The Strange Soldering Case of the Jumping Capacitors

Posted April 17, 2013 By Jim Smith

The client had an odd soldering problem: a type of chip capacitor was jumping about an inch to the side during reflow. It didn’t happen with every capacitor, but it did happen with many. Why did this happen? At first, it was only one client. But soon I heard the same complaint from several other […]

1 Comment. Join the Conversation

Working With the Lights Out

Posted November 28, 2012 By Jim Smith

Robotics and automation can cut production costs significantly. But too many companies automate steps that were not necessary in the first place – and that’s just flushing money down the drain. I have a few rules about automation and robotics that I tell my clients. You can read about them in detail at Assembly Magazine’s […]

Be the first to comment

The Perils of Organic Soldering Fluxes

Posted November 15, 2012 By Jim Smith

Much of my work this year has involved solving flux problems. And most of those problems have involved organic (OR) fluxes, including those with the lowest acidity that do not contain halides such as chlorides. The evidence is clear — organic fluxes are not compatible with reliability, especially for assemblies that operate in humid environments. […]

Be the first to comment

A few months ago, I wrote some blog entries about the benefits of nickel barriers between the base metal and surface plating on component leads. Basically, the nickel has much less tendency to react with other metals than do tin, copper or steel, so a thin nickel barrier slows the rate of intermetallic growth. Reducing […]

Be the first to comment

A Class 3 Dilemma

Posted January 30, 2012 By Jim Smith

The last two entries of this blog answered questions posted by reader Binh Pham. One final question remains: If a product is required to be complaint to class 3, but the heel fillet of one gullwing lead does not meet the A-610 class 3, what are the reliability implications to the product if I do […]

Be the first to comment

Does Data Support Class 3 Criteria?

Posted January 25, 2012 By Jim Smith

In my last post, I began responding to questions about Class 3 criteria of A-610 posed by reader Binh Pham. His first question – How did the industry association that writes the standards come up with the requirements? – was addressed last time. This time, the topic is his second question – Does the association […]

Be the first to comment

Origins of A-610 Class 3 Standards

Posted January 19, 2012 By Jim Smith

Reader Binh Pham has written to ask the following set of questions regarding Class 3 criteria of A-610: How did the industry trade association come up with the requirements? Does the association have field and/or life data to support the requirements? If a product is required to be complaint to class 3, but the heel […]

Be the first to comment

GM and HP Prove Quality Talk is Cheap

Posted August 22, 2011 By Jim Smith

Reuters has an incredible, depressing report that GM refuses to honor suspension warranties on 2007 and 2008 Impalas ( It seems that, despite frequent and very loud claims to the contrary, America’s corporate heads still don’t understand quality and consumer perceptions. The story has eerie and troubling overtones of the 1970’s quality crisis that almost […]

Be the first to comment

Lessons From the Key Fob Solderability Fiasco

Posted August 15, 2011 By Jim Smith

Last time, I wrote about the key fob solderability fiasco. A key fob is the key ring gadget that remotely locks and unlocks car doors. The fiasco involved an unsolderable critical component in the key fob that the manufacturer “fixed” by adding more solder at high temperature. The “fix” produced connections that met the visual […]

Be the first to comment

The Key Fob Solderability Folly

Posted August 1, 2011 By Jim Smith

Solderability problems figure prominently in A-610 and J-STD-001 defects. But, “nonwetting” aside, they are not always presented as solderability defects. For example, “cold” solder (a condition that, as has been pointed out here from time to time, has nothing to do with lack of heat) is not presented in solderability terms, although it generally reflects […]

1 Comment. Join the Conversation

The Great “Disturbed Solder” Fiasco

Posted July 11, 2011 By Jim Smith

One of the many problems with implementation of J-STD-001 and A-610 lies in the difficulty of interpreting some defect criteria. There are many situations where acceptance or rejection depends entirely on the opinion of the inspector. One such defect is “disturbed solder.” J-STD-001 (4.18.2) lists “disturbed solder connections” as one of the six types of […]

2 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Debunking An Intermetallic Creation Myth

Posted July 6, 2011 By Jim Smith

Soldering is a fairly simple science needlessly complicated by considerable mythology and junk “science.” It doesn’t help when the erroneous information is dispensed by people who should know better. The most recent example came in the form of a newsletter from a prominent solder training company. “How Long Does it Take to Make a Solder […]

1 Comment. Join the Conversation

Silly A-610/J-STD-001 Solder Ball Specifications

Posted June 14, 2011 By Jim Smith

I have been pondering the solder ball defect criteria of A-610 and J-STD-001. They make sense up to a point – and then they don’t.

Be the first to comment

A startling report from Safety Research & Strategies, Inc. of Rehoboth, MA casts serious doubts about the reliability of Toyota electronics directly and tin-plated components in general. If the report’s conclusions are warranted, the lead–free electronics movement has created a nightmare of impending electronics catastrophes.

1 Comment. Join the Conversation

The last couple of articles here have concerned response from members and officials of the J-STD-001/A-610 organization to my Assembly Magazine article about the serious problems with their training. Last time, I addressed an objection from Mel Parrish, the association’s Technical Activities Executive Committee Chairman. This time, let’s look at the arguments of another representative, […]

Be the first to comment

The last few entries here have discussed reaction to my article “The Curse of A-610 and J-STD-001” in Assembly Magazine – Not surprisingly, representatives of the company that publishes the standards have taken issue with the article and posted rejoinders on the Assembly web site. But I disagree with their disagreements. This time, I […]

Be the first to comment

Is Perfect Soldering Easy?

Posted May 25, 2011 By Jim Smith

As I noted in my previous blog entry, my article “The Curse of A-610 and J-STD-001” in Assembly Magazine – has generated much angry posting on the trade association’s member bulletin board ). And much of the criticism misrepresents my arguments.

1 Comment. Join the Conversation

My article “The Curse of ***-A-610 and J-STD-001” in Assembly Magazine has generated much angry posting on the trade association’s member bulletin board Technet . That isn’t surprising; the typical Technet user has an almost theological belief in J-STD-001/A-610 standards and procedures. What I do find surprising – and seriously disturbing – is how few […]

1 Comment. Join the Conversation

Lead–free Solder in A-610

Posted May 5, 2011 By Jim Smith

Recent articles here have discussed reliability, environmental consequences and process requirements of lead-free solders. It’s time to talk about the way A-610 treats lead-free solder.

Be the first to comment

Is Lead–Free Soldering Harder?

Posted May 2, 2011 By Jim Smith

Previously, I explained the reliability concerns associated with lead-free solder. But is lead-free soldering any harder than soldering with traditional tin/lead alloy? The short answer is “no.” Different in some respects, but not more difficult.

Be the first to comment