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iPad Circuit Board Repair with an Ultrasonic Cleaner

The iPad has set the standard of what a tablet can and should be able to do. Equipped with a single-core processor and running with the iOS3.x operating system, the tablet is available in two versions; one with WiFi support and another version with WiFi+3G support. Paired with Apple’s various applications, the iPad is one of the most wanted gadgets in the market. With this innovative and groundbreaking tablet, maintenance is important. An ultrasonic cleaner for its printed circuit board (PCB) is definitely in order.

iPad units can take a lot of abuse including being left out in the rain, dropped in the soup or otherwise rendered inoperable. Unless your iPad is irreparably damaged, it can most likely be restored to operation in an ultrasonic printed circuit board cleaner. With the same technology used by printed circuit board manufacturers, ultrasonic circuit board cleaning quickly and safely removes contaminants from the delicate components in your iPad.

Here you will learn:

  • How an Ultrasonic PCB Cleaner Works
  • How to Select and Set Up your Circuit Board Cleaner
  • How to Disassemble, Clean and Reassemble your iPad

How Ultrasonic PCB Cleaners Work to Restore your iPad

Ultrasonic cleaners are used in a wide range of applications to remove virtually any soil or contamination by using the power of cavitation action. This is the term used to describe the implosion of billions of minute bubbles contacting iPad PCB components and surfaces. The bubbles are created by generator-powered ultrasonic transducers bonded to an ultrasonic cleaning tank and typically operate at an ultrasonic frequency of 37 to 42 kHz (37,000 to 42,000 cycles per second).

When the bubbles implode contaminants are quickly and safely removed from PCB surfaces without damaging delicate parts. So tiny are the bubbles that they penetrate minute cracks, crevices and blind holes that might lodge dried residue, dust and dirt particles. The ultrasonic PCB cleaning system will complete the job in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. And it will do it in an environmentally friendly manner because the ultrasonic circuit board cleaning solution formula is a biodegradable concentrate that minimizes disposal problems.

How to Select and Set Up your iPad Circuit Board Ultrasonic PCB Cleaner

Ultrasonic units come in a variety of sizes from bench-top ultrasonic cleaners to a floor-mounted industrial ultrasonic cleaning machine, so you can select any size you need. Our most popular models for cleaning iPad circuit boards are the ¾ gallon Elma EH075EL and 1½ gallon Elma EH150EL. You should select an ultrasonic PCB cleaner equipped with a frequency sweep function, such as an Elma model, to prevent damage to sensitive components during cleaning. Choose a model also equipped with a heater to improve the ultrasonic cleaning process.

Whatever the model and size of ultrasonic circuit board cleaner you use there are steps to take before cleaning begins.

  1. Fill the ultrasonic cleaner tank to the fill line (or approximately 2/3 full) with ultrasonic cleaning solution such as Elma tec clean A1 diluted 1:20 with water.
  2. Turn on the ultrasonic cleaner, set the heater to approximately 50°C, and operate for about 30 minutes to drive off cavitation inhibiting entrained air. Degassing is complete when bubbles stop coming to the surface and must be performed every time the tank is filled with fresh circuit board cleaning solution.

How to Disassemble, Clean and Reassemble your iPad

Step 1: Disassembling your iPad

It is important to know that once you open your iPad, your warranty will be voided.

First, insert a metal or a nylon spudger between the rear case and the display to take a look inside the iPad. Run it around the edge of the outer bezel. In this process, you will break some of the clips but, it is a good thing that these can also be replaced later. Gently lift the display assembly from the rear case. Next, disconnect the three cables found behind the screen of you iPad. To do this, you will have to flip the locking bar up and then slide the cable out of the socket. Unplug the other two as well. Approach this process with care so as not to tear the cables.

Once these three cables are unplugged, the two halves can now be separated and set aside. The next thing you will need to do is to remove the dock and Wi-Fi antenna. You will come across five screws which need to be loosened. There are two found on the dock attached to the back panel, two attached to the mainboard and one on the long antenna cable. Using a screwdriver, remove these five screws. After the dock pad has been freed, flip it and pull the two Wi-Fi connectors up carefully to set aside the dock pad. Remove the plastic retainer clip as well.

You should now be able to see your iPad’s circuit board. Remove the two screws holding the circuit board to the body of the iPad and remove some easy release clips also holding it in place. Remove the shielding by using a razor and then lifting up the tabs.

You now hold in your hand, your iPad circuit board.

Congratulations! You have successfully removed your circuit board from your iPad! You may now proceed with the next step.

Step 2: Cleaning the Printed Circuit Board

Set the PCB ultrasonic cleaner’s thermostat to 50°C and activate the Sweep mode. While the solution is heating, place your PCB in the basket. If you are cleaning more than one at a time take care that they do not touch each other. Once the operating temperature is reached lower the basket into the cleaning solution and set the timer for 10 minutes. Cleaning time depends on the condition of the PCBs and may have to be adjusted.

At the end of the cycle remove the components from the bath. If they are not clean replace them in the bath until the cleaning is complete. Then rinse them in distilled or deionized water to remove all traces of the cleaning solution and avoid water spotting. Dry them with an air blower or warm air dryer.

Safety note: DO NOT reach into an operating ultra-sonic cleaner. Instead remove the basket if you want to inspect or rearrange the parts.

Step 3: Reassembling your iPad

First, return the shielding and also the tabs in their proper places. Position the circuit board into its respective position in your iPad. Return the two screws back as well as the easy release clips so that the board stays secure.

It is now time to return the dock pad and reinstall the two Wi-Fi connectors. Push the connectors down and return the plastic release clips in as well. To secure the dock pad in place, you will have to return the five screws on your iPad. Remember the locations of these screws. To recap, two are found on the dock attached to the back panel, two attached to the main board and one on the long antenna cable. Make sure that both dock and Wi-Fi connectors are in their respective places.

Gather your display assembly and connect the three cables behind the screen of your iPad again. This time, you will need to slide the cables back into the sockets. Again, handle these cables with extreme delicacy making sure they don’t tear. Once you are sure that they are in their correct places, the display can now be connected back to the rear case. It is important, however, to replace the clips that you may have broken upon opening the case. After all these steps are done, you may now return the display assembly and connect it with the rear case. Make sure that everything is in place and that nothing will fall out.

Admire the piece of work you just put back together.

Voila! Start your device and your iPad should be good to go.

More Operating Tips

Any contaminants that rise to the surface of the bath should be skimmed off and disposed of properly. When the circuit board cleaning solution becomes discolored or cleaning takes longer it is time to replace it. Drain the tank and dispose of the spent solution according to local regulations. Take the time to remove any material that settled to the bottom of the tank. Clean the tank using a cleaning process recommended by the manufacturer.

Questions: Visit or Contact the iUltrasonic ultrasonic cleaning experts at 973 821-4400

Disclaimer: This advice is not provided by a licensed technician. Follow at your own risk. We assume no liability for any damages caused by following the advice in this article.


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