Thursday, 5 December 2013

Retronix is evolving - Consistency | Innovation | Quality | Precision

Retronix is changing. 

With the efforts being put in, we have the right processes, the right people and we are at the cusp of a great opportunity to present Retronix as being evolved into a sharp, efficient and a quality service provider. 

Retronix is undergoing a change in branding with the philosophy we believe in and for the future of this company.

Retronix provides services to highly important sectors such as Military, Aerospace, Oil&Gas, big OEM's and IC manufacturers therefore our message to our customers will be ruled by the following four values:

CONSISTENCY : Signifying control and repeatability

INNOVATION : Signifying customised solutions and flexibility in our services

QUALITY : Signifying excellence and value

PRECISION : Signifying accuracy and care

We aim to make Retronix as a one word definition for the above four values and every step of the way Retronix will reflect these values.

We take the first step today with a slight change in the logo tagline

Repositioning Retronix

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Retronix IC Recovery process: Why it will change the landscape of the IC recovery market.

The philosophy of the Retronix IC recovery process is built around industry standards, adopted by the largest IC manufacturers. For them, when you are soldering ICs to PCBs, temperature and time are your enemy. The higher the temperature, and the longer the profile, then the more likely damage is to be caused. Think of passing your wet finger through a candle flame, no damage. Then think about holding it there for a minute! IC Manufacturers state (as a rule) no more than 3 or 4 reflow cycles should be carried out on an IC, but up to that number is fine:

Micron - "The maximum number of reflows is defined as three...product guarantees may be invalidated" (Ref 1.)
Xilinx - "Pg.11 JEDEC STD-20 compliant Packages capable of withstanding high reflow temperature rating (245 C-260 C) for 3 reflow cycles" (Ref 2.)
INTEL - "Many BGAs (including Intel BGAs) are rated for 3 reflow cycles" (Ref 3.)

Intel specifies two more points which are relevant, in the above referenced document, point specifies, that the profile goes above 154 deg. after approx 1.9 minutes, and does not come below 154 deg. again till about 6.4 minutes. So it is above that temperature for approx. 4.5 minutes, moreover some profiles are even longer than this.

Keeping the above standards in mind, the Retronix IC Rescue process is different and unique as it manages to stay within all the stated manufacturers specifications, much shorter in terms of temperature and time, safe and well below stated reflow profiles.

Following comparison shows the traditional method  to the Retronix method, and how the Retronix IC recovery method is changing the landscape of the component recovery market.

The first time the component goes onto a PCB it has gone through a reflow profile, therefore the count starts from 1.

As can be seen from the comparison above:
The Retronix IC Rescue method is well within the manufacturers specifications, the process is automated, controlled and completely safe. 

Additional benefits of Retronix IC Rescue method include an automatic wash which makes sure each IC is clean, a mechanical test to verify functionality, including curve trace test, key functional test and memory test. A solderability test and XRF test to verify composition of leg or ball.

Watch a video on the IC recovery process: 

For more information on the reflow profiles and on our IC recovery process do contact us and we will be happy to set up  a meeting to discuss more on this process - (Click Here)

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Know more about IC Rescue  -

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

LCC on PCB caused thermal imbalance and it lead to solder joint failures

A customer was experiencing a high failure rate, during accelerated life testing on one of their PCBs. The same fault was causing the problem each time. 

The problem was of cracking solder joint(s) on a Leaded Chip Carrier (LCC) which was soldered directly on the PCB. It was discovered that the LCC created a lot of heat, with no space under the component to dissipate the heat. The thermal imbalance between the IC and the PCB caused the solder joint to fail. 

To fix the problem Retronix fitted Plastic Core Solder Spheres (PCSS) to the pads, which don't collapse.
Plastic Core Solder Spheres
The PCSS created enough 'standoff' between the IC and the PCB which allowed the heat to dissipate. Also having the exact same spheres on the exact same pads also guaranteed the RF inductance on the part.

