soldering iron melting tips

many years ago I worked for a company that built custom circuit boards and I can never remember having to change the tip on my soldering iron. Many days I turned the iron on in the morning and it ran all day.

Now ive tried a few soldering irons (the latest being a 15w miller) and after 5 hours of use the tip lost its coating and soon afterwards it melted the tip so its un-usable.

Is this the nature of the beast and I need a temp controlled solder station or is this low quality tips?

Any suggestions

I can't imagine a 15W solder pencil melting its tip -- it must be defective. Can you post a photo?

The copper tips used on cheap pencils dissolve in liquid solder, which is why the copper "disappears" so quickly. But the copper should not melt.

Get a good temperature controlled iron with plated tips.

As jremington said, cheap unplated irons have plain copper tips and these pit very easily.

Weedpharma

Hi, What is your mains voltage?

We went through a number of hot glue guns over the year, all eventually burnt out, we noticed that the glue was boiling if you left the gun on for more than 1/2 hour. Put the next gun on a variac, found that 240Vac was to high but 220Vac just right. All guns were US or China manufacture, 220Vac rating.

Our mains has been measured at up to 254Vac at times, only happened since the Solar Panel rebate came in for grid feed PV systems.

So our glue gun now gets connected via variac, we even appear to have better glue flow.

You iron could be like that, assume 220Vac when really supply is 240ac.

Tom....... :)

jremington: I can't imagine a 15W solder pencil melting its tip -- it must be defective. Can you post a photo?

The copper tips used on cheap pencils dissolve in liquid solder, which is why the copper "disappears" so quickly. But the copper should not melt.

it may be dissolving. The tip stays to a fine point until the platting is lost then its quickly eaten away.

I have a Hakko controlled temp iron, and I probably solder up 1000 connections a year. My tips last about two years each. The flux in the solder could be at fault. It's purpose is to remove oxidation from the parts being soldered. If it were a bit too effective, perhaps it might be degrading the soldering tip. Try a different solder and see if things improve.

Before the days of the namby-pamby lead-free stuff, there used to be solder with the copper pre-dissolved to minimise tip erosion. :grinning:

the latest being a 15w miller

Look again. I think you mean WELLER (since there is no such thing as Miller, AFAIK)

No self respecting technician would be caught dead using a 15W soldering pencil unless he was working offsite with tools provided by someone else, and even then he wouldn't leave the shop to go to the job without loading his 25W to 35W Weller into his car to take with him. Scrap that crap and get a 35W Weller and some solder paste.

Paul__B: Before the days of the namby-pamby lead-free stuff, there used to be solder with the copper pre-dissolved to minimise tip erosion. :grinning:

lead free solder is an alloy of tin, copper and silver. Its got copper predisolved!

raschemmel: Look again. I think you mean WELLER (since there is no such thing as Miller, AFAIK)

No self respecting technician would be caught dead using a 15W soldering pencil unless he was working offsite with tools provided by someone else, and even then he wouldn't leave the shop to go to the job without loading his 25W to 35W Weller into his car to take with him. Scrap that crap and get a 35W Weller and some solder paste.

I use the Weller 60w temperature controlled iron. It is excellent for all types of work as you can change tips from very small to "welding" size for big jobs.

Weedpharma

raschemmel: No self respecting technician would be caught dead using a 15W soldering pencil unless he was working offsite with tools provided by someone else, and even then he wouldn't leave the shop to go to the job without loading his 25W to 35W Weller into his car to take with him. Scrap that crap and get a 35W Weller and some solder paste.

Power is not the issue here. A 15W soldering iron is good for PCB soldering (including stripboard). I have found 15W Antex soldering irons to be excellent. I like the lightweight 'pencil' feel. I have used temperature-controlled Weller soldering irons but much prefer ordinary Antex. If I was a technician in industry having to solder PCBs on a small-scale production basis, I would probably opt to use a temperature-controlled iron, but for hobby use a quality 15W iron is fine. The 15W Antex irons are supposed to be OK with lead-free solder but I use the classic Multicore 60/40 which contains flux (and lead).

In other posts in this forum I have been very surprised at the number of contributors who recommend using separate flux. I wonder whether the OP is using separate flux and this is the cause of the problem. We should also be questioning how the OP cleans the tip.

Whatever happened to the good old "Scope" iron for SMD work? |500x147


All you needed was some copper rod of the right diameter, a vyce, a hacksaw, a file and a tap.

Paul__B: Before the days of the namby-pamby lead-free stuff, there used to be solder with the copper pre-dissolved to minimise tip erosion. :grinning:

Yes, Savbit No.1 with Ersin flux. I still have some somewhere!

Russell.

A small sqeeze bottle full of liquid solder with a needle tip is my preference but if I can't get that I use flux paste with a stiff bristle brush . Better too much flux than not enough. I have a RadioShck 15W soldering pencil I keep as an " emergency backup" but normally use a Weller 35W PE35 at home and the 60W temp controlled station(s) at work. The non-controlled PE35 is sufficient for "field" work.

gpop1: many years ago I worked for a company that built custom circuit boards and I can never remember having to change the tip on my soldering iron. Many days I turned the iron on in the morning and it ran all day.

Now ive tried a few soldering irons (the latest being a 15w miller) and after 5 hours of use the tip lost its coating and soon afterwards it melted the tip so its un-usable.

Is this the nature of the beast and I need a temp controlled solder station or is this low quality tips?

Any suggestions

That,s probably because the company had decent soldering stations.

Cheaper soldering irons have poor quality tips. a decent tip will have an iron coat to prevent the solder from dissolving the tip.

Temperature controlled irons are important for circuit board work to prevent over stressing components. Cheap uncontrolled irons [fire sticks] even low wattage ones can reach 500 deg easily, useful in the field on frame rooms perhaps but no use on modern pcb electronics (except possibly with a lot of experience).

Most circuit board these days use lead free solder and that can be tricky compared to the old stuff.

Minor changes in composition can cause major changes in solderabilty. A temperature controlled iron is essential in that case.

With this solder , using external flux application can help considerably, but a lot of it is down to soldering experience.

I have a radio shack 15w iron and the tips will eventually start to dissolve. The good thing is I think the remaining RS in town probably still has replacement tips so I can just go get a new one instead of paying postage to get one (or more) shipped.

I use old Weller soldering irons, (ugly aqua case era - the current production ones are mediocre at best), and yeah, you can leave them on, go away for the weekend, come back, and your soldering iron is still hot and perfectly happy.

No matter what, 15W soldering iron belongs in the trash. I didn't like the 25W weller either. 50W to 80W is better, with temperature control (even the old magnetic ones are fine - they also last forever, since there's really nothing to fail in them)

DrAzzy: even the old magnetic ones are fine - they also last forever, since there's really nothing to fail in them

Well, the tips do wear out eventually. You do have to be very careful never to touch them on PVC.

DrAzzy: I use old Weller soldering irons, (ugly aqua case era - the current production ones are mediocre at best), and yeah, you can leave them on, go away for the weekend, come back, and your soldering iron is still hot and perfectly happy.

No matter what, 15W soldering iron belongs in the trash. I didn't like the 25W weller either. 50W to 80W is better, with temperature control (even the old magnetic ones are fine - they also last forever, since there's really nothing to fail in them)

I'm still using a Weller aqua TC202 60W that I bought in 1981. I have gone thru a few tips. Whenever the Iron plating is worn thru that tip will fail in hours. Exposed copper corrodes really Fast!

Chuck.