Sandia Computer Modeling Aids Solder Reliability in Nuclear Weapons

Materials scientist Paul Vianco peers through an experimental setup of printed wiring assemblies used to validate modeling in a Sandia National Laboratories project to study solder failure. Vianco said computational modeling of solder joint fatigue is critical to Sandia’s role in life extension programs for nuclear weapons. (Randy Montoya)

Materials scientist Paul Vianco peers through an experimental setup of printed wiring assemblies used to validate modeling in a Sandia National Laboratories project to study solder failure. Vianco said computational modeling of solder joint fatigue is critical to Sandia’s role in life extension programs for nuclear weapons. (Randy Montoya)

March 26, 2018 | Source: Sandia National Laboratories, share-ng.sandia.gov, 19 December 2017

Solder isn’t the first thing that comes to mind as essential to a nuclear weapon. But since weapons contain hundreds of thousands of solder joints, each potentially a point of failure, Sandia National Laboratories has developed and refined computer models to predict their performance and reliability.

“Computational modeling of solder joint fatigue has become critical to Sandia and its role in the current nuclear weapons life extension programs, even before production assembly at the Kansas City National Security Campus,” said materials scientist Paul Vianco, who works with material modeler Mike Neilsen. “Sandia uses the computational model to solve manufacturing issues as well as assess the impact of design changes on solder joint reliability.

“This is critical as we finalize designs and head into production,” he said.

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