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Compressed Air for Efficient Electronics Manufacturing

By OTC Insights Team on February 26, 2023

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OTC Insights Team

Established in 1963, OTC Industrial Technologies is one of the largest industrial distributors & service providers in the United States. We're committed to seeing industrial operations advance through expert technical solutions & unmatched support using our years of experience.

Electronics manufacturing and electronics manufacturing services in the United States are rapidly changing.

In the past, a large portion of consumer electronics was produced in China. It was a lower-cost option for many companies. China made it easy for companies to outsource their work to manufacturers there.

However, the supply chain crisis disrupted deliveries, and the politics and risk of supply disruption drove OEMs and other manufacturers to bring production back to the United States. It’s a process that has become known as reshoring. Other companies are looking at sourcing consumer electronics, parts, or electronic manufacturing services back to the United States, a process known as reshoring.

The result of the reshoring pressure is a rapidly expanding market for consumer electronics and electronics manufacturing services in the United States. Companies are rapidly building out production capabilities and looking at ways to efficiently and profitably deliver products.

Efficient and profitable electronics manufacturing requires compressed air, a critical component of any electronics manufacturing. To deliver on this opportunity, many companies need to build out their compressed air systems.

How Compressed Air Is Used in Electronics Manufacturing

Speed and precision are critical to efficient electronics manufacturing. A reliable, integrated, and contaminant-free source of compressed air is required. Typical applications of compressed air in making electronics include:

  • Printed circuit board (PCB) cleaning: Air compressors provide after-production, low-abrasive cleaning of dust and other particles from the delicate components of a circuit board.
  • Pick-and-place robotics: Precision robots are necessary for moving and installing the delicate and intricate components used in electronics. Compressed air provides high energy conversion and low-impact power for these machines.
  • Cable pressurization: The cables used in electronics manufacturing need to be kept dry. Air compressors provide pressure in the cable to protect it from water.
  • Air knives: An air knife is a standard tool in electronics manufacturing for removing particles or moisture for component cleaning.

Compressed air can have many other applications in production beyond these standard functions, including powering pneumatic machines, stamping tools, and desoldering.Reduce the costs of compressed air. Air compressors for electronics manufacturing. Contact us.

Planning a Compressed Air Strategy for Electronics Manufacturing

Not every compressed air system will provide optimal functionality for electronics manufacturing.

Most high-powered air compressors are oil injected. With the latest filtering techniques, much of the oil can be removed from the compressed air; however, it is still possible to have contaminants in the air when using an oil-injected air compressor. Oil contamination can ruin or damage the delicate parts and components in electronics, including PCBs.

The heat generated during frequent or extreme use can reduce the effectiveness of filters, increasing the risk of oil contamination.

Oil-free air compressors are a much better option for electronics manufacturing, eliminating the risk of oil contamination. Other benefits of oil-free compressors include:

  • Cleaner, dryer compressed air.
  • Reduced risk of damaged parts and components.
  • Reduced maintenance costs.
  • Eliminated oil filter cleaning and replacements.
  • Reduced risk of fires in the pipelines or production area.

Oil-free Compressors vs. Oil Compressors

However, there are some advantages and applications for an oil air compressor. These advantages should be addressed when planning compressed air for your facility. For example, you can achieve increased pressure with an oil air compressor. They are also better suited for hotter climates or a hot workspace. Many professionals consider an oil air compressor a more powerful, reliable option for compressed air.

Our OTC Industrial Technologies experts can evaluate your needs, starting with an audit of your air quality and equipment. Let them conduct an air audit and analysis of your needs. They can provide a recommendation for your compressed air that will compensate for your requirements.

Options for Compressed Air for Electronics Manufacturing

When planning for a new or updated manufacturing facility for electronics, most will immediately seek out new or used air compressors. While this is an option and industry standard, it’s not the only option for compressed air.

Here are a few options to consider:

Purchasing and Maintaining On-site Compressors

In the long run, purchasing an on-site compressor may be the lowest-cost option, especially if you purchase a used unit. It gives you control and, depending on the system you purchase and the maintenance plan you put in place, it can last for years. However, there will be maintenance and repair costs. Upkeep on the unit is your responsibility; you will need to plan for these resources. Many companies do rely on outside expertise, like OTC's Air Technologies team, for their air compressor maintenance and repair needs. Purchasing an air compressor is also a capital expense that many new ventures may not be prepared to pay for.

Long-term Rental of Compressors

Rental air compressors provide a more flexible option for compressed air service. When an air compressor needs service or repair, a rental unit can be a short-term fix to avoid a costly budget overrun. In addition, rental units can provide additional capacity when you need it, or a rental unit can provide a lower-cost alternative when there’s a reduction in production. Rather than shutting down a purchased unit, you can easily reduce capacity and increase it when needed.

Utilizing a Compressed Air Managed Service

Compressed air managed service from DIRECTAIR® is an innovative new option for compressed air. With DIRECTAIR®, compressed air is provided like a utility, like electricity or water. You pay for only the compressed air that you use. The equipment is provided and maintained at your facility by OTC, all you provide are the hookups and the space. With DIRECTAIR®, you have guaranteed clean, reliable compressed air, superior energy efficiency, and remote monitoring without capital expenses or maintenance and repair costs.

Working with Experts on Compressed Air for Electronics Manufacturing

Electronics manufacturing and manufacturing services are complex productions that require precision, accuracy, and efficiency to be successful.

An effective compressed air strategy can be a foundation for successful production. If you have questions about your current compressed air service, or want to look at different options, then contact the team at OTC Industrial Technologies. They are leaders in the industry and have worked with manufacturers on many of the most complex and demanding projects.

Contact OTC today to learn more.