If you build your own electronics designs, whether you are designing something small or you need to use a part that is only available in a tiny package, sooner or later, you'll find yourself looking at a component like one of those pictured above. How are you going to solder them onto your PCB? With Pololu laser-cut mylar SMT stencils, of course! Now, you can solder your components the way they are designed to be soldered: with reflowed solder paste.
Using the stencil, you deposit solder paste (a mix of microscopic solder balls and flux) onto all of your pads with one swipe of a squeegee. Next, place all of your components on your board. You do not even have to get it perfect, as the surface tension of the molten solder will pull your components into alignment (if you designed your footprints correctly!). Next, heat the board until the solder paste melts (reflows) using a heat gun, a toaster, or an oven. Since you never directly contact a component with a hot soldering iron tip, there is less chance of damage to the component.
There is nothing new about stencil printing solder paste—except our price! Paying hundreds of dollars for a stainless steel stencil can be hard to justify for a prototype, but you can now get similar results for a tenth of the price. Our $25 minimum for 4 square inches is enough for a small board or a few surface-mount components on a larger board with through-hole components (i.e. we charge by the area we cut, not the area of your finished board). Even for larger-pitch packages, the time saved and improved results make the stencils a good choice for boards with more than a hundred or so pads.