Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) Replacements for Electronic Assembly and Repair

Isopropyl alcohol (CAS #67-63-0), also referred to as IPA, isopropanol, and 2-propanol, may be in short supply for the coming weeks or months because of the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) pandemic. This will be particularly challenging for companies using IPA for flux removal, stencil cleaning, and industrial degreasing.

Techspray offers alternatives to IPA that are as effective if not more so, and in many cases nonflammable with lower environmental impact.

Techspray offers IPA alternatives for...

  • Electronic printed circuit board (PCB) assembly
  • Removal of solder paste or adhesive from SMT stencils
  • Maintenance cleaning of SMT reflow ovens
  • Flux removal from wave soldering fingers, selective soldering nozzles, pallets
  • Industrial degreasing

Please note these products do not have antiviral properties, so cannot be used to replace IPA for surface cleaning to kill COVID-19 and other viruses.

 

Flux Removal

Flux is used to prep the surface of the contact and lead before soldering. It promotes proper wetting of the solder, so it flows over the metal surfaces and creates a metallurgic bond. The flux residues left after the soldering process often has to be removed because it is looks bad, is corrosive, and negatively impacts conformal coating adhesion.

Isopropyl alcohol is the #1 solvent used to remove flux off of electronic assemblies. That is because IPA is usually readily available and relatively inexpensive. IPA is not, however, the best cleaner available on the market. For some flux residues, especially the latest no-clean halide-free varieties, white residue can appear after the cleaning process, which is an indication of inadequate solvency.

Techspray offers several solvent alternatives for flux removal, including E-LINE Flux Remover, PWR-4 Flux Remover, G3 Flux Remover, and Precision-V Cleaner. They all have greater cleaning performance compared to isopropyl alcohol, and each has additional advantages:

  • E-LINE Flux Remover – economical and plastic-safe, available in aerosol and bulk packaging.
  • PWR-4 Flux Remover – economical and nonflammable, available in bulk packaging only.
  • G3 Flux Remover – nonflammable, available in aerosol and bulk packaging.
  • Precision-V Cleaner – nonflammable, plastic-safe and lower VOC, available in aerosol and bulk packaging.

Eco-dFluxer flux removers are water-based, environmentally friendly cleaners that are designed to work in inline, batch, and ultrasonic cleaning equipment. An optimal combination of solvents and saponifiers lowers surface tension for penetration under low stand-offs, and powerful cleaning action to remove all flux residues.

Stencil Cleaning

Techspray Renew Eco-Stencil RF is an effective nonflammable drop-in replacement for isopropyl alcohol and other solvents commonly used in rinse-free batch stencil cleaning systems. Unique solvent and DI water blend is effective at removing a wide variety of pastes and adhesives. Higher concentration can be used for more difficult pastes and adhesives.

Eco-Stencil RF does not contain ionics, and will not leave contaminants that will change downstream process windows or lead to board failures. It can also be used as a manual and understencil cleaner. Eco-Stencil RF batch stencil cleaner has been tested and proven compatible with every part of your stencil — from the frame, screen and stencil to the adhesives binding it together.

Eco-Stencil UM is engineered for manual and understencil stencil cleaning. It effectively removes all types of solder paste (e.g. water­based, RMA, no­clean, lead­free) and uncured adhesive from screens, misprinted boards and equipment. Eco-Stencil UM is completely safe on stencils, squeegees, and equipment surfaces. It is an ideal replacement for IPA cleaners, which are often prohibited because of safety and environmental restrictions on VOC emissions or waste disposal issues.

 

SMT Reflow Oven, Wave Finger & Selective Soldering Nozzle Cleaning

Techspray Renew Eco-Oven cleaner is used for periodic preventative maintenance to keep electronic assembly equipment running at top performance levels. It removes baked-on flux residues from reflow ovens, wave soldering systems, associated heat exchanger systems, and selective soldering nozzles. It is effective at removing all types of flux residues (e.g. water­based, RMA, no­clean, lead­free). It is fast acting and more effective and safer than IPA for baked­on flux residues. Eco-Oven is nonflammable, low VOC, and has zero global warming potential (GWP)

 

Degreasing

Isopropyl is commonly used for light degreasing, especially in food processing facilities. Techspray offers a number of degreasers that are registered as a NSF Nonfood Compound K1, K2. The NSF Nonfood Compounds Registration Program helps manufactures select chemical products that are intended for use in food and beverage processing facilities, and distinguish where in their facilities they can be used.

The NSF program was introduced in 1999, and is based on USDA requirements FDA 21, 9 and 40 CFR. NSF Nonfood Compound K1 solvent cleaners are intended for non-food processing areas. K2 solvent cleaners are for electronic instruments.

(for more info: https://www.nsf.org/newsroom_pdf/NF_Registration_Insert_LT_EN_LNF7120412.pdf)

The following Techspray products are registered as a NSF Nonfood Compound K1, K2:

  • E-LINE Blue Shower Maintenance Cleaner – Powerful and economical aerosol cleaner.
  • G3 Blue Shower Maintenance Cleaner – Powerful and nonflammable aerosol cleaner.
  • G3 Contact Cleaner – Powerful and nonflammable aerosol contact cleaner.
  • Eco-Shine Glass & Surface Cleaner – Water-based degreaser that is nonflammable, low VOC, and zero GWP.

Isopropyl alcohol will always be a popular choice for flux removal, stencil cleaning, electronic assembly equipment maintenance, and light degreasing. When supplies are limited, it pays to consider all the great alternatives Techspray has to offer.

Contact a Techspray technical specialist at tsales@techspray.com or 800-858-4043.

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