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What You Always Wanted to Know About Wave Soldering but Were Afraid to Ask

What You Always Wanted to Know About Wave Soldering but Were Afraid to Ask

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Published by smtdrkd
An excellent chapter on Wave Soldering by Martin Tarr.
An excellent chapter on Wave Soldering by Martin Tarr.

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Published by: smtdrkd on Jul 17, 2008
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06/05/2012

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 WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT WAVESOLDERING BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASKAuthor: Martin TarrSource:http://www.ami.ac.uk/courses/topics/0225_wave/index.html
 
Wave soldering
 The wave soldering process Materials Fluxing  Preheat  The solder wave  Aspects of practical machines Maintaining performance 
 
Some of this text is currently undergoing revision. Watch for updates!
Introduction
In this topic we aim to help you understand:the principles of operation of a wave soldering machineaspects of the materials used that affect the processhow machine parameters affect the final jointhow problems may be both solved and (preferably!) prevented. This part is divided into three main sections: after a preliminary reminder aboutthe process sequence and the materials used, the second section describes thethree main stages of the wave solder process. The final section gives someinformation about practical implementation, machine parameters and set-up,but is deliberately less detailed than a process engineer would need – wavesoldering is a complex process, and there are many options and trade-offs. Although we do not explicitly refer to other processes that use liquid solder,such as lead tinning, wire stripping and Hot Air Solder Levelling for PCBs,much of the information on materials, equipment and control contained here will also be found relevant in those contexts.
The wave soldering process
Development of wave soldering
 The advent of the printed wiring board made it much easier, quicker andcheaper to assemble electronic equipment. The time saving benefit whenmaking multiple solder joints was found first with hand soldering. However,bringing all the joints into a single plane, with the board as a barrier between
 
solder and components, also created a structure in which soldering could beautomated by solder dipping.
Exercise
Before reading further, think in some detail about your response to the question ‘Whatare the potential problems in simply taking an assembly and dipping it in liquid solder?’.In considering this, you should recollect any experience you may have had in handsoldering (for example, reworking) or in tinning components by solder dipping. To jog your memory:Did you need to use flux to help create a joint? What happened when the soldering iron came in contact with the flux? What happened to the nice shiny surface of the solder on the bit afterjust a few minutes exposure to the air?Did you get a quickly wetted joint just by bringing iron and solder incontact with the parts to be soldered, or did you need to move theiron so as to scrub the joint gently with the solder and make sure allthe parts of the joint were exposed to liquid solder?Did you experience any problems with spikes left on the joint becauseof the way in which you moved the bit away whilst the solder wasstill molten?Our ideas on this can be found in the remainder of this section.Probably you will have thought of most of the points below, which highlightthe challenges in developing any method of machine soldering:Unless the surfaces are unusually clean, flux always has to be applied inorder to encourage wetting. When flux is heated, first its low-boiling constituents evaporate, and then it starts to decompose, generating smoke. It is easy to tin a component by dipping first in flux and thenin solder, because the vapour and fumes can escape easily. However,just placing a flat fluxed board in contact with hot solder will trapsolvent vapour between the two surfaces, preventing even contactbetween solder and joint, and resulting in solder skips Within a short time of exposure to air, the surface of molten soldergrows a layer of oxide. Not only is this oxide unsolderable, inhibiting  wetting, but the layer impedes free flow of the solderUnless the operation is very carefully carried out, it is difficult to avoidleaving surplus solder or solder spikes, even when the joint is fully molten when the source of solder is removedSome degree of movement of solder relative to the surfaces to bejoined helps accelerate the wetting process, and is needed to makesure that solder reaches areas of the joint that are difficult to access.

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