PCSS, leaving enough standoff for heat to dissipate.

This solution reduced the failure rate on the PCB by a factor of 10, eliminating the issue as a weak spot on the component.

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Know more about Application Specific Balling and Reballing  -

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

What are tin whiskers and why are they a problem?

A lot has been talked about the problem of tin-whiskering and the way it could lead to problems in different electronic components. This could especially lead to big problems if the electronic components are deployed in high reliability environments such as avionics, and harsh environments such as oil rigs deployed deep sea; where failure is not an option.

But what are Tin Whiskers?
Tin whiskers are electrically conductive, crystalline structures of tin that sometimes grow from surfaces where tin (especially electroplated tin) is used as a final finish.

Reasons why Tin whisker mitigation is required.

What are the mechanisms by which Tin Whiskers form?
The mechanisms by which tin whiskers grow has been studied for many years. But unfortunately no single, widely accepted explanation of this mechanism has been established. But there are certain agreed factors in tin whisker formation. Tin whisker growth is primarily attributed to stresses in tin plating; the stresses may be from various sources which include :
  • Residual stresses in the tin resulting from the plating process.
  • Electro deposited finishes are considered most susceptible due to stresses built into the finish as a result of the plating process.
  • Formation of intermetallic compounds especially within the tin grain boundaries.
  • Compressive stresses such as those introduced by torquing of a nut or a screw.
  • Bending or stretching of the surface after plating
  • Scratches or nicks in the plating introduced by handling.
What are the commonly reported characteristics of Tin Whiskers?

The vast disparity in the observations reported by different experimenters is evidence of the complications associated with understanding and controlling tin whiskers. The following provide a very basic overview of some of the observed characteristics of tin whiskers.

Whiskers may be straight, kinked, hooked, or forked. Their outer surfaces are often grooved. Some growths may form as nodules or pyramidal structures.

Automated Re-Tinning is the solution.

All of the above characteristics have been known to cause problems, for example causing a short circuit in a satellite leading to blacking out of several important services. Therefore it is very important to understand tin whiskers and work on a solution that leads to tin whisker mitigation. A solution that has worked for mitigation for tin whiskers is re-tinning of components.

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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Failed PCB's - What happens to the electronic components mounted on them?

It is a fact that there will always be a certain number of failures when PCB's are manufactured and this is normal due to the nature of manufacturing processes. Typical causes that can cause failures are:

1) Paste issues
2) Raw PCB faults
3) Rogue Solder joints

These faults mentioned above are the first indicator that the components mounted on these PCB's may be good, since they have nothing to do with the faults. Therefore in all probability the ICs may be brand new, unused and in perfect working order.

But sometimes company policy states that these failed PCB's be send straight to landfill and recycled, this leaves a lot of potential threats, as certain people with vested interests may get the opportunity to counterfeit these components by using the scrap material from these landfills, also in some cases be sold faulty or completely degraded to unsuspecting customers who buy and implement them in their supply chain leading to  huge problems later to deal with.

  Picture used for representation purposes only
Companies were taking this risk of sending the failed PCBs straight to landfill since there was no safe way of recovering these perfectly good components from PCBs for re-use. However recently there is a process developed that can recover these components for re-use in a very safe manner and without reflow cycles, and this is certainly a much better and economical way to recycle them than to throw the full unit away.

When new components are scarce, as is often the case, their recovery becomes even more important and even more profitable. The risk of dealing in counterfeit components has increased with the 2012 US National Defence Authorization Act. As this global issue becomes more and more of a problem, the ramifications, sentences and fines are becoming increasingly severe. Therefore the best option is to recover this ICs in a safe manner for re-use.

Here is a small demonstration of the process :


By recovering electronic components, up to 50 times the value can be realised from the scrap. The treated scrap, with components removed, could then be sent to any recycler, thereby also eliminating counterfeiting and the re-circulation of faulty and degraded parts.

