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Soldering iron tips, why plated?

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by 2E0ILY, May 2, 2012.

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  1. 2E0ILY

    2E0ILY Guest

    Most tips I see these days seem to be plated material, that flakes off after a while, sometimes after quite a short while. They are also quite expensive from the likes of Pace and Weller, although here in the UK the service from Pace is truly excellent. Way back when I used to have soldering irons with plain, solid copper tips, and never saw any plated ones. I have a machine shop and it would be trivial to turn some copper rod into tips for my irons and file or even machine them to different forms. What are the pros and cons of plated tips versus plain solid copper ones? Thanks.
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Copper oxidizes immediately when exposed to air, and oxidizes faster and badly when exposed to flux and other cleaning agents. A good plating should protect it. If yours is flaking off after a short while, sounds like the plating wasn't so great.

    My plated tips here last several years of use a few times a week.
  3. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Iron plated tips don't corrode. I have used one in my 40W pencil for many years and it looks new. Just don't file one, not needed and it may remove the plating.

    I don't know if any tips are solid iron. Even the plated ones will be attracted to a strong magnet.

    I would not buy any other kind.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  4. GM3ZMA

    GM3ZMA Ham Member QRZ Page

    The copper is also slightly soluble in the solder so that after a while, there are pits in the tip where the copper has been dissolved away.

    Many years ago there was a grade of solder called Savbit (just googled it, looks like it is still available), this contained a small (1%) amount of copper which would prevent the tip from dissolving away.

    The plated tips have a coating of iron I believe, iron is not soluble in solder and so the tip stays intact.

    If your tips have the plating flaking off, there is something very wrong.
    the tips are cheap junk
    the iron is running far too hot
    you are using an inappropriate grade of solder
    you are using an inappropriate grade of flux
    you are doing something to physically damage the coating on the tip.

    Jim GM3ZMA
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  5. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Here are the Educational materials ....
    Common errors: Temperature too high; Tip size/mass too small for work; Wrong solder; Not cleaning tips when work finished.

    Better Soldering (text) - Weller

    Better Soldering (brochure)

    Soldering Tips & Lifetime Issues “Coping with Lead-Free”
    Weller University Export/S...operWU_ModuleI_Tips&LeadFree.pdf?redirected=1

    Soldering Tip Care and Use
    Weller Soldering Export/S..._72/PDF/Cooper_TipCareAndUse.pdf?redirected=1
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  6. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Since we are on the subject, does anyone know why there is an L in soder?

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  7. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    In the King James Version, the L is left out.

    Isaiah 41:7
    So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.
  8. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I never know if I should believe you or not, but it soundeth goode.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  9. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Comes from Latin "solidare" or "to make solid."

    Not to be confused with the game loners play.
  10. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I like your explaination better.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
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