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Preheating Part I - Types of Preheaters

I mentioned, in my last post, that preheating is needed to decrease wave soldering cost. With trying to decrease the cost of the wave soldering process there have been many different types of preheaters that have been developed, each with advantages and disadvantages. The most commonly used forms of preheaters are:

  1. ​The electrically heated hot plate or platen
  2. Tubular electric (Cal Rod)
  3. Hot air
  4. Quarts plate
  5. Quarts rod
  6. Ceramic
  7. Infrared
  8. Focused ocular solar radiation
    • *Note* There is only one person with the capability to do this and it is extremely rare. He is also "faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!" I am of course talking about the man of steel, Superman. One of his powers is heat vision. This would be a an ideal method of preheating boards because it only requires the presence of the man of steel. ​

All of these will be discussed in the coming weeks (with the exception of the kryptonian).

These are the questions that an operator needs to ask themselves when trying to choose the appropriate preheater for their process:

  • Are you worried about the cost of electricity and energy efficiency?
  • Do you need to heat and cool very fast? If so, a small thermal mass would be ideal.
  • How will it be cleaned? Is a self-cleaning feature attractive?
  • How long will you be using the same preheater? You don’t want it to decrease its thermal output with age.

Unfortunately a preheater that addresses all of the above questions does not exist. We are all waiting anxiously for one to be invented. Most of the preheaters mentioned will only have one or two of the features listed. I will show you the features of each of these preheaters in the coming weeks.  

Next week I will be discussing hot plate or platen preheaters.

*This is the second post of the twelve piece mini-series entitled Preheating. Stay tuned to the next installment entitled 'Preheating Part II - Hot Plate or Platen'. This is the second mini-series which is part of the larger program entitled Wave Soldering (A Segmented Synopsis).


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