Revising the Visual Standard for Soldering Joint Quality and Verification

The burden of determining the quality and intermetallic thickness of hand soldered joints had traditionally relied upon visual inspection and experience of the operator. The trajectory toward the miniaturization of components and denser packages makes inspection and verification by human eyes more difficult and less effective. The impact is compounded by the increasing age of inspection experts and widening of the skills gap of the overall workforce. Smarter soldering systems help technicians deliver power more efficiently and effectively, lessen the burden of onboarding new trainees, and facilitate more accurate and consistent outcomes. The next generation of soldering systems highlights a shift in technology which has remained relatively unchanged over the past few decades. New soldering systems like the Metcal CV-5210 rely on smarter calibration systems to enable ideal intermetallic compound thickness, a critical performance indicator of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and other soldering applications.

Designing Smarter, More Intuitive Soldering Systems

Proprietary chip and cartridge technology redefine the interface in which a technician interacts and receives feedback during use. Advances in bi-directional communication between the cartridge and the power supply tighten the consistency and interactions between the source of power and the point of thermal energy transfer. Connection Validation provides both traceability and visual feedback to the operator via a light indicator just above the cartridge. The system automatically recognizes and communicates a successful (or unsuccessful) intermetallic connections via a highly visible LED illumination ring. This system mitigates the risk of incorrect judgments, cuts down processing time and improves ROI, especially when an operator must adapt to an unfamiliar product line or one-off item. Autonomous indication lessens the likeliness of operator flaws, overheated joints, and improves overall production quality. More intuitive soldering systems ease the burden of operator training for new employees and lessen the day-to-day strain of visual-only validation.

Overcoming Soldering Bottlenecks

Maximizing throughput for hand soldering is made more difficult when systems struggle against heating overshoot, poor calibration, and cumbersome design features. Microprocessor controlled power supplies provide more power for challenges such as high mass components, multi-layered boards, and lead-free solders. SmartHeat® technology allows precise temperatures within a threshold single degree of variance, which eliminates overshoot by detecting differences in thermal load demand and automatically adjusting temperature output accordingly. The CV-5200 features an improved power supply system which incorporates a large color touchscreen with a digital interface, power meter, tip temperature display, password interface, and power curve display. ­­­The USB communication port enables analysis and reporting via a PC connection. For MX series users, the power supply is also backward compatible.

These advances provide operators with real-time monitoring and a non-destructive system of determining the quality of intermetallic formations. Joints not only look great, but the intermetallic composition is also ideal for conductivity and lasting function.

The Metcal CV-5210 soldering station is available at the Production Automation websiteCompare leading prices on top-end soldering stations and irons from the world’s best manufacturers.