# The Area Ratio for Odd-Shaped Stencil Apertures

Joey writes:

Dear Dr. Ron,

I have a stencil aperture with an unusual shape. See Figure 1. How do I calculate the area ratio? The stencil thickness is 5 mils. The dimensions of the aperture are also in mils.

Joey,

The area ratio is simply the area of the stencil aperture opening divided by the area of the sidewalls. For common aperture geometries such as circles, squares, etc. it is easy to derive formulas. See Figure 2.

For an unusual shape like yours, it is easiest to simply calculate and divide the areas. From Figure 1, we get that area of the aperture opening as: 40*24+ the area of the two triangles. A little geometry (can you do it?) shows each triangle to have an area of 89 sq mils. So, the total area is 960 + 2*89 = 1138 sq mils. The perimeter is 40+24+16+16+28+12+16+16 = 168 mils, hence the area of the sidewalls is 168*5 = 840 sq mils. Therefore, the area ratio is 1138/840 = 1.355. Experience has shown that an area ratio of > 0.66 is needed for good solder paste transfer efficiency, so this stencil aperture will do well for transfer efficiency.

Careful thought would suggest that the triangular protrusions alone do not have a good area ratio. Calculations show their area ratios to be 0.37. So, the transfer efficiency in this part of the aperture might not be good. However, the area of the rectangle is so great, more than five times that of the triangles, as to alleviate this concern.

Dr. Ron

# QFN Stencil Gerber

In the previous episode, Wally’s attack on Dilbert’s kingdom prompts Ratbert to perfect an “N”-Ray, to be discharged from a powerful Nullitrion, to neutralize and render useless Wally’s power plant. Dilbert tells Dogbert the Nullitrion can best be directed against Wally’s palace from the Devil’s Dome, in the Land of The Dead. Wally learns of their plans, and his soldiers plant a powerful time bomb on the Devil’s Dome, but are promptly captured by Pointy Haired Men. Dogbert and his party land, unaware of the bomb and the Pointy Haired Men who are watching and ….

As we rejoin our intrepid heros, you can see, circled in red, what the custom QFN stencil layer, from the previous episode, will look like in the Gerber file. Obviously the stencil cut outs will look like this too. Except they won’t be green. These format cut-outs will deposit the recommended 50 to 75% paste coverage in the center pad of the QFN leading to a good solid solder joint.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode, where Dogbert assists Dilbert in assaulting the manufacturing warehouse of Devil’s Dome to recover the missing 0402 bypass capacitors.

Duane Benson
Azura, Queen of Mars, ordered the Russian Phobos-Grunt probe to be disabled by a ray-beam

http://blog.screamingcircuits.com

I’ve been reading through my Virtual PCB chat session transcript from Tuesday. It was a fun session and I have a much better idea of how the virtual shows work now. I think I may just be getting it.

The chat session had a lot of interesting questions and dialog. I did notice, however, that I missed one question and thus didn’t answer it. Oops.

Owen asked if I am of the opinion that all footprints should have rounded pads (probably stencil cutouts, too) to help with paste release. Sorry I missed your question.

I’m not of that opinion. There are a lot of factors that come out of stencil decisions. Paste release is one of them. There are others, some more important. For example, the shape of a pad and stencil cut out can either encourage or discourage solder balls. The size of the opening can put too much or too little paste on the pad. Wide open cut-outs over heat slugs can cause float.

The pads themselves, should follow the part manufacturers recommendation for shape and size. Most are rectangular. BGAs have round pads. Unless you have a very good and very specific reason, I would not deviate far from the part manufacturer’s recommended footprint.

Some of the factors that influence paste release are the stencil thickness, whether it’s polished or not, the angle of the cut, ratio of thickness to width and paste properties. How long the paste has been exposed to air as well as the room’s temperature and humidity can also have an impact. Lots of permutations.

If you’re reading this Owen, sorry I missed your question in the chat. I hope this answers it for you.

Duane Benson
If it’s going to the EU, make sure it’s peanut butter-free.

http://blog.screamingcircuits.com/

# Solder Paste Stencil Opening

Here’s a case of close, but no cigar with the stencil opening. The pads are, in fact, covered by the openings, but as you can see, the openings are too big.

This stencil would end up laying way too much paste down. Some of it would be on the solder mask which might bubble up and turn into solder balls. All in all, the use of this stencil might just lead to something of a gloppy mess.

When you’re making your paste layer in the library component (presumably, this was custom-made), it’s sometimes appropriate to make the paste opening the same size as the pad and it’s sometimes appropriate to make the opening smaller, but it’s never appropriate to make the opening bigger then the pad size.

After writing this, I for some reason got curious as to the origin of the phrase: “close, but no cigar.” I know it’s been around a long time, but I couldn’t come up with any plausible meaning for it. Then I remembered this thing called the Internet, so I looked it up. According to a couple of different sites, carnival booths, like the big hammer, would give out cigars as prizes so if you almost made it, the Carney, would say “close, but no cigar.” Huh. Interesting, but much less interesting then I had expected.

Duane Benson
Sorry. We don’t give out cigars if your stencil is good.

http://blog.screamingcircuits.com/