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Friday, 9 August 2013

Retronix carries out successful underfill removal from a cellphone pcb

Retronix recently carried out successful underfill removal from a cellphone pcb that had to have a chip replaced, however the pcb was underefilled. Also the chip was under a can and was densely populated

We removed the can, then the damaged chip, then the underfill that was under the chip, and surrounding it.
After cleaning up the pads we replaced the chip and tested the pcb. When it passed we replaced the underfill, replaced the can and retested it to ensure the fix was successful

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Know more about our IC Tests (Click here)

Monday, 22 July 2013

Implementing faulty/counterfeit ICs in the supply chain can be dangerous. What are the options to avoid this?

It is well known that it can be difficult to find a genuine and reliable supply of electronic components particularly when they are scarce or out of production by the original manufacturer. Although refurbished components are sometimes frowned upon for being 'unsafe' and therefore are not a part of the PCB repair process, sometimes this can be the only solution to get around components which are scarce or hard to source.
Especially for a component supplier or broker, the biggest risk is loss of credibility; should a faulty, substandard or counterfeit IC be sold to one of the customers, and hence to avoid or substantially reduce the risk of this to occur; component test is advised. But what are the different tests that can be performed? Listed below are a few of the important tests that are done on a sample or even the whole batch at times to determine authenticity:

Visual Inspection : This is a very effective component testing method, by using optical inspection it can be determined if the components are in good condition, whether there are any damages or any minute defects.

XRF Analysis : This is a non-destructive method to determine what alloy the termination consists of. This is particularly useful for businesses belonging to the high reliability industries such as defence, medical, aerospace, Oil & Gas sectors.

Solderability Test : This test verifies whether the component is re-solderable and also if it is good enough to be placed back on a PCB with reflow.

Electrical Test: Also known as BEST (BGA & Electrical Silicon Test) used to check the electrical parameters of every pin to pin e.g. current, voltage, diode resistivity, and silicon connectivity. 

Key Function Test : Some devices may need tested by creating a circuit to ensure that they are operating as expected. With the help of the component datasheet, a circuit can be created and the key aspects of the IC can be checked. For example MOSFETs can be tested to confirm that they still meet the manufacturer's specifications.

Flash Memory Test / Memory Programming : Components can be programmed to check for counterfeit programmable components. Device ID codes can confirm if the devices were blank or programmed. Already programmed FLASH parts can be erased back to factory default settings.

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Know more about our IC Tests (Click here)

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

High Reliability industries are vulnerable to counterfeit ICs

High reliability industries such as the Defence, Medical, Aerospace, Oil & Gas sectors rely on electronic parts that are no longer produced by the original manufacturers or even sold by their authorised distributors. That reliance is based, in part, on the long life cycles of these systems. An electronic part may be manufactured for two years, but many defence, medical and aerospace systems which use these parts may be in service for more than two decades. Older components often need to be properly tested and would require retinning to avoid solderability issues like tin whisker.

These high reliability industries are critically dependent on a technology that obsoletes itself every few years or even faster in some cases, is made in locations which are not secure and over which they have no market share influence. 

To source scarce parts, purchasers in these high reliability industries often buy from independent distributors or brokers. This introduces high risk of faulty or counterfeit components being acquired.

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Know more about our Automated Retinning (Click here)

Monday, 8 July 2013

Retronix Develop Unique Re-tinning Tool for Aerospace Customer

An Aerospace company had a large amount of LGAs with a gold pad finish that they wanted to convert to a lead finish. They wanted the re-tinning to comply with the GEIA standard, the issue was that the components were very small and any standard tooling would not have been able to perform the service on the components.

Retronix developed a very cost effective piece of tooling that held the row of the components and allowed them to be processed automatically without causing any issues.

Automated Retinning  IC

The components were then XRF tested to verify compliance and shipped to the customer within 5 days.

Automated Retinning and Alloy conversion

Monday, 1 July 2013

Retronix 'IC Rescue' process helps maximise returns for a service repair company.

