Energy & Sustainability Technology
A guide to lead-free soldering

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Hack-a-day’s new contributor Jason Rollette has a nice overview for the why-and-how on using lead free solder. I certainly learned a thing or two!

14 thoughts on “A guide to lead-free soldering

  1. BOOO ROHS!

    The single worst thing to happen to electronics in history. It has no real enviromental impact and it has ruined the industry. Corporations may be forced to switch to the retarded thing but I never will.

    Long live lead!
    Long live lead!
    Long live lead!

  2. Actually, the experienced folks who left comments in the HackADay web site are excellent and show how 40+ years of electronics knowledge development were completely and negligently ignored by the “green-friendly” ignorants who, scared by the word “lead” in the list of electronic components, elaborated ROHS laws that in the long run make things WORSE for both environment and people. Environmentally, financially and practically.

    The least of issues with lead-based solder is lead. Flux and other chemicals who are volatile pose health risks that are *orders of magnitude* above those of lead. And with lead-free solder, the associated chemicals are even more dangerous, specially for hobbyists that don’t have the appropriate equipment to handle them. Moreover, the tin whiskers problems that plague lead-free solder are a disaster waiting to happen. A TV that eventually short-circuits itself and may catch fire will only be a minor issue –just consider all the ROHS approved life-support equipment that is going to be out there…

    As Dennis Ritchie put it well when talking about standards, “… a few good people can really save the day, and a few idiots can really make it miserable for years to come.”

  3. Dude, learn to use CAPITALS please. What a headache of an article to try and read. The message gets lost when the medium gets in the way.

  4. The lack of capital letters in the post is actually due to CSS. If you copy/paste the text into a text editor, voila! capital letters.

  5. All of Hackaday is lower case, always has been always will be. It is unique and you get used to it pretty quick. They are a great bunch of guys over there. Keep up the good work and more How-To’s!

    I work at a contract manufacture, about 1/3 of the stuff we run is lead free, it is not really any different for experienced solderers. Maybe just a fraction of a second longer dwell time for hand soldering.

    For SMT reflow and Wave soldering once the profile is done, it is not much different. slightly more solder shorts and a little harder to get top side hole fill, but any experienced process engineer can over come these defects. I have been running lines for over over 20 years as well.

  6. I LOVE RoHS! I also love lead based solders. RoHS is really only important if you want to sell products to the European Union. It turns out the large semiconductor companies want their business so they make lead free / RoHS parts. What this means is that the IC packages and other parts can withstand a heck of a lot more heat. I use lead solders with them and now you can cook the crap out of those annoying SMT packages with no visible leads from the sides (and yet, not BGA). Of course, this is still done with hot air or IR, but what it means to all of us is that there is such a low chance of frying parts when using lead solders with RoHS parts that you hardly need to worry about buying spares.

    I solder every day for projects at a local national laboratory. Never once did they ask for lead free solders even though internally you need “lead hazard training” to use them (and an open spark permit, and a 2nd FTE as fire watch…..

  7. Until they solve the problem of tin whiskers growing from solder connections into other parts of the board making shorts, I’ll not even consider lead free. The lead prevents the tin from whiskering. NASA hasn’t even found a solution yet. I’m all for green, but you just can’t fix stupid. And voluntarily making bad electronics using defective solder is way stupid.

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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