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Which Lead-Free Solder Is the Best for Electrical Parts?

Which Lead-Free Solder Is the Best for Electrical Parts?

While traditional solder alloys have contained lead, there has been an increase in demand for lead-free solder alloys.  The shift has been gradual over the years as lead can potentially cause health issues and environmental risks.   

Leaded solder alloys are still used in many electrical and electronic assemblies due to their lower cost, easier use, and historical track record.

The challenge with lead-free solder is that it requires higher melting temperatures and has lower wetting and spreading attributes.  This can slow down production rates and wear out iron tips faster.

Therefore, you want to choose the best lead-free solder alloy for your particular application.

Which Lead-Free Solder Is Easiest To Use?

Each lead-free solder alloy has different characteristics than their lead alloy counterparts.  Of course, the best lead-free solder alloy for your application will depend on a couple things:  the cost of the alloy and any melting point restrictions.

The Main Alloys of Lead-Free Solder are the following:

Most lead-free solder alloys are made with tin as well as small amounts of either copper or other metals such as antimony, silver, or bismuth.  They come in various combinations, require different melting temperatures and each has different wetting characteristics.

Tin-silver-copper is the most widely used lead-free solder alloy for PCB Assembly because it has good thermal and mechanical poperies and is highly reliable.  The most common version contains 96.5% tin, 3% silver, and 0.5% copper (SAC 305 alloy).

Tin-copper is another commonly used lead-free solder for electrical components. It has good wetting characteristics and reliable solderability and can range from 0.7% copper to 3.0% copper.

Tin-silver is another popular solder alloy that has good thermal conductivity as well as high reliability.  It does come at a higher cost due to its high silver content which is why many are turning to solder alloys without silver.

Tin-bismuth is a super low-temperature lead-free solder alloy which is difficult to produce in small diameters, tends to be lower in strength, and can be brittle.

Below are common lead-free solder alloys and their melting point temperatures:    

SOLDER ALLOY

SOLIDUS °F    

LIQUIDUS °F   

SAC 305 (96.5/3.0/0.5)

423

426

99.3 Sn/0.7 CU

441

441

97 Sn/3 CU

441

590

96.3 Sn/ 3.7 Ag

430

430

42 Sn/57.6 Bi / 0.4 Ag

281

284

63 Sn / 37 Pb Tin /Lead 361 361

Which Lead-Free Solder is Easiest to Use When Hand Soldering?

When hand soldering, the best lead-free solder should be one that has a lower melting point as well as silver for strength.  Therefore, the SAC 305 and the 96.3/3.7 alloy Tin/Silver would be best if your budget allows it.

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