Learn How to Stencil!


We here at SparkFun love to share what we know with our customers and community. One of the ways we do this is through our classes - and we've added a new one to the ranks: The Stenciling Class!

It is definitely possible to solder tiny components using your tried-and-true soldering iron. But if you're looking to create dozens of the same board with tiny components, it is much easier to use solder paste and a stencil. In this class, we'll show you how we do it at SparkFun. During the class, you'll learn how to do your own at-home solder stenciling and use a reflow oven (or skillet). In the process, you'll create a panel of Arduino Pros (and take one home!).

We think this is a great skill to know and will help you keep your sanity while soldering fine pitch components! Hope to see you there!


Comments 23 comments

  • I can’t wait to pay for working at Sparkfun. Err… no

    • Most places you ‘work’ won’t be giving you the product you’ve assembled. Also hands-on experience is one of the best teaching tools there is.

      • And our last build of these was over 800. It’s not like ~30 is going to do us much good. We aren’t paying for outside labor…

  • Please tell me you will post the video from this class, Canada is a little too far away from you to attend

    • Hear, hear! Or, in the case that we wish there were classes in Canada, here here!
      Your video tuts (tutorials) are awesome! One for stenciling would be a great addition.

  • Would pay for the video, but will wait for the ocean floor class if I have to.

  • I’m using my LPKF prototype machine to make mica plastic stencils and work great!!! I hear that there is a service somewhere that make something like this. I also make my own reflow machine for less than $50, I use it for soldering power leds.

  • Chris:
    The problem with solder paste syringes is that they are best used with pneumatic drives, not a plunger driven by your hand as is it is difficult to control the flow through a small dispensing tip with the high viscosity solder paste. My attempts at this have led to way too much solder paste being applied and having to start over after board cleanup.
    For small boards, I just use a toothpick or a small wire and dip it into the solder paste and transfer it to the pad on the board. It works pretty well after you get the hang of it.
    For larger boards stencils are the way to go. Much faster, and much better control of the amount of solder paste that is applied to each pad.

    • Yep. We use toothpicks at times when a stenciled board gets smeared or something. Stencils are obviously much better, but in a pinch a toothpick or something similar can be used with patience.

      • Standard syringes are indeed a pain. At work, I constantly use a Relius Dispensgun, which isn’t cheap, but works a treat. Cheaper than a pneumatic system though..
        Stencils are good if you’re building a lot of boards, but I’m prototyping 99% of the time, stencils get too expensive for that..

        • Relius Dispensgun sounds like a great tool. Which model do you use? And where is it available? Thanks.

          • Hello,
            Very interested too … both for their manual and pneumatic dispensers.
            Regards,
            Thomas.

            • I use the DG10, ordered it from www.efd-inc.com; but I’m halfway across the globe so you may want to look for another supplier ;-)
              I just sent an email to the benelux contact with a price quote request.
              No personal experience with their pneumatic dispensers though, so I can’t help there.. sorry!

  • What about a session in France ?

    • We are going to start a series of classes in the pacific rim first, then move to the congo, and then the ocean floor. We may get to Europe, but it’s a bit remote.

  • nice… but you guys have to make one around NY or NJ

  • Anyone have any luck with solder paste syringes?
    I don’t have any project’s big enough to justify using a stencil.

  • I’d be willing to actually pay for the video of the class!

  • You should use your controllable Power outlet to show us how to make our own toaster reflow oven.
    http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/tutorial_info.php?tutorials_id=119

  • Could you please make sure to add good sources for solderpaste? It seems fairly expensive, so I want to make sure I’m not getting taken to the cleaners.

  • Videos would be great!

  • ditto here


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