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I'm practicing my SMD soldering skills and done my research on how to remove SMD devices from a PCB motherboard and brought a T8280 PREHEATING STATION and 852D SMD station. I understand you have to preheat the motherboard to around 120C-150C and use the hot air gun to make the device loose so then you can remove it.

But I still can't remove any SMD device on the motherboard I've preheated the board to 170C and the hot air gun is at 250C with the air flow set to about 1/3. I can't even remove the small capacitors with 3 pins. I'm certain I'm using the right temperatures but I don't know where I'm going wrong. Also the board is an Acer laptop motherboard; does the type of board matter with these temps or is it something to do with the flux or solder I'm using?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Inch your hot air gun temp up until you get results. 250 is too low \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Jul 1 '14 at 14:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Pump up the air flow, the mobo is composed of many layers which result in a lot of copper which conducts the heat away from the solder pads rather quickly. If this does not work raise the temp but please note that overheating the board might damage it permanently as the inner and outer layers expand differently due to temp. variations. Also, pre-heat to at least 200C. \$\endgroup\$ – user34920 Jul 1 '14 at 15:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ As it's a laptop board do I need to remove the CPU and GPU as they are already on the board ? I preheat the board to 200C and increase the airflow as suggested will let you know if it works. \$\endgroup\$ – user46152 Jul 1 '14 at 15:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I usually preheat to 250C. 5-10l/min airflow puts the nozzle around 350-375C. That will take just about anything off a 4 layer PCB in 10 seconds max, and not discolor the silkscreen. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Young Jul 1 '14 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd suggest practicing on scrap first ... \$\endgroup\$ – pjc50 Jul 1 '14 at 15:41
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There are a couple things that could be happening here 1) that you just haven't got the temps up high enough or 2) you actually are on your way towards board killing.

I'll just touch upon #1 and dig a little deeper into number #2.

Firstly; The temperature at which a component lets go when the solder reflows is to some degree dependant upon the heat flow away from the pads. A component that is thermally isolated will pop off way faster than something that is heat sinked. In general it is better to use higher heat and way shorter times than it is to slowly approach reflow temperature and then start prying away. This is something that is learned by doing and practising.

Secondly: learn about the eutectic point of solder, understand it. In summary an alloy of two materials melts at a lower temperature than each of the consistent parts. There is an ideal mixture ration at which the melting point is a minimum. Solder is such a eutectic mixture.

Here is a diagram lifted from Here enter image description here

I won't go into too much detail on the diagram, but it is notable that you can get your alloy to melt at significantly lower temperatures and more particular to the case at hand, you can have a liquid/Solid mixture appear if you heat it up to much or hold it at a slightly raised temperature for too long. If you hold the melted alloy at a higher temperature too long it starts to de-alloy. When it de-alloy's the temperature required to remelt and form an eutectic mixture increases.

And this is what typically happens. Frustrated engineer tries to desolder a component. for some reason, (like she forgot to reflow all the pads) and the device stats firmly attached,In fiddling around she holds the melt at slightly too high of a temperature whilst trying to pry the component off the board. Soldering iron bumps the temperature up higher (unknown to the frustrated engineer). She gives up and allows the solder to re-solidify. The cycle repeats with the remelt temperature going higher. The solder starts to look like crap, shiny surface is now textured, but now our engineer is doggedly pursuing full war against the evil chip and doesn't notice the grainy texture. Now, the soldering iron can't get to a high enough temperature to reflow it at all, but the engineer is pouring the heat on. The chip gets scorched, the FR-4 starts to delimitate and there is a smoking crater left. It all sounds dramatic, but it happens too often.

First step: Stop, look at the pads closely and look at the solder. Is it changing appearance? If so, add new clean solder! This new solder will allow the old de-alloyed solder a "seed" with which to regrow into a proper eutectic mixture. Allow it to recool and check to see if you've got good solder joint formation and sheen (but with almost certainly too much solder on the pads - c/w bridges).

If you haven't over heated the chip you now have a chance to reset your reflow attempt and start over.

Other pointers: The very best way to desolder large and complicated packages whilst saving the board and the chip is to use a bismuth based desoldering alloy. It has a very low melt temperature and is normal solder is very soluble in the melt. This allow you to use a lot lower temperatures and to forma a puddle of solder eating melt on your board. It works wonderfully but is very expensive.

To save the board with large packages, I'll just dremel or snip the leads off of the package and then reflow each pad individually.

To save the board and chip I will, if possible, pry the leads up and by bending the lead up towards the lead frame. It ends up looking ugly. You also have to add solder during this to re-alloy the solder.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Nice. I learned a lot, just now :) \$\endgroup\$ – bitsmack Jul 1 '14 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, I've been there. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Young Jul 1 '14 at 17:03

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