If you are experienced in hand soldering, you will know that the tip is the most essential part of the tool. While the soldering iron holds and heats the tip and controls performance, the tip has the most important job of transferring heat efficiently and reliably to the solder joint. Inadequate or improper tip maintenance and use are principle causes of soldering problems.
But don’t worry! By avoiding some minor sins, you can become a hand soldering expert. You just need to follow our guidelines:
- Use the largest tip possible for each solder joint.
- Use the lowest tip temperature possible to do the job.
- Use the least aggressive flux.
- The diameter of the solder wire used should suit the solder joint.
- Do not melt solder directly onto the tip when it’s not necessary.
- Re-tin the tip before placing the tool in the stand.
- Do not apply pressure with the tool to the PCB or the parts being soldered. It will not make solder joints more quickly and will only damage long-lasting plating and ruin the finest tips.
- Use the cartridge extractor system on the stand to change cartridges instead of using a pliers or any other tool not suited to the purpose.
- Check that the Sleep Delay setting in the Tools Settings menu is configured to 0 min.
- Set the lowest Sleep temperature possible to protect the tips from high temperatures when not being used.
- Take advantage of the Hibernation mode when the tool is not going to be used for short periods of time. The station will cut power to the tool which lowers tips temperature to room temperature. This will make the cartridges last longer.
- When the solder joint needs a temperature above 380°C, we recommend using a preheater to reduce the temperature of the soldering iron. This will also help the cartridges last longer.
- We recommend dry cleaning systems like automatic cleaners or brass wool instead of damp sponges, which will avoid the risk of plate cracking and tip contamination especially if you use non deionised water.
Finally, to help you remember the factors limiting the life of the tips we have prepared this infographic. Download it now and always keep it at hand!
Which other guidelines will you recommend? Tell us in the comments!