Making Double Side Boards in Reflow Oven




Introduction: Making Double Side Boards in Reflow Oven

About: Computer scientist turned race car driver turned mad scientist. Living an amazing adventure, less money, more fun.

After learning how to make PCB Boards at a class at #MakerPlace I started making a lot of little inventions primarily for my electric cars I recently got a reflow oven for $250 (awesome) and have been using it for my prototyping. Many of my boards are double sided and I came up with the idea of using two different temperature solder pastes to reflow a double sided board.

Some examples of solder paste formula with melting temperature are

Sn63Pb37 - 182c

Sn42Bi58 - 137c

Sn96.5Ag3.0Cu0.5 - 217c

For this example I used a syringe of Sn96.5Ag3.0Cu0.5 and a pot of Sn63Pb37. I got one of them at Fry's and one at Digikey at different times so I used what I already had. An important consideration is some parts (NPN transistors in my circuit) are rated with a gate temperature of 175c so in an earlier build I found out that my transistors melted themselves off the board (I was using a 137c solder and the cooling circuit wasn't working and neither was the thermal shutoff).

Note : the plastics in many connectors melt / deform at higher temperature reflow. Choices are hand solder them, choose lower temperature solder paste, or choose higher temperature connectors.

Step 1: Align Stencil on First Side.

Choose the side of the board that will go through the reflow oven twice. This one will have the higher temperature reflow cycle so I generally choose the side of the board that has heat sinks flowed to the PCB or if there are none of those I then choose the side with the least heat sensitive parts (e.g. without processor).

Apply your solder stencil. I have ordered stencils from OSH Park Stencils and made my own after reading this instructable

Step 2: Apply High Temperature Solder Paste

Apply the high temperature solder paste and scrape off the excess

Step 3: Carefully Place the Parts

Remove stencil and place your parts. You can see that I didn't do a great job with the solder paste, in fact I did an intentionally mediocre job as I was testing the tolerances of making PCB to determine how practical it would be to do small runs in my house. The answer is they are very tolerant.

Place parts with tweezers making sure that LED's, chips, etc. are properly aligned. I like having a second board with no paste on it to see the alignment dots. After the first board is built and tested I use it for the future boards. There are good instructables and videos on how to do this, the main thing is a steady hand. There is a little bit of adhesion that will keep the part in place if it is not bumped or tipped too far.

Step 4: Carefully Place the Board Into the Oven and Reflow

Carefully move the board into the oven

Choose or create a reflow profile for the higher temperature solder and reflow the board.

Step 5: Align Stencil for Second Side of the Board

Nuf said

Step 6: Apply Low Temperature Solder Paste and Place Parts

This is a repeat step X with a lower temperature solder paste.

Step 7: Place Board in Over on Spacers and Reflow

Put some spacers (PCB leftovers work great) so that the board will sit level (un-flowed parts side up) without sitting on any of the parts that you previously place.

Reflow board on lower temperature profile for lower temperature solder.

Step 8: Clean Up and Test Board

I usually test the board and then only clean it if I'm giving it to a customer / friend, but it is a good practice to clean the boards with flux remover at this point. I don't use flux remover in my lab room, but I can easily test the board there ... I think you can see where this is going.

It is also a very good idea to spray the board with conformal coating if you are planning on the board lasting.

That's it. I hope this helps a few of you.

T-Rex - Yes my middle name is Tyrannosaurus and yes I did have the best Hippy Mom EVER.

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    2 years ago

    Good explanation T-Rex. I've made single sided boards with smd components using a standard electric oven. Believe it or not, the temp profile is almost exactly what it should be (and what you show on your oven). I lay down the solder paste, insert the components (pixel LEDs), put in cold oven and set it at 325F, then start the oven. The warmup is typically 6 minutes for 325F final set point and when there is about 1 minute left to go, I shut the oven off and let the board cool. (I once took the board out too soon and parts fell off). I've done 8 boards with 32 pixel leds and everyone tested okay. Very pleased. Now I have to make a 2-sided board and your Instructable has told me how. Thanks!!!


    Question 4 years ago on Introduction

    If I want to 'spray a conformal coating' as you write, which kind should I buy and which kind do you use? I can't find them for sale on Arrow or Mouser, so I'm not sure where to buy it.


    6 years ago

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    8 years ago

    Great job. Thanks!