Poll

What would you pay for a Vapor Phase oven for hobby / prototype use?

£500 - £750
5 (71.4%)
£750-£1000
2 (28.6%)

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Offline hobbyelectronicsTopic starter

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Vapor Phase reflow oven
« on: February 26, 2024, 09:46:37 am »
Hello,

I know that the Vapor phase reflow topic has been discussed a fair bit, but I have specific question.
Does anyone on here have the Vaporflow 275 vapour phase reflow oven?

https://www.vaporflow.eu

https://eleshop.eu/vaporflow-275-vapour-phase-reflow-oven.html

At work we purchased a Imdes mini which we purchased specifically for making just a few prototypes.
https://www.imdes.de/produkt/mini-condens-it/?lang=en

I used this to produce maybe 100 plus board which all came out perfectly. I was amazed. No tombstoning , no issues at all. Boards were about 50x80 in panels of four with about 100+ components, mainly 0603, SOIC and connectors, nothing too demanding.

I would like to buy a Vapor phase oven to use for prototypes and small production runs (Maybe 100 boards per month).
I just want to hear from anyone who has one of the Vaporflow 275 ovens, and to see what they think of it.
It seems a lot of money for almost hobby use. Or do I make my own??? LOL ;D

Thanks
Paul
 
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Offline hobbyelectronicsTopic starter

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2024, 09:34:08 am »
Hi,

Basically I just want to find out if for the cost of the VaporFlow 275, is it worth it?
Only really seems to be two options (Manufacturers) for a budget unit (Compared to commercial units) that are available.

Thanks
Paul
 

Offline glenenglish

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2024, 09:38:02 am »
Hi Paul
I have a three  IMDES MINI machines . very good.

I'll never go back to using an oven ever. My boards 8-12 layers, BGA, never ever had a issue...
always SAC305, 230degC Galden.
Dont let the fluid be too high- dont fill higher than the provided gauge measure.

How much is the Vaporflow 275 ???
 

Offline woody

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2024, 10:31:32 am »
Hi,

I own a VaporPhase 275 since the end of 2022. It is a well-built device that I use for prototypes and very small runs of existing designs after changes in hardware. Before that I used a pimped-up toaster oven (isolation, controller)

What I like about the 275 is the set and forget aspect. I just shove a board in, start the fume extractor and the solder cycle and come back 10 minutes later to find it soldered. I never see tombstoning. I do see solder balling, but that has to do a lot with the type, age (water content) and amount (thickness of stencil) of paste used and with temperature profile. The default profile is a bit too quick IMO. OTOH, solder balls are easily removed using a (EDS safe) brush so not a real problem. Solder balls usually appear next to 'larger' components like C's and R's, and not next to .4mm pitched IC's.

A year in I find that the 275 was certainly worth the money, as it makes the solder step in my workflow a lot easier and predictable than it used to be. If it breaks I'll buy it again (after a discussion with Eleshop :).

When I got it there was no VaporFlow 480 which for my use was no issue. But if you use the oven to make a hundred PCB's per month the 480 probably makes more sense.

Paul
« Last Edit: February 27, 2024, 08:06:07 pm by woody »
 

Offline hobbyelectronicsTopic starter

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2024, 08:41:11 pm »
Hi Paul,

Thank you for your reply, I really appreciate it. Its really good to hear from someone taht actually owns one. It strange because their does not seem to be any reviews online or on YouTube etc.
Its good to hear that its a well built machine and works well. I think for me the 480 is just too costly for what I would use it for, the 275 is also slightly higher than I would like to pay, but at a push, I would get one.
Can I ask a you few questions.

1, When creating a custom profile, is it limited to the number of steps you can enter? I can see that you can create steps to end on a temperature endpoint of a timed step but is is limited to how many steps you can have for one profile?
2, If creating a cooling step, can you enter a percentage power (or speed) to the fans, such a 80% or is the fan control limited to simply on or off? I assume you can end a cooling step by time or a temp setpoint.
3, I believe the 275 only has one TC inside the chamber. How far above the bottom is it and typically how far above the top of the LS230 fluid is it, and lastly, how far is it above the wire rack is it?

oh, one more question what fume extractor do you use with it? I would certainly need one as well!

