Ask the Experts
September 25, 2006 - Updated
July 4, 2007 - Originally Posted

Need lead-free wire solder for hand soldering

We are an EMS company in Israel, We hand solder a lot of lead-free products but yet we have not found an ideal solder wire. For example: some brands have strong smell, while another produce a lot of smoke. Can you please recommend an ideal solder wire for Lead-Free based on your experience which is not unpleasant for our employees?


Expert Panel Responses

Beyond the product performance of wetting and low residue, the amount of smoke and type of odor released during soldering is a common concern. Although interconnect performance attributes can be measured objectively, the amount of smoke and smell tend to be more subjective. Some manufacturers claim to address these concerns as well with specially developed flux cored wire. One such product by Indium Corporation of America (CW-501) is a rosin free no-clean flux cored wire specifically designed to offer superior wetting performance while minimizing smoke and odor. In addition, the flux core is colophony free (does not contain natural pine rosin), which reduces the potential for respiratory issues with operating personnel.

Richard Heimsch
Protean Marketing
Now a director at Protean Marketing, Mr. Heimsch has worked in the electronics industry 25+ years in a wide variety of international sales, marketing and operations roles. Rich spearheads Protean's international business development, specializing in Brand Management and Strategic Communications.

First of all there should be proper ventilation so that the assembler should not smell the flux. Many fluxes contain acids, amines and resins that can cause irritation to the respiratory system and in some case cause asthma. It is not recommended to breathe any smoke that comes from soldering even in a lead free environment. There are many good air purification systems that are bench top to eliminate the odor. As far as the solder wire the material with the best SIR, corrosion rating, and that wets is normally the safest for the assembly.

Karl Seelig

Deck Street Consultants
In his 32 years of industry experience, Mr. Seelig has authored over 30 published articles on topics including lead-free assembly, no-clean technology, and process optimization. Karl holds numerous patents, including four for lead-free solder alloys, and was a key developer of no-clean technology.
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