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Selective Solder Machine Solder Balls

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Selective Solder Machine Solder Balls | 2 April, 2012

Just PM'd our Pillarhouse Jade Mark II this morning and found excessive solder balls all over the solder pot as well as the bottom of the machine. While removing all the dross it's very obvious that the dross is a REAL fine powder unlike any of the other machines. We are running Sn63/Pb37 on the machine @ 290c. The nitrogen settings are identical on all the machines. What can cause solder balls during selective solder? What can make this dross a real fine powder?

Thanks TombstoneSMT

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Selective Solder Machine Solder Balls | 2 April, 2012

Almost sounds like a part fell in the pot, exploded and burned into powder. We had a part get into our pot somehow and produced powder dross + other contaminates (no solder balls, though). The ring around the pot was very difficult to remove but was a clue to what happened as it was orange like the case on the parts we were running.

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Selective Solder Machine Solder Balls | 3 April, 2012

Yesterday morning wasn't the first time I noticed this condition. We remove the dross from the pot twice a day and once a week we remove the pump assembly and it still produces this type of dross. I googled this situation and some factors of this particular product might be contributing. The program is very fast and we are soldering ALOT of leads and switches in 112 seconds. We use very minimal flux per customer request. I have a feeling it's somekind of thermal shock issue with the solder balls but it still doesn't explain the "powder" dross.... Paging Dave!

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Selective Solder Machine Solder Balls | 3 April, 2012

We have the same machine running the same alloy and have not seen this problem, but we're not running it nearly as much as you do. Have you asked Pillarhouse what could be happening? Try sending photos to them. They have been helpful in the past.

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Selective Solder Machine Solder Balls | 3 April, 2012

Is this related to this specific machine or this product? * Is this machine having a tough time regulating pot temperature? * Is this product dragging-out solder from the pot when it is being run so quickly? * Is this board out-gassing to create these miniballs?

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Selective Solder Machine Solder Balls | 4 April, 2012

Dave, *The machine looks to keep a steady 290c (I can confirm) *This problem is machine/product specific. We have three other Pillarhouses that run the same alloy/flux but only run this one product at this station. *The solder does have a "tail" while soldering. *We are using a very minimal amount of Kester 959 flux due to the low contamination requirements by the customer.

I will take photos and see what Pillarhouse has to say. I'm still very interested in everyone's opinions.

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Pete B


Selective Solder Machine Solder Balls | 5 April, 2012

Are you running individual point soldering on each component lead, of are you drawing lines with the solder fountain to increase the speed of the process?

Could be that if you are drawing lines, coupled with the very low flux levels you say you are using, that very small solder balls are being left on the solder resist in between each soldered lead, caused as the solder fountain separates from one point and before it contacts and wets to the next.

The balls then become detached from the resist as the product is mainpulated in the process. The balls falling on and around the solder pot.

Does the product itself have any similar looking solder balls remaining on the resist between the soldered points directly after the process?

Just a thought.

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Selective Solder Machine Solder Balls | 11 June, 2012

Pete B *We do lines of soldering @ 10mm/sec *Similar solder balls were present on product after soldering.

*UPDATE SOLUTION* We began using topside preheat while fluxing the board to reduce the thermal shock factor in addition to replacing the "filter element" (similar what you find as fuel filters in old carbed autos) where the nitrogen enters the solder pot. The filter was clogged pretty bad not allowing the nitrogen to properly atomize.. our theory atleast. So far our issues have been reduced drastically.

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