I hope you don't mind me asking. Its would be great for me to know this.

Thanks for your time. I think this will help me decide if I will buy one or not.

Regards
Paul.





 

Offline law

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2024, 10:11:57 pm »
Hi Glenn,

Can you recommend a seller for the Imdes Minis?

Thanks
 

Offline glenenglish

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2024, 10:38:15 pm »
I purchase direct from IMDES and fedex it.
No reseller is going to be able to offer any value (of  being a reseller )
 
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Offline hobbyelectronicsTopic starter

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2024, 07:51:30 am »
Hi Law,
At work we we purchased it from eleshop.eu, but I don't think they sell the IMDES mini any more.
They have the VaporFlow 275 available for more or less the same price.

From what I have seen and read, the VaporFlow 275 'may' be a better option?
The IMDES we have has worked perfectly for us. The results were excellent, far better than what I originally expected.
Actually, we had one issue, that the main power switch failed after a year or so. Which is not a big issue really.

Thanks
Paul
« Last Edit: February 28, 2024, 07:59:13 am by hobbyelectronics »
 
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Offline trevwhite

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2024, 08:09:22 am »
Do many people get drips of Galden on their boards after it’s finished? The only hassle for me is the boards are not dry when finished. I have a Imdes Jumbo. I would not say the build quality is professional but it works. The VaporFlow looks like it might be made better.
 

Offline woody

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2024, 08:29:34 am »
Do many people get drips of Galden on their boards after it’s finished? The only hassle for me is the boards are not dry when finished. I have a Imdes Jumbo. I would not say the build quality is professional but it works. The VaporFlow looks like it might be made better.

Yep, my boards are not completely dry either. I cannot say if these drips are coming from 'above' (the lid) or are the result of some uneven cooling of the PCB that results in the condensation of Galden on it. I remember that when I visited Imdes a couple of years ago that they were working on a sort of 'runoff ramp' attached to the lid to make condensation on it run to the side and not rain on the PCB. I don't know if that ever made it into production.

The VaporPhase I have does not have a provision for that and I suspect that that might the reason for the (few) drips I see on the PCB. Not a big problem; wiping with IPA takes care of it. Although one might reason that every drop costs at least a Euro. :(
 

Offline glenenglish

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2024, 09:08:52 am »
I allow with extra cooling cycles so that the chamber can  get below 45 C before I open the lid, I allow the galden from the lid to drain vertically into the soup...... boards are not too wet.
 

Offline woody

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2024, 09:16:18 am »
1, When creating a custom profile, is it limited to the number of steps you can enter? I can see that you can create steps to end on a temperature endpoint of a timed step but is is limited to how many steps you can have for one profile?
Not that I can see. Contact Eleshop with this question, they wrote the firmware.

2, If creating a cooling step, can you enter a percentage power (or speed) to the fans, such a 80% or is the fan control limited to simply on or off? I assume you can end a cooling step by time or a temp setpoint.
Yes, you can enter a percentage for cooling power. The result is that the fans run slower, albeit a bit 'erratically': switching on and off. It is that you asked, I never used this feature before, all my cooling is at 100% You have to take into account that cooling is difficult with these ovens. I created a custom profile to better imitate the soaking stage of a solder profile to prevent the aforementioned solder balling. This turned out to be quite difficult, as the system heats up long after the heating elements are switched off.

3, I believe the 275 only has one TC inside the chamber. How far above the bottom is it and typically how far above the top of the LS230 fluid is it, and lastly, how far is it above the wire rack is it?
Yes, one TC in the chamber, maybe 4 cm above the bottom. You typically only have a couple of mm of Galden in the tank. The wire rack is some 1.5mm above the bottom. For precise measurements, contact Eleshop.

oh, one more question what fume extractor do you use with it? I would certainly need one as well!
https://eleshop.eu/fe1bd-esd-safe-fume-extractor.html
« Last Edit: February 28, 2024, 09:48:56 am by woody »
 

Offline trevwhite

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2024, 09:17:36 am »
For me the wetness is the only thing I hate. Remember if that is Galden then wiping it away is costing money.


