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Lead Vs lead-free soldering for PCB assembly

Lead Vs lead-free soldering for PCB assembly

What is soldering?

Solder is the name for bonding metals. Soldering is a crucial aspect of the electronics industry, as it is the basic method of connecting electrical equipment to a PC Board. You have to heat the metal at a high temperature and join the parts, and then it will create a perfect electric connection between them when it cools.


Differences of leaded and lead-free soldering

Another distinguishing feature is the difference in moisture content. Wetting refers to how well-molten solder paste adheres to the board’s components on the Printed Circuit Board. Solder that has been improperly wetted appears grainy and dull. When using lead-free solder, wetting takes longer and results look dull. Traditional lead solder connections, on the other hand, are usually gleaming and spotless. Inadequate wettability is hazardous to a PCB’s joints. It causes poor joint performance and high circuit board rejects rates.

Changes in melting point:

Lead and lead-free solder perform differently in terms of performance. The melting point difference is the first distinction. Lead-free solder necessitates the use of some of the most extreme iron temperatures. It would be best if you were prepared to wait extended dwell periods due to the high melting points.

Various ranges of temperature:

There is a performance difference between the two due to the differing relevant temperature. High soldering iron temperatures are required for lead-free solder. When it comes to lead solder, however, this is not the case. In comparison to lead solder, lead-free solder requires somewhat higher remelting temperatures.

Raw material:

The raw materials are the essential distinction between lead and lead-free soldering. Flux is used in the creation of both of these items. The addition of lead solder paste is referred to as a lead change. However, when lead-free solder paste is added, it is referred to as lead-free flux.

Uses are different:

The difference in usage is the next distinguishing feature. Lead solder is frequently used in hobbyist projects. These projects are exempt from the RoHS regulations. On the other hand, lead-free soldering is required for major projects that must adhere to RoHS regulations.

Different appearance:

The look of lead-free solder junctions is grey, harsh, and uneven. The majority of leaded solder junctions, on the other hand, are bright and neat. They have a refined and gentler appearance. Lead solder is also somewhat heavier than lead-free solder in terms of density. Lead-based solder weighs 8.5 gm per square meter, while lead-free solder weighs 3.5 gm per square meter.

Advantages of lead-free solder

Due to the dangers of lead, lead-free solder has become common in electronic businesses and manufacturers. In the electronics sector, the Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive (RoHS) went into force, banning lead in consumer devices manufactured in the E.U. Manufacturers in the United States may be eligible for tax breaks if they reduce their usage of lead-based solder. The use of lead-free solder was generally accepted before lead-free solder being common in consumer-produced products. Almost all electronic assemblies were built to survive the usage of lead-free solder and the temperatures needed for manufacture.

Many users were fearful that lead-free solder would not last besides lead-based solder and those goods would fail. Because its characteristics are less well understood, lead-free solder might be not so much attractive for sensitive programs like aerospace and innovations in the field of medicine. We’ll see whether lead-free solder stands the test of time as it becomes increasingly popular and needed.

The decision of lead-free materials for wave soldering or through-hole soldering is based on the final completed PCB assembly unique design specifications and product demands. Even though lead-free soldering requires extreme temperatures, careful board architecture and material selection will be critical to avoid metal decomposing or harm critical electrical parts. This is particularly true throughout reflow when heat waves exist for long periods.

Disadvantages of lead-free soldering

Compared to leaded soldering, it needs low temperature to melt. Lead-free soldering requires high temperature. It needs around about 217°C/422°F temperature to melt. Electrical devices and PCB materials must be able to endure extreme heat.

Hard to handle:
Though lead-free solder operates perfectly there are several instances when lead solder beats lead-free solder. To begin with, lead solder is quite simple to work with. Even if a child ingests or consumes it, the poisonous substance is absorbed by the body.

Surface energy:
The absence of surface energy is perhaps the most significant disadvantage of lead-free solder. External pressures cannot be resisted by lead-free solder. The components may easily fall off if exposed to severe conditions.

Soldering irons with high wattage:
When lead solder is used, there are fewer quality issues with the head Soldering irons with high power are required for lead-free soldering. You may injure your head as a result of this. Again, this may lead to problems with your board’s quality. When you select lead solder, however, this is not the case. You may need to remove the head fast because of the high soldering temperature needed for lead-free soldering. When the use of lead soldering, however, you can prevent such a situation. This is something that many circuit designers are aware of.

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Written by Sam Sangani

Sam Sangani

Sam Sangani is the President & CEO of PNC Inc., a Nutley, NJ based Printed Circuit Board manufacturer. Sam graduated from L. D. Engineering College with a BS Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He also continued his education and graduated from Steven’s Institute of Technology where he acquired a Master’s degree in Computer Science.

After completion of his BS, Sam worked as a QC Manager, for Xerox, Romania and London. He was responsible for the Quality Control of Cable and Wire Harness imports from Romania. After completing his Master’s Degree, he worked as a Senior Programmer with IBM, Tucson, Arizona. Sam was responsible for leading the Mainframe System Programming Team.

In 1997, Sam acquired PNC INC., a Nutley, NJ based PC Board fabrication Shop. From 1997-2013, Sam has made tremendous improvements and changes within PNC INC., as he added many new Products and Technologies in PNC’s portfolio. With his proven track record and leadership, PNC has never had an unprofitable year and has continued its growth yearly since 1997.

His current responsibilities are Strategic Planning, Corporate Management, New Business Ventures, Sales & Marketing, Trade Shows, Professional Services and leading productive teams to achieve peak potential. He has also utilized Lean Management techniques which have built a foundation for PNC’s high-paced growth. Sam also enjoys real-estate investing, web design & SEO, trading stocks, options, futures and Forex markets.

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