Whether you are a professional or just a part-time hobbyist, one item you might want to consider investing in is a soldering reflow oven for your electronics work. A reflow oven is part of the process for constructing printed circuit boards (PCBs). However, there are several factors you need to consider before purchasing an oven.
What is a reflow oven?
A reflow oven is just like a convection oven that you might have in your home. It has four stages of heating: preheat, soak, reflow, and cooling. The oven heats and cools soldering paste at the appropriate temperature range on a PCB. This is done to hold components in place on the board. Each oven has their own heating profile and different performance ranges.
Items to Consider When Purchasing a Reflow Oven
There are three major factors to consider when purchasing a reflow oven: the thermal profile, the cost, and the oven size. The thermal profile is the cycle the oven goes through with preheating, soaking, reflowing, and cooling. Cost goes hand-in-hand with the thermal profile. If you are looking for a reflow oven where you can customize the thermal profile, then a higher-end model is your option. Obviously, higher-end models are pricey. However, if you are a professional, then a higher-end model is definitely worth the investment.
The other option to consider is oven size. Again, cost plays a role here. If you are going to be working on multiple boards at a time, a larger oven might be better. Then again, if this is simply a hobby for you, then a smaller sized oven will work perfectly fine. In the end, it all really just depends on what you are intending to do with your circuit boards. Higher-end, larger ovens are going to turn out a better quality product, but smaller ovens that can really only do one thermal profile can be just as efficient when used correctly.