WHY YOU SHOULD LEAVE SOLDERING TO THE PROFESSIONALS
Soldering is a crucial skill in electronics manufacturing and engineering, and a quick Internet search for those who want to learn the skill makes it seem deceptively simple. Learning new skills is a wonderful thing, especially if it relates to your interests or hobbies. However, sometimes things like soldering and electronics repair are best left to professionals.
PCBs (printed circuit boards) and electronic components can be sensitive, delicate, and expensive—and best left in professional hands if you’re inexperienced.
Getting set up to solder is easy. There are so many tutorials and websites out there to walk you through the process, and it’s quite inexpensive to buy all the necessary supplies. It’s obvious why lots of people learn to solder at home! If you have a PCB that needs repairing, you’re a complete newbie to the process, or if you’re just not confident enough in your soldering abilities, here are a few reasons why you should just relax and send your PCB in for repair.
RISK OF BURNS
First and foremost, soldering irons get hot. And we mean HOT. 600 degree Fahrenheit hot. That kind of temperature will severely burn skin, drip hot melted solder on limbs or personal items if the user is careless, and can start fires if the iron improperly set down. Solder may splatter, so eye protection is also needed.
RISK OF FUMES
Solder comes in both leaded and lead-free varieties. Despite the levels of toxicity, many still prefer lead solder due to its strength and workability. Lead-free solder is a less-toxic alternative (and the only option in regions where lead solder is banned), but both solders still produce harmful fumes that may irritate the eyes or cause health problems if inhaled. Ideal soldering set-ups include proper ventilation, which may not be viable for some. There should be between seven to twelve inches of space between your face and your work at all times.
It can take a lot of practice and frustration to get the “feel” for soldering. Too much solder? A solder bridge can form and unintentionally connect two adjacent joints. Too little solder? You might end up with weak electrical continuity from the board to the component. Pulling or yanking the iron away quickly can also ruin the join. It’s frustratingly easy to create a poor connection.
Knowledge of when to “tin” the tip of the iron is key, and failure to do so may cause solder to ball up on itself and/or create a poor, short-lived connection. Improper heat levels and board cleanliness also contribute to poor connections. It is also recommended to use a wet sponge to keep tip clean, but too much moisture can also temporarily reduce iron temperature.
LACK OF COMPONENT KNOWLEDGE
If you’re not well-versed in PCB Repair and are unfamiliar with PCB components, you may accidentally damage something while soldering. The temperatures needed to solder can and will weaken the glues within the boards, making them prone to lifting and separating in unsteady hands (the glue returns to normal strength when cooled). The heat can also damage other, more sensitive, components on the board if heat sinks (clips) are not properly used. It’s also best to install and work on the most static-sensitive components last to best avoid damage during reassembly—requiring component knowledge.
Learning a new skill can be overwhelming, especially in a repair capacity where you’re trying to fix something of value to you. If soldering is too much of challenge for you, that’s just fine! Ensil is here as your trusted partner in electronics repair. We have over 30 years of experience, expert staff, a massive OEM database, in-house electronic components inventory, and we offer free, no-obligation estimates.
Check out our Electronic Express Repair Service.
We also offer electronic manufacturing, reverse engineering, research and development, and industrial components repair. Follow the links below to learn more.