Monthly Archives: May 2013

  • How to Guide - Soldering Basics and Best Practices

    Metcal MX-RM3E Hand Piece for MX500 Systems
    Professional pilots review the basics of flying every year, and recurrent training is good for just about any profession, including electronics assembly. So here’s a quick review of basic soldering steps and some best practices for each.

    The quality of a soldered joint is measured by its appearance, strength, and reliability. Solder joint quality depends upon the condition of the materials and the soldering process used. The soldering process in turn depends upon solder composition, surface finish of the PWB, and environmental factors such as flux chemistry and thermal conditions. A high-quality solder joint not only joins materials together, but also provides a reliable electrical connection.

    The primary soldering steps include:

    1. Tight solder contact with the materials being joined. A good point contact is more important than a large area contact.
    2. Slow heat application to all materials. Too rapid heating can result in cracks and poor electrical conduction.
    3. Using flux or paste to remove oxide from all surfaces and provide for smooth flow of the molten solder. Many manufacturers now use primarily “no-clean” fluxes.
    4. Sufficient heat to melt the solder so it flows across the surfaces and joins them with fillets that provide joint strength. Although the fillet size is an indicator of solder quality, too much fillet can result from excessive heating and lead to cracks and a loss of component lead flexibility.
    5. Proper cooling of the joint. Be sure that the solder freezes prior to handling the PWB. Moving the board can cause the joint to create an open or short circuit, or may result in poor reliability. Cooling time is just as important as heating time, as cooling too quickly can result in cracks or degraded electrical characteristics.


  • How To Take Care of a Soldering Iron and Soldering Tips.


    Hakko T15-BC15 Tip
    Anyone who works with soldering irons and tips should understand how to properly care for them, as replacement costs for these pieces of equipment are a sometimes significant yet unnecessary expense for businesses. At Kimco Distributing, we have compiled a list of best practices regarding soldering iron and tip care that many businesses in the electronics repair industry follow. Taking these steps can improve soldering irons’ and tips’ life spans, thereby reducing replacement expenses and the frustration that arises when a tool breaks.

    Preparing to Solder

    • Select a high-quality solder
      Impurities in solder will build up on the soldering tip and reduce the tips’ heat transfer efficiency.

    While Soldering

    • Keep the tip clean
      The iron’s tip should be cleaned periodically throughout the soldering process, to ensure maximum heat transfer and prolong the tip’s life. This is easily done by occasionally wiping the tip on a wet sponge or using a metal mesh pad.
    • Do not clean the tip too often
      While the tip should stay shiny, it should not be cleaned too frequently. Excessive cleaning will cause a dramatic increase in the tip’s temperature. The various metals in the tip will expand at different rates if the temperature rises too quickly.
    • Do not use flux as a cleaner
      Flux is corrosive and should not be used as a tip cleaner.

    After Soldering

    • Flush the tip with solder
      After soldering, the soldering tip should be flushed and re-tinned. An easy way to do this is clean the tip, fill it with solder and wipe it clean again.
    • Loosen the tip from the iron
      Immediately after soldering, the screw or nut holding the tip should be loosened. This will prevent it from seizing up, which can damage the soldering iron.

    Following these tips (no pun intended) will keep your soldering irons and tips from Kimco Distributing in excellent condition. There is no reason not to implement these best practices into the soldering process.

  • Why does solder paste need to be stored in a refrigerator?


    Refrigerating solder paste significantly extends the life of the paste. In general, manufacturers recommend storing solder their pastes between 0 and 10 °C (32 – 50 °F), but customers should confirm this with each manufacturer’s specific instructions for storage. The paste should be stored within this range, either in a refrigerator or cold room, as soon as it is received from Kimco Distributing Corp.

    Solder pastes are comprised of flux and powdered solder alloy. (Alternatively, Kimco Distributors also carries flux without powder in it.). The flux in solder paste serves two functions. During the soldering process, it efficiently conducts heat. It also removes impurities, both on the components being soldered and the powdered allow. Thus, even when solder paste is being stored, the flux is reacting with the powder suspended in it.

    These chemical reactions that the flux induces can be slowed by storing the solder paste at cool temperatures. Manufacturers recommend the above range of temperatures, because they have designed solder pastes to not react as quickly at cooler temperatures. Their chemists carefully select compounds that will react quickly at higher temperatures but are fairly dormant at lower temperatures.

    When properly stored, most of the solder pastes Kimco Distributing Corp. carries have a shelf life of approximately six months. (Again, check with each manufacturer’s specifications to confirm this). Once pastes reach room temperature, though, they will quickly expire – some in as little as 24 hours. This is why refrigerating solder paste is so important.

  • Labeling for Electronic Printed Circuit Board ( PCB ) Assembly and Repair


    Brady BMP51 Portable Industrial Label Printer

    Part of running a successful business, regardless of the industry, is keeping everything organized. Within the electronics assembly industry, a major aspect of organization involves labeling all parts, tools and materials used. Keeping all of these labeled and in order is vital to success. At Kimco Distributors, we have all the tools needed to maintain an orderly work environment. In the next post, we will look at two of our most popular labelers, Brady’s BMP51 and BMP53. This post, however, will focus on the different labels we have in stock.

