Lead Free

  • Why Should my Company Switch to Lead Free Soldering?

    If circuits were living creatures, solder would be the blood cells. Without this valuable tool, many of the luxuries we take for granted (like computers, smartphones and GPS) wouldn't function. For more than a century, lead based solder has been the standard for connecting resistors and capacitors to a circuit. However, a recent rise in environmental concern has the future of lead-based solder in question. It's already illegal in Europe, and it may soon suffer the same fate in the US.

    Is Lead-Based Solder Better?

    There are many hobbyists and amateur electricians who swear by lead based solder, because they think it provides a better bond. However, a skilled worker can garner quality results from a 100% lead-free solder. Most solders have a 60/40 ratio of lead to other metals, typically tin and aluminum. However, there are completely lead-free options available and their benefits far outweigh any perceived disadvantages.

    Benefits of Lead-Free Soldering

    • Safety- The threat of lead poisoning has caused this metal's elimination from virtually every phase of modern life. Precautions can be taken to prevent workers from inhaling lead vapors, but lead-free is a safer option. The National Institute for Health (NHI) suggests avoiding lead-based soldering, so there's no debate about which type is more harmful.
    • Going Green- Products made with lead-based solder can't be recycled, which creates far more waste. Lead-based solder also contaminates the ground water when it's buried in land fills.
    • Global Commerce- Products with lead-based solder have already been outlawed in Europe. Anyone looking to capitalize in foreign markets should be using lead-free.
    • Reliability- People may think that lead-based solder is more dependable, but reliable sources at Dartmouth College say otherwise. Lead-based solder has also been outlawed in Europe since 2011, and they have yet to experience any adverse effects.

    Why is Lead-Based so Popular

    It takes time to become familiar with 100% lead-free solder. It molds differently, and it may take a day or so for you grow accustom to the change. However, there is no credible data to suggest lead-free is any less reliable. Even if it did bond better, choosing lead-based solder over lead-free is like replacing the graphite in pencils with lead because it writes better. That one minor benefit is heavily outweighed by the bounty of benefits provided by the safer alternative. In general, people are typically opposed to change, but this is a simple decision to save the lives of those who build circuits and improve the health of the environment.

  • What do I need to know about Lead Free soldering?

     

     

     

     

     

     

    As most companies start the slow transition to lead free solder over older methods of lead solder it is helpful to learn a thing or two about this relatively new technology. Though there have been many products made specifically for lead free solder applications, it was not until recently that many started to see the benefits of a fully lead free solder.

    Solder Strength

    Though most larger companies have opted for lead free options as a measure to both cut costs and help the environment, most at home soldering is still lead based simply because it is still widely available. There are some additional advantages to lead free solder such as overall tensile strength. Though initial products that were made for lead free applications lacked strength that lead solder had, there have been great advances in the overall strength of lead free solder materials. For starters, SAC305 contains 96.5% tin, 3% silver, and 0.5% copper making for a very strong solder when it is used. Another popular lead free alloy is of course SN100, this contains 99.3% tin, 0.6% copper, and a small amount of silver and nickel. Both of these present great options for those that are looking to make the transition to fully lead free solder.

    Personal Health

    Another helpful tid bit about lead free solder is that is it far less likely to cause you and the environment harm with long term use. Of course, if you are only using solder once or twice a month or less, you are not going to be exposed too much lead. However, if you solder very often it may be beneficial for you and your health to use a lead free alternative. There have been many regulations passed that are geared toward reducing the amount of harmful substances like lead and others from widespread use.

    Temperatures and Solder Mixing

    It is important to keep in mind when using lead free solder that it is at its strongest when it is pure. This means that you should never mix lead free and leaded solder together because it can potentially weaken your joints. Lead free solder is easy to use and does not require any special soldering irons either which is a great help to those that simply want to switch their solder material. It is important however that you pay close attention to the melting point of your lead free solder as it will differ from traditional solders. For example, SAC305 melts at 217°C while SN100 melts at 228°C. If you pay attention to the specific elements of your solder it should be simple enough to get your solder in tip top shape in no time.