A service company that specialised in field repairs of telecommunication systems had a large quantity of spare PCBs, all brand new, that they bought in order to carry out repairs on systems. The product turned out to be far more reliable than estimated, and the product did not sell in the volumes expected.

BGA Recovery, QFP Recovery

The end result was that the service company ended up with a large quantity of brand new PCBs they had no use for, and there was no obvious external market.

Using Retronix’s “IC Rescue” process, the PCBs were stripped of valuable ICs, which were then offered to the market as 100% genuine, zero hours use ICs which were safely recovered from brand new PCBs.

These were either utilised on other PCBs which used the same chips, or sold on the general market to other companies, who knew they were recovered but also knew it was done with zero reflows and were from brand a new certified product.

This allowed the service company to maximise their return  on this product which otherwise would have returned no value, other than precious metal recovery.

For more information -
Know more about Retronix | CLICK HERE |
Know more about our IC Rescue Process | CLICK HERE |
We welcome you to join our LinkedIn group | CLICK HERE |

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Anti Counterfeit IC Testing : Visual Inspection

As part of the Retronix Anti-Counterfeit IC testing service a customer approached us asking for our level 1 authenticity test, specifically the visual inspection service.

The customer send us approximately 3000 qty - NUD4700 type parts and asked to pick a random sample of 11 for visual inspection to check for authenticity. The reel information and datecodes given were the following: 
Retronix - Authenticity tests
IC Testing services

    Where :
    M = Date Code
    MNH = Device Code
    . = Pb-Free Package

Anti-Counterfeit IC Tests

The first check straight away points out certain discrepancies.  Markings do not match the information on the datasheet, and the direction of the text with reference to the Anode was found to be incorrect, further inspection about the device itself revealed the following:
Component Testing services Retronix

As it can be seen from the datasheet image and from the image that is sourced from Mouser Electronics, the bottom side of the device should be connected to the Cathode and continue onto the entire bottom side. But as can be seen with the image of the device on the right that these devices have two isolated pins with the bottom side being the outer casing and not a contact, this shows us that the device in question is not as per standard and is considered suspect.

Continuing investigation of the device for further inspection shows:

Retronix Ltd. IC Tests

Retronix Ltd. Component Testing
1                                              2        

Device contacts are found to be incorrect, Anode and Cathode are formed into a gull wing as can be seen in 'Image 2' and not as they originally should have been as shown in 'Image 1'

Conclusion :

The visual inspection of the sample puts the batch as suspect and cannot be termed original as per standard datasheet and information available about the device. The report along with all photographic evidence and technical information was provided as a report to the customer as suspect counterfeit. This gives the customer a good insight into future purchases from the buyer and also this current purchase which could have caused big issues in case the customer would have gone on and implemented the same into his supply chain.

Are you interested in getting your IC purchases tested and have complete peace of mind? We have a huge range of IC testing services which can be found  here : Tell me more

In case you need to know more about our services and want to get in touch with our test manager then send in your enquiry using our contact us page : Click Here

For more info about Retronix - Click Here
We welcome you to join our LinkedIn group Click Here

Monday, 3 June 2013

Automated Re-Tinning and Alloy Conversion for higly specialised industries like Defence | Medical | Aerospace | Oil & Gas

Retronix offers the safest and most reliable processes for retinning and alloy conversion available in the market today; to know more click here

We process a huge range of components:

Thru hole Resistors, connectors, ICs, SMD Chip resistors / caps, miniature crystal oscillators, all types of SOIC

All types of QFP and large surface mount components, for more information click here

all BGA components; for more information click here 

Our processes are fully compliant with, and exceed, requirements for ANSI-GEIA-STD-0006, the standard for replacing solder finish on components.

Our process : 
  • Are fully automatic and repeatable
  • Full thermally controlled
  • Have no abrasive processes to damage substrate.

