Free Trials

Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs

How to Buy

Contact your local sales office to get started on improving your design environment

Downloads

Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software

  • PCB DESIGN SOFTWARE
  • Altium Designer

    Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout

  • CircuitStudio

    Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool

  • CircuitMaker

    Community Based PCB Design Tool

  • NEXUS

    Agile PCB Design For Teams

  • CLOUD PLATFORM
  • Altium 365

    Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor

  • COMPONENT MANAGEMENT
  • Altium Concord Pro

    Complete Solution for Library Management

  • Octopart

    Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database

  • PRODUCT EXTENSIONS
  • PDN Analyzer

    Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis

  • See All Extensions
  • EMBEDDED
  • TASKING

    World-Renowned Technology for Embedded Systems Development

  • TRAININGS
  • Live Courses

    Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide

  • On-Demand Courses

    Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office

  • ONLINE VIEWER
  • A365 Viewer

    View & Share electronic designs in your browser

  • Altium Designer 20

    The most powerful, modern and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use

    ALTIUMLIVE

    Annual PCB Design Summit

    • Forum

      Where Altium users and enthusiasts can interact with each other

    • Blog

      Our blog about things that interest us and hopefully you too

    • Ideas

      Submit ideas and vote for new features you want in Altium tools

    • Bug Crunch

      Help make the software better by submitting bugs and voting on what's important

    • Wall

      A stream of events on AltiumLive you follow by participating in or subscribing to

    • Beta Program

      Information about participating in our Beta program and getting early access to Altium tools

    All Resources

    Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience

    Downloads

    Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs

    How to Buy

    Contact your local sales office to get started improving your design environment

    • Documentation

      The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.

    • Training & Events

      View the schedule and register for training events all around the world and online

    • Design Content

      Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs

    • Webinars

      Attend a live webinar online or get instant access to our on demand series of webinars

    • Support

      Get your questions answered with our variety of direct support and self-service options

    • Technical Papers

      Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers.

    • Video Library

      Quick and to-the-point video tutorials to get you started with Altium Designer

    Riding the Wave: When Wave Soldering is the Best PCB Soldering Process

    January 12, 2018

     Large Wave

    Everybody loves the beach and I am no different. Sitting on the edge of the ocean being mesmerized by the ebb and flow of the water is a favorite pastime of mine. This is especially true when there are surfers riding the waves. It is awesome to watch a huge wave appear intent on engulfing them only to see them emerge upright on their boards having ridden the wave towards the shore. However, when too many surfers are bunched together they are inevitably toppled over due to a lack of water to support them all. This is similar to what happens when wave soldering is used to secure the components on a PCB.

    The objective of wave soldering is to process the PCBs quickly. This is done by applying a wave of solder that encompasses the width of the board and the components ride the liquid solder upright in place until it is cooled and they emerge with connections firmly secured. If the board design is especially suited for the wave soldering process, the parts can be soldered in a matter of seconds. If the part clearances are not sufficient, the solder wave may not reach everywhere or connections may wind up fused together. In the past, when circuit boards and the components mounted on them were large, the use of wave soldering was the primary technique for quick PCB assembly. 

    Today, with the ever increasing push toward smaller and smaller boards and the prevalence of surface-mount technology (SMT) more precise selective methods of PCB soldering are being applied. However, wave soldering is still very much in use. It is a very fast process that produces reliable, secure connections and can be applied to PCB designs with through-hole components, surface mount devices (SMDs) or both. By looking at wave soldering advantages and disadvantages we will see that when it can be applied, wave soldering is probably the best PCB soldering process for your design. 

    Know the Tide: Wave Soldering Advantages and Disadvantages

    Just as a surfer has to be mentally and physically prepared before taking to the wave, you have to prepare your PCB design before the wave soldering process can be successfully applied. An essential requirement is that the design files include a solder mask layer. For most PCB design software programs this is taken care of for you. However, if you have to create your own part library (symbol and pattern) for a component, you have the option of determining what is on each layer. Care should be taken to ensure that areas that require solder, for example pads, are not on this layer in the design files. 

    Another important consideration is pad spacing. There must be sufficient gap between pads for a single component and between pads on different components. This can occur for parts that do not have common traces, but are close together. Pads without sufficient spacing can be fused together during the soldering process, which will cause shorts and possibly part destruction during operation. 

    Approaching the wave

    Preparing for the process

    Surf’s Up! The Wave Soldering Process

    Wave soldering has been around for a long time and was probably the most common PCB soldering process when circuit boards, as well as the components, were larger than they typically are today. The basic process is sliding the PCB over a flow of solder and the solder feels in the exposed areas on the surface, which are the pads and other areas that require solder. The major steps involved are: 

    1. Flux Application: Flux is applied to the board to ensure that the places to be soldered are clean and free of oxidation. As with all electrical connections, dirty connections can interfere with current flow that can cause problems during circuit operation.

    2. Heating: For the solder to flow, it must be at a high temperature. This heats up the board significantly. To reduce the temperature shock to the PCB, it is preheated prior to exposing it to the solder wave.  

    3. Solder Wave Application: Once the board is at reasonable temperature it is run over the wave and the pads are filled with solder. Excess solder may be blown off and the board cools forming nice smooth soldered connections.

    PCB wave soldering example

    PCB assembled using wave soldering

    For smaller boards, especially with components that are spaced close together, the wave soldering process is disadvantageous. It can be difficult to keep the soldered connections separated which can lead to circuit failure. However, when your PCB design calls for a large PCB, with components that are spaced apart wave soldering is the best soldering process. It has the advantages of reliability and speed over selective methods. 

    Using PCB design software that is intuitive to use, and gives you access to smart component placement will make your design-life hang loose. With Altium’s Circuit Studio PCB design program you can design boards to take advantage of the PCB wave soldering process. 

    For more information on wave soldering and when and how to design your PCB to take advantage of this fast PCB soldering process, contact an Altium PCB design expert.

     

    Check out Altium Designer® in action...

    Powerful PCB Design

    most recent articles

    Back to Home