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Increase the Life of Your Soldering Tips

Discussion in 'Homebrew and Kit Projects' started by W9GB, May 16, 2018.

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  1. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ten Tips to Increase the Life of Your Soldering Tips

    Health and environmental benefits accompanied the introduction of lead-free solder, however so did some challenges. One of the biggest challenges--the melting point of lead-free solder, when compared to leaded solder is 30° higher and oxidization of the tip happens four to five times faster than when using leaded solder. Higher the heat, the more tip erosion.

    Technicians have transitioned from leaded to lead-free solder and with time have learned the ins-and-outs of lead-free soldering including several useful benefits. Understanding the characteristics of lead-free solder and adopting some simple tip maintenance habits can help prevent iron tips from oxidizing and help tips last longer.

    1. Keep the temperature as low as possible. Find out the tip temperature by testing.
    2. Turn off your soldering iron when possible. Newer stations have automatic setbacks.
    3. Apply new solder, i.e., tin the tip at the end of each solder job.
    4. Clean your solder tip with a wire-type cleaner or solder tip cleaning wire sponge.
    5. Remove any oxide with a paste or if needed with a tip polisher. If you use the tip polisher, be sure to reapply the paste.
    6. Choose the largest possible tip for the application. Larger tips provide better heat transfer.
    7. Choose the right solder alloy and flux to reduce wear.
    8. IF your solder station has an adjustable temperature control, reduce temperature (manually or automatic setting) when not in use and extend tip life.
    9. Clean your tip often, but not constantly.
    10. Refrain from using excessive pressure when soldering.
    N2EY, K1ZJH, KB4QAA and 2 others like this.
  2. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    A: Use real solder.
    B: Used iron or iron-plated tips if possible.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
    N8VIL, KM1H and AB3TQ like this.
  3. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    I wouldnt even think of using the lead free crap in any vacuum tube or SS repair or restoration. The good stuff is still readily available in the proper flux and sizes.

    N8VIL likes this.
  4. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Agree, with 20th century vacuum tube point-to-point and PC boards.

    Problem with new electronics gear, since 2003 (RoHS),
    is dealing with lead-free for de-soldering or re-work.

    Most common problems, in that situation, are:
    1. Solder Tip not proper size (poor thermal transfer)
    2. Not using RA flux, when de-soldering.
    3. Wrong solder tip temperature (F°) for liquifying lead-free solder.
    N2EY likes this.
  5. N8VIL

    N8VIL Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have a method for desoldering lead free soldered components that works for me. I first "prime" the soldered component to be removed with "real solder" and then use solder wick. This seems to lower the melting point of the lead free solder to make it flow into the solder wick easier.
  6. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I used RoHS "lead free" solder for several years, assembling engineering prototype PCBs, etc. After a coupla million solder joints, I found no significant issues with it.
    N2EY likes this.
  7. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    You should never cross contaminate your solder station with different types of solder, If you are serious about RoHS.

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