Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Top 5 Techniques to Maintain a Soldering System

Maintaining A Working Soldering System

Modern soldering tips are made from iron which is plated with nickel or chrome and surrounds a simple copper core. The plating is important because solder won’t stick to chrome or nickel, but if the plating is flawed, the solder will stick to the exposed iron. This leads to increased oxidation – the process that causes rusting – on the tip. To prevent this process, soldering tips can be protected with a layer of tin, but, there are many different ways to maintain a system to keep you from getting to this point. To give your soldering system the longest life possible, try following these guidelines:

1. Keep the tip clean. Solder can build up over time and begin to damage the tip. In order to keep the tip clean, wipe it periodically with a damp sponge. The trick is to wipe it just often enough to prevent buildup and damage. Because touching the tip to dampness changes the temperature of the metals in the tip and makes them contract or expand, it is not advisable to wipe too often. The contracting and expanding can lead to fatigue and collapse. Using an extra porous “yellow sponge” can help to maintain dampness for a longer period of time. Check out for a full range of soldering tip cleaning sponges. Additionally, to clean your tips right next to the point of work JBC offers a full range of tip cleaning methods all of which support JBC Tools tip cleaning stand.

2. Keep the heat low. Oxidation is a problem with soldering systems because high heat increases the rate of oxidation. A good practice for soldering system maintenance, as well as general safety, is to turn off the iron when it’s not in direct use. Keep in mind that JBC Soldering Irons automatically go into hibernation mode when not in use. Completing all soldering for a project at the same time also simplifies the care process and reduces the number of times the tip gets tinned. Temperature-controlled soldering stations are also available to maintain the temperature at an appropriate level.

3. Prevent plating cracks. When too much pressure is applied to the tip, the plating can crack. It can be tempting to think that more pressure will aid in heat transfer, but this is incorrect. When appropriate, maximizing the contact area by using as large a tip is a better way to transfer heat more effectively. Additionally, iron is not very tough, and when it cracks, the crack moves all the way down to the copper core. The solder then dissolves it, leaving you with a hollow tip. To prevent cracking, refrain from banging the tip when reinserting the handle.

4. Use the proper cleaning tools. Do not use abrasive materials to clean the iron. Sandpaper and wire brushes will damage the metals in the iron. Likewise, do not dip the iron in solder flux to clean it, as flux can also damage, or corrode, the tip metal. If the tip becomes blackened, and a wet sponge fails to clean it, then brass wool, inox wool, or even a tinning block can be used. To use a tinning block, a small amount of flux is placed on the block and the tip of the iron is rubbed in it. The tip is then wiped on the sponge to remove the remains.

5. Use good-quality solder. Cheap solder has impurities that can build up on the tip. A good quality solder will have a high metal purity and a high percentage of tin. When you are finished soldering, clean the solder tip and then flood it with solder. Once it is set, wipe it again then store the iron. This tins the tip, which protects it against oxidation.


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