We have expertise in dealing with high reliability sectors requiring completely automated work done on the components for high reliability solutions. For example : Automated Re-tinning done for a company belonging to the Aerospace sector.

For more info -
Know more about Retronix | CLICK HERE |
Know more about our Automated Re-tinning process | CLICK HERE |
We welcome you to join our LinkedIn group | CLICK HERE |
Contact us : | CLICK HERE | |

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Monday, 22 April 2013

Mr.Tony Boswell at SMT Nuremberg 2013, talking about the new processes at Retronix Ltd.

Tony talks about the electronic component recovery business, and that Retronix have developed a process that avoid any additional reflow cycles, Tony also goes on to explain that it is not just economic factors but supply chain shortages that have led to a growing demand for IC Recovery.

Source: EMS Now

In order to know more please visit our website on or you can contact us directly from the website using our contact us section or you can also email us on 

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Monday, 11 March 2013

Retronix- A One Stop Shop For All IC Testing and IC Repair

Retronix IC test facility is not only a one stop shop for all IC testing, we can carry out in house repair too.  From various electrical tests to detect counterfeit, to solderability and programming testing, we are equipped to test most ICs.  However with our alloy conversion & retinning services, we can repair any repairable faults.  If old ICs (QFP or BGA) have solderability issues, we can repair and verify the fix.  We can also convert from lead to lead free and vice versa.

For more info about Retronix | CLICK HERE |
We welcome you to join our LinkedIn group | CLICK HERE |

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Retronix Expands its Temperature Testing Capability

Retronix has taken delivery of a TPO412A Thermostream Temperature Forcing System in response to the increasing demand from customers to temperatures test ICs and other components. Capable of temperature extremes beyond -55°C to +125°C this nitrogen fed temperature forcing system allows Retronix to test ICs at commercial, industrial and military temperature ranges. Customers are asking Retronix to confirm certain product data sheet parameters at temperature and there is an increasing demand from OEM customers to characterise commercial grade ICs at wider temperature extremes. Retronix also plans to develop its extensive  Curve Trace Test capability to include test at temperature.

For more info about Retronix's | CLICK HERE |
We welcome you to join our LinkedIn group | CLICK HERE |

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Retronix's Process Reduces OEM Production Costs for NPI by Over 50%

A division of a large telecoms company was responsible for the design of new products, specifically telecoms switches. These pcbs cost $15k each to make. This company would make perhaps 5 different versions, each one an improved version of the first, until they were satisfied with the design and released it to production.

Although each new version of the pcb is slightly different, most of the ICs, which make up 90% of the cost, are the same.

By sending the previous version of the pcb to Retronix for component recovery, the oem reduced the cost of their NPI production process by over 50%, without compromising quality, using Retronix’s IC rescue process.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Retronix Takes Delivery of its New High Capacity Laser Balling System

Retronix has taken delivery of its custom developed high capacity laser balling and reballing system. Developed in partnership with Retronix by a world renowned laser company, the new laser system will be capable of reballing multiple ICs over a wide work area. Retronix is finalising the development of the new laser system and will partner with existing customers to finalise its trialling and commissioning. The new laser represents a significant investment by Retronix and will reinforce its leadership in the market for balling and reballing ICs.

To know more about Retronix | CLICK HERE |
We welcome you to join our LinkedIn group | CLICK HERE |

Retronix Successfully Trials Plastic Core Solder Balls

Plastic Core Solder Balls (PCSB) provide a method of ensuring stand-off height between an IC package and the substrate or PCB. Inside the SnAg sphere is a polymer core buffered by nickel  and copper layers.  Standard Pb free reflow profiles can be used to attach the PCSBs unlike the alternative method of High Melting Point (HMP) spheres.
For RF and microwave applications, PCSBs can provide a predictable and well controlled path length and inductance solution for package attachment to PCBs.

For more info CLICK HERE |
We welcome you to join our LinkedIn group | CLICK HERE |