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21.03.2018 г.

-> A User's Guide to BGA Reballing

A User's Guide to BGA Reballing

By Tim Hoffman, President, HEPCO, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA
Reballing — it's a simple idea — just put those little
spheres back on component pads. But the reality is
that it can be very simple process or as annoying as
keeping your Buffalo, NY driveway snow-free
throughout December — an impossible task.

There are several unavoidable steps required to

prepare used components for reballing, no matter
which method is used. First, the components must
be pre-baked to ensure they're moisture-free before
actually working on them. You can go with what the
Variety of typical BGAs.
component manufacturer's spec says — if it can be
found — or simply use what one BGA reballing equipment supplier recommends: 125°F (51.66°C)
for 8 hours. When experimenting with reflowing reballed, un-baked components on a hot plate
some years ago, we had spheres flying everywhere as the component popcorned. "Popcorning" is
a cute way to say your BGA will be quickly and dramatically destroyed as moisture inside
becomes gaseous and delaminates the chip. Not a desirable scenario.

Next, the original solder from the pads must be

removed. This can be done using solder wicking or a
hot-air de-soldering tool. The solder wick method can
work well, but the technician needs to avoid
scratching or lifting the pads and needs to avoid over-
heating the component. Hot air de-soldering systems
(or solder suckers) are available on many BGA
rework stations and typically give good results.
However, it's still important to avoid scratching up the
pads. No matter the method used, the cleaner the Result of "popcorning" from trapped moisture.
pads, the better the result obtained with the reballing

While there are some fully-automated BGA reballing systems, the cost is typically justified only
for very high volumes, not a part of this discussion.

We're also going to omit the surprisingly popular

alternative — where spheres are individually placed
onto pads using tweezers and a microscope. The
level of success for this technique is directly related
to the operator's patience and intake of
coffee/tea/soda, and possibly palsied hands. This
leaves three primary methods — Tilt and Roll;
Preforms; and Vacuum Pick-Up.
Inserting the preform.
Tilt and Roll. With most tilt and roll devices, flux is
screen-printed onto the pads. Sphere migration may be limited by printing on the pads only, but
some systems recommend covering the entire BGA pad side with flux rather than a screen print
method. The BGA is then placed under a screen matching the component's sphere pattern. Some
devices have the spheres go through the screen and onto the pad and flux immediately. Other
devices have a stop plate of sorts to keep spheres from dropping through. The operator would pour's_Guide_to_BGA_Reballing.htm 1/3
21.03.2018 г. -> A User's Guide to BGA Reballing

spheres onto the screen and tilt things around until spheres drop into each aperture. It is very
reminiscent of those little games from childhood where you try to get all the BBs to rest in the
proper holes all at the same time.

Once the deposition process is finished, the screen

tilts to an exit area and lets the excess spheres go
either back into the sphere container or trash. If
reused, there is a danger of flux being on a sphere in
the proper hole location but coming back out to get
into the sphere reservoir, where flux contamination
can cause a myriad of problems. With all spheres in
position, either the screen is lifted off and the
spheres remain on the fluxed pads or the restraining Applying paste.
device is removed to let the spheres drop onto the
waiting component. A few, smaller tilt and roll mechanisms will leave the stencil in place to try
and hold the spheres during reflow. Tilt and roll requires either one or two stencils — one for flux if
applying to pads only, and one for the sphere clearance. Each component pattern may have its
own stencil to limit labor and setup time.

Some manufacturers try to use a generic pitch and

sphere size stencil and have the operator try to cover
any unused apertures — usually with Kapton tape.
Problems with tape residue have been observed when
used around small BGA spheres, so this can get
rather messy in a hurry.

While this method seems simple, there are

increased labor costs when compared to some other Inserting BGA.
methods. There are tooling costs involved for the
stencils and for some level of mechanism. Also, time is needed to coerce the spheres into their
proper places.

