Variations in SAC 305 Solder

Variations in SAC 305 Solder
We use SAC 305 bar solder. We want to use a different supplier. Can we mix the new solder in with the current solder in our wave soldering systems? Jim Hall and Phil Zarrow, The Assembly Brothers, discuss this scenario and share their suggestions.
Board Talk
Board Talk is presented by Phil Zarrow and Jim Hall of ITM Consulting.
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Phil Zarrow
Phil Zarrow
With over 35 years experience in PCB assembly, Phil is one of the leading experts in SMT process failure analysis. He has vast experience in SMT equipment, materials and processes.
Jim Hall
Jim Hall
A Lean Six-Sigma Master Blackbelt, Jim has a wealth of knowledge in soldering, thermal technology, equipment and process basics. He is a pioneer in the science of reflow.


And welcome to Board Talk with Phil Zarrow and Jim Hall, The Assembly Brothers, who are consultants by day and by night we do Board Talk and answer your questions. Jim, today’s question is from M.K. He or she asks, we have been using SAC 305 bar solder from one supplier. We now want to source it from a different supplier. Should we be concerned if we mix the new bar solder in with the current solder in our wave soldering systems? Are there any reliability concerns?

It is an interesting question. It sounds kind of flaky but, bar solder is bar solder and SAC 305 is SAC 305. I think one of the things that you may be worried about is the purity levels. There is a specification as far back as the 70s that was derived from a mill spec called QQS571 and that is a specification that the bar solder purity of the alloy, in terms of how much of it is tin silver copper versus other elements. So, it is a purity level.

It has to meet that to be QQS571 compatible. That spec is still in place and generally it is stamped right on the bar itself. I would say probably shouldn’t make any difference. Jim, do you have any concerns about that?

A purity spec generally involves listing a set of potential contaminants and saying the level in this bar of solder has to be below .0001% of something like that. Your solder supplier may have the information available. If it is, you can compare those two sheets, their actual measurements from purity of specific contaminants and see if there is any difference between what they are guaranteeing. But I agree SAC 305 is 96.5% tin, 3% silver and 0.5% copper. That should be the same.

A good friendly reminder to analyze your solder pot now and then.

Your contaminants, the contaminants that you are putting into it.

That’s right, starting off with nice pure solder. But it doesn’t always stay that way. So, please do that. Well, you just wasted some valuable time of yours listening to us at Board Talk. We hope we imparted some wisdom on you or something. In the meantime, regardless of what you are chucking into your solder pot please don’t solder like my brother.

And don’t solder like my brother.


I agree with everything Phil and Jim say but there are some additional considerations. 1 ) J-Std-006 3.1 states "The use of recovered or recycled materials is encouraged." While reclaimed alloys can pass impurity level requirements, the addition of dross reducing agents can result in performance variation. Also, selective soldering equipment cannot tolerate the presence of phosphorus which is not monitored per IPC. Finally, there may be an "acclimatization"period while the new vendor an old vendor products are commingled that results in performance variation. It may not be cost effective to "vendor hop" for a minor cost savings with all of these considerations. Asking your existing vendor for cost reduction strategies may be the least disruptive approach.
Timothy ONeill, AIM
Ersa recommends to use non-phosphorus alloys. Please check phosphorus level, and ask yourself do I need it.
Pekka Saastamoinen, Ekval Oy
But I agree SAC 305 is 96.5% tin, 3% silver and 0.5% copper.
K.Schwarz, Memphis Electronic AG
Hi Guy, always enjoy the chat Phil and Jim.Just pointing out a typo SAC 305 has 0.5% Cu. It is stated as 5%.
Andrew Alexander, Jabil Circuits

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