    Lead-Free Soldering

  • Choosing the Best Tools When Soldering with Lead Free Materials

    photoRecent trends in electronics and other areas have suggested that lead free solder is now more popular than lead options. This being said, it is important to first understand why lead free solder may be a more viable and useful option than other soldering methods.

    Lead has long been known to be toxic making it a difficult

    Lead Free

    material to work with. While it can be harmless in some applications, it can be incredibly toxic in other instances. With electronics and other items that we come in contact with every day, it is highly important that the use of toxic materials be limited to protect consumers.

    Lead free solder paste, lead free wire solder, and lead free compatible fluxes are also necessary. The Kester Lead Free solder paste is a great option that is fairly inexpensive. You will also need lead free solder masking agent like the one offered by Chemtronics Chemask.The European Union outlawed the use of lead in consumer goods in 2008 making it essential for users to find an alternative when it comes to soldering. Lead free alternatives are far more available than ever before as more and more people are switching to lead free alternatives. That being said, it may be necessary for users to find new tools in order to work with these lead free materials.

    Choosing something like the Hakko Lead Free solder pot FX301B-03 is a great place to start. Finding a lead free solder pot is the first step to making a successful transition. It is necessary to get a lead free solder pot as it will have different temperature settings, different gauges and more which could make lead free solder unstable and far less suitable for sturdy and durable solders.

    Still another item you may need is of course lead free solder itself. This can either be solder wire like the Kester 24-6337-6401 331 Organic Water Soluble Cored Wire is a great option. These spooled solder wires are great and are easy to use and easy to work with.

    Another option is of course lead free bar solder like the Kester K100LD 04-9574-0050 bar solder. This is also easy to work with and fast for those that do not want to deal with wire spools and unspooling the solder that they need. All of these products can help you quickly switch over to a lead free solder option making your soldering safer and easier all around.

    If you're still not sure what you need for Lead Free Soldering:

    If you have questions about anything related to Lead free soldering, Kimco has the answers you need.  You can browse our website or If you prefer, you can also contact our team of professional customer service representatives for assistance with your needs by calling (800) 521-9197.

     

  • 3 Crucial Things You Need to Know Before Soldering With Lead Free Materials

    Lead FreeSoldering with lead-free solder presents special challenges that you should know about before getting started. Knowing these challenges can help make it more likely that you will get the results you want. Three of the top items you need to keep in mind to meet those challenges are outlined below.

    1. Lead Free Means Higher Wetting Temperature

    Lead free Kester solder requires a higher temperature than those that are lead based. With its tin/silver/copper combination, this temperature is 217 degrees. This solder is no clean, an important aspect of lead free soldering since the higher temperatures required can often lead to unwanted residue.

    2. Stability of Components

    Though there are other types of lead free solder that are made with other alloys - tin-copper in particular - they have a higher melting point. This means that their wetting time is longer and it needs to be maintained for longer periods of time in order to ensure the right flow. Using Kester flux that is VOC, as well as lead free, helps ensure the balance out the high temperatures required by lead free solder.Kester 63-0004-0971 971M VOC Free No-Clean Liquid Flux

    3. Compatibility Issues

    When working with lead-free solder, ensuring that materials are compatible is imperative.This compatibility ranges from the tips used to the materials being soldered. Tips that are specifically designed to be used in lead free applications also reduce the residue, giving the finished product a cleaner look.

    Though working with lead-free solder can present challenges, they can be overcome with a few key adjustments. The benefits of a lead-free environment make the challenge of lead-free solder one to meet wholeheartedly.

     

  • Hand Soldering With Lead Free Materials: A How-to Guide for Beginners

     

    Lead FreeSoldering with lead-free materials does not need to be difficult. There are a number of tools that are designed specifically to make this job easier. When they are combined with the right techniques, a novice can enjoy an end product that is clean and residue free.

