SMD preheater, bga preheating, smt preheat, pcb pre-heater, rework pre-heating, lead-free rework
Preheaters for Extra Large PC Boards


Zephyrtronics Equipment is Designed , Engineered &

Hundreds of ZT-1 AirBaths™ Utilized to Make the ISS.

Solder Paste, No Clean, Tin, Lead, Lead-Free

Pen Vacuum, Station

PCB Rework Pre-heaters     Bottom-Side Preheating     Pre-heat for Heavy Ground Planes      Lead-Free Preheat Rework
 Your Super Powerful, Bottom-Side Convection Pre-Heating for PCB, Thru-Hole, SMD, SMT, QFN & BGA Rework and Repair
This Is the Greatest PCB Preheater Ever on Earth! 50 CFM AIR SUPPLY (1,415 Liters/Minute)
Zephyrtronics' AirBath “bathes the circuit board in warm air to reduce thermal stresses
to the board and its components.”-- NASA Report, January 9, 2004

There's nothing like the patented ZT-1 Mega-Grid AirBath ("the mother of all pre-heaters") with its 32-square inch (220  sq. cm) pre-heating grid and 1,500 watts of power and 50 CFM (1,415  liters/minute) of pre-heating volume and cooling. The forced convection from the AirBath™ preheats PCB's up to 18" x 18" (45cm x 45cm) in size. Unlike inferior IR systems, forced convection bathes the entire PCB with preheat.


Forget About IR Systems with their many drawbacks that only preheat the area directly above the IR grid.  AirBaths™ have no such limitations!

Developed by Zephyrtronics at the specific request of NASA over a decade ago, our ZT-1 Mega-Grid is available for your largest PCB's and those with high copper content, heat-sinks, large ground or back planes. What a workhorse this is!

Powerful bottom-side preheat, smd, bga, hot air preheater, smt rework
Designed at NASA's Request.
The ZT-1 MegaGrid™AirBath™

The Mega-Grid AirBath patented protected technology  is your effective solution for PCB pre-heating for prototyping or rework at the bench for thru-hole, SMD's and BGA's.

Preheat Power:
Our Mega-Grid
AirBath with its powerful 50 CFM (1,415 liters/minute) of air supply and its 6.3" x 5" (16cm x 13cm) enormous heating grid delivers its forced-convection preheat power for those "challenging boards from hell" -- as some engineers say.  Beware of copycat pre-heaters with less than 13CFM (360 liters/minute) that crudely attempt to compensate for their lack of preheat air volume with higher temp settings
. Remember the glass transition of a FR-4 PCB is only 170°C. You don't want higher preheat temps, you want higher volume of safe preheated (100°C to 170°C) air on your PCB.

Loaded With Features: AirBaths get into a PCB's nooks and crannies where hot plates and IR preheaters can't go (see expository videos below). AirBaths™ are fabricated from steel, not plastic for industrial use for long production life. AirBaths™ are ESD-safe, RoHS Compliant, exceed U.S. Military Specs, plus uniquely feature indicator lights (blue for cooling; red for preheating). All AirBaths™ have self-contained air supply (no hookups or compressed air requirements).





Mega Grid Preheat

ZT-1 MegaGrid
In Our
Pyramidal Trademark Design


 50 CFM Air Power
(1,415 Liter/Min)
1,500 Watt Power


(120 Volt for the U.S., Canada & Mexico)


(230 Volt For All
Int'l Customers)


* We manufacture many other sizes of AirBaths.  Note that The BigGrid™
is one of our larger AirBath Preheaters in our extensive AirBath Catalog.
We have an AirBath Preheater tailored to your company's PCB needs.




pcb holding fixture ADJUSTABLE BOARD CRADLE
3-RAIL (10” X 18” MAX)
ABC-1 $345

3-RAIL (20” X 18” MAX)
ABC-2 $395

QUATRO (10” X 18” MAX)
ABC-1-Q $395

QUATRO (20” X 18” MAX)
ABC-2-Q $425

More Details

The Many Benefits of Preheating Your PCB: The benefits from preheating are multiple and compounding. 1.) Preheating or "soaking" the assembly prior to initiating reflow activates flux, removing oxides and surface films from leads and pads to be soldered, thereby enhancing the wetting process and solder joint quality.  2.) Preheating the board permits lower soldering temperatures.  3.) Preheating reduces the final "dwell time" during the final reflow stage.  4.) Preheating reduces thermal stress to the PC substrate and its components when localized reflow is made with soldering irons, de-soldering tools or hot air systems. 5.) Preheating provides the thermal boost needed when working with RoHS lead-free solders without damaging the work!


