Interview – Michael Pierce

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Welcome to the Henkel booth here at SMTAI. I’m joined by Michael Pierce, who works with the Technomelt products and a few others. It’s nice to see you again Michael.

Thanks, good to see you again, Trevor.

The Technomelt has been around a couple of years now but it was previously almost like a translucent material but it always had that amber tone to it.

Absolutely.

So, you’ve worked with a couple of new versions. Can you tell us about them?

Over the past twenty years, we’ve dedicated this line mostly to industrial electronics and automotive. Over the last couple of years lighting and wearable electronics have come in to play. That amber color and some of the aspects of the traditional Technomelt haven’t done well. Last year, if you recall, we won an award for our polyamide (PA) 668 material, our white colored material, which allowed us into an arena of colors that we didn’t have before. We were able to actually add UV stability and also an opaque color which allowed us to add other pigments to the product. So, from the wearable’s market, you certainly wouldn’t want a translucent amber-looking, brownish product on your arm. This allows us to color it with pinks, blues, purples and greens and everything else. And also, with lighting, we’ve had a lot of success over the past couple of years, a lot of interest in actually over-molding LEDs. The problem before with Technomelt is that the product was optically absorbing, if you will. What we’ve done is created an optically clear hot melt adhesive that is UV and temperature stable and also offers us the IP sealing ratings that allows it to sit on the side of a cruise ship in a salt water atmosphere, allows it to sit in the sunlight of the Las Vegas strip on big

message boards, inside of a swimming pool arena on scoreboards, etc. And the optically clear product offers 95%-plus transmittance so completely over-molding the lens of the product.

It’s very clear. So, there’s no degradation over time?

No degradation over time through heat or UV exposure.

So, some of the applications you were mentioning to me before were quite interesting, you know, the San Francisco bridge and some of these things they’re doing.

The old days of the fluorescent lighting or the incandescent bulbs have gone by the wayside of the LED. And with the LEDs, the small package, the variety of colors, the light shows that you can put on with the LEDs – just basically lighting up the bridges, lighting up, you know, Big Ben; lighting up all of the landmarks around the globe, they’re doing with LED lighting now. And these LEDs have to last; these assemblies have to last 10 to 20 years in harsh environments like the smog in Los Angeles, the cold of Siberia and the heat of

Las Vegas. You have to have a material that can withstand all of those and still offer that product reliability over a long period of time. And these Hot Melts have proven themselves in those industries.

Right and of course, they’re also waterproof as well. So, you can see in the bands you’ve got in your hand there…

From the wearable’s side; the watches, the Fitbits, the Garmins, the Disney wristbands and things, you know the flex circuitry that’s inside of these have to remain water-resistant. Because nobody remembers to take these things off when they jump into a swimming pool or they go outside in the rain. So not only do we offer that low pressure, that ease of manufacture, that encapsulating the circuit board in a nice fashion, an easy fashion without damaging the circuit board with the Technomelt, but with the optically clear products and with the products that we’re able to color, who would know that this is Technomelt? So now, we’re protecting the electronics, it’s an easy feel on the skin and you can take it into a swimming pool.

It’s great to see how that product has developed. Now, one of the things though with LEDs, is that they’re always known to have massive heat excursions. They advertise that these LED lamps last 25,000 or 50,000 hours but the reality is that the solid-state electronics behind them last probably 5,000 hours.

That is correct.

So, you’ve come out with an extension of this product that answers some of that.

Along with our excursion into the LED market, not only are we working on the lighting, the luminaries themselves, but behind the scenes, the drivers, the circuitry that goes along with lighting these or you know, the timing, everything. And those products produce a lot of heat. We’ve seen driver boards from 20 watts to 40 watts to 80 watts and those produced massive amount of heats in their circuitry that needs to be removed. Sometimes you see these large assemblies with big fins on them, big metal fins to remove the heat. Technomelt typically would have never been considered as an encapsulating or a heat-removing material in those situations because traditionally a hot melted adhesive of a polyamide with nylon is insulating. We have developed a thermally conductive Technomelt product that is going to replace the whole idea of using asphalt and some of these potting compounds in bulk, these big bulk volume products that add a lot of weight. We’ve added proprietary fillers that are very light-weight that allow us to add a thin-layer around the heat producing components and offering .5 to 1.5 watt heat removal per meter. We’ve been working on that with our LED customers to again, produce not only a solution for their lighting but also the driver, the drivers themselves and that product we’re beta testing it now. At APEX earlier this year, we had a concept and a product. Now we’re beta testing the product. We expect a full-launch of this product in three different versions in June of 2016.

So it’s not going to be out until June 2016.

The final format, all three formulas.

When I look at it, it looks to me like a coating, but you’ve got a special name for it.

It really is a coating. So, when people think of potting, you’ve got to have a case or a cup that you put your electronics in it and you fill it. And you have to fill it to your most limiting component and one component that stands up two inches on it, with the Technomelt and the molding process, we call it “Skylining.” We can mold around that component and just add that thin layer along the circuit board where there’s really not a lot of circuitry and it removes probably 75 to 80 percent of the total volume of material just by Skylining.

What sort of thickness do you apply to that usually?

We are injection molding so we do need to get it across the entire circuit board. We like to see 1mm of thickness but we have molded down to 30 thousandths of an inch with these materials.

But to be thermally conductive and to remove the heat, you’re going to surely want a bit more depth.

We would like to see 1mm, but the good thing about this and even the thermally conductive material, is that the viscosity is so low we can flow them out in very thin layers because it’s almost like molding with a liquid or water. It’s about the thickness of pancake syrup, even the fill product is thermally conductive.

You touched on the new products that you launched at APEX earlier in the year and of course, the big one was the GC-10.

The GC-10, the game changer, the whole standard.

That literally went live in April. So, how has that performed?

I would say that, in my twenty years of working for Henkel, it is probably the most successful product launch that I’ve seen. The game-changer solder paste, the room temperature solder paste, the marketing initially was the fact that you’ve got a product that is not going to react at room temperature. Typically, solder paste is put together – the flux medium and the metal alloy – right away it has got to go into a refrigerator, not to stop the reaction, but

to slow down a reaction. Now, with the GC-10, we’ve stopped that reaction. The clock is ticking, right now we say we’ve got a one-year shelf life on the product. It may be longer than that. We’ve got products that have been sitting – I guess you could call it beta testing – in storage testing, that is set at one year. We open it up; we can still put it on a printer.

Wow.

We have worked with customers in some of the worst environments, in the worst contract manufacturing environments; no air conditioning, high humidity, where it’s been raining.

Have you been to Florida?

Exactly! In Florida, where they’ve put the paste on the stencil today – come back tomorrow, just turn the stencil, turn the machine back on and it reprints. It just doesn’t have any impact. The wedding capabilities of the product and the abandon time, that’s the key to it. Most of our customers that use traditional Sac 305 alloys have abandon times of 8 to 16 hours where they scrape off what’s on the stencil and they put it into a reclaim container. With the GC-10, they’re just continuing to use it and we’re reducing the scrap rate anywhere from 75 to 95%.

That’s considerable. But of course, the magic is really in the flux media. Are you rolling this out into other Henkel products?

At APEX, we launched our Sac 305 in a Type 4 version. Since then, we’ve produced our Type 3 version and just this past week we launched our water-soluble version as well. By APEX next year, we will have launched our tin lead versions as well, so we’ll have a game changer across the entire family.

Great! Michael, it’s always good to see all the things that are coming out of the Henkel stable. There seems to be more and more of them everytime I talk to you. Congratulations and thanks for the update.

Thank you, Trevor. All the best to you.

– TREVOR GALBRAITH