[sdiy] Transition to Lead-Free Hand Soldering

Mike Beauchamp list at mikebeauchamp.com
Sat Aug 21 05:35:36 CEST 2021

On 8/19/21 4:08 PM, Tom Wiltshire wrote:
> It’s very interesting to hear your experience, Mike. I haven’t tried this much beyond a few toe in the water experiments (found the water a bit cold and uninviting, to be honest).
> One thing you don’t mention is why you’ve made this change. I can see for production it’s essential, and as you say, you can now get SMD assembly done at reasonable prices. But why not build the prototypes with leaded solder? What am I missing? (usually there’s something….)
> Thanks,
> Tom

Well now that I jumped the hurdle into doing surface mount components 
and having them assembled, that was all coming Lead Free by default so I 
thought it was a good time to also try and switch for the Thru Hole 
stuff on those same boards to keep them entirely lead free. I have no 
opinions on rohs, just trying to do things as a modern company would.

It also seems like repair techs 20-30 years from now are going to be 
expecting to see lead-free solder and it might be the only solder they 
even have. I was also a bit concerned with the health aspects of it, I 
was touching lead almost daily, taking breaks for lunch and stuff with a 
brief hand-wash. I still use lead for repairs of course, as others have 
suggested on this thread.

I am definitely noticing that the fumes from the flux are more intense. 
These solders are using the same fluxes I was using with leaded solder, 
but I think at much higher percentage and of course with the higher tip 
temperature. I have a solder-tip fume extractor and I'm noticing a lot 
of fumes getting past it so I've now set up a hepa filter in the room 
and a fan blowing across the workbench to get the fumes away from my 
face (because apparently they're always magnetically drawn right to my 
face otherwise).

I think people that are starting soldering for the first time with Lead 
Free are going to have an easier time. It's hard to disconnect from old 
habits, techniques and expectations.


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