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April 22, 2014

Lead Emission for Selective Soldering

Is there a formula, process or tool we can use to measure the lead emission levels for our selective soldering machines? I understand the emissions are generally much less than a full wave soldering machine.

W.P.

Experts Comments

There is no good way to calculate lead (Pb) particulate from your selective soldering process as there are far  too many variables. It depends on the jet or wave temperature, solder jet or wave surface area, turbulence of liquid solder, turbulence of air around the jetting or wave process, exhaust flow, exhaust flow turbulence, inert gas volume if there is inert gas in your process, solder alloy, even air temperature. These are just a few of the variables.  Open a door or window to the outside and everything changes. 

If you have a steady-state process (controlled and repeatable conditions), then you can do some basic air sampling as with Draeger tubes or other environmental monitoring system and get estimates of Pb particulate in and around the selective soldering operation. There are many online guides to air sampling. This one has some basic guidelines: http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/indoors/air/guidance.htm

It is critically important that the process is exhausted and that the exhaust is sized appropriately.  Ensure that operators are versed in the dangers of handling Pb or Pb-bearing alloys and also aware of Pb-particulate environment. Also ensure that you are in compliance with State and Federal environmental statutes.
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Gary Freedman
President
Colab Engineering
A thirty year veteran of electronics assembly with major OEMs including Digital Equipment Corp., Compaq and Hewlett-Packard. President of Colab Engineering, LLC; a consulting agency specializing in electronics manufacturing, root-cause analysis and manufacturing improvement. Holder of six U.S. process patents. Authored several sections and chapters on circuit assembly for industry handbooks. Wrote a treatise on laser soldering for Laser Institute of America's LIA Handbook of Laser Materials Processing. Diverse background includes significant stints and contributions in electrochemistry, photovoltaics, silicon crystal growth and laser processing prior to entering the world of PCAs. Member of SMTA. Member of the Technical Journal Committee of the Surface Mount Technology Association.
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