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Reflow Soldering in PCB Assembly
Date: 2014-11-15
Views: 115

From what is SMT technology to BGA introduction, all of these are PCB industry terms which are not familiar by most of us. And today we are going to learn Reflow soldering.

Reflow soldering is a process in which a solder paste (a sticky mixture of powdered solder and flux) is used to temporarily attach one or several electrical components to their contact pads, after which the entire assembly is subjected to controlled heat, which melts the solder, permanently connecting the joint. Heating may be accomplished by passing the assembly through a reflow oven or under an infrared lamp or by soldering individual joints with a hot air pencil.

Reflow soldering is the most common method of attaching surface mount components to a circuit board, although it can also be used for through-hole components by filling the holes with solder paste and inserting the component leads through the paste. Because wave soldering can be simpler and cheaper, reflow is not generally used on pure through-hole boards. When used on boards containing a mix of SMT and THT components, through-hole reflow allows the wave soldering step to be eliminated from the assembly process, potentially reducing assembly costs.

Reflow Soldering in PCB Assembly

 

The goal of the reflow process is to melt the solder and heat the adjoining surfaces, without overheating and damaging the electrical components. In the conventional reflow solderingprocess, there are usually four stages, called "zones", each having a distinct thermal profile: preheat, thermal soak (often shortened to just soak), reflow, and cooling.

Reflow soldering techniques are used for surface-mount parts. Whilst most surface-mount boards can be assembled manually using a soldering iron and solder wire, the process is slow and the resultant boards can be unreliable. Modern PCB assembly facilities use reflow soldering exclusively for large-scale production, with pick and place machines putting the components onto the boards, which have had solder paste applied to the pads, and the whole process is automated.

Reflow soldering can be performed at home with suitable hot-air soldering equipment, an electric skillet, or a toaster oven. The solder paste is applied with a stencil and a squeegee, the components are placed in position, and the board is heated. I prefer to assemble my boards manually with a soldering iron, as I tend to build them in stages, testing each stage as it is completed.

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