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Thermaltronics Interview with Ed Zamborsky

Thermaltronics is a manufacturer and supplier of a comprehensive range of soldering products and accessories used in the electronics manufacturing industry. Design and development is undertaken in the USA and Australia, with final production taking place in a customized manufacturing facility, incorporating specialized equipment and in accordance with recognized international standards of quality and compliance. We recently spoke with Ed Zamborsky, Regional Sales Manager, to find out what more about Thermaltronics and the success it is enjoying in the soldering space.

For readers who may be unfamiliar with Thermaltronics,can you please tell us about the company?

Thermaltronics was founded by industry leaders who, throughtheir extensive customer visits, had the vision of what our customers need for highquality electronics assembly equipment. Being a privately held company, we can concentrate our efforts on providing cuttingedge solutions to hightechnology companies to improve their efficiencies while reducing overhead and repetitive operations. While we  startedwith hand soldering systems, our product offering has grown to full benchtop assembly solutions. We offer a full range of soldering and desoldering systems, convection tools, fast and efficient sub-zone heaters, bench tools, and multi-axis conduction soldering robots in both benchtop and in-line configurations. With the recent expansion of our three Applications and Training Centers, we can provide our new and existing customers with product training as well as product evaluations in a timely manner. In our Ormond Beach location, we have three soldering robots set up for customer evaluations as well as video capabilities to confirm applications and provide both remote support and remote product demonstrations.

What need was there in the industry that led the company to be founded?

At the time we were founded, the need for process control was on the rise and soldering equipment suppliers were having a hard time meeting the needs of the industry. When we released our range of Curie Point Soldering Systems,we were better able to meet the inventory needs as well as the cost targets of our expanding customer base. Today, as a design feature, we use goldplated cartridge connectors to ensure our cartridges meet ESD requirements for the long life of our cartridges. Additionally, we use customformulated heaters to fully control the precise soldering temperatures of our cartridges. We patented color ID banding (blue, yellow, and red) to our cartridges for easy identification of the soldering temperature ranges for operator convenience and to ensure process compliance on the shop floor.  

We understand that you joined the Thermaltronics team two years ago. What made you switch from your previous company? What are you most proud of in your role at Thermaltronics? Do you expect it to change as the company continues growing?

Yes, my two-year anniversary is just around the corner. My entire career I have been fortunate to join only the best teams that provided cuttingedge solutions to the world of high-tech manufacturers. I chose to leave my last company after they lost their edge and most of their direction. Instead of leading the industry with real solutions, they chose to concentrate on products that were no longer special or interesting. At Thermaltronics, I have the freedom to seek out new opportunities as well as develop and expand new sales channels. I’m no longer tied to the misdirection and antiquated methods of customer acquisition and application development.

I am really proud that I have learned a new product line as well as new methods of putting my skills in applications engineering to work in an automated environment. I’ve helped to identify new opportunities and processes. At Thermaltronics, we listen to the needs of our customers and quickly respond to the ever-changing world of electronics manufacturing.

My original role was Technical Sales for the Southeastern US, but due to the confidence I have built with my management team, I have been expanding my activities way beyond the borders of the southeast and even North America. Just like everything we do here at Thermaltronics, we build on past successes and constantly develop plans and products for the future.

How has Thermaltronics grown and changed since it was first started?

We started with a simple desire to build the best curie-point soldering systems for our customers. Over time and countless customer visits, we listened and responded to their needs for higher quality and more repeatable solder joints. Our product line evolved into our awardwinning automated soldering robots. They are durable, repeatable, and easy to program.

What markets does Thermaltronics’ technology most benefit? Why?

Thermaltronics manufactures highquality soldering products to meet the needs of commercial, industrial, and hightechnology/reliability soldering environments. You will find our equipment in all of the best factories across the globe. Whether you are building simple electronics in an educational setting or the most advanced military/medical products, Thermaltronics has a robust, cost-effective solution that will meet all your process needs, cost needs and the ergonomics to keep your technicians happy and safe.

Your soldering robot product appears to differ from typical Cartesian robots, providing numerous innovative benefits. Can you briefly tell our readers how it works, and why it differs from other soldering robots currently available?

Most people think that hand soldering is a simple task. You tin the tip, touch the target, apply the solder, and let it cool. In reality, the soldering technician performs many complex movements and decisions within the soldering operation. As a result, all Thermaltronics robots feature multi-axis features and controls to precisely duplicate the actions of your best technician. For example, independent positioning of the tip and solder feeder can allow the machine to pre-tin the tip to increase heat transfer BEFORE the solder is introduced to the joint for a proper connection. All of our machines use a friendly graphical user interface that allows for easy programming of solder joints on the screen with simple mouse clicks. Most other robots require the use of a training pendant that complicates the process and requires physical location finding on the PCB for programming. We also feature both a programming camera and observation camera to see real-time soldering as your robot does its job. This is just a taste of what we offer, please feel free to schedule a trial session so we can impress you with all our features.

Can you explain what Curie Heat Technology (CHT) is and how it helps with temperature accuracy? Why is this important with today’s complex assemblies? Is CHT unique to Thermaltronics – or do you use it in a unique way?

For the ultimate performance, you need to standardize on a Curie Heat Technologysoldering system. CHT soldering irons respond precisely to the varying power demands across the circuit board, always providing the correct temperature to solder your components without ever overheating them and in the shortest time possible.

How does it work? It is a complicated explanation but let me try. It starts with a power supply whose only job is to supply a fixed operating frequency output to run the tip. It is connected to a lightweight, ergonomic handpiece that you insert the cartridge/tip into. The cartridge is where the real magic happens. Inserted into the back of the tip is a specially manufactured heater with a proprietary coating that responds to the output frequency of the power supply. When the power supply is turned on, the frequency output causes the heater to heat up and you cansolder. Wait, I left out the details of the heater control circuitry.Well, that is because the beauty of CHT is that there are no heater controls to go out of specification. The coating on the heater is also the controller for the heater. As the heater heats, the coating crosses into its curie point and, if you know anything about inductive heaters, you know that this is the point where the coating stops being a heater because the temperature is satisfied and becomes the controller. Touch a solder joint or wipe the tip on a sponge to clean it and then the process begins again. The beauty of this system is that it directs the precise amount of power to the solder joint while simultaneously maintaining the set temperature ±2°C.

Because of variable power, operators will be able to continuously solder high demand solder joints without ever having to wait while the “iron catches up” with the operator. No more cold solder joints andno more cranking the temperature up for leadfree applications. So, what about controls? To truly implement process control in your facility, fix as many variables as possible in your hand soldering process. Keep in mind that your hand soldering operation is the single largest part of your factory with the most operator influence.

You should select a soldering system with a minimum of operator controls. Let’s face it: if you provide your operator with a variable temperature control knob they are going to turn it to the maximum possible temperature as they try to meet the throughput demands of their line supervisor or flow of the line itself. Purchase a soldering system with a fixed-temperature cartridge and a power switch, and you have fixed one of the biggest variables in your process. At Thermaltronics, all of our soldering systems use Curie Heat Technology soldering cartridges, and we carry this level of process control to our entire line of soldering robots.

What would you most like the industry to know about Thermaltronics?

Thermaltronics provides true innovations to the hand soldering process. We offer multiple soldering  systems, highperformance soldering cartridges at competitive prices, long life,and short lead times. We are constantly moving forward with positive developments in the world of automated soldering robots that provide awardwinning technology, application support, and ease of programming. Give us a call, and we will show you how we can use our 140+ years of experience to help you make YOUR product better.