I'm developing a project that requires ICs that are in a QFN package, some have a slug on the bottom of the IC. Since these are QFNs, I'm not interested in hand soldering these; so I'm leaning toward using the toaster oven method to solder the components in place.

However this is my first time doing this and I want to make sure that I'm aware of any caveats or pitfalls one may face when developing the stencil.

Just to clarify, I'm not confused on how to reflow once the components are placed; it's just I can't find any guides online of how to develop a proper stencil. Although comments to the entire process are also welcome.

Currently I'm developing the layout in EAGLE, and I'm looking to order the PCBs from PCB Pool, a company that will provide free stencils with an order.

In EAGLE, the layer that dictates the stencil pattern is the "cream" layers (as far as I understand).

One of the cream layers for my QFN looks like this:

enter image description here

The IC is 7mm x 7mm for perspective.

But I'm told that for the slug in the middle. It shouldn't be a giant square for the stencil, because it will be too much solder paste and when you reflow, it will short all the pins. Therefore, one must alternatively use smaller "holes" (example in blue) on the slug to limit the amount of solder paste is placed on the pad.

I personally never would've predicted this caveat so I'm glad I was notified of this potential issue.

Should I also restrict the solder on the pins as well? I don't want to risk shorting those.


Is this right to place the holes? What other potential caveats or pitfalls one might face when attempting to develop a proper stencil?


Aha, according to answers so far, the cream should not be the size of the pads. By going to

Design Rules => default.dru => Masks

You can adjust the size relative to the pad. I was just messing around but here's an example:

enter image description here

Obviously the slug is wrong, but I can manually layout the cream boundaries for that particular "pad".

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Never make the aperture bigger than the pad. If you get paste on the soldermask it will create balls which can be a nightmare. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arsenal
    Feb 6, 2015 at 19:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ ↑↑ Everyone should read @Arsenal's comment. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dzarda
    Feb 6, 2015 at 22:25

2 Answers 2


I must admit that I'm often to lazy to do this myself, because I know that I can rely on my PCB vendor to sort it out for me. YMMV ...
As an example below: This is how my solder paste layer looks in my PCB design package
This is how my solder paste layer looks in my PCB design package

enter image description here
and this is the check plot they sent back to me with suggestions for "20% window size reduction" applied to my QFN & DFN parts (the purple coloured blocks).

To get an idea of scale, the 28-pin QFN at the top-right is a 6x6mm PIC32MX270F256B.
If I did the measurements carefully I'm pretty certain that I'd find that the sum of the areas of the purple blocks is 20% less than the area they're replacing.

I've used PCB-Pool before, but I don't recall them ever making any suggestions for improvements.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Who do you use for your PCB vendor then? It seems like they're willing to work with you. Thanks for the info! \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6, 2015 at 20:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ pcbunlimited.com They've also recently started a 'panel-share' system similar to PCB-Pool, but no free stencils ... \$\endgroup\$
    – brhans
    Feb 6, 2015 at 20:02

From page 12 of this: http://www.ti.com/lit/an/slua271a/slua271a.pdf

It looks like their suggestion is square apertures in the stencil and you should aim for 50-70% of the center pads area to have solder paste after stenciling. Page 12 of the TI Application Paper, per suggestion

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Neat, that is interesting. The square pads are a good idea, it makes sense to have the stencil to restrict solder for the pins as well. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6, 2015 at 19:45
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ You should edit in a quote from this link so that your answer is still useful when the link dies. \$\endgroup\$
    – Greg d'Eon
    Feb 6, 2015 at 20:28

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