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Manual Soldering Options for High Reliability Applications
Keywords: solder, reliability, manual
Wire soldering operations are still widely accepted in the electronics assembly industry. When a product or the parts within cannot withstand the heat of oven reflow, the localized heat provided by a soldering iron has been the traditional solution. Soldering with wire and iron leaves process judgments up to individual operators, and can produce a wide variety of defects, scrap, and long-term quality issues. Despite the many improvements in automated soldering technology through the years, many soldering operations are best suited to manual production methods, which produce inconsistent results. Whether in low-volume custom operations or large-scale manufacturing processes, the quality of hand-soldered joints will exhibit a high degree of variation. Defect, scrap, and rework rates can be excessive, even when using skilled employees. Higher temperature lead-free operations present an additional challenge. Because of the higher temperatures required, these processes have even smaller operating windows. Visual inspection of lead-free solder joints also presents new difficulties, and since most hand soldering rework occurs 'on-the-fly,' actual defect rates are difficult to measure. There are other process solutions available which involve very little capital expenditure, but can significantly increase operator output. These solutions are effective in eliminating many of the process defects associated with wire solder. They will usually result in a faster and more controllable process that reduces scrap and improves overall product quality. In many applications where wire solder was once a requirement, a more automated approach can often be achieved using solder paste and localized heating methods.
John Vivari, Application Engineering Supervisor
EFD Inc.
Lincoln, RI

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