The use of vapor reflow soldering systems improves PCBA product quality.

Although it is not a fully understood technology in manufacturing circles, Firstronic has added two vapor phase reflow soldering systems to the Mexican production facilities that it operates under the auspices of the Tecma Group of Companies Mexican manufacturing shelter services. In addition to vapor phase reflow soldering, the company employs the use of convection reflow soldering in the production of circuit board assemblies.

According to Wikipedia, “Reflow soldering is a process in which a solder paste (a sticky mixture of powdered solder and flux) is used to temporarily attach one or several electrical components to their contact pads, after which the entire assembly is subjected to controlled heat, which melts the solder, permanently connecting the joint. Heating may be accomplished by passing the assembly through a reflow oven or under an infrared lamp or by soldering individual joints with a hot air pencil.”

Phase reflow soldering has its advantages

According to Firstronic’s Steve Fraser, vapor phase reflow soldering is advantageous in a number of significant ways:

  • Changeover time is reduced due to the existence of fewer process windows;
  • Lower temperatures produce cleaner solder joints;
  • PCBAs are positively affected by more heating;
  • Wave solder or selective solder technology can be eliminated;
  • Lower energy costs are incurred.

Fraser goes on to point out that with vapor phase reflow soldering system; technology there are some learning curve issues and trade offs that, many times must be taken into consideration anddealt with:

  • Vapor phase technology is still batch process. As a result, machine capacity must matched anticipated line volumes;
  • Surprises can occur when beginning process development activities;
  • Fluid utilized in the process is an added cost, as it is a consumable.

Few unique profiles required creates quality advantage

Fraser points out that it is important to consider that, “there is zero wait state between products and that vapor phase technology requires far fewer profiles than found in convection reflow soldering. Additionally, Vapor phase reflow soldering involves in immersing PCBAs in a vapor blanket.” Doing this results in even heating that produces higher quality soldering joints.


Firstronic is a premier specialty provider of electronics manufacturing services (EMS), including turnkey electronic assembly and materials management services, to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the electronics industry. Firstronic’s electronic manufacturing services consist primarily of the manufacture of complex printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) using through-hole and surface mount technology (SMT), interconnection technologies including fine-pitch and mixed technology products.

The source material for this post can be accessed at I-Connect007.