Tweezer or hot air iron for SMD desoldering

Thread Starter

Teris

Joined Nov 4, 2017
33
Hello,
I have a PACE station and i would like to obtain one desoldering tool for SMD parts.
What is better to buy, tweezer or hot air iron? Both are capable for soldering and desoldering too?
Thank you in advance.
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
5,821
Some things to consider:

With hot air, are there other components that can be melted? Such as plastic plug bodies or other support structure. If not then a good hot air source can turn the solder molten. With a steady hand (I used to have steady hands) and decent tweezers you can lift the component away.

With tweezers, do you have sufficient room between components to get a tweezer in there? Some components are so tightly packed that tweezing them out with thermal tweezers can be difficult. But the good news is that they make a wide variety of tips. So tweezers may be the better method.

It comes down to preference. I rarely work with SMT. Heck, these days PTH is becoming a rarity as well. The choice is yours. ME? I like the hot air tool. And for pesky plastics, aluminum foil can block the heat from destroying them, but you need to form it well to the component. And two layers are even better at shielding the blast of heat. Hot air also makes it possible to remove items that have many pins such as a 40 pin header. But it comes down to your practical needs and choices.
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
5,821
Thank you for your information. The SMD soldering can be done with tweezer too?
I don't see why not. In fact, it may be a better way than soldering one end then the other. Reason why is because of thermal expansion and contraction. As the solder freezes it can pull against the other solder joint. Not that I'd worry too much about it.
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
2,010
They are different tools that excel at different things, with some overlap. You can do a surprising amount of SMD work with just a regular old iron. Watch someone with a ton of experience and you'll learn a lot. For me personally, I mostly use the hot air for removing parts with many pads, but for most 2-pad SMD components (diode, resistor, capacitor, etc..) I just use a regular old iron most of the time. Use a generous helping of flux, add a little solder, go back and forth between the sides with the heat and more than likely it will come right up. Clean up with a little solder wick and some alcohol and the pads will look brand new. There are always exceptions, and tweezers could sometimes be nice, but if your goal is simply lifting basic 2-pad SMD components then you don't really need tweezers. If you are going to be replacing a whole lot of 2-pad components then maybe tweezers would be worth the investment for the convenience, it's up to you.
 

Thread Starter

Teris

Joined Nov 4, 2017
33
Sorry i omitted to tell you that i want it to desolder and solder usually 14pins or more IC SMD's,.
I have tried to handle them by classic iron but the first damage is done. Of coarse these tools are necessary to do the job for 2 pads parts more safer.
So, the dilemma is between these tools for more often IC SMD's.
As i can see the hot air is the first choice for the most people. This is because is better tool for this job or is random?
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
2,010
My guess is most people choose hot air because it's more flexible. Inevitably tweezers will be too wide or too narrow for some jobs limiting where they can be used. Also air works on BGAs and 4-sided IC's, packages without legs such as QFN, etc.. tweezers not so much. Everyone's use case is different, but if it were me looking for a one-size-fits-most approach, hot air is what I would choose. But if you have a specific use case where tweezers would work better (maybe 99% of your work is 14-pin SOIC packages?) then maybe that's the better solution for you.
 

dendad

Joined Feb 20, 2016
3,790
If it is one or another, go for hot air.
And, get some old PC motherboards or similar to practice on.
My hot air work station is one of the most used tools I have, even if just for heat shrink tubing.
For assembly, I just use a soldering iron, not the hot air, but every now and then, the hot air tool, with a small nozzle, is used, with past flux, to reflow a SMT processor or such to clean up the joints.
 

schmitt trigger

Joined Jul 12, 2010
418
Tweezers are useful to rework densely populated boards which use the smaller packages (0402 or smaller), because hot air, no matter how well you shield surrounding components, will either blow them away or splash them with minute solder burrs. Which still can cause shorts.

But for everything else,a good hot air station, with variable air speed and different nozzles, are the way to go.
 

Thread Starter

Teris

Joined Nov 4, 2017
33
You have helped me to choose. I will go to quality hot air.
Thank you very much for your information.
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
2,010
There's no need to break the bank on hot air. I'm using some off brand marked "858D" and it works fine, they are available online for under $50 under various brand names. I personally much prefer the air that has a fan in the hand piece (like the 858D), as opposed to the air that uses a diaphragm pump in the base. The fan gives a very smooth flow of air, the pump gives pulses. When you start working on the small stuff, the pulses can dislodge small parts and send them flying across your board. You can still get the job done, the fan is just more user friendly in my opinion.
 
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