So how do you choose the best solder for your custom circuit board? Because of the many types of solder in the market, choosing the right one can be confusing. While you are out there looking for a solder, make sure you know the exact use and the type of work you are about to undertake.
WellPCB knows the importance of having a solder suited to various temperature ranges and applications. But how to choose? Quickly come with me to read this article! Choose the best solder for circuit boards, and you’ll get the electrical connections you need.
1. Best Solder For Circuit Board—What is the Solder?
Solder is a metal alloy that is a fusible metal made of an alloy used to create strong and permanent bonds on circuit boards. Identifying the best solder for circuit boards is by understanding and how best to use it.
The type of solder used in electrical bonding contains different materials, with the most common one composed of 60% tin and 40% lead, thus the name 60/40 solder. There are two dominant types of solder.
• The lead-based solder
• The lead-free solder
Next, we’ll take a closer look at the solder used for the board and the differences.
2. Board Best Solder Category
The three significant categories of solder suitable for your circuit board:
- Lead-based solders
- Lead-free solders
- Silver alloy solders
The defining difference between the three is the melting temperature; from this difference and the kind of work at hand, choose the one that appeals to you.
2.1 Best Solder For Circuit Board—The Lead-based Solder
The lead alloy solder has been an industry standard for a long time. It contains a mixture of tin and lead in a percentage of 60/40. The melting temperature for this compound is between 180-190 degrees Celsius.
The tin in this alloy mixture lowers the melting temperature because the circuit boards are sensitive to high temperatures.
Lead is poisonous when inhaled for a long time, and that is why the European Union is encouraging you to think about alternatives to lead-based soldiers. It is a solder without the lead. Several standardization bodies require that we use lead-free solder because of the dangers posed by information. However, lead-free solder has a higher melting point and is difficult to work with but better if you consider the health issues related to lead poisoning.
It is thought to form stronger joints than the lead-based solder because naturally, tin is solid and hard. The container needs around 380 degrees Celsius to melt and may take seconds longer to cool, leaving shiny and clean solder joints.
Wrongful handling of lead in a soldering environment may lead to exposure to lead fumes. Possible health effects are reproductive problems, digestive problems, muscle pain, joint pain, and concentration problems. Either ingestion or inhalation brings about all these health risks.
2.2 Silver Alloy Solders
The silver alloy solder could be a combination of lead or no lead at all. Silver was added to the alloy to prevent silver migration when silver-plated components are soldered.
Using silver alloy solder will leach out the joint, giving it a brittle and weak joint. Standard lead alloy with silver has 2% silver, 62% tin, and 36% lead. The mixture will limit the silver migration effect with better overall properties than lead alloy solder, which has led to an increase in its cost.
So how do you choose solder for your board? What factors should we pay attention to? Then please read on.
3. Things to Consider When Soldering for Circuit Boards
Different kinds of soldering irons are in the market to serve different types of soldering jobs. Some irons release intense heat and ensure that the soldering joint quickly melts the bonds. Here are some of the things to consider when choosing the best solder for circuit boards.
3.1 Best Solder For Circuit Board—Wire Size
The solder wires are available in a variety of sizes, otherwise known as gauges. The diameters range from inches or millimeters. The wire size depends on the work at hand; therefore, having both more significant and small lead wires is better.
Most of these wires are sold with rosin flux, which is at the center of the wire. Change helps the flow of solder and sticking it to the surface. It is slightly acidic and removes any oxidation from the board’s surface.
Flux cleanses the area to be soldered, making it easier for the solder to flow and hence a perfect solder joint. The flux will change the surface tension as it increases adhesion properties in the solder joint.
Flux is available in three different forms:
- Water soluble
You can minimize solder inventory by using the water-soluble flux for circuits making cleaning a simple process.
Rosin core flux wire should be enough, but it is nevertheless helpful to have separate flux. You only need to add a bit of change to the soldering point’s surface because leaving it on top of the soldering iron is helpful.
3.3 Best Solder For Circuit Board—With or Without Lead
The debate on what solder alloy to use on circuit boards because the discussion on whether to use lead or lead-free solder is still going on. Despite the debate grounded on environmental and health issues, some individuals seem to use them without any problem at all.
Here are some of the issues that surround the use of lead-based solders:
Technique: solders made from tin alloys need proper methods to obtain the best results. With the same procedure, you will still get good results.
Failure to use the right soldering iron tip matters extensively because it goes as far as temperature regulation.
Quality of Materials: Regardless of the nature of the materials used, make sure that nobody gets in harm’s way how you use the solder. Sometimes it may be solder, but the quality may have come from recycled materials that have been used. In such circumstances, the problems may not be caused by alloy but impurities from the materials.
Suppose you have been soldering for quite some time now. In that case, you must have realized lead-free solder alloys have an excellent reputation in the market for a beginner and anyone using a cheaper soldering iron than the 60/40 or 63/37 tin-lead solders. Therefore, the best advice on the type of solder to use as the best circuit board is any solder that is lead-free and with a flexible resin core.
If you decide to opt to check via the manufacturer website, look for a datasheet that has all the details of the standard solder, where testing was done to prove that what you choose to buy is the recommended solder for your type of circuit board.
You can make the final decision on the type of best solder for your circuit board that can either depend on whether the alloy has some composition of lead. Remember that what you need is the soldering technique.
You may be tempted to throw away some of the lead components because of the fear that it is a danger to the environment. Throwing electronic waste away may not solve the immediate issue; however, switching to lead-free soldering components could be the safest bet.
Now we know what to pay attention to when choosing solder. Next, let’s see how to select a suitable solder.
4. Best Solder For Circuit Board—Tips When Selecting the Right Solder
Choosing the suitable solder is daunting for most beginners and, to some extent, the experienced hands as well. Let us share some ideas that will make the process less tedious to make an informed choice. Look at the following statements:
You have to know the size of the diameter needed before handling the work on the table. A small diameter solder is favorable for small amounts of solder and is very handy for soldering surface-mounted circuits.
More significant components such as connectors use a longer solder to get to the exact point of connection. The larger size also extends risk to nearby circuits and overheating some board components.
4.2 Best Solder For Circuit Board—Shelf Life
Solder does expire, and industry recommendation dictates that it be used within three years from the date of manufacturing. The shelf life is indicated on the solder paste. After some time, the oxidation may take place on the surface of the solder rendering it less effective.
After oxidation occurs, there will be no smooth flow, and soldering the joint becomes too difficult. A solder paste has a shelf life of six months. You can extend the shelf life of the paste by refrigerating it, and it may serve you for more than one year. You have to ensure that soldering paste cannot be stored in the same fridge used for food storage.
We anticipate that the information shared in this article gives an overview of soldiers available in the market. You have also read about the difficulty involved in choosing the best solder for the circuit board. After reading the article, you can be assured that selecting the best solder for electrical work is not as difficult as earlier thought.
WellPCB provides you with better service to meet customer needs. We need to choose the most suitable solder for your board, and rest assured that you will get good electrical connections and have a joint that will last for many years. Every item must be tested and qualified, and every detail is strictly checked. If you need PCB assembled, please contact us; we will be happy to help you.