Discover Welding Flux used for MMIC technologies

8 May 2023

Do you need electronic components that must meet low-power capability, custom operation, and specific weight/size requirements? When looking for the most advanced designs of integrated circuits, the answer is in Maxwell’s Microwave Monolithic Integrated Circuit (MMIC) technologies. 

It is worth noting that these design technologies would not be so reliable were it not for the superior welding flux used for MMIC technologies at Televes. That’s the motivation of this post that covers the welding flux technology in detail. 

The Advancement of Electronic Component Mounting

The demand for electronics has been a perpetual challenge in the last several decades. As the demand soared in the 70s and 80s and the need for mass production became apparent, through-hole technology (THT) and other conventional processes couldn’t keep up. The emergence of tinier and more complex devices dealt another blow to manual THT processes. Manual processes were seen to be prone to human error, which is a recipe for faults and huge losses. That led to the popularity of an automated process in the name of Surface Mount Technology (SMT) in the 1980s, and later advancement to the MMIC level. 

Enter Microwave Monolithic Integrated Circuit (MMIC) Technology

While integrated circuits are not new technology, their development in recent years is beyond words. MMICs are now central to the latest RF products that have significantly higher capabilities. 

An MMIC is an integrated circuit that operates within microwave frequencies. This type of circuit is popular in various industries including satellite and telecommunication. You will find the MMIC technology in phased array antennas, power amplifiers, and low-noise amplifiers among others. Instead of having distinct parts including transistors and capacitors like the conventional microwave circuits, these circuits use a single semiconductor material. It is this monolithic design that gives room for the incorporation of numerous components in one chip. 

At Televes, we are extremely proud to be behind the unique MMIC technology called TForce, which is specifically focused on the design, manufacture, and assembly of MMIC components. Whenever you see our complex and high-demand electronic products for automotive, aeronautics, health, energy, and other sectors, remember this technology.  

The Importance of Flux Soldering in Complex Electronic Component Mounting

In SMT PCB assembly, the importance of proper soldering application cannot be overemphasized. Like any other component mounting, the effectiveness of complex electronic mounting can be affected by the quality of the metallic surfaces. An inter-metallic bond between the surfaces is paramount, so the surfaces must be devoid of contaminants. 

Flux plays the irreplaceable role of chemically reacting with the oxides to remove them and create an oil-free surface. This chemical is one of the components of solder paste, the others being filler materials and solder powder. 

History tells us that most electronics manufacturers adopted the no-clean flux after the Montreal Protocol. The no-clean flux solder paste is designed to burn down with very minimal residue after the reflow process. You can almost guess that Televes uses the no-clean flux. Apart from leaving a negligible amount of residue, our flux binds perfectly to create tough joints. Any residue that may be left on the PCB does not react with the components. 

We could apply the flux manually in a liquid or semi-paste state before soldering. Alternatively, we have hi-tech approaches. For instance, the robotic line or SMD line soldering has flux embedded in the tin wire or solder paste. 

In our integrated soldering for MMIC, no soldering paste is involved; the flux is applied directly on the SMD lines to solder the component into place. Once the die has been dipped into a micron-deep flux cavity for a very short and specific period (milliseconds), the tin balls of the MMIC component are embedded with this material to ensure perfect soldering. 

A few years ago, we upgraded the section that controls temperature and humidity to guarantee the stability and precision of this process. Sensors and humidifiers now maintain these conditions always, including within the MMICs placement machine itself. 

Other Types of Flux and Their Applications

The no-clean soldering flux is one of the four broad categories of fluxes, the others being:

  • Organic acid
  • Inorganic acid
  • Rosin 
  • Organic acid fluxes are water-soluble, so they can be easily cleaned after the soldering process. They are also relatively more environmentally friendly and are popular for wave soldering. The cleaning requirements in the military and commercial circles tend to align with this flux type. However, you wouldn’t want to use this type of flux if you are after solder paste tackiness, which is minimal in this flux. 
  • Inorganic acid fluxes are not suitable for electronic applications because of their highly corrosive nature. You may want to restrict this type of flux to brazing and similar non-electronic jobs. The biggest undoing of the flux is that the chemically active residues it leaves on the surface can lead to disastrous failures. 
  • As for the rosin flux type, the activeness and inactivity depend on the temperature. At room temperature, the flux is inactive. At soldering temperatures, the rosin flux is active. 

The Future of Electronics in Europe

The technological innovations at Maxwell and Televes may not have come at a more opportune time. Spain and the region direly need homegrown technological solutions. For starters, the coronavirus reignited a debate that has been gaining momentum all along – that of technological sovereignty in Europe, which is simply the capability of the region to offer the technologies it considers crucial for its competitiveness and welfare. Europe intends to do so without an inequitable dependency on other countries or regions. 

Technologies that provide support for energy, healthcare, security, and transport are the most critical in this agenda. In Spain, the efforts for technological sovereignty are in top gear. A good example is the Strategic Projects for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE) project whose goal is to promote the Spanish economy through a wide range of massive projects. The strategic projects already launched under this partnership instrument are worth at least 30 billion euros and cover renewables, automotive, and microelectronics & semiconductors among other areas. 

Televes is proud to continue providing systems and products in the telecommunications services area and furtherance of the electronic goals of the region and beyond. There’s probably no other company that is better suited for this huge task than us. With more than 21 subsidiaries spanning commercial, industrial, and technological sectors, we are well-equipped for this. We already have subsidiaries in the UK, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Germany, and France. 


Maxwell Applied Technologies and Televés’ PERTE Chip in the European Union 

Tasked specifically with the specialized in the design and development of highly innovative and advanced solutions for electronic applications in the RF, microwave, and digital fields, Maxwell is leading the way in this European revolution.

The company’s contribution to the chip manufacturing sector cannot go unnoticed. In recent years, the market has been hit by a microchip shortage. In Spain, the automotive industry has been one of the most impacted. So, when the Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation initiative that focuses on Microelectronics and Semiconductors (Chip PERTE) started, Maxwell Applied Technologies and Televés were obvious inclusions in the project. 

Jaime Martorell, the special commissioner for the Microelectronics and Semiconductors Department, recently visited Maxwell Applied Tech and Televes facilities to get insight into the companies’ microelectronics and semiconductors manufacturing process. This would determine the suitability of Maxwell Applied Tech and Televes for the PERTE Chip project.  

The goal of the PERTE Chip project is to promote the conception, design, and manufacture of cutting-edge chips in Spain. The project will help Spain achieve strategic autonomy in the industry and position herself as a reference in the sector. Further, it will help the country supply semiconductors in Europe and the rest of the world.

With such a background and case studies, Maxwell Applied Technologies and Televes are the teams to beat as far as welding flux MMIC technologies are concerned. 

Get in touch for more details regarding this technology.