For a hobbyist or DIY enthusiast, some basic soldering knowledge might be enough, but if you need to rework PCBs successfully with high-quality standards, solder training becomes essential, whether you plan on using Machine, or Hand Soldering.
IPC is an industry association for printed circuit board and electronics manufacturing service companies, their customers and suppliers. They have set up a practically oriented soldering training operator certification program that has been developed and approved by the electronics manufacturing industry. Apart from teaching students how to solder properly, the course also covers the requirements and standards that apply to soldering procedures for both electronic and electrical assemblies.
Attending an IPC-approved training program will give employees and the companies they work for the knowledge and practical skills required to improve their soldering performance. The certificate obtained is not merely proof of attendance, but actually shows that the student has mastered soldering skills sufficiently. Solder training courses on various levels of machine and hand soldering are available throughout the year.
Nothing frustrates an end user more than having bought an electronic product, only to find that it doesn’t work. It is not always possible or practical to start over when a non-conformance is identified during the final inspection, and having to scrap an assembly is a bitter pill to swallow. Irrespective of what you choose to do, you can be sure that it will cost money.
An alternative that will save you money is to repair or rework the assembly. Employees that have completed the IPC-7711/7721 Training & Certification Program will know which practical soldering techniques they need to use to repair, rework, or modify the faulty assembly to a standard that adheres to your company’s quality policy. Any nonconforming PCBAs and PCBs can be repaired in-house by companies employing PIEK trained technicians.
The IPC-7711/7721 training program is skills oriented and utilizes techniques that have been approved by the industry. Any employee from your organization that has been trained as IPC certified instructor can in turn train participants IPC certified specialists. The trainers must be qualified in the soldering procedures as contained in IPC-7711C/7721C Rework of Electronic Assemblies/Repair and Modification of Printed Boards and Electronic Assemblies. Trainers are typically operators in repair or production departments of a company with teaching skills. Solder training focusses on laminate repair, surface mount and through hole rework.
SMT Hand Soldering Basics
Hand soldering surface mount components is not as difficult as what one might think. This section is not meant to replace proper soldering training, but it will give you an idea of what hand soldering is about.
The first tool obviously needed for any hand soldering is a soldering iron. A cheap version will however not be up to the challenge. You’ll need a soldering iron that is both temperature controlled and has the capability to be fitted with different types of tips.
Practical workstations equipped by PIEK
PIEK will provide a fully fitted workstation consisting of a soldering station and the necessary tools, soldering irons etc. PIEK also provides a microscope, PCB, Almit solder wires, consumables, and components. PIEK clients will be able to select one of the following brands soldering machines: Ersa, Hakko, JBC, Metcal, Pace, and Weller.
Solder comes in various thicknesses, and have flux built in. The solder you use will very much depend on what exactly you need to solder. Lead-Free solder is commonly used for SMT (Surface Mount Technology) and THT soldering.
To remove excess solder, you will need either a solder sucker (also called a desoldering pump) or solder wick. The latter is also called desoldering braid and consists of thin copper wires that have been braided flat.
To hold and move SMT components, you can use either vacuum pickup tools or a simple pair of tweezers. Flux is not always needed when you are hand soldering SMT boards, but as thinner solder often has less flux in it, it could come in handy. If you heat up the solder joints more than once, the little flux that was there will have been used up, and you will need to add some more.
Soldering SMTs is very fine and detailed work, so making sure you have enough light and some magnification is a good idea. There are head visors with magnification and many good microscopes available on the market.
To remove solder with solder wick, place the braid over the joint and heat it with your iron. This will pull the solder into the braid. If the end of the braid seems not to be working, you may have to use a small piece of braid cut off from the spool.
When soldering through-hole components, insert the components through the holes first and place the board on the working surface with the solder side facing up. Make sure the components stay in position while applying heat and solder to the component’s leg and the pad at the same time. Some people prefer to trim the excess leads before soldering, while others do it after the component has been soldered in place.
Surface mount capacitors and resistors are often little rectangles with the two opposite ends being the contacts. These can be hand soldered by first adding a little solder to one pad on the board. Position the component with one end on top of the solder and touch the pin on the pad with the solder with the iron. Make sure the component is firmly positioned against the board and that both ends are lined up with the pads. Add some solder to the other end to attach it.
To solder surface mount components with many legs, add a little solder to one pad on the board and line the chip up with the pads. Push the chip down onto the board into the solder on the pad and touch the iron to this pin. The chip’s pins should be in line up with the pads. Tack the chip in place by soldering another pin on the other side before soldering the rest of the pins.
The basics described above are enough if you are a hobbyist or DIY enthusiast, but if you need to rework PCBs successfully with high-quality standards, solder training becomes essential.
A practically oriented soldering program through PIEK will enable your employees to repair, rework, or modify faulty PCB assemblies to a standard that adheres to your company’s quality policy.