The Pros and Cons of Selective vs. Wave Soldering

Category: Telan CorporationPublished on 2016 Oct, 06Author

Last week we discussed the processes behind selective and wave soldering. Today we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of selective soldering (the most common soldering process) so that you can design your PCB with these facts in mind.


Screen-Shot-2016-08-18-at-3.02.31-PM.png

 

Last week we discussed the processes behind selective and wave soldering. Today we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of selective soldering (the most common soldering process) so that you can design your PCB with these facts in mind.

Why Selective Soldering?

Today, double-sided PCBs (assembled using surface-mount technology) are the most common style of circuit board, as they allow for smaller, faster, lighter, and more complex products by providing twice the space to build on than with traditional through-hole technology. However, this requires a PCB to be soldered via the selective method as opposed to wave method, which is why selective soldering is more common. Do the pros of selective soldering perhaps outweigh the cons?

Pros

  • By applying the flux locally rather than across the whole surface, you don’t have to mask off certain components and test points avoid being soldered.
  • Surface-mount components can be soldered without the need for glue (which is necessary to hold the components in place during reflow).
  • Because the size of the nozzle is adjustable, you can set different parameters for each component or location, depending on the contact time and amount of solder required.
  • Because they require less flux and solder, selective solder machines are generally cheaper to run.
  • Lastly, selective soldering gives you the ability to process boards that cannot be wave soldered (such as those with tall PTH components on both sides). This is arguably the most beneficial feature, since the only alternative would be to hand solder the board.

Cons

  • For selective soldering, a unique program must be created for each circuit board produced, similar to those used with surface-mount technology machines. Creating and fine tuning these programs can add additional time and cost to the Pennsylvania PCB assembly process.
  • In theory, selective soldering allows each component to be treated differently.
    However, because there are so many parameters available, there is an increased risk of processing issues. Conversely, a wave solder machine has relatively few parameters to change (speed of conveyor, preheating temperature, amount of flux to be applied, and wave height), making them less prone to processing errors.

While the benefits of selective soldering do outweigh the cons, it is important to keep them in perspective. Under certain conditions, wave soldering is still the most efficient way for Pennsylvania PCB assembly services to solder components in place.

Choose an Experienced Pennsylvania PCB Assembly Services Partner

For over 35 years, Telan Corporation has been providing expert PCB assembly services in Pennsylvania. We can meet all your assembly requirements, from surface-mount to through-hole technology and selective to wave soldering. Contact us today and discover how Telan Corporation can bring speed, efficiency, reliability and expertise to your PCB assembly needs.

Request Free Quote