Are you often use soldering for bonding electrical connections, plumbing, and metalworks…? Do you aware of specific tools apart from the soldering iron that is widely used in soldering applications, or are you a beginner for soldering. Well, let’s discuss different soldering applications and conventional tools that make your soldering process much easier and smoother than before.
BRIEF ON THE SOLDERING PROCESS & APPLICATIONS
Metals may be joined by mechanical means (bolting, riveting, etc.) or by welding brazing, soldering, or adhesive bonding. Out of these, Soldering is a process of joining metals by flowing a low melting point alloy termed ‘solder’, between the surfaces that are to be joined. It is essentially an alloying process in which certain elements in the solder combine with the metals of the joint, and this is only possible if clean metal and clean molten solder are brought into effective contact.
The basic equipment required for normal soldering operations is a ‘Soldering iron’ of a suitable type and a source of heat (these may be combined, as in the electric soldering iron), solder of the correct composition for the job in hand, and a suitable flux-more elaborate equipment is needed for such special applications of the process as sweating and dip soldering, but these types of soldering are not usually encountered in the general workshop. Let’s discuss briefly soldering types widely used.
Following are the general types of soldering applied on different temperature levels.
- Soft Soldering– General type of soldering used for joining wires and small components. The joining parts of soft soldering are not exposed to higher temperatures (normally ranging between 90-450 degrees) and are not subjected to higher loads and forces. The solder type used in this process has a melting point ranging between 150-350 degrees and is commonly lead or tin. Zinc chloride is the common soldering flux used in soft soldering.
- Hard Soldering– This type uses a solder that is higher temperature and stronger than those used in soft soldering. This type is also known as silver soldering where silver mixed with tin is utilized as a solder in the process. Brass is also used as a solder for this type and to strengthen the connection a blowtorch is implemented. Normally in this type, solders have a temperature range of 600 – 900 degrees and fluxes are in paste form.
- Brazing – This type uses metals with a melting point than the above-said soldering types. The process is much similar to hard soldering where the metal being bonded is heated rather than being melted. When both joining metals are heated at a higher temperature the melted solder is placed in between two joining metals.
As solder is used in joining the metals or components in a circuit or metalwork, flux is used to prepare the joining surface to perform the soldering perfectly. It removes any contamination in the metal surface and helps in wetting the molten solder between metals and protects the joints from re-oxidation during soldering.
When performing any of the soldering types described earlier, a proper solder needs to be used. There are some standards to choose the perfect solder type for soldering applications. Some of them are ASTM B579, ASTM B907, ASTM B828 by ASTM international. It is a good practice to adhere to each mentioned standard before you are in to any of the engineering processes.
Proper safety practices need to implement when carrying out a soldering process. The correct type of PPE must be worn to prevent hazards caused by heat. Not only that fumes are released when metals are being heated during the soldering process. So appropriate respirators and goggles, gloves need to use. You can use the following recommended PPE when working on brazing soldering tasks.
Product review – The above respirator is a full-face mask type with a chemical filter and anti-dust cover. It provides 2 in 1 protection for both eyes and covers the nose as well. It can prevent Can various organic gases, such as formaldehyde, gasoline, ether, suitable for spray paint, oil, machinery, polishing, dust, etc. Can be recommended for use in brazing soldering tasks as a Safety PPE.
Now we have a better understanding of soldering and the types of components used. Let’s discuss the main topic, the conventional tools that are implemented for soldering applications.
CONVENTIONAL SOLDERING TOOLS
The conventional tool types mentioned below are the basic tools that will make your soldering task a perfect one.
