Abstract

This paper correlates the reseat failure rates of a PCI option card to the use of thin gold plating across the contact fingers. This failure mechanism results in increased contact resistance and is often misdiagnosed due to its intermittent failure mode. As many new manufactures appear in Asia, the push for global competitiveness to achieve high volume and reduced costs can result in insufficient plating finishes being applied to the contact fingers. Compounding this problem is the fact the many companies use multiple raw board suppliers to meet these volume requirements. Many times the end user of the option card is unaware of the wide variation in contact plating thickness that may be present from one raw board source to another. Intermittent failures are one of the most common defects experienced in high volume assembly. Unless properly diagnosed, these failures can be attributed to finger debris, rework flux, solder paste contamination and even connector related issues. The typical fix, whether approved by the process or not, is for the manufacturing assembler to reseat all of the option cards and memory into the Motherboard connector sockets. Unless the proper troubleshooting approach is followed, isolating the true root cause of the actual failure can be missed. The difficulty in identifying the reseat problem is compounded by the fact that the failures are often intermittent in nature. While reseating may temporarily achieve sufficient mating between the board’s contact fingers and the connector contacts, it provides no long term fix. These unnecessary reseats also reduce the long-term durability of already thin plating affecting customer satisfaction and warranty costs. In the paper, we will expand on the theory behind the XRF plating thickness testing, including: • System theory • Test calibration • Part orientation • Test measurement criteria Additional analysis of metallurgical cross-sectioning was performed to correlate the XRF test readings to the actual plated layers. The measurements were completed by use of a SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy).

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