Preforms. At least two sources are available to provide spheres in their proper array. These use
either water-soluble paper or polymer. A large number of arrays are available, and the cost is low
for small quantities since there is minimal tooling cost. Both methods require additional
component cleaning with water and baking to dry the BGA again before use.

With paper preforms, the preform is placed into a template that matches the outside dimensions
of both the preform and component. The BGA surface is then covered with water-soluble paste
flux and placed down onto the preform. The two are reflowed together. After reflow, the charred
paper is peeled off and the BGA is scrubbed with a brush and DI water to remove remaining paper
remnants and flux. The polymer preform process has the operator put water-soluble flux onto the
component pad side and lay it flux-down on top of the preform. The outside edges of the BGA and
preform are aligned to line up the spheres and pads. The pair then go through reflow and the
polymer is peeled off after cooling. A polymer preform vendor's website states: mentions "It's not
unusual with any reball process to occasionally have one or two balls not adhered to BGA after
processing. That's why we've included our repair stencil. It is used when there is a need to replace
only a few balls." A translation is that if spheres come off as the polymer is peeled back, the
operator would replace the individual spheres and reflow the part again.

Vacuum Pick-Up. The third method uses a vacuum head with the sphere pattern, coupled with a
flux stencil. There is an initial cost for a vacuum and control system. After that, tooling is needed
for each unique BGA pattern. However, the process is extremely fast and typically eliminates the
need for final cleaning and re-baking. A new, patented process for supporting the spheres
reportedly slashes vacuum head cleaning issues and enhances sphere pick-up and release. The's_Guide_to_BGA_Reballing.htm 2/3
21.03.2018 г. -> A User's Guide to BGA Reballing

vacuum pick-up process tries to emulate the original bumping process.

A vacuum work plate has two pins that extend to

center the device throughout the operation. The
technician then places a template over the pins —
the template matching the BGA's outside dimension
and slightly thinner than the BGA. The tech then
places the component in the template where the
vacuum port holds the component in place. A stencil
is placed over the tooling pins and no-clean tacky
flux is screen-printed onto the pads. The stencil is
then lifted off. The operator then picks up solder Moisten and remove paper.
spheres from a reservoir using the vacuum head
(wand). The stencil face of the wand is dipped into the spheres and lifted, where the operator can
see if the pattern has been filled and if excess spheres need to be brushed off.

Once a full pattern is achieved, the wand is lowered

over the tooling pins until the spheres contact the
component. The stencil is designed so 1/2 the
sphere diameter extends past the wand stencil face
so flux doesn't touch the wand itself. The operator
then depresses the foot pedal to cut off vacuum and
actuate a vibrating hammer which assists sphere
release. The wand is lifted off the part and the wand
and component are quickly inspected to ensure the
spheres are in position. At this point the BGA may
be removed and run through reflow, after which it is Hepco 9400-1 solder sphere placement system.

ready to be used.

While reflow is fairly straightforward, reflow of the spheres does need to be addressed. With a
typical profile, the spheres would go liquidus for around 30-45 seconds — the temperature
depending on the solder alloy being used. The ramp rate should be kept to around 0.7°C per
second ideally, but definitely less than 2°C per second. With hot air, be careful to keep flow down.
Although it seems obvious, a lot of spheres have been blown around during reflow. Also, nitrogen
atmospheres are always going to provide a better finished product if such an atmosphere is
feasible. Component preparation and reflow are fairly consistent regardless of the method used to
place the spheres. The three primary methods include tilt and roll systems, solder preforms, and
vacuum pick-up. Preforms offer a good solution where very low volume and high mix are the rule.
Additional cleaning labor and baking time need to be factored in, along with a possible additional
heat cycle if spheres don't adhere. Vacuum pick-up offers value at mid- to high-volume and
provides a finished product quickly with virtually no cleaning needed after bumping. Each method
has a price point and volume where it may be the proper choice.

Contact: HEPCO, Inc., 150 San Lazaro Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94086 408-738-1880 fax: 408-
732-4456 E-mail: Web:'s_Guide_to_BGA_Reballing.htm 3/3