How to Solder Components? – Step by Step Guide to Become an Expert

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how to solder components step by step guide to become an expert

How to Solder Components? – Step by Step Guide to Become an Expert

March 16, 2022

Soldering is an important skill to have if you’re going into the electronics field; how else will we connect electronic components onto printed circuit boards right? 

However, it takes time to master it.

 

The first time you solder, it might get messy; there will be many questions in your mind, but don’t worry; it happens to all of us.

 

First, let’s start with a common question.

 

What’s the right soldering temperature?

 

what is the right soldering temperature for soldering electronic components

You need to get the soldering iron heated to around 350 °C before starting to solder.

 

If your solder is lead-free, you can use a lower temperature. The recommended temperature range for ITO (Indium tin oxide) is between 280 and 340 °C.

 

Once the board has been tinned, solder a joint by putting the soldering iron tip on it until the solder forms a ball on top, then remove the iron and wait for just under a minute for the joint to cool.

 

The tools you need for the soldering process

 

The exact supplies you need to solder electronics onto a PCB depend on what type of PCB you’re using and what electronics you’re working with.

 

However, there are a few things that will be essential no matter what:

 

  • Soldering iron or soldering station

 

soldering station vs soldering gun

  • SolderSolder - leaded or lead free find out which one is the best for your soldering needs
  • Solder Flux 
  • flux pen guide to soldering componentsA solder wick (like a sponge, but made of copper)

 

solder wick made out of copper is needed to solder components

 

  • Tweezers

tweezers for soldering

 

 

Soldering is one of those things that you might think requires a lot of practice, but in reality, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s just a matter of keeping your equipment clean, staying organized, and paying attention to the small details.

 

Preparation before soldering

 

It doesn’t matter if you have the best soldering iron in the world; if you don’t prepare your work surface correctly and your equipment isn’t maintained well, you will run into problems when soldering.

 

Make sure your work area and components are clean before starting.  Use rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth.

 

Additional reading

  1. What’s a Printed Circuit Board? 8 Key Points to Be an Expert
  2. PCB Assembly Process in 14 Photos – Plus – How Much?

 

 

Selecting a soldering iron or soldering station

 

Selecting the suitable soldering iron for soldering components onto a PCB can be difficult, especially if you’re new to the practice.

 

Many people believe that a soldering iron is the same thing as a soldering station, but this isn’t truethey are two very different tools.

 

A soldering iron is a tool used to melt solder (a metal alloy) and form it into a joint between two surfaces.

 

soldering iron station, guide to soldering components

The iron is heated until it’s hot enough to melt the solder, and then it’s applied to join two objects together.

 

On the other hand, a soldering station is composed of a plug-in base station that contains an electric heating element and temperature control unit—the tip of which detaches into the handheld part of the tool.

 

soldering station, guide to soldering

 

If you’re looking for something basic, or you only plan to solder intermittently or in small batches, then purchasing an iron will likely be sufficient for your needs.

 

However, if you are going to be soldering more frequently or more intensively, then investing in a station may save you time (and money) in the long run by allowing you to change tips and more easily control temperature quickly.

 

Using leaded solders or lead-free solders

 

This is a pretty complex question.

 

Leaded solder has a melting point of about 183 degrees Celsius, making it easier to work with for manual soldering, but leaded solder is also pretty toxic and has been phased out as health standards have changed.

 

lead free vs leaded solder which one should i use

 

In contrast, lead-free solder is more environmentally friendly, but it comes with its own set of challenges.

 

Lead-free solder usually melts at around 217 degrees Celsius. Hence, it’s not as easy to work with manually (and because the melting point is higher, there’s a much higher risk of damaging other components).

 

Furthermore, when you’re assembling a product with multiple parts that require different kinds of solders (like leaded and lead-free), you’ll need two different types of solder pots. 

 

This means that you’ll need to be able to switch between them quickly enough so that one doesn’t cool down too much before you use it again.

 

That’s why most electronic companies these days use lead-free solder almost exclusively.

 

lead free solder is the best option

 

If you’re looking for the best kind of wire solder for making your PCBs at home, though, I’d recommend using leaded wire if possible.

 

It’s going to make your life a lot easier than working with lead-free wire will.

 

What type of flux should I use?

 

The useful types of flux are a no-clean flux, a rosin flux, and a water-soluble flux.

 

flux pen guide to soldering components

 

Here’s something you should know, dipping the solder tip in a bunch of flux does not work; you need to get a flux pen.

 

tips on selecting soldering flux dipping the soldering tip in flux does not work

No-Clean Flux

 

When using the no-cleaning flux, the most important thing is to make sure you use a scorching brazing tip and heating element on your torch.

 

no clean flux

 

When the flux gets hot, it will release gas that can increase the pressure in the joint. For this reason, the flux is sometimes called “blow-out flux.”

 

Rosin-Activated Flux

 

This type of flux is activated by rosin.

 

You apply it to the solder joint, making the solder flow more easily and evenly into the joint.

 

rosin activated flux

 

It will not stick to anything that is not solder, so you can use it on joints that would otherwise be too difficult to solder.

 

Water Soluble Flux

 

This type of flux dissolves in water but remains active in the air.

 

It’s best used in applications where you don’t want to melt anything, such as soldering onto copper pipes or connecting copper wire directly to copper terminals on electronic equipment.

 

water soluble flux

Considerations to make the proper selection

 

If your solder joints are sloppy and you’re using rosin flux, you’ll have a tough time getting them to stick, and they’ll probably crack in the heat.

