Tuesday, November 26, 2013

10 Ways to Prolong Tip Life When Using Lead-Free Solder – Guest Blog

Guest blog by Tom Krisulewicz, Field Applications Manager, Weller Tools

Our guest blogger from Weller Tools presents ten steps for extending tip life when working with lead-free solder. Culled from Weller's decades of experience and expertise with soldering and desoldering technology, these strategies will help prolong the life of your soldering equipment and promote a successful soldering process.

  1. Choose the largest possible solder tip for the application: Larger tips provide better heat transfer and have more iron plating, which helps to extend tip life.
  2. Do not exceed 725°F: Lead-free solder does not require a higher soldering temperature (high temperature increases tip-plating erosion). Also, at higher temperatures, fluxes degrade faster and black residues remain on the tip surface. Therefore, lowering the soldering temperature reduces oxidation and reduces flux splattering.
  3. Choose the right solder alloy (SAC if possible) and flux to reduce wear of soldering tips.
  4. Use high-powered soldering tools (80-200 Watts) with optimum temperature control that, in most cases, do the job at lower temperatures: Weller's WP80, WP120, WSP150, WXP65, WXP120, and WXP200 combine high power with optimized heat transfer.
  5. Dry clean tips with the Weller WDC or WDC2 to keep them wettable longer: Wet sponges cause thermal shock, remove the majority of the tinning and don't properly remove flux residues.
  6. Always tin the tip to prevent oxidation and surface contamination: Apply a thin coating of solder to the tip after cleaning and before placing in the soldering tool holder. Use the WPB1 Polishing Bar to clean and renew soldering tips (use only when tip is cold).
  7. Use all available functions and accessories to reduce the tip temperature (Standby, Auto-Off, Temperature Pre-sets, Stop-and-Go Tool Holders, etc.) or turn the soldering tool down during breaks. For instance, the WDH10T & WDH20T Stop-and-Go Tool Holders switch on the soldering tool when removed from the holder.
  8. Use WDC2 Dry Tip Cleaner, which is an optional accessory for all WDH Series tool holders.
  9. Use the WHP3000 Preheating Plate, which reduces the amount of heat required from the soldering tip by heating up the PCB to a pre-selected temperature: A highly efficient IR heater with equal heat distribution will improve the hand-soldering process without the risk of partial overheat.
  10. Use a Tip Activator to rejuvenate oxidized or contaminated soldering tips. Re-tin after use with the Tip Activator at a low temperature to prevent oxidation.
Q Source would like to thank our guest blogger, Tom Krisulewicz, from Weller Tools. Thank you very much for your contribution to The Q Source Resource.

For more information, or to place an order for the Weller soldering products mentioned in this blog, please visit our Weller Department at QSource.com. You may also be interested in checking out our Soldering, Desoldering & Rework Department. Questions and orders may also be submitted via phone (800-966-6020) or email.

If there's a product or topic you'd like to see The Q Source Resource write about please let us know. We'd also appreciate if you share this blog post with your friends and colleagues via the social media links below. If you have questions or comments about tip life and working with lead-free solder please leave us a message in the comments section.

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