How to Choose A Selective Soldering Machine 

Need a selective soldering machine?  There are a lot of different models on the market to choose from, and like any tool, there’s one right machine for the right operation.  Some companies merely need an entry-level “jack-of-all-trades” machine and others require a machine to expertly handle a specific component assembly operation.  Whatever your needs might be from selective soldering equipment, there’s likely plenty selective soldering machines that meets your needs.  How then, do you decide which machine is best for your business?  It’s best to start with considering what the machine will be used for.  In other words, what is the range of applications that the machine will be used for? 

Consider Printed Circuit Board Size

Among the considerations should be the maximum size of printed circuit board that will be soldered in the machine.  Is there only one size and layout of board that will be soldered? Or does your company produce a range of them?  Most machines have tooling that’s adjustable, so that the precise size of board can be loaded and soldered by a selective soldering system.  However, most machines have a maximum size of board that can be accommodated; some machines may only be able to solder up to a 12-inch by 12-inch square, others may be able to solder an 18-inch by 20-inch board.  Then you need to pick a machine that can solder the boards your operation will be producing.  Are additional boards going to be produced in the future with different dimensions?  Then you may need to purchase a machine that will be able to handle your future products as well.  If your company produces multiple sizes of PCB’s, and does frequently, you should probably choose a machine with easily changeable tooling.  If your company is only producing small boards, and due to the nature of the products made, won’t need a selective soldering machine that can handle a larger board, then you may not need to worry as much.

Soldering Method is Important As Well

Keep the soldering method in mind as well.  There are multiple methods of selective soldering.  Some machines selective solder after wave soldering, by blocking off sensitive areas and reapplying the board to wave soldering.  Others use a laser soldering method.  Fountain soldering is also very common.  In this application, the areas and components to be soldered are dipped in a fountain of molten solder.  Components can be dipped or dragged one-by-one, in the case of a single drip wave soldering machine, or dipped in multiple fountains, soldering multiple components simultaneously, in the case of a multi-dip wave soldering system, each has their benefits and drawbacks.  Single drip wave soldering is very precise, as only the components requiring soldering are subjected to the solder fountain.  Solder bridges are also virtually eliminated, nevertheless it is also time-consuming, as each component must be soldered in turn.  Multi-dip wave soldering is much faster, as all components are soldered in very quick procession.  Naturally, the latter is far better suited to higher-volume production.  However, if producing multiple configurations of PCBs, one must either change the tooling, nozzles, flux, and the solder used, (among other aspects) in order to begin producing the other products, or one must have multiple machines so production can run uninterrupted.  Therefore, your company should keep the soldering method in mind, in order to choose which best fits your production needs.

Is The Platform Flexible?

Another important element is flexibility.  Is the system capable of using multiple nozzles, multiple tooling sets, multiple types of solder, and multiple types of flux in numerous temperature ranges?  Is it capable of extending preheating?  Also, is that something your operation needs?  Not all do.  Some companies don’t require much flexibility due to a more limited product range, and aren’t going to branch out much further in terms of the products they will produce.  Other companies need to produce a wide variety of PCBs and need a selective soldering system capable of producing all of them.

Adequate Support Is a Must

Another vital element in choosing selective soldering equipment is the amount of support, be it by the manufacturer, any aftermarket suppliers of service labor, consumables, and also parts.  Think about it this way: a lot of people would love to buy an exotic sports car.  However, what if one suffers a blown-out tire or mechanical breakdown?  That could leave the driver hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from anyone that can service it or get the requisite parts. That exquisite piece of machinery is now a massive liability.  The same idea is true for industrial equipment – if you cannot have it serviced when you need it to, or get consumables or parts for it when you need them, what’s the point of risking your operational capability on such a machine?  That’s why it’s crucial to seek out equipment that can be supplied or serviced easily.  Ultimately, to find the right selective soldering machines, you have to know your products. What kind of soldering needs to happen and in what kind of time frame.  You also need to know the range of operations that a selective soldering machine needs to perform for your production needs, and that you can trust that it can be kept in good working order.  Knowing those things will help you choose the best soldering system for you.


Investing in the right equipment is paramount to your business’s success. We are here to help, give us a call or email us with any questions at: +1(509) 891-1680