Critical Thermal Ramping: The Mega-Grid AirBath has industry standard, built-in temperature ramping at 2° to 4°C per second preventing thermal shock to sensitive chips, ceramic caps and glass diodes. The ramp is "built in" by design into every Zephyrtronics AirBath™ Preheating System.

Digital Illuminated Temp Display & Control: MIL-Spec compliant, the Mega-Grid
has closed-loop electronic feedback-sensing control and variable temperature selection with a lighted digital temperature display. Microprocessor control permits variable temperature selection with an easy-to-use "set/read" digital display function. This is the greatest pre-heater on earth.


For Thru-Hole, SMT & BGA Preheating Tasks: The Mega-Grid AirBath is ideal for all PCB challenges from low-volume production runs, prototyping during design, or during rework for all SMD packages such as BGA, CSP, QFP, QFN, TSOP, PLCC, SOIC, SOL, LCC, Flip Chip and Glob Top components. Still, the AirBath  is not limited to only SMD devices: Don't overlook the superb benefit the AirBath  preheating boost brings to your tough through-hole (PTH) soldering and de-soldering tasks! Plus, it easily handles all substrates including FR-4, polyimide, composites, flex circuits and ceramic boards.


PostCooling™ your PCB at the bench after solder reflow was first introduced to the market by Zephyrtronics nearly 20 years ago. Of course, today anyone knowledgeable with processing BGA's at the bench knows how critical post cooling is to the process so as to form strong solder columns between the pad and the chip so they will not "open" up later. This is very important. Of course, quick cooling has been proven over and again to produce stronger, more resilient solder joints even with hand soldering. It's no wonder that all high-volume PCB conveyor ovens have a final "cool down" feature.


Your Lead-Free Solution: Working with lead-free, RoHS solder alloys --- all have higher melting points --- makes preheat essential to PCB work at a bench. Don't raise temps higher on your soldering irons, desoldering tools, hot air tools or thermal tweezers! A brief preheat below the PCB permits soldering/ desoldering at lower temps.


Lead-Free Component ReworkThe RoHS Lead-Free Solder Mandate: Europe (and Japan) no longer permit the use of traditional tin/lead solders. Learn more about the European Lead-Free Mandate & Preheating. AirBath™ preheaters are your RoHS solution making lead-free soldering a breeze.

  All Pre-heaters Are Not Created Equal

1.  Achieve Superb Thermal Profiles at the Bench with industry standard 2°-4°C ramping to preheat! This critical ramp is "built in" to all AirBaths™ preventing thermal shock to ceramic capacitors, glass diodes and temp sensitive chips. Ramping helps prevent "pop-corning" of moisture within I.C.'s. Preheat allows flux activation and lower temps on the  topside of the PCB with your soldering tools. Effective preheat prevents scorched substrates, damaged pads and chips in rework or prototyping.

2. DeSolder &  Remove SMD's under 150°C (300°F) with only  AirBath preheat and LowMelt® DeSolder by the co-metalization process. No nozzles! No lifted pads! No burned PCB's! Video: SMD Removal With LowMelt®.

3. Non-Contact!: The AirBath preheat permits using solder "paste" (not just solder wire) with a Hot AirPencil. NASA calls it "non-touch" soldering. Video: How To Solder SMD's With Solder Paste.


4. Thru-Hole Rework: Heavy ground planes? High copper content? Big heat sinks? No problem! Your AirBath™ makes de-soldering thru-hole chips a breeze! Place your PCB over the AirBath, lower the temps on your desoldering tools. Stop lifting pads. You'll never de-solder thru-hole without preheat again.

