Heat guns are an essential tool in electronic workshops. The applications of heat guns are virtually endless; you can use heat guns for electronics, removing paint, glue, and adhesives, bending plastic pipes, etc. In this article, we will be focusing on soldering SMDs (surface mount devices).
Using a heat gun for soldering proves to be a cost-effective method in comparison with solder rework stations. Electricians often prefer to use a heat gun for soldering copper pipes as it does not take much effort. But when working on printed circuit boards (PCBs), extra caution is required.
Are you unsure about using a heat gun for soldering? Do not worry, as we have you covered with a detailed guide on how to get your project started!
How to Use Heat Gun for Soldering
Before proceeding, it should be noted that you cannot control the temperature on most heat guns. Heat guns can produce heat above 500°C, which is why safety must be ensured. Make sure to have protective gears for your hands and eyes. With that being said, the following tools are needed –
- Solder paste; the type depends on the job at hand. Generally, 60% tin & 40% lead pastes are easy to work with.
- Paste Flux; is required to produce solder joints and hold the component in place when hot air is blown on it.
- A syringe or a dropper for applying soldering paste.
- A tweezer for moving/holding components.
- Isopropyl alcohol, used with cotton, is crucial to clean the surface of the PCB where soldering will be done.
- And, of course, a heat gun.
- (Optional) A stencil; is a thin sheet of stainless steel used for thinning and applying solder paste on PCBs.
Steps-by-Step Guide to Soldering with Heat Gun
The process requires intricate attention to detail, and it may seem to be complex. If you have done or know about hand soldering, the process will become very much easier.
- Clean the surface thoroughly using cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol.
- Next, use the syringe or stencil for applying solder paste on the pads where the SMDs will be placed.
- After applying the paste, use the tweezer for placing the components.
- Turn on the heat gun and position its nozzle perpendicular to the surface of the pads. It should be approximately half-inch above the surface.
- Keep moving the nozzle back and forth until the solder starts to melt and attaches itself to the SMD/component’s leads.
- Let it cool. If you cannot place the components 100% accurately, it will be done automatically due to the tension with the pad.
Once you are done, your circuit board is ready for its desired application!
Can I use a heat gun for soldering copper pipe?
Yes, in fact, it is very easy to solder copper pipes with a heat gun. But keep in mind that the soldered joints will not be strong and may break/leak in the long run.
Can I use a soldering iron for copper pipe?
Yes, soldering irons provide the best results when used for soldering metal materials such as copper.
What tools are similar to the heat gun?
The applications of heat guns are so wide, and you probably may not have noticed. A lot of household items make use of it, such as hair dryers. It is also used at home for roasting coffee beans, melting cocoa, sugar, etc. But it truly shines when using a heat gun for soldering electronics.
What safety gears should I use when operating a heat gun?
Generally, it depends on the task at hand, but a protective glove must be used to prevent burn injuries. For intricate tasks, eyewear should be worn.
Heat guns provide excellent results when working with SMDs on circuit boards. It is particularly useful in cases where very high temperatures can damage the components — getting back to the question we began our article with; how to use a heat gun for soldering?
We hope that you have gained the insight that you need to get started on your project. But, be extremely careful while operating a heat gun as the risk of an injury is high. Do not overlook safety precautions. Best of luck!