Ensuring Supplier Quality

Supplier quality can be a major concern to an OEM. Questions arise: What specifications pertain to the supplier to ensure reliable products? How can OEMs guarantee the supplier is accurately sending what is needed? What supplier quality checks should OEMs put in place? Communicable specifications, quality checks, and quality assurance are crucial to successful product completion. Yet, it can be difficult to ensure understanding and objectivity, especially concerning international relationships.

When we are discussing surface critical properties (cleaning, painting, bonding, sealing, printing) the specifications that keep these systems working well depend on the first 2-3 molecular layers of a surface. Until now, this has been impossible to control. By utilizing a contact angle specification set by the Surface Analyst™, manufacturers can now check with full confidence that they are receiving appropriate parts. Immediately, batch-to-batch variation is identified, contamination can be caught, and an inept product can be identified before regression and counter productivity occur.

An American printing OEM encountered a complication printing circuit boards onto polyimide film. The issue, in which their circuit boards were not properly adhering to the film, arose after the company switched from a domestic film manufacturer, to an international film manufacturer. Previously, because of the success of their circuit board printing, the manufacturer did not require a supplier check. Yet, upon switching suppliers, these checks became crucial. The integrity of their surface cleanliness lost confidence and a monitoring process became necessary. The company needed a way in which they could accurately measure and test the surface cleanliness of their polyimide from abroad, before shipping, in a clear and objective manner.

Regaining Consistency with the Surface Analyst

An engineer at the printing company had heard of the Surface Analyst™ and suggested to give it a try. The company used it to compare surface cleanliness levels on their former and current suppliers. The film surface on their new supplier did not maintain sufficient surface cleanliness like their former supplier. The difference revealed itself and the surface cleanliness requirement the new supplier needed to obtain, became clear. The international supplier was able to monitor and produce the desired surface cleanliness levels. Thus, the printing OEM gained the capability and habit of preforming supplier checks before and after shipping. A controllable input produced a successful output.

The importance of monitoring surfaces is crucial to the success of circuit board printing. With the use of the Surface Analyst, the film regained consistently clean surfaces. The Surface Analyst offered the company the information and ability to remotely monitor the product from abroad with a clear and objective scale.