Solder joints in electronic packages deform by creep and undergo a microstructural evolution process that includes grain coarsening, voiding, microcracking, and macrocracking. This paper describes an FEM model of the crack initiation process of SnPb and SnAgCu solder joints in 357 plastic ball grid array packages for different aging conditions and simulated under 0–100°C accelerated thermal cycling tests. The simulations show that 1) cracks initiate at the package interface first, and then at the opposite side of the board interface; 2) secondary cracks initiate at the opposite end of the primary crack at the joint interfaces; 3) no secondary cracks occur at the package interface of ages SnPb joints, since compressive stresses oppose void formation; and 4) it takes longer to initiate cracks in SnAgCu joints than SnPb joints. The damage process in the solder joints was simulated from grain coarsening, voiding, to microcracking, with SnAgCu joints not undergoing grain coarsening due to their stable microstructure. The model results were consistent with experimental results in the number and location of cracks in the joints.

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