Indium Blog

Automated Soldering Methods: What’s the Difference Between Robotic Soldering and Laser Soldering?

I have written a few blogs about robotic soldering.  I continue to see new applications as it becomes a more prominent soldering method among electronics assemblers. Interestingly, I have been running into more and more laser soldering applications lately – which is really exciting because Indium Corporation has products that can cater to both robotic soldering and laser soldering.  What’s more exciting is that laser soldering opens up previously unavailable applications for automated iron-tip soldering.

What’s the difference between the two automated soldering methods? On a basic level, not much. Both methods use a source of heat to reflow the solder, which (when done correctly) flows to the desired area to create a solder joint. The key difference, obviously, is the source of the heat. In iron-tip soldering, the soldering iron supplies the heat to the joint and solder wire; with laser soldering, the laser provides the heat. 

On a slightly more in-depth level, there are also differences in the soldering process. Iron-tip soldering usually requires a pre-tinning step to allow the “main feed” of solder to reflow properly. With iron-tip soldering, I would recommend a preheat to pre-tin, since greater heating of the substrate can lead to improved hole-fill. With laser soldering, the pre-tinning step is not needed because there isn’t anything to pre-tin; the laser preheats the joint area and then the solder is supplied.

It is exciting to see both methods start to catch on.

Indium Corporation offers a full line of cored wires that can meet the needs of numerous automated soldering applications. For example, CORE 230-RC and CW-232 fluxes are excellent for those applications where fast wetting speeds and low spatter are required.

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