5. Ideal for Shrink Tubing, the AirBath is temperature controlled unlike heat guns that burn and tear insulation and shrink tubing.

6. BGA, QFN Soldering & DeSoldering.  The AirBath™ is a stand-alone, yet also a modular part of the ZT-7BGA Hot Air System. The AirBath™ has the essential features for BGA processing: industry standard ramp rate; "post-cooling" rapid cool-down (required for BGA's; and 25CFM (710 Liters/Minute) of preheat power permitting lower final reflow temps. Video: BGA & SMD De-Soldering in 3 Minutes.


mega 1 copy


Preheating PCB's at Benchtop Mimics High Quality, High Volume, Thermal Profiles on
Production Floor

Remove Chip Quickly at Less Than 150°C with  AirBath & LOWMELT® "Never Lift A Pad"

  mega 3 copy

mega 4 copy

100% Non Contact SMT Hot Air Solder Reflow With the AirBath and a  Hot AirPencil. Yields Highest Quality  Joints.

Easier Thru-Hole  Desoldering & At Lower Temps With AirBath Preheat.
Big Ground Planes? No Problem!

  mega 5 copy mega 6 copy

The AirBath Compliments the ZT-7 BGA, SMD & Thru-Hole
Hot Air Station.

 Ideal For Heat Shrink Tubing Applications.
Superior To Heat Guns
Without Temp Control

  Comparing the Four Methods of Preheating

Preheating PCB assemblies falls into four categories: 1.) hot plates, 2.) ovens, 3.)  IR systems, and 4.) forced convection (warm air) under a PCB: The short video at the right breaks down these four methods with comparative demonstrations. While any PCB preheat prior to soldering is better than none, an objective analysis of the various methods of preheating reveals that all preheating methods are not equally effective or beneficial:

1.) Ovens:
Using ovens to preheat before rework and soldering for either removal and/or replacement of components can yield the most uniform temperature profile as it warms both the top and bottom of the PCB as ovens also do in high volume production equipment such as conveyor ovens and wave solder machines. It's just a little problematic to crawl inside an oven with your PCB to preheat while you perform selective soldering or desoldering tasks on one side of the board. Of course, one can preheat with an oven, and then rush the PCB back to your bench, but it's hardly practical solution.


Hundreds of Zephyrtronics AirBaths™ Utilized to
Build the International Space Station (ISS)

39-Page Rework Guide
by NASA with Zephyrtronics AirBaths™

Zephyrtronics AirBaths™ Used on the Mars Rover & Phoenix Programs.
Photo Credit: NASA

3.) Hot Plates: The obvious limitation to the hot plate is that not all PCB assemblies are single sided. In today's world of hybrid and mixed technologies, the PCB that is entirely flat or plane on one side is an exotic and rare creature indeed.  PC board assemblies are never the same from one to another. They can be populated with many disparate devices such as heat-sinks, connectors, relays,  and transformers on both sides. These uneven surfaces on PCB' present an indirect path of heat conduction from hot plates to the board.

"Hot air is more versatile than a hot plate due to
non-uniform parts on the bottom of the PC Board."
Glen Dody,  Motorola Lab National Journal of SMT, '96

4.) Superior AirBath Forced Convection Preheat The PC board assembly market has long spoken with regards to the distinct advantages and superiority of a warm air bath in the pre-heating process. It is why most all high reliability governmental and quality commercial PCB production, design and rework/repair groups stick to and with forced convection preheating: it is superior.

Forced convection completely disregards the topography (or bottomography) of a PCB, allowing immediate, direct access of the warm air into all of the nooks and crannies of the PCB assembly. And much like the newer, popular forced convection commercial ovens, the circulating warmed air is far more effective than static warm air.

Unlike IR "systems", there's another tremendous advantage with Zephyrtonics AirBaths™ -- temp control is "built-in". No small distinction! No fumbling with taping thermocouples on top of PCB's. AirBath™ preheat has temp control by dial or push button with accuracy and repeatability saving time, hassle, scrap and money.

Finally, forced convection preheaters multi-task for cooling down PCB's after soldering which is critical to solder joint integrity as the next section explains.

