What is Solderability?

by Andy on March 16, 2012

Solderability is the affinity that a metal has with a particular solder. There are a few factors that can change the solderability of metals, but in general the type of metal is what determines the solderability.

Soldering a PCB Metals such as copper and tin have a high solderability, as it is easy to apply solder to them. Other metals like stainless steel and brass are difficult to solder to, so they have low solderability. Typically metals that are used in electronics are considered easy to solder, so for most small electronics projects there should be no trouble.

Even easy to solder metals can have low solderability if they are oxidized. If you find it hard to solder to electronic parts then you may need to use a solder that contains flux. You can also use external fluxes, but in general those are reserved for metals that are naturally hard to solder. If you use an acid flux on electronics parts then you can risk damaging your board and components.

Some low solderability metals can also be plated with more solderable metals. This is particularly useful for metals like cast iron which are nearly impossible to solder effectively. By plating the low solderability metals you give yourself a good working surface for soldering parts to it.

High solderability metals can have other problems as well. Most noble metals are considered easy to solder, but they have a tendency to form brittle joints. In general it is important to know what metals you are soldering and make sure to use a solder that is compatible. If you have any concerns about what sort of solder to use it is best to contact the manufacturer of your parts to find what type of solder is best for your application.

For more information you can go to Kester’s knowledge base. They have a large amount of information and articles that cover most soldering questions. Also be sure to read any information that you can find on your parts and solder to find potential issues before you start soldering.

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