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The Role of Solder Paste vs Flux in PCB Assembly

Blog  /  The Role of Solder Paste vs Flux in PCB Assembly

The Role of Solder Paste vs Flux in PCB Assembly

Feb 19, 2024

The manufacturing process that turns electronic circuits into working devices depends heavily on PCB assembly. Flux and solder paste are essential parts of this procedure. You need to be aware of their roles and how they help with successful PCB assembly as an electronics enthusiast, engineer, student, or professional.

What is Solder Paste?

Solder paste is a crucial material used in PCB assembly that facilitates the attachment of electronic components to the circuit board. It is a mixture of finely powdered solder alloy and flux. The solder alloy typically consists of a combination of tin and lead or other lead-free alternatives. The flux component in solder paste is responsible for removing oxidation from the metal surfaces and promoting the formation of strong and reliable solder joints.

Solder paste plays a vital role in the assembly process as it provides the medium for component attachment. It acts as a temporary adhesive, holding the components in place during the reflow soldering process. Additionally, solder paste ensures the proper wetting and bonding of the solder joints, contributing to the overall reliability of the PCB.

Grey paste being scooped from a green jar.

What is Solder Flux?

Flux is a chemical compound used in soldering to remove oxide layers from the metal surfaces being joined. It prepares the surfaces for soldering by promoting the flow and adhesion of molten solder. Flux also helps to prevent the formation of new oxides during the soldering process.

There are different types of flux available, including rosin-based flux, water-soluble flux, and no-clean flux. Each type has its own characteristics and is chosen based on the specific assembly requirements and processes. Flux plays a critical role in ensuring the proper wetting and bonding of solder joints, improving the overall quality and reliability of the assembly.

Hand holding container with brown gel.

Solder Paste vs. Flux

Solder paste and flux work together in a complementary manner to achieve successful PCB assembly. Solder paste provides the necessary solder alloy and acts as an adhesive, holding the components in place during assembly. Flux, on the other hand, prepares the surfaces for soldering by removing oxides and promoting proper wetting.

During the reflow soldering process, the solder paste melts, creating a liquid phase that enables the formation of solder joints. The flux within the solder paste activates, removing contaminants and promoting the flow of molten solder. This combination of solder paste and flux ensures reliable and robust solder joints, leading to high-quality PCB assemblies.

Solder Paste Application Techniques

The accurate and consistent application of solder paste is crucial for achieving reliable solder joints. There are two primary techniques for applying solder paste: stencil printing and dispensing.

Stencil printing involves using a stencil with apertures that correspond to the solder paste deposition areas on the PCB. The solder paste is applied through the stencil onto the PCB, ensuring precise placement and controlled amounts of solder paste. Dispensing, on the other hand, involves using a dispenser to apply solder paste directly onto the PCB.

The selection of the appropriate application technique depends on factors such as board complexity, component density, and assembly requirements. Proper application techniques contribute to the uniform distribution of solder paste and minimize the risk of defects in the solder joints.

Gloved person operates a PCB printing machine.

Solder Flux Considerations

Flux is applied during various soldering processes, including wave soldering, hand soldering, and reflow soldering. The selection of the appropriate flux depends on the assembly process and requirements.

Wave soldering involves immersing the PCB into a molten solder wave, and flux is applied before the wave to prepare the surfaces for soldering. Hand soldering typically requires the use of flux-cored solder wire, where the flux is integrated into the wire. Reflow soldering relies on solder paste, which contains flux.

When selecting flux, considerations such as compatibility with the solder alloy, residue characteristics, and cleaning requirements should be taken into account. A reliable solder joint can be formed and the likelihood of flaws like solder bridges or inadequate wetting can be decreased by using the right flux and applying it correctly.

Focused person soldering electronics.

Impact on Solder Joint Reliability

The quality and reliability of solder joints are crucial for the overall performance and longevity of electronic devices. Solder paste and flux play significant roles in ensuring the integrity of the solder joints.

To achieve mechanical strength and electrical conductivity, the solder joints must be properly bonded and wet. Solder paste and flux work together to facilitate the creation of robust intermetallic bonds, encourage flux activation, and eliminate oxides.

By using high-quality solder paste and flux, manufacturers can minimize the occurrence of defects such as voids, tombstones, and solder bridging. Robust solder joints contribute to the long-term reliability of the PCB assembly, reducing the chances of premature failures or intermittent connections.

Green circuit board with holes.

Quality Control and Testing

To ensure the reliability of PCB assemblies, quality control and testing are crucial steps. Inspection and testing methods are employed toevaluate the quality of solder joints and overall assembly. These methods include visual inspection, X-ray inspection, and electrical testing.

Visual inspection allows for the detection of visible defects such as solder voids, insufficient wetting, or solder bridges. Through the use of X-ray inspection, concealed flaws like voids or inadequate solder coverage can be found by obtaining a more thorough view of the solder joints.

Electrical testing, such as continuity testing and functional testing, assesses the performance of the assembled PCB. These tests verify the electrical connections and ensure the proper functionality of the circuit.

Solder paste and flux are integral to meeting industry standards and specifications for solder joint quality. By implementing stringent quality control measures and testing protocols, manufacturers can guarantee the reliability and performance of their PCB assemblies.

Circuit board shows labeled solder joints.


The use of flux and solder paste is essential for producing dependable and high-quality PCB assembly. In addition to providing the medium for component attachment, solder paste makes sure that solder joints are properly wetted and bonded. In order to improve the overall quality and dependability of the assembly, flux eliminates oxide layers and encourages solder flow and adhesion.

Solder paste and flux play an important role in PCB assembly, and JLCPCB is aware of this. To satisfy the various demands of our clients, we work hard to offer premium solder paste and flux options, as well as all-encompassing support and knowledge. Visit our blog for additional articles on flux, solder paste, and other PCB assembly-related subjects. Let us discover the limitless potential of electronic innovation by delving into the intriguing realm of PCB design, production, and assembly together.