What is a chef doing on a web site about soldering? He's making a technical subject friendly and accessible to everyone from operators with limited formal schooling to engineers with advanced degrees.
Most soldering operators have limited education. So solder training programs have always avoided teaching the chemistry, metallurgy and physics of soldering; they think operators won't be able to understand the scientific concepts. But operators are smart.
They can understand the critical process science. It's just a matter of explaining the process in ways that are familiar to them. So we created a soldering "recipe" that produces perfect soldering every time. A recipe is a familiar concept that does not frighten them. And that's why we feature the chef here and in our course materials.
Soldering is a lot like baking a cake in the sense that there are required ingredients, a required sequence for combining the ingredients, and required temperature for required time. There are just 7 steps in the soldering recipe. If those steps are followed in the right sequence, the result will always be perfect soldering.
The other fatal mistake of solder training has been the emphasis on memorization. J-STD-001 and A-610 training consist of memorizing pictures and rules rather than providing knowledge about how to actually perform reliable soldering.
Science of Soldering©, on the other hand, consists of demonstrations, experiments and troubleshooting exercises in addition to thorough video presentations and discussions.
Students in our classes are given a soldering exercise that contains several out-of-control process problems. Plastic materials melt, solder refuses to flow and defect piles on top of defect. Helped by experiments and demonstrations, the students troubleshoot their process and eliminate the defects using the recipe.
There is another reason for our teaching methodology. Most operators have been soldering for many years and believe they know everything there is to know about soldering. After all, they have always been evaluated on the basis of solder cosmetics and their work was always cosmetically perfect. But their defenses drop when they are unable to solve the process problem. They realize that their work in the past has not been reliable. And they become open to learning.
The lessons of the operator course are the same fundamentals we teach engineers (see the curriculum). The language is simpler and the lessons do not go into the science as deeply, but the operators are indeed taught like engineers. When they return to work, they are able to communicate effectively with process engineers when materials problems show up. More effective communication means faster identification of process problems and solutions that eliminate the problems.
The only other difference between the operator and engineering classes is the amount of manual skills development. Operators spend more time applying the recipe to various types of wiring, through–hole and surface mount exercises while engineers delve deeper into the technical aspects, generally on the shop floor.
As a US Air Force certified aircraft welder, I learned the process of soldering in 1990 and through subsequent 20+ years of experience and training, and industry association seminars, I thought I had learned everything there was to know about it...I was wrong.
Jim Smith from Electronics Manufacturing Sciences just concluded his Science of Soldering© course here in Skaneateles..He wowed me and our technical team with his practical, comprehensive approach and truly unique insights into the science of the soldering process. We are now in the process of updating all of our soldering process specs in Skaneateles to reflect our new knowledge. This is NOT A-610 or J-STD-001 certification/training! That’s not what we need.
It’s been my experience that soldering, especially hand-soldering, is a forgotten process in most manufacturing facilities, using the same techniques, tools, and training that were used 20 years ago when I started soldering (these were even old back then!). However, in those 20 years the components being soldered have become far smaller, and much more sensitive. This leaves a significant opportunity for improvement in our processes to reduce heat damage, touch-time, rework, out-of-box failures, latent failures, and scrap.
Jim develops and teaches all of his courses personally. He knows his stuff and stands out, among the many programs that I’ve evaluated. I highly recommend the Science of Soldering© hands-on program for any GE facility/ supplier, worldwide, who solders and experiences failures/latent-failures/defects and has struggled to find the true root-cause.
Lean Leader/Sus. Proc. Engineering Manager
GE Inspection Technologies
Skaneateles, NY 13152
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The Science of Soldering© class provided by Jim Smith was one of the best trainings that our EE Team ever had. Provided materials and hands-on classroom instructions were well prepared and all our questions were well answered. Our team enjoyed the hands-on portion explaining physics and chemistry behind the soldering "Recipe." Jim helped us to define our PCA/PCB manufacturing requirements and we are working with our suppliers to revise their soldering process. Jim has been very professional in responding to our questions – if he is not traveling or in class his response was almost immediate.
I highly recommend the class to anyone that uses soldering in their manufacturing process.
Chief Technology Officer - Electrical
Paragon Products, LLC
El Dorado Hills, CA 95762