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how can i solder really quickly? Answered

i want to solder about 210 LEDs to a PCB with switches for each individual LED how can i make it not take ages? can i?



7 years ago

Well, do you have access to a Wave solder machine? Maybe a solder fountain? No? Then by hand it is. You'll be faster when you finish than when you start. ;)

practice practice practice then you will become more skilled

Don't be in such a hurry.

If you don't have the skills to do it very quickly then just do it at the speed you can do and do a perfect job.  If you ruin 10% of your parts and 10% of the joints are bad, it's going to take a HUGE amount of time to find the bad ones and redo them.  Plus you have to spend more money.

Your 210th solder joint will be much faster and higher quality than your 1st.

For electronics work a 25 watt soldering iron should do - If you are using lead free solder (and you should be) then get an iron that will get hot enough for this task. Specify for use with lead free solder. If your soldering a tight PCB then you may go for a smallish tip - Personally I don't like pointed tips and prefer a chisel shape.

Make sure everything if clean and there is fresh silvery solder on the tip of the iron. Make sure the LED legs are clean and bright. Also the PCB pads are clean and bright - a pot cleaner is good for this.

Hold the LED in place you might put a lot in the PCB and turn it over on a sheet of foam to hold them in place. a quick touch - no more than 1 or 2 seconds - of the soldering iron is all it needs Make sure you touch both the LED leg AND the PCB pad. Then a dab of solder to make a neat pyramid round the leg,

You will get plenty of practice doing this!

Cut off the extra wire after all the soldered joins have been checked by eye, any dull or miss shaped joints should be reheated to give a neat pyramid of solder round the leg.

A 25 W iron, for speed, with lead-free ? I think that's a recipe for joint disaster. Lead-free needs much higher tip temperatures.

True but the higher wattage will only keep the temperature more stable if a lot of heat is pulled away from the tip.

A lower wattage iron will still get to the required temperature IF it is made so to do.

Few beginners solder enough joints fast enough to cool the iron tip significantly.

Don't use a toy soldering iron.

Our irons at work are 60W+, and we can solder 500 joints by hand in half an hour. They are temperature controlled too.

Using the largest tip you can possibly use is better than using a teeny tiny one, because you can't get the heat transfer fast enough with small tips.


I hesitate to recommend a high-wattage iron UNLESS it is temperature controlled. I've seen too many beginners cook their semiconductors, heat sinks or no heat sinks. For most of them, a 25W iron really is safer. An expert doesn't spend as long on any given joint, hence doesn't heat it up as much, hence can get away with a hotter iron.

My irons are largely temperature controlled, the older ones are, as you say, skill dependent. That said, in my ENTIRE career as a soldering iron user (I started clandestine soldering inside toy cars at 6 years) I haven't ruined any semiconductors. Quite a few pairs of trousers, the back of my right hand and several fleece jackets, but not a semiconductor.

Me neither but in 15 years of teaching kids to solder I have seen hundreds if not thousands. Even melted LEDs where the kid didn't notice the plastic was melting!!. To say nothing of PCB pads lifting off the substrate.

My reason for suggesting a lower wattage but higher temp iron here is where a well practice engineer will solder fast enough to cope with a high wattage & big tip, the amateur, in my experience, leaves the soldering iron on the joint far too long and risks destroying the components

You might consider using solder-paste and a some quick but high heat.


Lots of practice, keeping your work organized.... Using thinner solder may help.. (The manufacturing answer used to be "wave soldering". But you aren't going to be able to do that at home.)

If you didn't already have a PCB, and if you weren't planning to use surface-mount components, I'd suggest you also think about wire-wrap. Slit-and-wrap tools in particular can be a fast way to wire up a circuit, and you don't have the risk of solder blobs or of cooking chips while arguing with the solder.