Soldering is a technique used to affix two metal surfaces mechanically and electrically — for example, flex circuits (also referred to as printed circuit boards (PCBs) and electrical connectors. The process involves a metallic material called solder and a heat source (selective solder equipment) to melt the solder, thus creating a joint between the two metal parts.
In many applications, a gas torch or furnace is used to melt the solder solution, allowing it to flow into through-holes or spaces to create a bond. When applied correctly, these heat sources are perfectly safe and do not harm the surrounding components. However, soldering delicate electronics like printed circuit boards (PCBs) requires special consideration.
PCBs are flat, thin, intricate circuitries used in medical equipment, consumer electronics, communications equipment, and more. With the rapid evolution of digital technology, the PCB market has grown substantially over the last decade and is expected to become a $76 billion industry by 2026. As manufacturers continue to struggle with supply chain disruptions post-pandemic, the added pressure of increasing the benefits of selective soldering is expected to remain a pain point for many. However, thanks to advanced technologies like selective soldering, leading manufacturers like iCONN Systems can effectively meet the demands of the market and produce high-volume, high-quality products in-house.
Traditional PCB Soldering Methods,
In large-scale manufacturing, technicians might use selective wave soldering, which involves gluing components onto the PCB surface before running the entire piece through a molten solder wave. Wave soldering is efficient and effective; however, the systems are costly and difficult to operate, which can lead to quality issues, such as insufficient fills or voids within the solder joint.
In smaller manufacturing operations, skilled hand operators may use a soldering iron to individually bond each component together. Hand soldering involves great attention to detail, which can result in a high-quality product, but it also takes time, which is not always practical in high-demand, high-volume situations. This method also increases the risk of human error, making quality control a more tedious task.
Selective Soldering Technology
In today’s technologically advanced manufacturing landscape, the solution to most problems involves automation. Soldering flex circuit components is no exception. Enter — selective soldering.
Selective soldering uses sophisticated robotic machines, computer programming, and laser soldering to affix flex circuits to connectors with incredible precision, speed, and accuracy. Thanks to automated technology, the process requires minimal human involvement, resulting in a higher quality product. Furthermore, selective soldering machines are less expensive to operate, lowering the cost of production while simultaneously increasing productivity and consistency on the line. Most importantly, these machines allow manufacturers to keep up with market demand.
- Eliminate the expense of wave solder pallets
- Independently control each solder joint
- Minimize thermal shock
- Reduce operating costs
- Improve product consistency
Selective soldering is just one of the many ways iCONN Systems adds value to products and services. Click here to learn more about our extensive capabilities.