Soldering: Which is best for your electronic device?

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acdi circuit board

As you are developing your latest electronic device, you’ll want to consider your soldering options when it comes to assembling your circuit board. Solder acts as the glue that holds your components in place, and creates the electrical connections among them. There are several different soldering processes to choose from, each with their own particular benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to carefully consider your particular soldering needs.

Wave Soldering

Wave soldering, also called flow soldering, is a popular pick for many electronics manufacturers for its automation, quick speed, and high quality. Printed circuit boards are pulled across a wave of molten solder, quickly and easily soldering all the components on the board at once. It allows electronic device manufacturers to efficiently assemble printed circuit boards in large quantities, while maintaining their durability and effectiveness.

However, components on the bottom side of the board that don’t need to be soldered must be masked off to prevent them from falling off. Components must also be glued into place beforehand so that they don’t shift during the reflow process. And, because wave solder machines require a large amount of solder and flux to function correctly, they can sometimes be expensive to operate.

Selective Soldering

Another popular option is selective soldering, a particular type of wave soldering that solders only the components or parts of the board that require soldering. Like its namesake, in selective soldering, a machine is programmed to only solder the desired components and in a very specific manner. This type of soldering is often selected for small circuit boards, or boards with many mixed components, as they would be more difficult to mask off and wave solder. When using a selective soldering machine, it’s unnecessary to mask off any parts of the board that don’t require soldering since the machine targets each individual component.

However, the machine must be programed for every circuit board layout, which can require an additional expense due to time. There’s also a higher risk of processing issues, since each component is individually soldered one at a time according to the many parameters programed into the machine, leaving more room for error.

Which kind of soldering is right for your electronic device?

There are several factors to consider when deciding between wave soldering and selective soldering in electronics device manufacturing, including your budget, time constraints, circuit board layout, quantity, and components used, among others.

If there is a high priority on reducing time to market and creating large quantities, wave soldering is a solid choice, depending on the complexity of the circuit board. However, if the board has many components, or masking the boards for reflow will take too much time, then selective soldering may be the better choice. The decision may ultimately depend on the project goals and should be the decision of the electronics contract manufacturer based on highest quality yield.

Our knowledgeable engineers can determine which soldering process will meet the requirements for the job at hand. Find out more about our electronics device manufacturing services by giving us a call at 301-969-2742, or visit us online to request a complimentary consultation.

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