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8 Things You Need To Know About Soldering Circuit Boards

Soldering is a process of joining two or more metal parts by the method of melting solder (filler material) and connecting them together for a good and permanent electrical bond. Soldering is very much similar to welding and brazing but different to the extent that they do not involve melting the filler material. Soldering is the best way to join many types of materials. It creates a permanent and strong bond between components, however, should you ever want to disconnect two items joined together you can always separate (desolder) them.

Circuit Board Project

1. How Does Soldering Circuit Boards Work?

Soldering a circuit board requires special kind of considerations, you can start by placing a wire in its holes, put your solder iron tip near to the holes and wire for a second and then apply solder. Remove your solder iron, wire and carefully inspect whether the solder joint is okay or not.

In this article, we are going to talk about 7 most important things to know before soldering a circuit board.

2. Tools and Materials Required to Solder Circuit Board.

You will be needing tools like soldering iron, solder, soldering wire, soldering paste with damp solder sponge, exhaust fan, safety goggles and a circuit board. It is useful to bring wire cutters, needle nose pliers and wire stripper. In case you need to desolder something, you will need a desoldering pump or wick. Solder sponge is required to clean the tip of soldering iron. Soldering does emit fumes; therefore, it is nice to have an exhaust fan nearby. Circuit boards have different types, you can choose any one of them, however, and it is better to choose a suitable printed circuit board.

3. Soldering Paste or Flux

Soldering paste helps to attach the wire with the circuit boards. Many times soldering paste is confused with flux. However, you need to know that soldering paste is a mixture of small solder spheres with flux and can be directly applied to the pads of a circuit board. Soldering circuit boards require flux-cored solder for hand use or solder paste for machine use. However, a simple flux is not for soldering, it applies to plumb and can be aggressive to use on electronic boards and can cause damage if not cleaned properly. Therefore, it is essential to know that you purchase flux-cored solder or solder paste as the flux in them is designed to be compatible with the materials on a circuit board.

4. Soldering Irons and Wattage

Soldering iron is the great source of heat; it is wise to use a low-wattage soldering iron for circuit boards. Soldering irons come in different models with different wattages. Selecting the right model and right size of soldering iron is crucial for a proper and efficient process. The right size will be able to work up more efficiently and fit with better settings. However, if you do not use the right size of soldering iron, either too much heat will ruin the circuit board, and components or too less heat will not be a fit where larger size and wattage is required.

Soldering Circuit Board

5. Solders and Wires

There are various types of solders available in the market because circuit boards require detailed work, you could use thin solder for that with the right width. Mainly there are two types of soldering wires, Acid core and Rosin core; an Acid core is typically used for plumbing while rosin cord is used for soldering circuit boards. However, it is needed to be understood that rosin poses a severe occupational hazard if worked without taking proper safety measures. Wires are attached to circuit boards by using soldering paste. Today lead-free solders are available in the market and prevent health hazards related with lead. These have a higher melting point which makes it a bit difficult to work with, but usually, it is not a problem.

6. Heat Up at Temperature that is Right

It is crucial for a soldering iron to heat up at a right temperature. The right temperature is one which should be enough to melt the solder. If the solder is not melting, that means you have not put enough heat to it, and it would not work as desired. Once the iron reaches its correct temperature, clean it with the damp sponge to clean off any old pieces of solder on it.

Soldering PCB

7. If Need to Undo Solder Mistakes

Making a mistake with soldering is possible. However, these mistakes can be undone. There are a few methods to desolder if you make any mistakes. One way is to heat up the wronged solder and pull it away with a solder sucker or desoldering pump tool. The other method is to remove the mistaken solder is by using copper braiding. You will need to put the braiding on top of the solder and needs to be removed and heat it with soldering iron. The copper braiding will absorb the unwanted solder, and you will just have to discard the copper braiding.

8. Soldering Safety

Like other electronic works, soldering also poses a few different dangers such as dealing with molten materials, risks of breathing soldering vapour and lead exposure. Lead can also give rise to serious chronic health effects while exposure to rosin contained in solder flux, can cause eye, throat and lung irritation, nose bleeds and headaches. Always go through risk assessments and chemical safety information before starting the work. The general tips to follow are;

· Always wear safety glasses.

· Use gloves if you are handling solder directly

· Refrain from soldering a live circuit, one that powered.

· Hold wires with tweezers or clamps

· Soldering should take place in a well-vented area to avoid caustic and toxic fumes build up that causes eye and throat irritation.

· Stay away from placing the soldering iron on the work surface as it can cause a fire.

· If hot soldering iron falls, do not try to catch it or you might get severely hurt.

· Do not leave flammable stuff near the soldering iron

· Unplug soldering iron when it is not in use

· Leave any soldered surface for a few minutes to cool down before touching it.

· Keep the cleaning sponge wet and ready during the entire process

· Place the soldering iron on its stand when not in use.

· Keep the hot soldering iron away from the cords.

Soldering is not a very difficult process once you understand it. However, for successful soldering, you need to make sure that you use the right tools in the right way with proper safety measures to avoid any unfortunate situation.