2.) IR: There are many drawbacks with infrared and why it really never completely caught on.  Some of the drawbacks (enumerated in articles and white papers) are the difficulty in ramping temps, darker surfaces heating more than lighter ones ('albedo' effect), shadowing caused by high profile devices on PCB's. IR preheaters can warp PCB's and some chips require IR shielding with aluminum foil! If an IR preheater is very large, working on small PCB's can be very uncomfortable for techs (a common complaint).

Another quality disadvantage of IR preheaters is they are not "temperature controlled" without taping an external thermocouple onto each PCB before working on it...a hassle/headache for techs and filled with quality pitfalls, and inconsistent results. There are more drawbacks, but these are some of the worst.

NASA & JPL: 'IR Preheaters Are Risky': Addressing the preheating process for heat sensitive chips in a 49-page published report, two JPL engineers, Dr. Rajenshuni Ramesham and Dr. R. David Gerke, wrote "Hot plates and infrared preheaters are not recommended for this type of rework. The reason that they should not be used is that the thermal reaction times, energy transfer rates and efficiency are never consistent. However, they can be used for large metal and ground-plane boards in limited applications, e.g., where the size of the board matches that of the preheater in area."

Citing the late William Scheu, the authors point to the superiority of bottom-side preheating with forced convection systems. The JPL/NASA Survey spotlighted still more of the deficiencies of IR preheating devices: "They have little capacity to ramp and soak to perform properly engineered repair scenarios or to support the creation and application of complicated thermal profiles. They also are limited in their ability to preheat beyond the physical dimensions of the heating surface. Hot-air preheating can be ramped, soaked and, on some systems, synchronized with the reflow process, permitting duplication of the actual profile used in manufacturing the assemblies. BGAs and photoelectrical parts are sensitive to higher temperatures and any attempt to preheat with marginally controllable sources is risky."-- NASA & JPL: Survey of Rework Methods & Equipment for Various Packaging Technologies"

  Post-Cooling™ Feature Built Into The AirBaths™ 

BGA, Preheat, Rework
Post-Cooling™ Mode Cools Down BGA's After Reflow Within 8 Seconds Allowing Quicker Lifting Hot Air Nozzles Preventing Bridges

Another real advantage of the AirBath™ is that with by flipping a switch the unit transforms into a post-cooler™ cooling down your PCB, components and your solder joints. Post-Cooling™ is essential to soldering of BGA's because hot air nozzles must not be lifted from above the BGA until all the balled joints have cooled so as not to cause unwanted bridging. It's important to point out the obvious: hot plates, static ovens and IR plates do not provide the critical post-cooling™ feature standard on every Zephyrtronics AirBath™.


Our AirBaths™ cool BGA's in 8 seconds permitting the hot air nozzle to be lifted without fear of bridging. Without post-cooling™ a tech must wait for the ball/pad interface to solidify completely before lifting the nozzle to inspect.

The PostCooling™ feature remedies this problem allowing rapid lifting of a hot air nozzle from the BGA after soldering.  Again, our engineers introduced the concept of post-cooling™ to the benchtop clear back in 1994.

World First for Preheating PCB's: Judged "Best New Product of the Year" and winner of the prestigious "Vision Award" at the Surface Mount International Expo in Silicon Valley in 1996 for its milestone contribution to the global production of printed circuit boards. Zephyrtronics AirBath was recognized and spotlighted by SMT Magazine in 1997 as a "safer and simpler method for removing and repairing sensitive devices."

Zephyrtronics is still the original pioneer and understands the thermodynamics of preheating better than anyone else.


Manufactured in Los Angeles: The MegaGrid is 100% fabricated and assembled in our state-of-art factory in California. It has a full, two-year limited warranty and is ideal for large PCB's or with high copper content, heat-sinks, large ground or back planes. It's a workhorse!

The patent protected technology of the MegaGrid AirBath is the most effective PCB preheat solution for your needs during prototyping or rework at the bench for thru-hole and surface mount technology including Ball Grid Arrays. BGA, more layers more preheat.


The MegaGrid™ AirBath, Our Largest and Most Powerful AirBath™ is Surprisingly Compact in Size and Delivers 50CFM (1,415 Liters/Minute) and 1,500 Watts of Pre-heat Power.


