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July 19, 2017

Testing Hand Soldering Skills

We need to test engineering technician applicants to evaluate their soldering skills. We would have them solder a small selection of electronic components on a test circuit board and then send the circuit board out for evaluation/inspection. Can you suggest an outside service that can supply the test boards and components and also supply us with written evaluations?

J.H.

Expert Panel Responses

EPTAC Corporation has a Soldering Assessment Program which may fit this need perfectly. The program includes Instructor Guide, Kits are available as is the inspection of those kits.

The basic theme of the program is to determine the skill levels of the applicant. It begins by having the applicant demonstrate their skill and knowledge on how to assemble a through hole board. Once assembled and inspected by the moderator, the next step is for the applicant to select the proper tips and irons to solder those joints and physically solder them. At this point they are inspected to determine the soldering skills of the applicant. This process continues through the Surface mount process and Fine Pitch surface mount process.

At any point the applicant cannot do the particular technology, then the process is stopped and the testing ends as the applicant has failed and needs to be assigned to some training program to develop the skills and knowledge to proceed further along in the process.

The program can be administered in a variety of ways: it can be purchased and administered in house by the purchasing facility, EPTAC can be contracted to administer the program at the on site facility, or the purchasing facility can purchase the program and have EPTAC conducted the inspection of the product once it is completed. All these methods are available to the customer.

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Leo Lambert
Vice President, Technical Director
EPTAC Corporation
At EPTAC Corporation, Mr. Lambert oversees content of course offerings, IPC Certification programs and provides customers with expert consultation in electronics manufacturing, including RoHS/WEEE and lead free issues. Leo is also the IPC General Chairman for the Assembly/Joining Process Committee.

Good question. What you are looking for is an IPC Master Certification Center. These companies train and certify instructor and operators for IPC-A-610, J-STD-001, and IPC 7711/7721. These are the standards our industries work on. Most of these specialize in offering training and materials that streamline the process of hand soldering, rework and repair, which also includes lead free soldering products. You can always contact IPC for a local contact to provide you that service.

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Terry Jeglum
President/CEO
Electronic Technology Corporation
Mr. Jeglum has 35+ years experience and is the founder of Electronic Technology Corporation. He is responsible for 22 years of program management for the Company.

Circuit Technology Center has a kit designed specifically for solder skills development. It is listed under the CircuitMedic product brand. The P/N is 201-4150 Soldering Skills Practice Kit and is available at the following link http://www.circuitmedic.com/products/201-4150.html There are many training companies that may offer the services for feedback, the IPC web-site has a complete lists that may be a good place to start. See the list at the following link http://www.ipc.org/ContentPage.aspx?pageid=IPC-Standards-Certification-Centers

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Andy Price
Sales Engineer
Circuit Technology Center
Mr. Price has been a key member of the team at Circuit Technology Center since 1985. He has vast expertise, experience and understanding of complex circuit board rework, repair and modification operations. He is one of the most knowledgeable experts in this area across the globe.

There are several services and companies out there. One is Soldering Technology International.

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Marc Peo
President
Heller Industries Inc.
Mr. Peo has been with Heller Industries for over 20 years and has been President for the past 8 years. Marc has authored several industry articles on Soldering, Flux collection, nitrogen use and Lead Free conversion.

Bob Doetzer and Circuit Technology who does IPC Training and certification.

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Bob Black
President and CEO
Juki Corporation
Mr. Black was the President and Co-Founder of Zevatech in 1977 and introduced first Pick and Place System at Nepcon West 1980. Bob is now the President, CEO and Co-Founder of Juki Automation Systems. He is also a Co-Founder of the SMEMA Council of IPC. He serves as a member of SMTA and SEMI..

One option is STI Electronics. They specialize in solder training and they also supply soldering training board and component kits.

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Edward Zamborsky
Regional Sales Manager
OK International Inc.
Mr. Zamborsky serves as one of OK's technology advisers to the Product Development group. Ed has authored articles and papers on topics such as; Low Volume SMT Assembly, Solder Fume Extraction, SMT Rework, BGA Rework, Lead Free Hand Soldering, Lead Free Visual Inspection and Lead Free Array Rework.

Reader Comment
There are a lot of options out there for soldering tests but most of them use very basic boards (2 layer 1/2 oz copper. No copper pour/planes) and I have found that when using those boards to test an applicant their skill on the test board versus their skill in soldering a production board there is a great gap. Look at the technology you are producing to and see about making a test using the same or similar production boards. Or spend a little engineering and have a test vehicle custom designed that can be a better fit. The cost of generating a better test is much less over the long run versus the time and effort of recruiting. Send m a message if you are still looking for tests and I can line something up for you. We just did this a few months back before we started a hiring spree and it made a huge difference.
Michael Sanchez, Vanguard EMS