Be nice to come up with a solution between us all for that. I think the better machines lift the board out of the vapour cloud to stop them getting wet. Any high temp solution to enable the board height to be adjusted inside the oven? Maybe that would solve a lot of issues.


 

Offline woody

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2024, 09:17:59 am »
I allow with extra cooling cycles so that the chamber can  get below 45 C before I open the lid, I allow the galden from the lid to drain vertically into the soup...... boards are not too wet.

Same here. But even after extended cooling they are not completely dry.
 

Offline glenenglish

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2024, 09:24:40 am »
take them out when they're 45-52C and the galden evaporates off.....
 

Offline trevwhite

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2024, 09:26:28 am »
I have left them in a long time and there are still puddles of Galden. Maybe its drips from the lid in that case? I might try and sloped piece of glass attached to the underside off the lid.
 

Offline woody

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2024, 09:30:52 am »
Be nice to come up with a solution between us all for that. I think the better machines lift the board out of the vapour cloud to stop them getting wet. Any high temp solution to enable the board height to be adjusted inside the oven? Maybe that would solve a lot of issues.
Certainly. I think that maybe a runoff on the lid is not a bad idea. A simple piece of folded aluminum might do the trick. That way the inevitable condensation on the lid does not end up on the PCB. Drops during the process evaporate again but drops during the cooling phase might not.
As for VP ovens that lift the PCB, yes, that might be a better solution. I looked at such a solution (https://shop.pcb-arts.com/products/vapor-phase-one). Very nice but complicated and for the price difference with the 275 I could get at least 3 gallons of Galden. I am now still only halfway though my first 500 ml bottle. For my use this is the best solution.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2024, 09:50:42 am by woody »
 

Offline hobbyelectronicsTopic starter

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #17 on: February 29, 2024, 09:45:35 am »
Just out of interest, how do the commercial vapor phase ovens overcome this small problem of boards still having some Galden on them.
Do they go through a wash process, or air dryer?

At the end of the day, as the boards are horizontal, will they always have some condensed fluid on them?

With regard to the vapor escaping out of the lid, would have a taller chamber help, so hot vapor would never reach the top of the chamber. It would cool down and condense before escaping?
« Last Edit: February 29, 2024, 09:47:10 am by hobbyelectronics »
 

Offline woody

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #18 on: February 29, 2024, 10:19:23 am »
If I ran a VP production line I would save as much Galden as possible. Most commercial ovens I have seen (from afar, not from working with them) do have lifting systems, or even doors that open and close in the chamber. As well as cooling systems.

As I remarked, there is a 'cheap' VP oven with lifting and cooling, but I found that a bit over engineered and a bit too expensive when I compared it to the Imdes or the VaporFlow.

Vaporphase soldering is based on the properties of Galden fluid. Basically all you need is a pot and a hotplate (as demonstrated in various Youtube examples). Having some temperature control to make sure you reach soldering temperature at PCB level is nice and a system to prevent 'dry cooking' is important (as heating Galden above 300 deg is dangerous) but apart from that this is not rocket science.

Higher chambers will help, but hot vapor will always reach the lid; Galden attracts water and some steam will escape. The same goes for the vaporized components of the solder- and flux. In my experience you hardly lose any Galden using the VaporFlow. For me investing in elaborate cooling and lifting systems makes no sense for the prototyping and small series production I do.

Paul
 

Offline SMTech

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #19 on: February 29, 2024, 10:35:58 am »
by being larger and having moving parts. The vapour zone sits at the boom of the tank and doesn't extend to a surface the galden could condense on and then drip back on the board. The baords are lowered into the vapour zonestay there until they reach temp and then are raised out again, There will typically be an assisted cooling and drying phase ->IBL have this presentation or you could lookup Asscon.
 

