly. This typically includes a series of lenes and/or shutters used to focus and direct the IR beams specifically on the parts in question. Be careful when searching for "IR BGA rework stations" as many low-end vendors attempt to pass off their units as IR rework stations when they are simply glorified hotplates that use IR as their heat source. IR stations also have the added benefit of being less complex and typically easier to service or maintain.
Most BGA rework stations will have both a top and bottom heating element. The bottom heater is typically a hot plate. The purpose of the bottom heater is to bring the whole CCA or circuit card assembly to an elevated temperature just below melting point. This is needed to help prevent mechanal stress from only locally heating the rework site. The other purpose is to make it easier for the top heater (either an IR lamp or hot air gun) to elevate the rework site to reflow temps.
Another important consideration when choosing a BGA rework station is method for temperature control. The best rework stations will offer precise, closed-loop, digitally controlled temperature. To put it simply, this means that you can set the temperature digitally, this temperature is measured and fed back into a controller to ensure the proper temperature is achieved and maintained. It is important to note that one should also monitor the temperature of the CCA and as close to the rework site as well.
Work Area Size
The size of the BGA rework station work area is another important consideration to keep in mind. There are really two things to keep in mind. First, the overall area of the work area will determine how big of a circuit card the rework station will be able to effectively handle. The second attribute is the style of the mounting rails. Typically, mounting rails adjust in at least one axis, but the higher end SMT rework stations will have multiple adjustments. This will make it easier to capture and hold complex shaped circuit cards.
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