Gideon Analytical Laboratories received four electronic transformers, some of which were failing. Three transformers produced no output and the fourth was tested using an oscilloscope and found to function. Transformers are electrical devices typically used to transfer energy between two or more circuits using electromagnetic induction. Electromagnetic induction is the production of an electromotive force across a conductor when it is exposed to a varying magnetic field. Using Faraday’s Law with high magnetic permeability core properties, transformers can efficiently change AC voltages from one voltage level to another within a given power network. The goal was to find out the cause of these failures.
Failure analysis was conducted on the transformers. The potting material was removed. The solder joints were suspect. Several cold solder joints led to the failure of these devices. All cold solder joints and opens were on plated-through-holes (PTH). PTH refers to the mounting scheme used for electronic components that involve the use of leads on the components that are inserted into holes drilled in printed circuit boards (PCB) and soldered to barrels and pads on the opposite side either by a manual assembly (hand placement) or by the use of automated insertion mount machines. When connected correctly, the transformer functioned normally. This was easily corrected by turning up the heat on the wave solder and fluxing.
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