made-by-monkeys2

Good ideas with bad execution, or good execution of what should be bad ideas - an analysis of inferior, off-beat or malfunctioning products, and how other people's failures can help us design better stuff.

Poll: On lead-free hand soldering

Time for another poll on Made By Monkeys. It’s one for engineers and the possible shortcomings, or otherwise, of lead free soldering…

Where do you stand on this?

Can you get on with lead-free hand soldering?online surveys

Tags: Lead-free, Solder

Related posts

7 Comments

  1. KTC
    September 12, 2010 02:31

    Thankfully avionic and the military aren’t using it yet. I’ve heard some real nasty stories from my workmates that have used it though.

  2. September 10, 2010 11:53

    Excellent. Thanks for sharing that, KH. Your ‘hot plate’ approach has impressed our Technology Editor, Steve Bush, too.

  3. September 10, 2010 11:50

    Thanks Jes, a very interesting comment. You touched on one of my bug-bears – the decreasing reliability of electronic goods. If built in obsolescence is the conspiracy theory, perhaps lead-free soldering provides the counter, cock-up theory…

  4. Jes Lamarr
    September 09, 2010 10:31

    I am a university technician, part of my remit is training undergrad students in soldering techniques, amongst other things. It was always tricky, even with leaded solder – students always seem to have the knack of producing dry joints, and melted insulation abounds – but it is now all but impossible. Even I, after thirty years in industry hand soldering boards, find it much more difficult to achieve 100% success, and have to resort to micro-inspection.
    But surely someone has missed the point here. The aim as I understand it, is to reduce toxic chemicals in landfill; highly laudable, no doubt. But I can’t be the only one to have noticed that electronic equipment in general, consumer in particular, has become much less reliable. Why, one wonders? Failed joints? Tin whiskers? My expectation is now three years’ reliable life, where it used to be ten at least. Failed equipment is usually ‘beyond economical repair’ due to complexity; and where does all of this extra go? Yes, you’ve got it. Landfill.

  5. KH
    September 08, 2010 23:53

    I use lead free solder all the time where i work and we have found that a high flux content is indeed needed with an iron temperature of around 385 degrees C. Although some larger components need a helping hand, so we use a heat pad for single sided boards to give a little extra help. The heat pad is just a few 50w resistors bolted to a piece of aluminium with a thermocouple connected to a temperature controller supplying the resistors. The pad is used at 60 degrees C and is just bareable to touch for a few seconds whilst soldering. We found using the pad prevents larger components cracking from the inflexible solder when put to use. Hope this info is helpfull to anyone having problems using lead free!

  6. Gadget
    September 08, 2010 12:49

    I stick to lead/tin when prototyping anything fine pitch (e.g surface mount ICs with a pitch less than 1mm) and use the lead free on big connections to save wasting my leaded solder :)
    I find that if you get lead free with silver in it (the lowest melting point I can get)and use lots of flux and a very hot iron, its acceptable. But like Tom says reworking it – especially if its machine built with cheap plain copper/tin solder – is a nightmare!
    I have seen chips crumble into dust under the hot air gun before the solder even gets soft!

  7. Tom Woolner
    August 25, 2010 11:07

    First time soldering with no-lead is OK, but rework is very hard.