    Using Standardized Labels

    The most important aspect of a label may be its design. By using industry-standard labels from Kimco Distributing, instead of Post-It notes, companies can standardize their organizational system. Employees will all be familiar with the labeling system and use that system. Rather than having 50 different versions of labels in a company with 50 employees, there is one labeling system everyone understands. This has several benefits. It:

    Ensures compliance with legal regulations, when applicable

    Streamlines the organizational process, saving employees time

    Eliminates confusion, reducing mistakes

    Item-Specific and Blank Labels

    Kimco Distributing carries a full line of Brady labels, so businesses can find the exact labels they need. Here, businesses can find labels for an array of electrical components and potentially hazardous chemicals, as well as blank ones. The item-specific labels ensure that employees include all the information needed on a label, while the blank ones are perfect for labeling the miscellaneous items and storage areas.

    A brief search at Kimco Distributing for Brady labels will yield hundreds of results. To find the right labels for your business, you should consider what needs labeling, how often labels are needed and what printers are already in use. If you need a new printer, the next post will look at two of Brady’s printers.

    Brady BMP53 Peripheral Label Printer

  • Ways to solve wetability soldering issues with solder paste solutions


    Kester Solder Paste
    In the microelectronics assembly and repair industries, wetability can be a major issue. As the size of components decrease, parts become more and more susceptible to the surface tension of solder paste. 01005-sized components are the most problematic pieces to work with, but this affects parts that are 0201, 0402 and 0603 as well. Kimco Distributing carries a full line of Kester solder paste, which helps solve the problem of wetability, but changing the solder paste is not the only solution.

    In an ideal world, parts and pad sizes always match up perfectly. Anyone who has repaired laptops or other electronics, though, knows this is not always true. Wettability can be an issue with any microelectronic work, but it especially comes into play when the component and pad size are not perfect matches. This scenario often results in excess solder paste on the pads, which in turn leads to uneven thermal mass distribution. Ultimately, this causes tombstoning.

    Selecting a different solder paste from Kimco Distributors can overcome wettability issues. In addition to changing solder paste, using a different type of wire is another way to alter the wettability. Often this is a less practical solution, since components have their own wires. The wire solder, however, can be altered. Kimco Distirbutors has a Kester wire solder for virtually every type of wire. Finally, since reflow also contributes to tombstoning, using a different flux is another possible solution. Changing to a Kester flux does not directly solve the wettability issue, but it may be enough to prevent tombstoning, which is often the real issue at hand.

    Kester Solder Paste EP256HA

  • LED Lighting is making a Green impact on Electronic Manufacturing and Repair

    OC White 82400-4-B

    “It’s big. It’s Green. And, it has a clamping arm magnifier!” While this may sound like the legend of the monster that lives under the bed being retold in an elementary school cafeteria, it is far from such a thing. These are the main selling points of O.C. White’s Green-Lite Arm Magnifier, which is one of many LED lighting solutions available from Kimco.

    Clamping onto a table edge, this is not for frying little munchkins below a laser beam – microelectronics businesses have welding equipment for that. (Kimco is still working on finding a laser-beam welding unit. Currently the best tool we have for grossing out schoolgirls while frying bugs with Calvin and Hobbes is Weller’s WX2020 Soldering Station).

    Rather, the Green-Lite Arm Magnifier (O.C. White part number 82400-4B) is a large, adjustable magnifying glass with lights. Even though it is made by a company called O.C. White and painted black, this magnifying unit is green. It features LED lights, which save money when compared to traditional halogen magnifying lights. These LED lights are cooler and use much less energy than traditional lights, and they meet all energy-star requirements.

    This adjustable magnifier also features:

    • The highest lumen output in a lighted magnifier
    • Reduced glare
    • Optical-grade magnifying glass

    Over time, switching to an energy-star approved table-clamp magnifier, like this one from Kimco, will save companies money on both power and light bulbs. Perhaps the savings can be set aside, so businesses can purchase that laser-beam soldering iron, when we find it.

  • Finding the Right Hakko Soldering Tip (Part 1): Tip Size


    At Kimco Distributing, we carry a full line of Hakko soldering tips, because finding the right tip is the most crucial step in the soldering process. There are many factors that influence how a tip should be used, such as its size, heating capacity, shape and series. In this post, the first of a series on all these factors, we will look at how the size of a tip influences the soldering process.

    The Benefits of a Properly Sized Soldering Tip

    A properly sized Hakko tip from Kimco Distributing has several benefits. These all stem from the idea that a correctly sized tip will be the most efficient at transferring heat to the component being soldered. Because heat is efficiently transferred, wetting is easier. Easier wetting lets workers set the soldering iron to a lower temperature, which in turn reduces oxidation. Reducing oxidation, then, prolongs the life of the tip and decreases replacement costs. In summary, the primary benefits of using the correct size Hakko tip are:

    • Decreased oxidation
    • Longer tip service life
    • Reduced replacement tip expenses

    The Importance of Size

    The size of a sldering tip must be appropriate for the job at hand, for it greatly affects the soldering process:

    • A tip that is too small will not transfer enough heat, and it will be too cold.
    • A tip that is too big will transfer too much heat and possible cause bridging. Thus it will be too hot.
    • A tip that is just right will efficiently transfer heat to the component.

