Are you noticing that the solder deposition on your circuit boards is not happening precisely? Are there inconsistencies in the amount of solder paste deposition? Then, it would help if you use a high-quality solder stencil with excellent release characteristics. It guarantees the right amount of solder paste application in the right places through all the holes. Besides that, if you buy a solder stencil with laser-cut openings, it will guarantee no mouse bites on the aperture edge.

So, today we’re going to take you through four types of solder stencils that your facility workers might need:

1 – Prototype stencils

Prototype stencils are appropriate for industries that need low-volume manual printing. So, if you are looking for a fast-printing solution with minimal cost, the prototype stencils could fit your bill. Usually, these stencils have customized layouts to fit the specific purpose of various clients. With a qualitative stencil and framework, your employees can complete most electronic assemblies from their workspace without hassle. What’s more, you can buy solder stencil from the comfort of your couch through a trusted electronics e-commerce site right away.

However, to get your prototype stencil manufactured by the vendor, you need to provide them with your Gerber and CAD files. Once they are sure about the check plots in your SMT (Surface Mount Technology) stencil, they can create and send it to you within a few days. Since stencils get manufactured using various materials, including Mylar and Kapton, and Stainless Steel, you must choose the latter instead of the former. It’s because stainless steel stencils offer smoother apertures and minimal chances of mistakes when compared to Mylar and Kapton.

2 – Frameless stencils (for hand printing)

If you want to buy a solder stencil that is suitable for smaller production runs with precise control, this is it. Frameless stencils also called Foil, or Plate-Only stencil is ideal for people who want to hand print the bare circuit boards with high precision. One of the main advantages of such a frameless stencil is that it is easy to use and store. That means you don’t need to worry about fixing the stencil in the frame using glue or tape anymore.

It will help if you keep in mind to slide the plastic card or squeegee blade over the stencil pretty carefully during the solder paste application. That means you should not leave any gap or hole during the solder paste application. If you are not sure about that, you can slide the handheld tool 1 to 2 times over the stencil covering complete areas of the circuit board.

3 – Frameless stencils (for universal frames)

Another kind of frameless stencils you can pick from the lot is an interchangeable one. The manufacturers create this type of frameless stencil to let it work based on universal systems. It means you can use various stencils with the same dimension but different check plots interchangeably. It is also called “reusable stencils” that have derived from its method of usage.

Do you know what the most exciting thing about these stencils is? You can keep printing the plain circuit boards repeatedly without sticking the stencil permanently onto a frame. Since there are several types of frameless stencils on the market with some variations, you might get confused about which one to order and which one to leave. In that case, you have two options – either buy one that has precisely the same openings as you want or order customized plates for your PCBs.

4 – Framed stencils 

If you are looking for holed plates that can help you with high-volume printing, this is it. Framed stencils are laser-cut stencils that are set into a frame to print multiple circuit boards faster. Your stencil is securely mounted on your work surface in such a fixture so that it doesn’t move around when you start applying the solder paste on the boards.

This type of stencil arrangement is pretty strong as compared to frameless stencils. What else? The kind of finish you get after the solder paste application with this stencil is terrific. Once you slide the squeegee blade over the holed plates and take it out to look at it, you will find that the solder paste at all the points has deposited so perfectly. You won’t find any irregularity or inconsistency in the amount of solder paste application either.

Final remarks

No doubt, now you know how to maintain consistency in the solder paste application on the electronic circuit boards. If you still have any questions about frameless or framed stencil orders, you can connect to the well-known electronic item sellers and ask them to provide you the answers. On getting a satisfactory response, you can proceed ahead with your stencil ordering and fulfil your PCB printing needs.