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Removing solder from circuit boards

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I want to remove components from circuit boards by somehow dissolving the solder and leaving the copper tracks.I have tried desoldering with a soldering iron but its too slow and using a heat gun burns the boards. I want the components (in working condition) for for a mate of mine whos kid is into electronics and the circuit boards are for the wife who makes things like drink coasters etc out of the old boards.

Any suggestions. I have just found this site and all I can say is WOW. Nice to see folks exchanging ideas and helping each other for a change.

Greets from Perth WA

Dean Campbell
Hobbyist - Perth, Western Australia, Australia


First of two simultaneous responses -- +++++++

Exactly what you ask for is not possible, BUT, try a higher wattage soldering iron or gun. They go to a higher temperature and stay hot longer when in use. Electronic stores also sell a suction bulb device so that you can remove the glob of solder as soon as it softens so it does not resolder and uses less heat. Next, to preserve the component, invest in a good heat sink, a plier like device to keep heat away from the component.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


Second of two simultaneous responses -- +++++++

Dean,
The solder on the boards is much thicker than a plated tin lead alloy, and take a long time to strip by chemical. Be careful of nitric based strippers, they generate nasty fumes and will likely ruin the components you want to save. I would say the best bet would be is to seek out a printed circuit board repair supplier. They should have a safe product such as a paste. These days, especially with multi-layer board technology, the whole board is replaced when a component fails. In light of this I'm not sure of the availability of such products.

Mark Baker
Process Engineer - Syracuse, New York


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Dean

I wouldn't expect such a chemical would exist. If it did it would need to dissolve large amounts of lead without attacking the plating on the component leads or the metal that the leads are made of. An acid etc may leave a non-conductive salt or oxide on the component leads rendering them useless for resoldering and difficult to get any electrical connection through.

I have had some success removing components in bulk with a hot air (paint stripper) gun. I heated a large area of the board on the solder side (sometimes blackening it) and bashed the board edge down against something. Lots of working components and solder splash out.

Hope this helps

Scott Gavins
- Electronic Engineer - Gold Coast, QLD, Australia

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