Soldering Iron Guide

Heat- This is the primary source of energy used in soldering. Heat basically forms as a result of movement of atoms in matter. The basic indicator of heat is temperature though this does have various shortcomings. There are three components of heat or rather that determine the quantity of heat. These are temperature, specific heat and mass of matter.

Heat sink- A heat sink is a device that distributes away or rather dissipates heat that is generated by a particular component on a PCB or group of components in an assembly. Heat sinks generally have high thermal conductivity and thus giving them their desired characteristics.

High thermal mass- This, in its most basic description, is the extreme ability of a metal to absorb heat energy. The higher the thermal mass of a metal, the more sodlerable it is. Different metals have different thermal masses and are thus sodlerable to varying degrees. Depending on the particular circumstance a high thermal mass may be favorable or unfavorable.

Holding base- More commonly known as a soldering base, it’s a box that has dials or buttons used to control the temperature for a soldering iron. Digital soldering iron bases have buttons and a display that shows the current settings while analogue bases have knobs and dials used to adjust the heat.

Hard soldering- Hard soldering is basically soldering using metals that have very high melting points. While some metals will comfortably sustain soft soldering, they cannot support hard soldering due to the higher temperatures used in the same. The heat produced by different soldering techniques therefore affects the solderability of metals or other materials used in the process. Metals such as silver while used in solder require very high temperatures to melt while those such as tin have very low melting temperatures.

A-Z Of Soldering- P

Pb- This is the chemical symbol of Lead, a naturally occurring metal with a relatively low melting point. This implies that lead-based solder is very easy to work with due to its low liquidus. The lead-tin alloy for example has liquidus of a relatively low 370 degrees Fahrenheit. This made lead suitable for what is known as soft soldering. Lead is often used with tin to improve the tensile strength, shear strength and wetting of the solder.

PCB- It is abbreviation for printed circuit board. PCB stands for printed circuit board. It is basically a pad with tracks that conduct electricity and on which components are soldered onto to form a functional circuit board. Printed circuit boards basically came to replace point to point wiring boards that were the preferred means of connecting components required in a system. PCBs are generally made of four parts. These are the solder-mask, silkscreen, copper and a specific type of substrate.

Poor wetting- This is a situation in soldering where the solder fails to form good bonds with the pad, leads or both. This causes poorly-formed solder balls usually biased to one or none of the components. This is known as poor wetting. It results from dirty work surfaces and incorrect heat application.

PCB eraser- A printed circuit board eraser is a tool for cleaning and polishing copper traces on a PCB without causing abrasion. The eraser most contains a very fine silicon non-metallic material. PCB erasers were designed to replace the use of regular erasers in cleaning PCB surfaces. The eraser is used to remove any film coating present in the copper traces since this prevents the bonding of the solder with the surface.

Paste (Solder) – This is also known as soldering flux and facilitates the application of solder by getting rid of or preventing the formation of metal oxides.



Soldering Pocket Dictionary

Glass transition temperature- This is the heat level or temperature level at which a formless polymer changes from hard and brittle state to a rubbery and viscous condition. This is important in large scale soldering determine effective soldering temperature. A formless polymer is at times known as an amorphous polymer.

Glass soldering- This is the process used to make those lovely-looking stained glasses. The process involved in stained glass soldering includes subdividing the glass into pieces, lining the pieces with a copper foil and applying flux. The pieces are then soldered together to form the beautiful pieces of art known as stained glass.

Gun (soldering) – A soldering gun is in essence an electrically-operated soldering iron shaped like a gun and uses the trigger to transfer and control heat transfer. A soldering gun is usually used in situations where the soldering needed requires more heat than can be supplied by a soldering iron. Soldering guns have a wattage ranging from 100 to 220 watts of power. However, this high wattage also implies that soldering guns, unlike irons cannot be used for soldering on circuit boards with small and sensitive components.

Gun (heat) – A heat gun basically blows hot air into the printed circuit board you wish to desolder. However, it is not advisable for desoldering on precise points since it will melt off the solder from the entire circuit board. This method is thus only usable for recovering parts from old and unusable PCBs. The process is pretty straightforward and only involves a few steps.

Ground plane- This is the layer of copper present above the substrate on a printed circuit board. This forms the electricity conducting tracks on the PCB. The copper is laminated onto the PCB using some very high temperature techniques. The specifics of this will again vary from one manufacturer to the next.

The PCB Dictionary

There are a variety of terms used in the soldering world. Some of these are related to PCBs, their workings and components. Here is a basic guide to PCBs and the common aspects related to soldering on PCBs.

DRC- Also called the design rule check; it is basically software that ensures that your soldering on PCBs does not result in mistakes related to wrong track installation or poor drill-hole size. These may differ from one manufacturer to the other.

Finger- In PCB soldering, a finger is a piece of exposed metal pad along paths that should be linking two components.

Panel- A panel is a large circuit board that is basically composed of several small boards that will be separated before the entire board can be used. This means that the soldering process can be carried out in a fraction of the time it would otherwise have.

Plated through-hole- This is the ultimate base for through-hole soldering. A plated through-hole is basically a hole on a PCB that has an annular ring around it and is usually meant for component mounting.

Slot- On PCBs, drill holes are usually round. However, if any hole on a printed circuit board is not round, it is referred to as a slot. Slots are generally uncommon since they add up to additional costs for designing and producing the circuit board.

Solder mask- A solder mask is the material that gives printed circuit boards their green or red appearances. A solder mask basically protects the PCB components from possible short circuits and corrosion. The mask in its most basic working prevents solder from sticking on points it is not intended.

Thermal- This is a small piece of solder that connects a component to a printed circuit board pad. It should be installed in a way such that it does not feel sticky.