Smart Electronics Need Smarter Fume Extraction

With the increasing adoption of automation in industry, the growing take-up of wireless connectivity in homes and new generation consumable ‘wearables’, industry analysts predict strong growth in printed circuit board (PCB) demand.

Indeed, as manufacturers develop products linked to the miniaturization of devices and demand for flexible circuits, the global market for PCBs is predicted to reach USD 80.38 billion by 2024, according to a report by Energias*.

Electronics businesses have adopted automation to drive productivity, but hand in hand with increasing output is the requirement to keep workplace environments as safe as possible.

With BOFA fume extraction technology, there is an opportunity not just to filter airborne contaminants, but to enhance productivity through the flexibility provided by portable systems. These can often be better suited to today’s agile working practices than vent-to-air or centralized exhaust systems, and when process automation enabled by the company’s revolutionary Intelligent (iQ) Operating System is added in, the productivity gains can be significant.

iQ is a world-first innovation that can be integrated into production lines to enable independent filter status monitoring to help improve extraction efficiency, reduce the risk of downtime, and lower the overall cost of system ownership. Sophisticated and advanced technology is inbuilt, providing a user-friendly and intuitive experience with data being easy to access and analyze locally or remotely.

Automated soldering in electronics is the subject of a separate BOFA blog, but there are other processes in PCB manufacture that also need to be taken into account when it comes to filtering emissions and returning clean air into the workplace.

Automatic laser marking of PCBs

Batch marking by laser of PCB boards is key in traceability for the electronics sector, particularly with the move towards barcodes and ID matrix marking.

Lasering can create potentially harmful airborne contaminants depending on the substrate and laser parameters. These emissions can be solid particles, liquid droplets, or vapors/gases.

Conformal coating, including spray coating

Conformal coating protects PCBs from the ingress of dust and moisture – a process likely to involve organic chemicals (e.g. cyclohexane, xylene, etc.), which will give off potentially hazardous fume and mist.

In addition, a lot of businesses apply coatings by means of aerosol sprays which use a propane/butane propellant.

These propellants aren’t particularly harmful and have high occupational exposure limits but they’re difficult to filter and can mask the smell of more harmful chemicals. BOFA recommends that if aerosol-based conformal coating is being used, it is important to use a carbon dioxide propellant.

Portable fume extraction

BOFA solutions help combat all these risks, through multi-stage filtration technology that includes specialist activated carbon filters designed to capture specific chemical emissions. This ensures a particulate filter efficiency of nearly 100% (99.995%) is achieved, contributing to compliant health protection while helping deliver the productivity gains that come from mobile technology and fume and dust-free process lines.

 World-class BOFA systems:

  • For PCB soldering, our V Oracle iQ can be used across a range of electronics applications requiring high-volume extraction.
  • For conformal coating applications, the FumeCAB 700 CC or FumeCAB 1000 iQ CC provides a complete cabinet fume extraction solution, enabling operators to ensure uniformity of coating within a specially blacked-out environment, complete with UV Lighting.
  • For large installations with several stations and operators, our V 1000 iQ and V 1500 iQ can cater to up to 20 operators, as a centralized system for manual assembly.
  • Our AD 500 iQ, AD 1000 iQ, AD 1500 iQ, or AD 2000 iQ systems are best suited to reflow or wave soldering which involve high volume production requiring one or two points of extraction, to extract fumes from automated soldering machines generating large amounts of particulate and gaseous organic compounds.