  ZT-1-MGS-DPU-120 120VAC (US, Canada & Mexico) Digital Model
  ZT-1-MGS-DPU-230 230VAC International Digital Model
  Other: (All Models)
  Power:  1,500 Watts
  Electrical Construction:  3-Wire Input with Earth Safety Ground
  W x H x D:  14.7" x 4.5" x 8.2" (37 cm x 11 cm x 21 cm)
  Weight:   5.8 lbs (2.64 Kg)
  Air Volume:   50CFM or 1,415 Liters/Minute
  Preheating & Cooling Air Grid:   32 sq. inches (220 Sq. Cm)
  Temperature Modes:   Preheating & Cooling
  Preheat Temp Range: Ambient (Room Temp) to 205°C (400°F)
  Preheat Ramp Rate:   2° C per second
  Cooling Temp:  Ambient (Room Temp) 
  Temperature Stability:   ± 3°C (± 5 °F) at Idle.
  Absolute Temperature Stability:   Meets or Exceeds ANSI-J-STD
  Air Supply:  Self-Contained Internal Supply (No Air Hookups)
  Construction:   All Metal ESD Safe Construction
  Warranty:   One Year Limited Warranty Parts & Labor
  Recommended:   Use With ABC Series of Board Cradles / Fixtures


Developed by Zephyrtronics Specifically at the Request of NASA
Prevents Thermal Shock of Components
Permits Lower Soldering & DeSoldering Reflow Temperatures
Ideal for the Heaviest PCB's & Lead-Free Applications
Helps Prevent Warping Substrates & Damaging Pads
Superior Forced Convection Preheating
1,500 Watts of Preheat Power
32 Square Inch (200 sq. cm) Preheat Grid
Powerful 50 CFM (1,415 Liters/Minute) Air Volume
Preheating Mode With Red Lighted Indicator
Preheating Mode: Ambient (Room Temp) to 205°C
Post-Cooling™ Mode with Blue Lighted Indicator
Preheating Ramp Rate at Industry Standard 2°-4°C Per Second
Self-Contained (No Air Hook-Ups Required)
Small, Compact Construction Respects Bench Top Space
One Year Limited Warranty Parts & Labor
Every Unit is Individually Calibrated at the Zephyrtronics Factory


Model Price Buy Now
Mega Grid Preheat


 50 CFM Air Power
(1,415 Liter/Min)
1,500 Watt Power

(120 Volt for the U.S., Canada & Mexico)


(230 Volt For All Int'l Customers)


* We manufacture many other sizes of AirBaths.  Please note The MegaGrid™ is one of our larger AirBath Preheaters and  you may
 want to check out our AirBath Catalog Directory where we have an AirBath Preheater tailored to your company's PCB needs.


Model Buy Now
3-RAIL (10” X 18” MAX)
ABC-1 $345

3-RAIL (20” X 18” MAX)
ABC-2 $395

QUATRO (10” X 18” MAX)
ABC-1-Q $395

QUATRO (20” X 18” MAX)
ABC-2-Q $425



Model Buy Now


ABC-LG $69.00

 (SET OF 4)





©1996 - 2023 by Zephyrtronics®. All rights reserved. The information, text, images, photographs, charts, graphs you receive online from Zephyrtronics® are protected by the copyright laws of the United States. The copyright laws prohibit any copying, redistributing, retransmitting, or repurposing of any copyright-protected material. Zephyrtronics is the registered trademark property of JTI, Inc. "The Science of Zephyrtronics" and "Simplicity Through Innovation" and "Zephlux" and "ZeroLead" and "Zero Balling" and "Zero Residue" and "Post Cooling" and "Post Cooler" and "AirBath" and "SolderGlide" and "ZeroTouch" and "SolderMill"  and "ZeroTouch" and "Just So Superior" are the protected trademark property of JTI, Inc. "Zephyrtronics" and "LowMelt" and "Air Fountain" and "Fountainhead" are registered trademark properties of JTI Inc. Above names are the registered property of their respective owners.

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Updated for September 26, 2023