SMD soldering & rework stations – what they are & how to choose the right one
Soldering | 6 min read
Soldering and desoldering stations are designed for soldering processes. A soldering station is a device technicians use for small-scale tasks such as repairing small electronic items.
What happens, however, if the items get damaged? Then a rework station is needed to repair damaged items. Rework stations have a desoldering component that removes soldered parts from boards. You might also see them referred to as “desoldering stations”.
The primary purpose of soldering stations is to improve your soldering quality and efficiency. Don’t let the terms confuse you when you’re ready to purchase a workstation. In this article, we’ll break down what you need to know to differentiate and choose between the two.
SMD soldering stations: what are they?
SMD soldering stations are electronic devices used to complete surface-mount soldering. The acronym SMD stands for the surface-mount device, which refers to electronic components mounted on the surface of printed circuit boards (PCBs). These components are typically small and need specialised tools to be mounted correctly.
How do I use an SMD soldering station?
The primary purpose of an SMD soldering station is to heat an area quickly so the user can efficiently work with it. In addition, the station makes it much easier to manage tiny components than if you merely use an ordinary soldering iron or solder wire. For instance, Thermaltronics soldering and desoldering stations feature a variety of tip sizes and shapes, as well as temperature control settings for usage with different solder or substrates.
SMD soldering stations are created for use with these small components. Soldering stations such as the Thermaltronics TMT-2000S are most often found in industrial manufacturing or electronics repair labs. However, you might also see them in repair shops specialising in repairing IT equipment such as smartphones and tablets.
SMD rework stations: what are they?
An SMD rework station is an equipment designed to make surface-mount soldering more manageable and faster. It consists of an enclosure, a heating element, and a toolset.
The enclosure protects against contaminants while it heats the soldered device. The heating element allows you to adjust the temperature of your workpiece so that the solder melts at precisely the right point. Finally, the toolset includes tips enabling you to put the solder on your workpiece without handling it with your hands (which would melt the solder prematurely).
Hot air rework stations are similar but use hot air instead of electricity for their heating source. This mechanism makes them excellent for reworking PCBs or other electronic equipment if there is not enough space for a soldering station.
How do I use an SMD rework soldering station?
First, we use SMD rework stations to detach and replace defective components on circuit boards without damaging any other parts. They also permit surface mounting of new components onto circuit boards.
Second, you can also use SMD rework stations for soldering and desoldering purposes. You can purchase a workstation with both functions, such as the Thermaltronics TMT-9000S.
How to choose an SMD soldering or rework station
To know how to choose an SMD soldering or rework station, you need to consider:
- Your budget
- Your purpose for the station
- How much space do you have
Soldering stations are soldering irons with added features to make them more convenient and efficient. They are designed with specific functions, and their price reflects this.
If you’re regularly working on electronics or other technical projects, look for one with a wide range of temperature settings. For example, many people choose a rework station with a temperature range from 300 degrees Celsius to 450 degrees Celsius. But if you’re working with higher temperatures, you’ll want a higher capacity. Also, if you’re working with small devices that need to be heated up quickly, look for a station with a fast heat-up time.
Many companies favour hot air rework stations because they allow users to remove almost any part without damaging the board underneath it.
Portability also counts when it comes to space. If you are using it for large-scale tasks, an SMD soldering station may fit your requirements better than a standalone soldering iron since it is designed to handle high heat and more complex tasks.
Stationary soldering stations are designed for long-term use, where they can be plugged in permanently and left alone for long periods. This makes them ideal for tasks like building PCBs or incredibly complex repairs, especially if electrical components are damaged by water damage or other environmental factors.
Ultimately, there are various types of soldering you might carry out based on the task, but a good soldering station should manage most of them without any issues.
Why choose SMD soldering station over standalone soldering iron?
Soldering stations are designed for soldering electronic products. The main difference between standalone soldering irons and soldering stations is that the former can be used only for soldering, while the latter has a wide range of features.
A good example would be when someone needs to remove a faulty electronic component from the motherboard of a computer before replacing it with a new one. This task could be challenging with soldering irons because extra tools will be required to carry out the process.
An advanced SMD soldering station such as the Thermaltronics TMT-9000S can respond to each solder joint’s thermal demands by adjusting the power instantaneously. Most advanced stations will also include features such as an LCD screen to display all necessary information about your work in real-time. It also permits you to modify parameters such as temperature or current flow to deter device overheating or excessive electricity consumption.
A soldering station has different types of soldering tips to suit different types of jobs. This feature allows you to complete several types of work simultaneously, significantly improving your work’s efficiency. For example, you can use one tip to solder transistors while another is heated up; this will considerably reduce waiting time and simultaneously save electricity!
Overall, the best rework stations are pre-programmed with the correct settings for each type of material, which makes them very easy to use. Remember a good SMD soldering station should have adjustable temperature settings and a no-clean flux for the best results.
How to maintain an SMD soldering or rework station
Here are some frequently asked questions on maintaining your soldering and desoldering stations. Ensure you heed these tips to keep your workstation in tip-top condition for a long while.
- Regularly clean your SMD solder station with warm water or isopropyl alcohol.
- You should clean the tip after use, especially before storing the device or if you notice any discolouration or performance issues.Tinning the tip will prevent oxidisation.
- To clean the tip, remove it from the station and scrub it with a wet cloth to remove residue.
- Afterwards, dry any excess moisture with a paper towel and put it back into its holder to cool down completely before storing. Never put your station back into its holder without letting it cool down first!
- When washing away burnt flux residue or solder build-up from around the tip of your station, use only distilled water or alcohol-based solvents.
How to safely use a hot air rework station?
Always wear protective eyewear and gloves when operating heated tool parts (such as nozzles) when using a hot air rework station. In addition, keep your hands away from moving parts such as fans. Finally, avoid exposed electronics such as wires and circuit boards while operating these tools! These steps help prevent severe burns if something goes wrong!
If you’re ready to purchase a soldering station, Scanditronics Technology is the trusted industrial supplier for India and Singapore. Consult our experts for more advice and to buy the most suitable equipment for your manufacturing needs.
+65 6515 9136