Whiskers

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gslug
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Whiskers

Post by gslug » Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:11 am

I've currently got a TC Electronic 2290 in pieces to repair the power supply, but thought I'd use the opportunity to give it a good clean. On removing the outer front panel, I was greeted by this:
IMG_20200728_134544.jpg
I've seen tin whiskers on solder before, but these are zinc whiskers on the galvanised panel. The whole surface was covered in them. They came off easily with a scrubbing brush, but presumably will return in another 30 years.
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EATyourGUITAR
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Re: Whiskers

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Tue Jul 28, 2020 10:48 am

Are you in the mood for plating? I worked in the plating industry. The best solution is to outsource the job to a local shop that already has everything and complies with EPA + OSHA regs. You probably don't want to do it yourself.
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gslug
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Re: Whiskers

Post by gslug » Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:10 am

Having it replated is probably a bit extreme for me, though I might put some kapton tape over the metalwork to stop them coming loose/contacting the PCB.
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Re: Whiskers

Post by devinw1 » Tue Jul 28, 2020 12:43 pm

That's pretty wild. I'd imagine those coming off and getting into electronics could cause some serious "fun"!

I wonder how well it would work to mask off all the outside, clean the inside, and then apply an etching primer and epoxy paint to the inside. I suppose the whiskers would still continue to form and eventually ruin the pain though. But, it might take a very very long time.

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gslug
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Re: Whiskers

Post by gslug » Tue Jul 28, 2020 3:54 pm

No need to mask - this is a sub panel behind the actual face plate. Might follow your suggestion and paint it though. The newest IC date code I can find is from 1987, so it's taken 33 years to get this bad.
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Re: Whiskers

Post by devinw1 » Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:23 pm

Also, if you happen to have other stuff that's similar, it actually isn't very costly to have em strip and replate, since it's ususally just a minimum batch fee. The ano+plate shop next door to my day job will do several of the more common platings for a $55 lot fee. Of course if the parts are large, the cost could go up.

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Re: Whiskers

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Tue Jul 28, 2020 6:15 pm

some companies that do plating for hire also do reverse plating and electro-polishing. if you were doing a huge batch of these, no one would be using abrasives at all. it could even be done with a dip in a mild etchant before going into a dragout (wash tank).
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Re: Whiskers

Post by jorg » Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:10 pm

I went and did some learning on this; found a useful article:
"How can Zinc Whiskers be prevented?

The best way to prevent zinc whiskers from striking is to reduce or eliminate the amount of whisker-producing electro-galvanized steel used in, and under, your server room. Raised floor tiles can be replaced with newer styles that don't rely on zinc coating for longevity, and electroplated cable baskets can be traded out for hot-dip galvanized or powder-coated cable trays, like the Cable-Mgr CM10, CM20, and M.E.2 series by Wiremaid.

What difference does hot-dip galvanization or powder coating make? Simply put, neither allow for the formation of zinc whiskers. While hot-dipped galvanization still involves coating steel in zinc, it creates a layer of zinc that's under far less pressure than one produced through the electroplating process. Because zinc deposited on steel via the hot-dipping process isn't under compressive stress, it doesn't force zinc filaments outward through weak spots. Powder coat finishes prevent corrosion and prolong the life of wire cable trays, but since they're zinc-free, it's impossible for them to generate zinc whiskers."

https://www.cableorganizer.com/learning ... skers.html

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gslug
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Re: Whiskers

Post by gslug » Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:08 pm

I've been reading a couple of articles on it. sanding it back to bare steel and having it powder coated might be another option for me, as I have a few other things I need coating.
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Re: Whiskers

Post by devinw1 » Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:29 pm

Electroless nickel plate should work too.

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