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May 22, 2012

Wave Solder Dross Contamination

We have a problem with out tin/lead wave soldering system. Dross particles are sticking to the PCB and some are not found during visual inspection, but detected during in-circuit test.

The solder pot has a turbulent wave and a laminar wave and no nitrogen supply is used. The system has a wax cage to protect pump shafts. The wax cage uses special mineral oil. What could be the cause of the contamination and how can we prevent it?

Wave Solder Dross Contamination
Wave Solder Dross Contamination


Experts Comments

Several process issues could cause dross sticking to the board.

One being solder pot maintenance, dross may form on the walls or at hot spots in the solder spot or the impeller region. So here regular cleaning of the solder pot can reduce dross from being carried out of the pot via the impeller system.

Temperature should be keep to lower limits if possible in 63/37 the limits are 465-500F for lead-free it is 510-540F. Lower temperatures create less dross within the pot and impeller system.

Using solder with lower impurities levels also helps since some elements enhance dross formation. Regular analysis is recommended.
Peter Biocca
Senior Market Development Engineer
Mr. Biocca was a chemist with many years experience in soldering technologies. He presented around the world in matters relating to process optimization and assembly. He was the author of many technical papers delivered globally. Mr. Biocca was a respected mentor in the electronics industry. He passed away in November, 2014.
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