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This was the first question I had once I was given a project that didn't restrict the use of SMD components.

I feel like there are a lot of different SMD footprints out there, and surely it's been established which are the ones that can be hand soldered and which are the ones that require ovens or other technology.

Please help me collect this information here?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not really sure this can be answered, I've seen various hand-soldering methods described even for stuff like BGA using vias so I think it comes down to a matter of skill versus what the failure rates will be. \$\endgroup\$ – PeterJ Mar 4 '15 at 10:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ My skill stops at 1008 or so... but a poll among EE.SE member is hardly useful nor the right format \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Mar 4 '15 at 10:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ It really depends on your tools and/or your ingenuity. Expensive tools can help a lot - I regularly hand solder 0402's and tiny QFN's under a microscope with a good temperature-controlled iron and a fine tip for prototypes; without the tools I'd be in trouble. \$\endgroup\$ – markt Mar 4 '15 at 10:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can solder 0603 components with the aid of high mag goggles but I wouldn't dream of soldering an IC - this question solicits opinion (in my opinion). \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Mar 4 '15 at 10:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I regularly hand solder 0402 passives, and 0.4mm pitch TQFP chips. They're child's play. It's all a matter of practice, and flux. \$\endgroup\$ – Majenko Mar 4 '15 at 11:02
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That depends on several factors

If you are designing something that would go to some volume in quantity, then it would need to be manufactured by an EMS with pick and place machine, reflow oven etc in order to decrease the production cost. Even if you are on prototyping stage, you should use the cheapest and smallest components as long as they satisfy the requirements. In general smaller components are cheaper, but there are exception like high capacitance or inductance in smaller packages might be more expensive than the larger packages. In general you would like to chose smaller components to be able to decrease the size of your board.

If you are planning to do hobby work, course project, or so, then it depends on your experience and tools.

If you have good tools, then soldering 0402 is easy, but if you don't have any experience and bad tools, 0603 or 0805 (and higher) would be easy to handle. You should avoid to use QFN package, it is requires long to place and correctly solder. In addition, try to chose IC's that has larger pitch size.

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