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Dull solder joints

Dull (non-shiny) solder joints are usually the effect of coarse grain structure in the solid solder joint (though there can be other causes). The more slowly a joint cools, the coarser the grain growth and, conversely, the faster the joint cools, the finer the grain growth and the shinier the joint. Dull or grainy joints are not a big concern – the grain structure will grow in a joint over time anyway. But having a dull joint is giving this eventuality a “head start”. However, under no circumstances, should a joint be touched up by applying a soldering iron (or other means) simply for the cosmetics of a shinier joint. The damage you may be causing by inducing accelerated intermetallic growth will far offset any gains in joint strength through a finer grain structure.

Process and design-related causes:

• Impurity in the component plating

• Impurity in the circuit board finish

• Bad or expired solder paste

Reflow-related causes:

• Cooling too slow inducing coarse grain structure and a dull finish. Accelerate cooling by use of cooling modules. It is recommended that a cooling rate of 4K/sec. over any 20 sec. Interval is not exceeded

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