It used to be that repairing a PCB or a circuit assembly was a fairly simple task. Point-to-point wiring or the 2-sided PCBs - some even with plated-through holes - could be reworked with just a good soldering iron and some solder wick. Removing a leaded component (remember when resistors had wires sticking out of the ends of them?) was made simpler with a vacuum desoldering machine, but you could live without it.
Fast forward to 2009. Finding even a single leaded component on a PCB is rare, and even the connectors are surface mount. In some aspects, surface mount is actually easier to rework and with less chance of delaminating the substrate layers. However, the small size of many surface mount components - same as small as 0201 (0.02" x 0.01") - necessitates the use of a microscope and tweezers. Forget have a cup of coffee in the morning because the magnified shake factor will make work nearly impossible. You will end up knocking nearby components off their pads. That is another bother of surface mount - the small size requires heating with a hot air gun from above or beneath, but either way you end up reflowing the solder on surrounding components.
Fortunately, companies like the ones listed here offer products and/or services to help you cope with this brave new world.
Solder Repair / Rework Products & Services
Automating 0201 Rework | circuitsassembly.com/pdf/0304/0304airvac.pdf
Article from Circuits Assembly, by Brian Czaplicki.
Circuit Board Repair and Rework Guide | circuittechctr.com/guides/guides.shtml
From Circuit Technology Center, Inc.
Chip Quik SMT Rework Newsletter | chipquik.com/newsletters/cq_new_may_2004.htm
By Marvin Cohen.
Cleaning Flux Residue in Hand Solder Rework and the Effects on SIR | circuitsassembly.com/cms/content/view/3851/95
From Circuits Assembly, By Curt Alexander.
Component-Level Electronics Repair in Space: Soldering Tested in Reduced Gravity--An Update | grc.nasa.gov/WWW/RT/2007/Proc-Exp/06-REC-struk.html
From the CLEAR Project at NASA Glenn Research Center.
Component Rework: A Small World and Getting Smaller | circuitsassembly.com/pdf/0301/0301walz.pdf
Article from Circuits Assembly, by Mark J. Walz.
Hand Solder Rework of Pb-Free PTH and SMT Packages | circuitsassembly.com/cms/content/view/2578/95
Article by Alan Donaldson, in Circuits Assembly online.
Lead Free Rework and Repair of Ball Grid Arrays (BGAs) | empf.org/empfasis/jan05/lfrework.htm
Article from Empfasis, a publication of the National Electronics Manufacturing Center of Excellence.
Manual Soldering and Repair | tutorialsweb.com/smt/chapter7.htm
From Tutorials Web.
PCB Manufacturing and Rework Quality | focalspot.com/pdf/WP-FocalSpot-UsTech-Article-July-2005.pdf
New price, performance and value criteria for X-ray inspection systems, by Doug McClure, FocalSpot, Inc.
Precision PCB Services | pcb-repair.com | 530-534-1738 / Oroville, CA
Services, training, and consulting for the assembly, rework, modification and repair of electronic assemblies. Specialties include BGA rework, BGA re-balling; lead free and manufacturing process implementation, quality improvement, and defect analysis.
RC Repair and Modification With Soldering | rcvehicles.about.com/od/rcworkbench/a/soldering.htm
Learn to Solder and Do Your Own RC Repairs. By Michael James.
Rework and Repair | leadfreemagazine.com/pages/vol006/rework_vol6_1.htm
"What adjustments must rework system manufacturers make to their equipment to respond to the needs of lead-free rework?", by Neil O'Brien, Finetech.
Rework Management & Optimization | solder.net/smtmag.asp
Learning how to manage the amount of time and money spent on rework can increase profitability and minimize vulnerability that is normally associated with rework.
Reworking Lead-free Solder in PCB Assembly | smt.pennnet.com/Articles/Article_Display.cfm?Section=Articles&Subsection=Display&ARTICLE_ID=178377
Article Surface Mount Technology (SMT), by Dongkai Shangguan, Ph.D.
Reworking Plastic and Other Heat-sensitive Components | smt.pennnet.com/Articles/Article_Display.cfm?Section=Articles&Subsection=Display&ARTICLE_ID=175419
Article from Surface Mount Technology (SMT), by Bill Scheu.
SMT Package Rework | direct.xilinx.com/bvdocs/whitepapers/wp192.pdf
White paper by Quang (Peter) Nguyen, Xilinx.
SMT Rework | empf.org/empfasis/oct03/703smt.htm
Tech tip from Emphasis.
Soldering 101 | kingbass.com/soldering101.html
A soldering tutorial for the mechanically challenged.
Surface Mount Technology Repair Station and Method for Repair of Surface Mount Technology Circuit Boards | freepatentsonline.com/4817851.html
United States Patent; Inventors: Kolesar, Michael J., Bois, Philip J.; Assignee: Digital Equipment Corporation (Maynard, MA).
Waste Not, Want Not | circuitsassembly.com/pdf/0304/0304depot.pdf
Simplify BGA rework by reusing leftover solder - article from Circuits Assembly, by Jeff Ferry.