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Fraser Technologies has half a century of experience within the electronics cleaning industry, offering the latest, most efficient, eco friendly and reliable products on the market. Graham Fraser, MD of Fraser Technologies discusses how the company began and how it remains one of the key suppliers within the electronics market today. 

How long have you been working in the electronics industry?

Fraser Technologies was actually born from electronics. The company was set up in 1968 as an electronics cleaning business, supplying equipment and solvent. I joined Fraser Technologies in 1991 and have been working with these products for my entire career.

We have a wealth of knowledge within the business. I’ve been in the industry 29 years and our sales manager, Roy Goshawk, has been working in it for over 40. Fraser Technologies is so much more than just a distributor; we’re a technical organisation made up of engineers and problem solvers. 

How have the business and the electronics industry evolved over time? 

Our business and the industry are both very different now than when Fraser Technologies was first established. In the early 90s, Scotland was home to 60% of the electronics industry in the UK, so when I first started with the business, we were dealing with high volume. However, the electronics market started to move into Eastern Europe, and the big high-volume industry moved away from the UK.

There was also a big change in culture in the mid-90s. We were dealing with a lot of CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) replacement products, as it became apparent that these gaseous compounds that were used as refrigerants, cleaning solvents, and aerosol propellants were a major cause of stratospheric ozone depletion. Because of this many people and businesses were moving away from solvents towards aqueous cleaning due to concerns about the environmental impact.

At this time, electronics also changed and many of the traditional electronic soldering materials are now classified as ‘no-clean’, where flux residues can be left on the board eliminating the need to clean. It was at this point that we diversified the business, taking our specialist skills of highly technical, precision cleaning of components to different markets, such as medical devices and aerospace, which suited the type of manufacturing in the UK very well.

In 2005, we then took on the exclusive UK distributorship of leading global soldering solutions provider, Koki. Koki has been pioneering and manufacturing cutting-edge soldering materials for over 50 years and are the best in the business. Koki’s products are efficient, high quality and always reliable, which is of the utmost importance in this industry.

To complement the work that we were doing with Koki, in 2016 we developed KlensTek®, our own brand of cleaning products. Our KlensTek® chemistries offer outstanding cleaning power that is gentle on PCB components; non-flammable in ambient air temperatures and pressure conditions; whilst being environmentally friendly. This allowed us to offer a one-stop-shop for the electronics industry. 

What are the key challenges customers in the industry face? 

Trying to clean an electronic circuit board is one of the toughest challenges. It includes different materials, featuring gold, silver, alloys, plastic, lamination, etc., so involves cleaning residue from a delicate substrate with multiple compatibility challenges.

Along with this – making things more difficult – everything is getting smaller. As electronic devices reduce in size, so do the printed circuit boards (PCBs). The real estate on a circuit board is tiny – what was once around the size of an A4 piece of paper is now down to 2cm², which also means that they are very densely populated. It’s a complex job to clean the surface and underneath every part, then also removing the chemical to ensure that no residue is left under components. These small boards have a huge role to play and are more critical to clean than ever before – they’re not just being cleaned for aesthetic reasons; they need to be spotless or it could lead to assembly defects and in service failures.

The size of the circuit board also makes it more difficult to solder, and each solder particle is tiny. It requires extremely small solder pads and the solder paste needs to remain stable throughout the melting process. The technology being used in the solder paste to get down to such small sizes is remarkable.

One of the most significant challenges in the industry in terms of soldering is the formation of voids in solder joints. Voiding occurs when flux or solvent in the paste becomes trapped in the joint, or paste oxidises, and empty spaces are created within the joint. Too many voids in a solder joint affects the joint’s reliability, so it’s important that this issue is avoided. There is an increasing use of power transistor components in surface mount electronics, so the reflow discharge of generated gas, and the subsequent voiding, is becoming a more significant issue with these larger-sized components.

Fortunately, our partner for soldering solutions, Koki, is at the forefront of R&D and technical innovation in this field, and their quality control is second to none. Koki has developed S3X58-G803 which is a lead-free, ultra-low voiding solder paste. The G803 solder paste is engineered so the oxide reduction reaction occurs before the solder melts or during pre-heating stage. This formula ensures stable and consistently low voiding, regardless of the metallisation condition of the component or PC board; the type or shape of the components; or the reflow profiles. For more in depth details on this product please click here. 

What is unique about electronics cleaning that sets it apart from other sectors you work in? 

Electronic component cleaning is one of the most critical cleaning applications, with stringent environmental and health and safety standards. In many cases, traditional cleaning methods are not sufficient to achieve the expected standard of cleanliness. Special considerations need to be made to accommodate the PCBs as well as to the compatibility of the contaminant and what is used to remove it.

It is vital that the solder and cleaning chemistry are compatible, and because we can provide both, we are able to supply a complete cleaning solution for our customers.

 What are the key services you provide to the industry?

 We provide an excellent range of tried and tested soldering and electronics cleaning products, which address the major challenges facing the industry, allowing us to offer a one-stop shop for all soldering and electronics cleaning needs.

Our complementary solder products and effective cleaning chemistries work well together to solve the problems in this area.

Koki offers the full range of PCB assembly materials, leaded and unleaded solder pastes, solder wires, liquid fluxes for both wave and selective soldering, tack fluxes for repair and rework and SMT adhesives.

Once the PCB is assembled, our KlensTek® cleaning range can then be used to remove the flux residues and contamination before going on to the next step in the assembly process, coating, potting and box-build.

Most importantly, our unrivalled experience means that we’ve seen most challenges before, and have ideas and experience on how to solve them. We pride ourselves on being much more than a distributor or product provider; we are also technical experts with decades of knowledge on how to achieve the best results possible. We are very proud to have been serving the electronics market over the last 50 years, and hopefully will continue to do so for many more years to come.

For more information on electronics cleaning, or our range of Koki and KlensTek® products, please get in touch with Graham and the team by emailing sales@frasertech.co.uk or call 01506 443 058.

Fraser Technologies are proud to have supported the cleaning industry for last 50 years, working closely with their customers to understand their challenges and their expertise to offer best-in-class cleaning solutions. From component cleaning, electronics soldering, and heat transfer & carrier fluids they have built their expertise over the last 50 years and still continue to offer technological advances, adapt to legislative changes and embrace environmental challenges.

Fraser Technologies are well known for being considered one of the leaders within the Precision Cleaning industry and offer a wide range of new generation chemistries coupled with both solvent and aqueous cleaning systems. They can help extend the life of existing processes and equipment, recommend and install new equipment, or look at how best to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact. This is all achieved through their superior trial and demonstration facilities and first class after sales service.

Companies from the aerospace & defence, electronics, medical, optics and automotive industries have chosen to work with them because of their expert knowledge in their industries, their independent range of products, and their can-do tried and tested approach to ensuring they provide access to the latest technologies – improving performance, productivity, environmental performance and operator safety.

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