    Choose the Right Kester Solderimages (1)

    For the best results, use the appropriate alloy combination that is designed to be drawn into the wire. One such alloy is made of a tin-silver-copper combination (SAC) such as Chip Quik SMD291SNL10 Rework Solder Lead Free. This solder has a melting temperature of 217 degrees and is designed to be no clean. When compared to the other popular alloy formulation that utilize tin-copper (SnCu), this type of solder offers a quicker melting point, ensuring that it wets better and has better flow.

    KES-Pb-free-alloy-wire_27_4_1Choose the Right Wire

    To promote the proper wetting necessary to solder components together, the wire you choose needs to have at least 2% flux by weight. Using wire that has this weight allows for a good balance between wetting times and the possibility of residue. For wetting times that are deemed too slow, 3% flux can be used. However, the residue that is typically the result can be unsightly. Kester flux is specifically designed to work within lead free applications. Charring, splattering and the breakdown of the flux are minimized even when the necessary higher temperatures are used.

    Choose the Right TipSoldering tip locator

    The right tip choice makes all the difference in the delivery of the Kester solder. Lead free tips are crucial to both the success and aesthetics of the bond. These tips need to be able to deliver enough heat so that the right amount of coverage is generated. To increase the life of tips, it is important that the entire tip be designed for lead free applications. Those tips that are simply tinned with solder that is lead free tend to have a dramatically shortened life span.

    Choose the Right Technique

    Before making the final selection of flux, ensure sure that parts can be easily soldered with it. This will help reduce the desire to add excessive amounts of flux as well as the need to rework the piece repeatedly. Keeping contact times to a minimum will also result in a cleaner end product.

    Lead free soldering can result in a stable connect of materials that is also clean and residue free.

     

     

  • Lead free solders versus traditional solders

    Lead Free

    Traditional solders made from a mixture of tin and lead were once a common staple in working with electronics. Lead free solders have arisen in recent years as alternative to the lead and tin compound.

    A gradual shift to lead free solders has meant a change in design and manufacturing of some electronic components. New designs compensate for the differences in soldering and help lead free solders last longer.

    One appeal of lead based solders is their low melting temperature. A lead and tin alloy has a melting point of 183 degrees Celsius. Lead free alloys are typically a mix of tin and copper or silver. Many of these alloys must reach 220 degrees Celsius or higher to hit their melting point.

    Soldering is important because it is used in designing and constructing internal electronic circuit boards in radios, TVs, computers and other electronic equipment. It is required to be durable so that electronic equipment lasts longer.

    This is an area where lead free solders offer a major advantage over traditional ones. A traditional solder has a tensile strength of 6,140 psi (pounds per square inch). Lead free solders, on the other hand, can boast a tensile strength of more than 9,000 psi.

    The biggest advantage for a lead free solder is that it presents less of a health risk. Lead can be toxic if enough of it builds up inside the human body. It can enter a person's body through skin contact or inhalation. That's one reason why lead was removed from gasoline and paint years ago.

    Lead exposure poses the greatest risk to young children because their immune systems are not as equipped to deal with it. Anyone who works regularly with solders should be aware of the health risks lead can pose.

    ThinkingEngineer

  • Lead free solders versus traditional solders

    Traditional solders made from a mixture of tin and lead were once a common staple in working with electronics. Lead free solders have arisen in recent years as alternative to the lead and tin compound.

    A gradual shift to lead free solders has meant a change in design and manufacturing of some electronic components. New designs compensate for the differences in soldering and help lead free solders last longer.

    One appeal of lead based solders is their low melting temperature. A lead and tin alloy has a melting point of 183 degrees Celsius. Lead free alloys are typically a mix of tin and copper or silver. Many of these alloys must reach 220 degrees Celsius or higher to hit their melting point.

