Soldering and desoldering stations are essential elements in an electronics manufacturing setup. These high-performance and multi-functional stations are used for electronic product research, production and reworking. Selecting the right models for the different manufacturing processes is critical to ensuring smooth operations and improving overall efficiency.
By Baishakhi Dutta
Soldering and desoldering stations are primarily used in PCB component soldering, a process successfully carried out by machines. However, the repair work needs to be done manually. How well this is done depends on the specialist’s proficiency as well as the equipment used.
Soldering and desoldering stations have evolved over the years, in pace with technological advancements. Nowadays, soldering stations come with innovative features to meet the requirements of small scale and complicated manufacturing. Smart heat technology, which shapes thermal behaviour, is the latest technology driving the market. This technology eliminates the risk of thermal damage. It helps the stations to operate at a safer temperature, and power is delivered according to the load. This technology avoids the risk of current overshoot.
What’s new in the market
During the past year, many new products with unique features and improved capacities were introduced into the market. For example, Metcal has released a number of new products to complement its existing offerings. Its most innovative recent launch is the connection validation (CV) soldering station, which evaluates the quality of the solder joint by calculating the inter-metallic compound formation and provides closed loop feedback to the operator.
In addition, Metcal has released its high thermal demand handpiece and soldering tips that transform its MX-5200 series stations into a powerhouse for applications with high thermal loads – such as dense boards – without damaging sensitive components.
A new solder tip cleaner has also been introduced by Metcal, which removes oxidation and extends the life of the tip. The AC-STC solder tip cleaner senses the tip when it is placed in the opening, and automatically gets activated, saving the operator time.
Latest tech innovations
A few industry leaders have shared details about some of the latest technologies they are focusing on.
One such breakthrough is the connection validation (CV) technology in hand soldering equipment. The intermetallic compound thickness is critical in the formation of a solder joint. As stated earlier, CV evaluates the quality of the solder joint by calculating the inter-metallic compound formation and provides closed loop feedback to the operator.
CV complements the skill of the operator to judge the quality of a solder joint by introducing an objective method of evaluating this quality. This systematic and objective approach provides repeatability and a measurable standard to the soldering process.
JBC stations incorporate sleep and hibernation functions that lower tip temperature when the tool is not used. As a result, the tip lasts up to five times longer. This exclusive heating system offers greater efficiency when soldering and the quickest temperature recovery. While other soldering stations require 10 to 90 seconds to reach the recommended 350°C, JBC’s fastest stations require only 2 seconds, cutting down assembly time and making the soldering process even more efficient.
JBC is developing more reliable functionalities, such as temperature dynamic profiles for hand soldering tools, and the JBC Net—a smart system to optimise traceability and resources in hand soldering.
Available for the new upcoming soldering stations and the current DME stations, the new functionalities allow dynamic temperature control of the component during all the phases of the soldering process (preheating, soak and reflow), emulating the heating process in a reflow oven.
By combining the new dynamic temperature profile functionality with the JBC rework tools, it is possible to reliably rework MLCC capacitors and other components sensitive to thermal shock, and eliminate the risk of disturbing nearby components.
Along with JBC Net technology, which provides greater control and fosters traceability of the production process in hand soldering, JBC soldering makes possible the reworking of high-reliability PCBs for the military, aerospace, automotive as well as medical industries.
How to choose the right soldering/desoldering station
Users nowadays look for easy-to-use and handy solutions that help reduce costs. Apart from this, stations that operate on a wide range of applications and offer enhanced flexibility are much in demand. Therefore, buyers should look into the following points:
- The station should be able to solder at lower temperatures.
- It should offer fast temperature recovery.
- It’s cartridges should have extended tip life.
- The station should save time and increase productivity.
- It should be compatible with different tools.
- It needs to have a wide range of cartridges of different sizes and shapes to choose from, depending on the requirements of each application.
- It should have ergonomic and comfortable tools with a short tip-to-grip.
- Should have a user-friendly menu to personalise more than 20 parameters and counters.
- It should meet the customers’ soldering needs.
- Can be connected to a PC to manage the soldering process remotely.
|A few new products available in the market|
Product : AC-STC solder tip cleaner
Metcal’s new solder tip cleaner removes oxidation and extends the life of the solder tip. The AC-STC solder tip cleaner features a replaceable brush system that pulls excess solder away from the tip into a removable collection tray for disposal while removing oxidation from the tip. A splash guard prevents debris from escaping the collection area. Key features include contactless activation, compact footprint, universal power supply, ESD safe and quiet operation.Contact details: www.metcal.com
|Company: JBC Soldering
Product: i-CON 1V
Ersa has re-engineered its i-CON soldering stations and enhanced their functions. The i-CON 1V as well as the i-CON 2V now comprise the control electronics, already implemented in the i-CON VARIO multi-channel soldering and desoldering stations.The i-CON 1V and i-CON 2V can now operate the new soldering and desoldering tools—Chip Tool Vario and X-Tool Vario. The compact vacuum unit supplies a vacuum for the X-t00l Vario or existing X-TOOLs. Besides intelligent power management, these stations provide the microSD memory card technology, which allows the soldering station’s software to be updated.
Contact details: www.ersa.com
|Company: JBC Soldering
Product: Compact Station CDEThe company has designed the station for higher performance, and added new features and functions. The CDE features a new functionality to control the temperature of the component during all the phases of the soldering process. Up to 25 dynamic profiles can be edited to control tip temperature precisely and exported in a memory stick for future use and analysis.The CDE comes with a new cartridge stand that allows the operator to easily store up to four cartridges; a 7.13 cm colour display, which facilitates user interaction through easy browsing; and a new visual interface for working with total comfort. It features partial and total counters, and multiple connection possibilities. It can be connected to peripherals (including a pedal) to enter the station in sleep mode, to the Fume Extractor FAE and even to the JBC Net system, so that it can be controlled remotely.
Contact details: www.jbctools.com
Product: CV-5200 connection validation soldering stationMetcal recently launched its CV-5200 connection validation soldering station. Connection validation provides operators with real-time, closed loop feedback, via a green or red light integrated into the handpiece, to indicate inter-metallic compound formation—the key to a good solder joint. The CV-5200 also features a patented Chip-in-Cartridge technology that precisely calculates and displays tip temperature on the unit’s colour TFT graphic display. With the CV-5200’s communication port, tip temperature and other data can be collected and analysed in production reports.
Contact details: www.metcal.com