Why Robotic Soldering?

By Ed Zamborsky on Sep 10, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Why has robotic soldering become a more popular option in a wide range of applications? For the same reasons that manufacturing facilities always embrace automated processes – improved consistency, reliability, speed, and optimal results achieved through a cost-effective solution.

These were among the topics discussed at a recent webinar, which highlighted the transition to a robotic soldering alternative and introduced a technology to help make the move seamless. The webinar was presented by Metcal soldering experts Ed Zamborsky and Isaac Cisneros.

Solid Connections make all the Difference
From airplanes to medical devices, a quality solder joint is critical to reliable product performance. Manual soldering requires skilled human operators that have been well-trained. However, upskilling operators to a specialist level consistent with IPC requirements requires a major investment of time and money.

It’s precisely for this reason that more of today’s electronic manufacturers are turning to robotic soldering. Leveraging a mechanical solution can improve accuracy, repeatability and quality, while reducing the cost and concern associated with human error and operator injury.

A Smarter Way to Solder
Metcal’s SmartHeat® system employs application-specific cartridges that maintain a consistent temperature while applying direct power to the solder joint. Delivering precise thermal energy results in the fast formation of consistent solder joints, ensuring an optimal intermetallic solder connection without damaging the printed circuit board (PCB).

Performance repeatability is confirmed through Metcal’s connection validation system, which verifies the condition of every solder joint. Together, connection validation and robotic soldering offer an automated, accurate approach to good solder joint formations.

There are numerous applications that can benefit from robotic soldering, including:

• Conductive soldering of plated through-hole (PTH) components
• High-volume PCB interconnecting cables
• Complex multi-pin components on difficult-to-solder applications
• Final PTH soldering on high-reliability assemblies for medical, military, aerospace, avionics and automotive applications

With the versatile, easy-to-use Metcal Solder Robot, application precision and repeatability can also be achieved with minimal operator involvement. Programming is simple and managed through touch screen icons, a process familiar to anyone with a smart phone or iPad. In most cases, the total time to program a solder joint is 5-10 seconds. And, once a pattern is programmed, it can be stored and repeated for future use.

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