For Makers: BGA? or Not? - Makerfabs

For Makers: BGA? or Not? - Makerfabs

August 04, 2021

As the serious worldwide IC shortage recently, there're so many ICs out of stock, many of our customers have to modify the designs to BGA components. For Makers: BGA? or Not?

Why Makers use Much More BGA Components Recently?

Once, for most Makerfabs customers, Makers/startups, BGA components are normally avoid to be used. The reasons mainly as these projects normally not so complex, most of these projects electronic are relatively simple for IOT/ Learning/ Open hardware… that based on Arduino/ ESP32/ STM32… BGA is not needed; And as the other hand, unlike the consumer electronic products that need big mass production, most of Makerfabs projects are for Makers/ DIY/ Learning… not intended for industry mass production, production with BGA increase the production fee.

But recently, as the serious world-wide IC shortage, there so much IC out of stock, many of our customers have to modify the designs, even for some stable projects, to use the IC that available on the market, even the production cost higher. That is why there much more BGA components are used in our daily PCBA production.

6 Tips for Makers Before Switching to BGA Components

BGA package is normally for high-spec controllers, such as DSP/ FPGA, and components that need a large number of pins, such as RAM, or components that need to be tiny enough. BGA package and its soldering has been proven reliable. But for designers, especially Makers/ Startups that have little experience with BGA, before switching to BGA components, there some points need to be considered, to ensure the PCBA quality and cost-effectiveness.

1. In the PCB design, blind/ buried vias may lead to 1.2~2 times for the PCB cost, so, design blind/ buries vias when you have to.

While resin also take 1.2~1.5 times. The resin in vias helps to avoid the tins flows towards the vias, to ensure the soldering quality. So, if possible, try not to design holes on SMD pads, to reduce the production cost.

2. Select the BGA packages with pins pitch > 0.4mm. For most of PCBA factories, the 0.5mm BGA is safe; 0.4mm is a little risky while 0.3mm pitch is dangerous in soldering quality control, that is why you will find most PCBA vendor made the BGA soldering capacity to 0.4 mm.

In Makerfabs, the one-time pass rate for 0.4mm pitch BGA soldering is normally >98%, while 92%~95% for 0.3mm BGA soldering, as in our 4 years’ experience in dealing BGA soldering.

3. For projects with BGA, make the PCB surface ENIG or Hard-Gold(but not HASL) to ensure the surface more smooth, and ask for industry level PCB producer for that. Express PCB such as JLC is a good way for normal express PCB, cheap and quick, but for boards with BGA, maybe not a good choice. as express PCB is intended for simple/quick PCB, it would lead to risky to the small pitch IC soldering.

4. The BGA soldering needs stencil more precise, and also has higher requests to the pick-n-place machine/reflow temperature, so for PCBA factory, the BGA soldering starting fee would be higher. That is, if only samples, the soldering fee for PCBA with BGA would be higher than that without BGA. In Makerfabs, starting fee for PCBA with BGA would be $200~$500(depends on the BGA pitch& difficulty), but $30 for boards without BGA. But when the quantity grows to few hundreds, they will turn close and finally the same.

5. X-ray is a good way to check the BGA soldering quality, but it is not a checking method for PCBA mass production, as its testing cost& time, it is a checking method for BGA sample soldering, or checking if the soldering process good, such as if the pick-n-place working accurate, if the tins melt good with the set temperature, and if the sample OK and the mass soldering OK to go.

The best& final way to check if the PCBA soldering good is still the functional testing. And a nice video about Xray: X-Ray Tips and Tricks: BGA Inspection.

6. BGA manually soldering& re-soldering, especially when the pins interval less than 0.4mm, is difficult, you may need many practicing to try that before your success. There many Youtube video that shows how to do that, learn from that, but be prepared that it would be not so easy as the video, practice more…

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