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How to solder onto PCB

PCBA Store / 2021-03-22

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The PCB soldering technology is becoming a norm, with many people interested in learning the ropes about the whole technology. Unfortunately, learning about it can be challenging, especially if you don't have a prior experience. Luckily, today, we have developed an in-depth overview of what PCB soldering entails, how soldering on PCB is carried out, simple steps for PCB soldering for newbies, defect to avoid, and must-have tools for soldering. It is actually a comprehensive guide of everything you need to know about PCB soldering. Let us get started!



What Is PCB Soldering?


PCB soldering is a simple process that encompasses soldering PCB or electric circuit boards. In simple terms, it is the process of connecting two surface metals electrically and mechanically, employing metal referred to as solder. This kind of soldering protects the connection to avoid it becoming loose from mechanical forces, vibration, and electrical progression throughout the electronic signal without interruption. It is a kind of technique that many people aspire to learn and handle electrical and electronic circuits.


Basically, there are different methods you can employ to solder your boards; but either way, the process is that you are connecting two pieces together on a PCB surface. The process itself looks simple because you require solder and soldering iron to get started. A soldering iron is a tool that appears the same as a pen and gets highly hot to melt the solder and connect two pieces when it gets cool. Although there are various kinds of solders, they are basically metal alloy or just a combination of tin with other elements such as silver and brass. They are tailored to possess a low melting point; hence melt and cool faster to connect the two parts.


How to Solder on PCB?


The process of soldering on PCB encompasses different methods. Here is a quick guide to help you get started.


1. Have your Iron ready


Prior to employing your iron onto this task, you must ensure the tinning process is complete. Tinning is actually the technique of coating the iron tip with solder to help in heat transfer. You can start by ensuring the iron is warm enough until it gets into full heat. Once you achieve this, use the solder to coat the whole tip. This process will require you to utilize a lot of solders, which means you will have some dripping on the floor. After coating the whole tip, clean or wipe it with a clean wet spot to remove excess flux. Just consider doing this as soon as possible to avoid it solidifying, which becomes challenging to get rid of later.


2. Work on the surface


A clean surface and an excellent soldering job go hand in hand. It is important to always utilize an industrial cleaning gadget such as a pad to wipe debris and dust to have your surface board clean safe to use. Other cleaning tools you can use can be acetone cleaner. This is essential, especially when giving an extra wipe down. Lastly, you can pass a little compressed air to get rid of little particles and dust stuck on the surface of your board.


3. Component placement on the surface of the board


Soldering on the PCB board occurs systematically. This means soldering one component at a time. It is recommended to start soldering the small components and finalize with the larger ones. This is vital, especially when maintaining the balance and keeping the PCB board flat. After placing the components where they should and onto the right hole, the next step is bending the lead. You should try to maintain the bending at 45-degrees.


4. Engage heat


Add little solder onto the iron's tip to help conduct heat and not hold the components. Heat the joint properly by holding the iron until it gets to both the component lead and the board. This is essential because if you try joining the tip with one of these sections, it will be hard for the solder to stick. Introducing the tip to both sections help to heat and get them ready for the soldering process. Do not remove the iron immediately. Just hold it for a few seconds to have it cool and cautiously heat it again.


5. Solder onto the board's joints


Heat the joint to make it ready for soldering. Heating the joint correctly will help have an easy flow of solder. You will also notice the flux bubbling and liquefy. Continue adding solder onto the joints and stop when it is completely coated to develop a small mound. Just avoid adding more solder when the joint is completely coated. Just don't meddle with the joint as it cools.


6. Finalizing


Just confirm if the joint has completely cooled. Consider trimming the lead if everything appears excellent. This is easily done by employing side cutters. After the first component is soldered perfectly, move on to other components. Ensure that the board is cleaned up after the soldering process.


PCB Soldering Tips for Newbie


If you are new to the PCB soldering process, you will need to know the following tips to ensure everything runs out smoothly.


1. Preparation tips


A wet sponge can be employed for cleaning the iron's tip. You can find an ideal ordinary sponge near a grocery store. Avoid using sponges impregnated with chemicals such as detergents. Also, avoid a magic eraser. Always use a soldering iron when it is 400-degrees Celsius.


2. Systematic soldering of components tips


Be organized and layout every component, and remember to label the components. Always consider wearing a grounded wrist strap to help get rid of static discharge that can influence small components such as ICs and resistors.


3. PCB Soldering process


Just the same you hold a pencil is the same you hold a soldering iron. Ensure the iron make closer contact with the lead or leg of the PCB board and the component. Hold the tip of the iron on the right joint/junction for some seconds. Ensure the solder smoothly melt and flow through the board. Ensure the solder you use is pretty enough to create a small volcano-shaped joint.


General PCB Soldering Problems to Avoid


If you have no prior experience, there are many problems that you must avoid. These include; excessive soldering, cold joints, splashes and webbing, opens, component shifting, solder bridges, and lifted pads.


1. Excessive soldering


Excessive soldering creates solder bubbles at the joint. Although the joint can be working, the board can invite errors below the bubble ball.


2. Cold joints


This mistake primarily happens when you try using a soldering iron at a relatively low temperature. It can also occur when you don't consider heating the joint for the required time. Usually, cold joints are weakened, messy, and don't last long. In most cases, cold joints limit the workability and performance of the board. You can always avoid this issue by exercising the right soldering method.


3. Splashes and webbing


This happens when you haven't considered cleanliness when soldering. They are problems that influence the PCB appearance but can still lead to short-circuit problems.


4. Opens


This is a problem that happens when an open connection exists between the pad and lead. In simple terms, it occurs when there is no bonding between the pad and the lead.


5. Component shifting


This is an issue that happens when there is a misalignment of components in the PCB board. In most cases, it occurs when components on PCB float on melting and floating solder, making them settle in the wrong areas.


6. Solder bridges


This occurs when solder links two components improperly. Basically, they are not easy to see and mostly go unnoted or undetected. This is risky because it can blow up or burn up components.


7. Lifted pads


This is a problem that often occurs when you utilize little solder. What happens is that components get exposed to high force, making them be lifted. This can destroy or damage the board or short-circuit when it occurs.


Tools Needed for Soldering onto PCB


There are many tools required for the soldering process to be successful; however, these tools will typically rely on the plan's nature. Here is what you will need.


1. Soldering iron


This is a simple tool that offers the heat required to melt the solder. It looks like a pencil and includes many distinct parts that help create a practical, comfortable, and simple tool. The components included in a soldering iron can be the tip, wand, solder wick, and rest.


2. Solder Flux


This is perceived to be a purifying agent. It handles three unique purposes, hence a critical tool for a soldering project. Firstly, it helps clean any rust. Secondly, it prevents extra air, hence stops future rust. Thirdly, it enhances the solder dripping rate.


3. Solder Paste


This appears gray like material employed to connect different lead chips into the board's ends.


4. The PCB


This is the board. It is the tool where all the solder is placed to join different components.


Conclusion


Soldering onto PCB is the critical and must-know process for all the electronic maniacs. It is essential to learn the ropes and develop something that gives you a long-lasting service. With this easy to follow PCB soldering guide, we hope you understand what is required to help you get started.