As computers and other electronics become smaller and smaller, the complexity and repairability of device becomes significantly more difficult. Only a couple years ago, charging ports, storage media, GPUs, and CPUs all used to be modular components in most smartphones and laptops, but nowadays they are now all part of the motherboard. For example, all of Apple’s iPads now require soldering to change the charging port (arguably the most frequently used and abused part on a device), their MacBook now comprises of a single PCB inside (and even worse, uses mostly BGA packages), and the latest MacBook Pros have soldered the SSD to the main logic board instead of leaving it as a removable and modular component (no logic board = no data).
Since parts can no longer be swapped in and out just by turning a few screws, it seems that the only option to repair for many repair shops and consumers alike is to replace the entire motherboard at once. However, this is rarely a profitable job for repair shops, nor an affordable one for consumers whose problem frequently is only one small but crucial function like a charging port.
The good news is that with the correct tools and right knowledge, it is possible to repair and refurbish costly motherboards at the component level. This involves the process of “micro soldering,” and more and more repair shops are realizing that by offering in-house micro soldering services to their customers, they can significantly increase profitability, reduce turnaround times, and increase their customer base in ways previously unachievable.
Component level motherboard repair and micro soldering does require a significant investment of time and effort at the beginning, but the advantages over competitors are tenfold and the applications are infinite. For one, the components involved in motherboard repair are generally extremely cheap, from a few cents to a few dollars. This means that repairs can turn a very high profit margin for the business while still being affordable to the customer.
In addition, many of these components such as resistors, capacitors, and connectors are all identical in specification between different makes, models, and even brands. For example, a capacitor on a desktop motherboard may in fact work on a car audio amplifier. This allows for repair shops to stock less parts while servicing many more devices at once, expanding their customer base to all sorts of industries.
So, what does it take to learn micro soldering and component level motherboard repair? The best place to start is with the correct tools – you can’t change the oil in your car without a wrench, and you can’t learn to solder without a soldering iron. In this series, we will go over choosing a good soldering iron, as well as everything else you will need to learn micro soldering and take your business to the next level.