Rework stations and soldering stations are devices used for soldering and repairing printed circuit boards(PCB). These devices consist of several components that perform specific functions. They are extensively used in various laboratories, workshops, industries, and even for domestic uses by hobbyists.
The term rework, here, refers to the process of refinishing or repairing electronic printed circuit boards. This usually involves de-soldering and re-soldering of electronic components which are mounted on the surface.
A rework station is a kind of workbench. This workbench has all the necessary tools mounted on it. A PCB can be placed in the appropriate location and the repair work can be done with the tools included in the station.
What Is a Soldering Station?
A soldering station is a versatile device that can be used to solder various electronic components. Compared to a soldering iron a soldering station allows for temperature adjustment. This enables the device to tackle various use cases. This device mainly consists of many soldering tools that connect to the main unit.
These devices find the most use in the field of electronics and electrical engineering. Even outside the professionals, many hobbyists use these devices for various DIY projects.
Construction of a Rework Station
A rework station is constructed using some basic components which each aid in repair work.
Hot Air Gun
The hot air gun is the key component of all rework stations. These hot air guns are designed specifically for hot sensitive SMD work or for reflow of the soldering. They also have an inner overheat protector to avoid any damages to the SMD due to high temperatures.
Modern rework stations feature quite advanced hot air guns which are capable of rapid heat rising which set the required temperatures within a few seconds. They also feature automatic cooling down which enables the hot air gun to turn on or off when it is lifted from the cradle.
Adjustable Airflow and Nozzles
These nozzles help to control the airflow. This is very important because not all jobs can be done with the same airflow of the overflow of air that might damage the component being fixed. So these nozzles combined with the adjustable speed offer the necessary amount of control.
Digital LED Display
Most modern-day rework stations come with an LED display built-in. The LED screen shows all the required info about the work states of the hot air gun and rework-station. It also displays the current temperature, standby, and no handle insert (no detected heat core).
Construction of a Soldering Station
A soldering station is constructed using various components that work together to do the job properly.
The first thing you need is a soldering iron or a soldering gun. Soldering iron acts as the most common part of the soldering station. Many stations have different implementations of this tool. Some stations use several soldering ions simultaneously to expedite the process. This is possible due to the time saved by not replacing the tips or adjusting the temperature.
Some stations utilize special soldering irons constructed for specific purposes such as ultrasonic soldering irons or induction soldering irons.
Desoldering is a crucial stage of repairing a printed circuit board. Often some components need to be disassembled to test if they work or not. This is why it is pivotal that these components can be detached without any damage.
These days several kinds of desoldering tools are used.
Smd Hot Tweezers
These melt the solder alloy and grab the desired composition as well. They are of quite a few types depending on the use cases.
This tool comes in the shape of a gun and uses the vacuum pickup technique.
Non-contact Heating Tools
These heating tools heat the components without being in contact with them. This is achieved via infrared rays. This tool finds the most use in SMT disassembling.
Hot Air Gun
These hot air streams are used to heat the components. A specialized nozzle is used to focus the hot air on certain components. Usually, temperatures from 100 to 480 °C are achieved from this gun.
The soldering stations which contain IR (infrared) heaters differ quite a bit from others. They usually provide very high precision. They are extensively used in the electronics industry. A custom temperature profile can be set based on the material and this can help avoid deformation damage that would otherwise occur.
Uses of a Rework Station
The main use of a rework station is to repair electronic printed circuit boards. This may be required for a multitude of reasons.
Fixing Poor Solder Joints
Poor solder joints are a prime cause of reworking. They can generally be attributed to faulty assembly or in other cases thermal cycling.
Removing Solder Bridges
Reworking can also help remove unwanted drops of solders or help disconnect solders that should be connected. These unwanted solder connections are generally referred to as solder bridges.
Performing Upgrades or Part Changes
Reworking is also useful when certain modifications need to be made to the circuit or changing out small components. This is necessary many times to fix some features of the circuit boards.
Fixing Damages Due to Various Causes
Circuits tend to be damaged by various external causes such as excessive current, physical stress, and natural wear, etc. Many times they can also be damaged due to liquid ingress and subsequent corrosion. All of these problems can be resolved with the help of a rework station.
Uses of a Soldering Station
Soldering stations find extensive use in areas ranging from professional electronics laboratories to DIY hobbyists.
Soldering stations have found wide-ranging uses in the electronics industry. They can be used to connect electrical wiring to devices. They are used to connect various components to a printed circuit board. People are using these stations in their homes all the time to perform many personal projects.
Soldering stations are used to provide a long-lasting but reversible connection between copper pipes. Soldering stations are also being used to join many sheet metal parts to form metal gutters and roof flashing.
A soldering station is quite useful when dealing with things such as jewelry. Many small jewelry components can be given a solid bond through soldering.
Both a rework station and a soldering station are highly useful devices that can come in handy for a multitude of reasons. They are commonplace not only in electronics repair shops and laboratories but also in the homes of many hobbyists.
If you are looking to create your own custom electrical printed circuit boards or connect things to circuits then soldering the right choice for you. But if your work is more repair oriented than go for a rework station.