    Because soldering tips must be job-specific, we Kimco Distributing have a full line of Hakko replacement tips. The size is the first factor companies should consider when looking for a tip, but it is only one. We will explore other factors in the following posts of this series.

  • Hakko FM2029-01 Hot Air Pencil Offers Reliable, Precise Performance


    Hakko Hot Air Pencil FM2029

    The Hakko FM2029-01 Single Hot Air Pencil is designed to be used with the FM-206 3-Port Rework System, which is also available from Kimco Distributing Inc. The Hakko FM-206 Rework System comes in multiple packages, but they do not include a hot air pencil. The FM 2029 hot air pencil is an optional upgrade, which gives technicians precise control when soldering.

    This hot air iron from Kimco Distributing is designed for situations where pinpoint accuracy is imperative. Its narrow nozzle gives workers the ability to soldering in precisely the correct location, without damaging fragile components in the surrounding area.

    This Hakko hot air pencil comes with everything one needs to use it, aside from the actual 3-port rework system. Included in the box is the handpiece, itself, along with a holder, a connecting cable and a heat-resistant pad. The unit is easy to set up, plug in and begin using. (We still recommend reading the instructions, though!) As with any Hakko product sold by Kimco Distributing, the hot air pencil offers reliable performance and has a compact design. It does will not take up much space on a workbench and will last for years.

    Those interested in the Hakko hot air pencil might also want to peruse the full line of accessories Kimco Distributors has for the Hakko FM-206 Rework System. In addition to the pencil, there are hand-soldering tools and N2 soldering units available. These accessories, along with the system's own features, are why Hakko's tools are recognized as some of the best in the industry.

  • Heavy-Duty Work with the Hakko FM2030-02 Heavy Duty Soldering Iron


    When it comes to the electronics assembly industry, heavy duty must be defined. You can't weld iron beams together with the Hakko Heavy Duty Soldering Iron, but it will easily handle the toughest jobs in electronics repair and manufacturing. From one of the leaders in the industry, Hakko, this is a tool that will provide reliable performance time and again. That is why we are glad to stock it at Kimco Distributing.

    The Hakko FM2030-02 Soldering Iron is equipped for heavy-duty jobs. It uses the brand’s T22 Series tips, which are have a higher mass than and provide twice as much power as the standard T15 Series tips. Any of the T22 Series tips will work with this soldering iron, and Kimco Distributing has many different ones available. The tips provide versatility for different types of jobs, while the soldering iron has the power necessary for demanding work. The heavy construction helps this iron work on heavy grounding plains and heat sink applications with ease.

    This soldering iron is compatible with the brand’s FM-203 Dual-Port Soldering System and FM-206 3-Port Rework Station, both of which are available from Kimco Distributing. Hakko’s FM-203 model is an affordable station that can run two tools at once, while the FM-206 offers additional features and is suitable for multiple different soldering uses. None of these tools will be of much help when building the next tower in a major city, but, together, they are worthy of almost any electronics repair assignment.

  • Featured Product - Brady Portable Labeling System BMP51 & BMP53


    Brady BMP51 Label Maker


    The Brady BMP51 Labeler and BMP53 Labeler are two handheld labelers that print on blank labels. Because they print on blank labels and are small, labeling virtually anything with them is quick and easy. This is why the Brady BMP51 Portable Industrial Label Printer and the Brady BMP53 Peripheral Label Printer are two of Kimco Distributing’s most popular labelers. Below are some of the features they share, and then a breakdown of the differences between them.

    Features of the Brady BMP51 and BMP53 Labelers

    Both the Brady BMP51 and BMP53 labelers are easy to use and small enough to conveniently be stored in a handy location without taking up too much space. From the same series of Brady printers, they have many features in common. They both:

    • Print labels up to 1.5 in. wide
    • Print on die-cut and continuous materials at 1 in./sec.
    • Print at 300 dpi
    • Are portable
    • Have a built-in cutter that both cuts the label and holds it, until it is needed
    • Can be connected to a PC through a USB connection
    • Are compatible with LabelMark software

    Brady BMP53 Label Printer

    Comparing the Brady BMP51 and BMP53 Labelers

    The first difference people notice when their comparing these two labelers at Kimco Distributing is the price. The Brady BMP53 labeler costs slightly less than the BMP 51. Therefore, if the BMP53 is able to do everything a business needs, then it is the logical choice.

    The BMP51 printer, however, offers three features that the BMP53 lacks.

    • The BMP51 is also compatible with CodeSoft Software, another label-making program
    • The BMP51 is wireless, so labels can be designed and printed from a workstation easily
    • The BMP51 has a large display screen, which lets users see the label before printing it

    Kimco Distributing carries both the BMP51 and BMP53 from Bray, because they are excellent, reliable label printers. Either will print labels. When deciding between the two, the choice generally comes down to convenience. The BMP51 is easier to work with, since it is WiFi-compatible and has a large display screen. The BMP53, however, will also get the job done.

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