Contaminated Capacitors

Assisting Manufacturers with Quality Control Issues

Through Microscopy: A Case Study

 

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An electronic assembly plant had to stop its production process due to a circuit board contamination issue. Putting a hold on the production line is extremely costly, so the issue had to be solved immediately. MVA Scientific Consultants was asked to perform the investigative analysis.

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An initial examination of the circuit board capacitors revealed discrepancies. The normal surfaces appeared to be dry and rough, while the failure surfaces appeared to be glossy and wet. One concern was that a solder flux residue was present. Further examination showed that the “wet” areas were actually a dry, glossy, hardened substance.

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Contamination during manufacturing process resolved through analytical testing

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Contaminant samples were isolated from the failure area and were analyzed by infrared spectroscopy. The material on the capacitors was identified as a polystyrene polymer, a material not consistent with flux residue. With that information, the manufacturer was able to quickly identify the source of the polystyrene polymer and correct the problem. Production was quickly resumed and further loss was avoided.