Offline glenenglish

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #20 on: February 29, 2024, 09:13:42 pm »
you can make a good system from
1) some deep stainless food tubs from a catering store ' Gastronorm food tray' or food pan  . like 300mm deep , and they come with lids
2) some high temp thermal epoxy attach a handful of   ceramic heating  blocks  on the bottom
3) say 4 to 8 thermocouple probes at different heights to figure out what your doing.,
4) half a dozen muffin fans to cool it fast.
5) A coil /grid of stainless tube about a couple of inches from the top (attach to lid) circulating water  to create a condense cool  zone below the lid.
6) A basic PLC or Arduino to drive it all

Option- braze a coil of copper/stainless tube around the lower part of the dish to circulate water to improve cooling rate.


« Last Edit: February 29, 2024, 09:16:29 pm by glenenglish »
 

Offline hobbyelectronicsTopic starter

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2024, 09:54:57 am »
That sounds pretty good.
I did develop a Peltier heating / cooling system for work, which used multiple Peltier elements and a temp controller to test some devices. Which worked really well. They have been running at a few degrees, and also a heat cycle up to around 85 deg. Been running daily for nearly two years without any problem. Seem to be pretty reliable, once you understand the concept. I blew up a number of elements during the development :)

These could also be attached under a vessel, and around the sides and used to heat and cool at a controlled rate. Cooling Peltier elements around the top could also be used to create a cold zone.
The Peltier elements could be bonded directly to the vessel, or  have a clamping arrangement so they can be replaced if needed.

Maybe, IR lamps below the vessel, at least with Halogen lamps, they have no (low) residual heat and can be turned off quickly and heat up almost instantly as well.. Running a couple of 1KW tubes with proportional phase control (0 to 100%) and PWM a bank of fans for cooling.

just some thoughts really.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2024, 11:31:08 am by hobbyelectronics »
 

Online Doctorandus_P

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2024, 03:08:45 pm »
From what I heared those vapor phase things work pretty well, but I still do believe they are horribly overpriced.

The oven itself it not much more then a standard food dish (chafing dish?) as used in the horeca and those cost EUR50 or less, including the lid. Slap on some heating elements and a bit of simple electronics and you're almost finished.

My second gripe is with the cost of the fluid. EUR200 per liter is quite expensive for fluid, and I suspect it is similarly overpriced like the oven itself.

And what really kills the last interest is the way the oven is built. In the video they add an (External!) fume extractor (They can't include that for that price?). If the liquid is really that expensive, you also want to recoup as much of it as you can. That means making the fume extractor internally to the heated area, and add a heat exchanger to cool the extracted fumes so the galden fluid gets recycled back into the system.

Here is an alternative: Get a pressure cooker and use simple water / steam as the medium. Disadvantage is you would need a pressure of around 5MPa and that makes the pressure vessel a bit expensive and dangerous (Such things need to be certified).

I also just had a look a Glycerol. It's boiling point is 290c, so a bit high. Maybe it works under a partial vacuum, or you can try to find some other affordable liquid with a suitable boiling point.

Maybe re-visit Marco Reps. He built his own vapor phase oven and made a youtube vid about it a few years ago. I'm not sure whether he made a follow up with his experiences thus far.


 

Online wraper

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2024, 03:17:46 pm »
Hi Glenn,

Can you recommend a seller for the Imdes Minis?

Thanks
It's an absolute garbage with terrible electrically unsafe electronics, non working overheat protection (there is a thermal switch but it's mounted in a way that renders it useless), and terrible reflow profile. Without changing the controller I consider it borderline unusable. I'm surprised OP did not have tombstoning issues. Not to say it's assembled with pop rivets, making it impossible to non destructively take apart.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2024, 03:23:36 pm by wraper »
 
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Offline glenenglish

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Re: Vapor Phase reflow oven
« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2024, 08:23:13 pm »
Quote
It's an absolute garbage with terrible electrically unsafe electronics, non working overheat protection (there is a thermal switch but it's mounted in a way that renders it useless), and terrible reflow profile. Without changing the controller I consider it borderline unusable. I'm surprised OP did not have tombstoning issues. Not to say it's assembled with pop rivets, making it impossible to non destructively take apart.
Yeah, I would agree with that ! I did modify my controllers.  All my IMDES controllers all had different profiles.....
 


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