Electronics manufacturing involves the handling and assembly of several delicate, moisture-sensitive components. Maintaining optimal humidity levels during the manufacturing process is key for protecting these components from electrostatic discharge, de-soldering, and other occurrences that can decrease the quality of the final product. This article highlights the importance of effective humidity control for avoiding product damage and maintaining a safe work environment in electronics manufacturing facilities.
Reducing Electronic Damage with Humidity Control
In electronics manufacturing, both low and high humidity levels can have negative impacts on product quality as well as the safety of the work environment. Three major risks associated with incorrect humidity control are as follows:
- Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) – Electrostatic discharge describes the sudden release of static electricity when two electrically charged objects meet. In addition to damaging electronic components, ESD events can create significant safety hazards such as fires or explosions. Since low humidity levels increase the risk of ESD, it is important to maintain a humidity level of at least 30% when working with electronic components.
- De-Soldering – Low humidity levels can cause solder paste to dry too quickly, compromising the strength of the solder joint and reducing the quality of the final product. Conversely, elevated humidity levels can cause condensation to form within the components and facilitate short-circuiting. Proper humidity control minimizes these risks by maintaining a consistent relative humidity level that meets the facility’s specific process requirements.
- Brittle components – When a facility’s humidity levels are too low, components are prone to becoming brittle and weak. Keeping humidity levels in the appropriate range is key for maintaining the desired material properties.
The Benefits of Humidity Control in Electronics Manufacturing
Effective humidity control in electronics manufacturing is essential for the following:
- Maximizing production output – Proper humidity control ensures a more consistent product output, leading to greater production yields.
- Creating a safe work environment – Maintaining optimal humidity levels is critical for reducing electrostatic energy and minimizing the risk of explosions or fires.
- Prolonging the lifespan of components and devices – Tight humidity control ensures longer-lasting and higher-quality products by preventing corrosion, eliminating ESD, and keeping materials from becoming brittle.
- Maintaining compliance – Implementing an effective humidity control strategy is important for maintaining compliance with the electronics manufacturing industry’s strict requirements regarding the production environment.
The Optimal Humidity Level for Electronics Manufacturing
The ideal humidity range for an electronics manufacturing environment will depend on the following:
- Components – A facility’s humidity levels should be optimized according to the individual specifications and sensitivities of the components being manufactured and assembled.
- Location – The physical location of the application and the ambient environment will also influence the optimal humidity range. For example, applications in drier environments tend to require slightly higher humidity levels to avoid static discharge, brittle materials, and other issues caused by insufficient humidity.
For most electronics manufacturing environments, optimal humidity levels tend to range from 30% to 70%. The ideal humidity level typically depends on factors such as the ambient environment and the specifications of the electrical components and devices being manufactured. For example, maintaining a consistent relative humidity of 50% may be ideal for some manufacturing environments, whereas others may require slightly lower levels to avoid condensation and corrosion in highly moisture-sensitive components.
Contact Air Innovations for Premium Humidity Control Solutions
Maintaining the proper humidity levels in electronics manufacturing facilities is critical for preserving component quality and minimizing the risk of safety hazards. At Air Innovations, we provide state-of-the-art humidity control solutions that optimize humidity levels for a range of sensitive electronics manufacturing environments. Designed, manufactured, and tested in-house, our systems are capable of meeting even the most challenging process parameters.
Standardized HVAC units are a reasonable air handling solution for facilities with typical comfort cooling needs and few special concerns. A custom HVAC system or environmental control unit (ECU) can cool specialty spaces and processes within a facility, integrating with a standard ECU. Here, we will explain why custom ECU/HVAC systems are better suited for specialized air handling challenges and offer unique benefits to your space or process.
Benefits of Customizing Your ECU/HVAC Unit
No two facilities are identical, so standard solutions cannot serve the needs of every application. Whether it’s a completely new system or designed to integrate with your existing air handling systems, a custom HVAC solution offers advantages not possible with standard units.
Adapts to Climate/Operating Conditions
Off-the-shelf HVAC units are standardized for installation in some environments. But, if your facility is located in an area that is colder, warmer, more humid, drier, or otherwise deviates from standard conditions, that system won’t perform as well. A customized ECU is specifically set up to work best in your precise environmental conditions. Custom systems can also be designed to unique specifications, such as explosion-proof, high filtration, pressurization, or rugged environments.
Targets Specific Applications
If you need to maintain a reliable cold chain, keep a server room cool, have special air filtering needs, or control precise temperatures, a standard HVAC system is insufficient. A customized ECU installation will not only perform better and maintain desired conditions, but it will do so more efficiently. Custom air conditioning can target specific rooms while keeping conditions comfortable for the rest of the facility.
An HVAC system too large (too much capacity) for its facility consumes more energy than necessary. A system too small for its facility (not enough capacity) constantly works at maximum capacity without effectively maintaining proper filtration, temperature, or humidity levels. A customized system can eliminate these inefficiencies and save on energy expenses. Constructing new buildings gives technicians the opportunity to customize the HVAC system according to the correct configuration of rooms, windows, doors, hallways, heat loads, and other factors.
Meets Code Requirements
Local and national codes for ventilation and safety are frequently updated, so a custom HVAC solution can make sure your facility keeps up with those changes and stays compliant.
Because they run based on the precise needs of a space, customized ECUs may also reduce environmental impacts and energy consumption versus a standard solution, while still meeting all the requirements for the space they are cooling. Custom HVAC contractors can recommend special designs, filters, or capabilities to improve indoor air quality and lower operational costs while complying with environmental standards.
Custom Environmental Control and HVAC Systems at Air Innovations
Air Innovations’ custom environmental control systems are designed to meet specialized needs for controlling temperature, humidity, and filtration. We serve both OEM and non-OEM markets with prototyping and testing as well as mass production. We also design and build systems to a variety of international standards and electrical systems.
Custom ECU/HVAC installation options include the following:
Installations can also be designed for unique sizes or configurations and for mobile units.
Our systems have been tested for operation in ambient conditions from 0 °F to 100 °F (-18 °C to 38 °C) and up to 95% humidity. Our customized systems can be precisely controlled according to these specifications:
- Temperature: tolerances down to +/- 0.02 °C
- Humidity: tolerances down to +/- 0.5%
- Cooling: DX, chilled water, or thermoelectric
- Refrigerants: standard (DX) or specialty
- Filtration: HEPA, ULPA, or molecular
- Humidification or dehumidification: steam or ultrasonic
- Pressure: positive or negative
- Safety and performance standards: CE mark, mil–spec, ANSI, or other standards
Tailored Solutions for Your Specific Application & Industry
Air Innovations can customize an ECU to meet your facility’s needs. Common industries and applications we serve include the following:
- Explosion-Proof Applications
- Homeland Security
- Library & Museum Archive Storage
- Life Sciences
- Mining & Drilling
- Process Manufacturing
Contact Our Experts Today for Your Environmental Control Needs
At Air Innovations, our goal is to solve your unique HVAC and environmental control requirements with customized systems, especially when off-the-shelf options are inadequate. Contact us today to start planning a custom air handling solution or to request a quote.