    Soldering is important because it is used in designing and constructing internal electronic circuit boards in radios, TVs, computers and other electronic equipment. It is required to be durable so that electronic equipment lasts longer.

    This is an area where lead free solders offer a major advantage over traditional ones. A traditional solder has a tensile strength of 6,140 psi (pounds per square inch). Lead free solders, on the other hand, can boast a tensile strength of more than 9,000 psi.

    The biggest advantage for a lead free solder is that it presents less of a health risk. Lead can be toxic if enough of it builds up inside the human body. It can enter a person's body through skin contact or inhalation. That's one reason why lead was removed from gasoline and paint years ago.

    Lead exposure poses the greatest risk to young children because their immune systems are not as equipped to deal with it. Anyone who works regularly with solders should be aware of the health risks lead can pose.

  • What are the Benefits of Lead-Free Soldering?

     

    Lead-free solder has several advantages over lead-based solder. Many companies in the microelectronics manufacturing and repair industries have transitioned to lead-free solder because of these benefits. Not only is lead-free solder a green option, but it also has benefits in manufacturing.

    Since lead-free solder does not have lead, it is a more environmentally friendly option than lead-based solder. Following precautionary procedures may protect employees from lead poisoning, but the environmental benefits of lead-free solder extend well beyond the assembly plant. Components that are made with lead-free solder are recyclable, unlike electronics manufactured with lead-based solder. As environmental regulations continue to increase, some companies are being forced to build recyclable electronics. For instance, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) requires 85 percent of the electronics a company sells to be recyclable. Using lead-free solder, such as Kester’s Ultrapure Lead-Free Bar Solder from Kimco Distributing, is almost the only way to comply with regulations such as this.

    Ronald C. Lasky, who teaches at Dartmouth College, notes that lead-free solder is easier to use than lead-based solder when working with tight pitches. He explains why: “Lead-free solder doesn’t wet well, so you can get better lead spacing.” A study conducted by Motorola confirmed this. It found that when identical boards were soldered with lead-free and lead-based solder, the lead-based solder flowed more and led to the leads shorting. Because it makes soldering high-density semiconductors in small form factors easier, lead-free solder will continue to become even more common as the demand for mobile devices continues to increase.

    Because it is the environmentally friendly choice and the practical choice, more and more businesses are opting to work with lead-free solder. Kimco Distributing has a variety of lead-free solders to choose from.

    Kester Lead Free Bar Solder

  • Does Lead-Free Soldering Require Special Desoldering Tools?

     

    Hakko FM2040

    Because lead-free soldering is done at a slightly higher temperature (423 – 439 °F, 217 – 226 °C) than lead-based soldering (361 – 374 °F, 183 – 191 °C), specific fluxes and desoldering tools should be used when working with lead-free solder. The fluxes are easy to transition to, though, and many companies have already purchased Hakko’s lead-free desoldering handpiece from Kimco Distributing Corp. For most businesses, the transition will not a significant investment in equipment, even though specific tools are needed.

    The Hakko FM-2024 Desoldering Tool is designed for use with lead-free solder. The N1-series nozzles that are used with the FM-2024 are shorter than standard nozzles, and the N1 nozzles have a wider throat. This reduces clogging and makes it easier to work at the higher temperatures that lead-free solder requires. Businesses that already have an F-series Hakko Station can convert use the Hakko FM2024-21 Conversion Kit that is available from Kimco Distributing, instead of purchasing an entire new station.

    Many fluxes used with lead-based solders will not perform well at lead-free solder’s higher temperature range. More active (and more corrosive) fluxes that are designed for lead-free soldering should be used instead. Kimco Distributing carries a full line of fluxes for both lead-based and lead-free soldering.

    Since lead-free solder is becoming more common and has several advantages over lead-based solder, businesses that are purchasing new soldering equipment should consider tools that are compatible with lead-free soldering. Companies that are considering transferring to lead-free solder and already have tools, though, should be able to make the transition with a minimal investment in tools and equipment.

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