 

On the other hand, if you’re soldering with water-soluble flux paste, which is what we recommend for beginners, you’ll probably end up with hard solders that won’t move or break in the heat.

 

But sometimes, you just need something in between—a no-clean flux, for instance.

 

No-clean flux is a little harder than rosin flux and easier than water-soluble flux paste.

 

It’s also great for plated joints and really tight connections (like those on your motherboard). And it’s not messy at all—you can use one hand to apply it without having to clean up afterward.

 

What is the process, step by step, to solder electronic components onto a PCB?

 

And now, this is how you do it. We’ve got an electronic component that needs to be soldered onto a PCB. Let’s get started!

 

The first step is to clean the surface. This includes scraping off any old solder or flux residue and ensuring that the surface is smooth and free of debris, burrs, and scratches.

 

The next step is to turn on your soldering iron. 

 

Now it’s time to hold the tip against the lead, make sure not to bend or vibrate the component while you do so, and keep the iron at a steady temperature (around 350°F).

 

And finally, inspect your solder joint! If it looks good, move on to the next one.

 

But if it doesn’t look good, don’t worry—you’re still in good shape! You can just try again with a new component and start from step 1 until you have no more bad solder joints.

 

Here’s a video that will help you get through

 

 

 

Summary – Step by step on how to solder electronic components onto a PCB.

 

  1. Tin the soldering iron tip – put a little solder to the soldering iron tip and clean it with a wet sponge
  2. Put the soldering iron tip on the parts that needed to be joined with moderate pressure wait for about 2 seconds.
  3. Apply solder wire to the joint until it is completely covered with solder
  4. Remove the solder wire and solder iron at the same time, leave 3 seconds for cooling

 

Selecting Soldering Tip

 

How do I select the right one?

 

tips for soldering electronic components

 

You see, there are a couple of different types of solder tips. Some are more common than others.

 

Here are the 2 big categories

 

Pointed or Conical

If you’re looking for something with more control over your soldering process, you might want to look at using a pointed tip; although they’re a bit difficult to use.

 

conical tip for solderingTip sizes vary from 1/4″ to 3/8″.

 

Sometimes called ball-end or needle tip, these types of tips tend to be popular because they’re relatively inexpensive.

 

Blade or knife

 

These types of tips are great if you’re just learning how to solder and need something that is easy to use and doesn’t have too much of an angle on it.

 

blade or knife tip for solderingInstead of having a rounded surface like the pointed tip does, you will have a flat side that allows for better control over the amount of heat that transfers from your iron to your circuit board.

 

So what’s the best tip type for you?

 

It depends on the task you’re trying to accomplish.

 

If you’re looking for something simple, you can’t go wrong with a bladed tip. But if you want to improve your skills, you should be thinking more about a conical tip.

 

How to tell if the solder joint is good or bad?

 

If you’re soldering components onto a PCB and the solder joints don’t look right, it’s tempting just to go ahead and put the device together anyway. But is this really a good idea?

 

Here’s a quick guide to help you figure out if your solder joints are good, bad, or ugly.

 

how to know if your solder joint is good or bad illustration

Image source: Learn.adafruit.com

Good: The solder joint should be smooth and shiny, with no bubbles or loose bits of wire sticking out. It should cling closely to the component and board, with no gaps between the solder and either one.

 

Ugly: The solder joint is dull, lumpy, and lumpy looking. It may have tiny bubbles in it or even larger solder blobs that look like they’re just hanging on by some miracle.

 

Bad: The solder joint is missing entirely. You may have forgotten to put any solder at all on that part of the board!

 

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a solder joint is good or not because it doesn’t immediately melt once you’ve heated it. 

 

That’s okay! Just keep working until you can see what it looks like when it’s cool again.

 

Safety measures when soldering components

 

You have to be really careful when soldering; remember you’ll be holding something at  a temperature of 350C;  you don’t want to get a nasty burn.

 

Plus; flux might be toxic, you don’t want any contact with your hands or face.

 

Here are 3 safety equipment pieces you should have when soldering.

 

Safety glasses

safety tips when soldering components onto a pcb

Gloves

 

wear gloves safety tips when soldering components

Fume extractor

Soldering Components Takeaways

 

  1. Soldering is a method of combining two pieces of metal by melting and putting a filler material (solder) into the joint. The filler metal has a relatively low melting point.
  2. Compared to welding, soldering is generally used where the pieces to be joined are less rigid, do not require much mechanical strength, and can be damaged by high heat.
  3. In electronics, soldering is an important practice in assembling electronic components onto PCBs.
  4. It involves making connections between pads on a PCB using solder.
  5. In contrast to welding, which involves melting metal to create a joint at temperatures above 800 °C (1,472 °F), soldering occurs at relatively low temperatures (typically below 450 °C/840 °F).
  6. Solder typically comes in wire form and has a melting temperature lower than 450 °C (842 °F).

 

Conclusion

Soldering is an essential skill that’s taught in many electronics classes.

 

Used correctly, it can let you join wires and components very quickly so you can move on to more important things in your project.

 

Poor soldering, however, can make the difference between a working device and a total loss!

 

If you’ve ever wondered how people solder without burning their fingers or what the proper technique is--this blog post is for you; save it.

Eulises Quintero

Currently working as the content manager for TITOMA. With an extensive background in content marketing and a real interest in electronic products I'm able to produce some of the pieces of content you'll find here, all with the help of the TITOMA team of course. On my free time I like to travel, explore and work out.

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