- Soldering Iron
- Soldering Station (Generally includes conventional Soldering stand, Control unit, and a Sponge)
- Soldering Iron tips
- Soldering Hand tools – Scrapers, Tweezers, Holders, Clamps
Soldering iron is the most essential tool used in the soldering process. A soldering iron consists essentially of a copper “bit” secured to a holder, to which is fitted a heat-resistant handle. The bit varies in weight, according to the nature of the work for which the iron is intended. Normally for the general workshop, bits of 4 ounces are used and adequate for most purposes, but very small bits may be needed for ultra-light soldering in very confined positions. The bit is the heat reservoir of the tool, and it must be large enough to heat the job adequately. If you are buying a soldering iron make sure to check the wattage other than the thickness of the tip. If the iron has a higher wattage, it will heat up quickly and it helps the tip to maintain the higher temperature throughout the process.
The following types of solder iron are available in the market that is customized according to the power, capability, and type of soldering.
TRADITIONAL SOLDERING IRONS
Traditional soldering irons are easily available in the market and are used in general soldering activities such as soldering electronic components and household usage. Make sure to look for the wattage when buying a traditional one. Normally for soldering electronic components, ideal power would be 25-40W, 40-60W for household use, and industrial usage such as soldering thick wires, sheet metals 100w is needed.
Product review – This product is ideal for general household applications, wood soldering jobs, and electronic component soldering applications. It is also available in 30,40,50W power variations and is easy to operate. Handle design is good for general usage and worth buying for general applications.
Normally soldering iron comes with a wire directly connected to a plug, but nowadays in the market, you can find a soldering iron with a USB output which makes it easier to plug into power sources like power banks & other portable power devices. The mobility and easy operation are the advantages of these types.
Product review – The above soldering iron is powered via an 8W USB port. It can heat up to 500 degrees and it is mentioned that it will heat within 15s which is a good feature for quick soldering applications. Include a soldering iron stand, protective case to cover the tips and tips that can be replicable. These types of soldering irons can be recommended for electrical soldering applications as well as general household applications.
Apart from the above traditional soldering irons, Gas heated soldering irons are widely used in heavy-duty soldering applications. These soldering irons can be used as regular heat guns. The following soldering type is a perfect example of the gas-heated soldering iron. It includes a complete kit of a hot knife, one soldering tip, cleaning sponge, resin core solder, engraving tip, and other essential tools for soldering applications. All these tools are stored in a portable box that can be easily carried. Ideal for Jewelry, Eyewear plastic cutting maintenance industry.
Apart from traditional soldering irons, some types can adjust the temperature between 250 – 450 degrees. Generally, includes 60W power and ranges from low-end models to quite expensive types for professional usage.
Soldering stations are used to provide more flexibility and control of the soldering process. It includes a soldering iron stand and temperature control unit which can adjust the temperature properly during various soldering tasks. It is good to have a soldering station if you are frequently working on soldering applications. Normally stations include a sponge to wipe soldering tips. For heavy-duty soldering applications soldering stations comes with hot air guns with a desoldering feature.
Product review – The above product is a perfect example of a heavy-duty soldering station. It includes a soldering rework feature and is very useful for desoldering applications. It also comes with a general iron stand, sponge, a control unit for temperature control, and also a hot air heater that works as a soldering gun. It has 700W power and has a good temperature range up to 500 degrees. Ideal for professional soldering applications.
SOLDERING IRON TIPS
Most soldering irons come with different types of tips with shapes and sizes. Each tip will provide different applications. Generally, iron tips are divided into two types, the Conical tip, and the Chisel tip. Conical type tips are general tip types that have a pointed cone-like shape. The soldering can be easily carried out from any angle. Other than Conical tips, Chisel tips have a larger surface area which is more likely to transfer heat from the tip to the soldering component. Chisel types are widely used for soldering thick wires.
Product review – The above product includes a soldering iron kit with 6 pcs of iron tips that are widely used in soldering tasks. The soldering iron is an adjustable temperature type one with 60 wattages. It also includes hand tools that will provide help in soldering tasks. Recommended for General Electric soldering tasks.
SOLDERING HAND TOOLS
These tools come in handy where the soldering area needs a quick fix and to adjust the soldering pattern. Normally soldering hand tools comes with a soldering kit and include scrapers, hooks, holders, clamps, and tweezers per soldering iron capability and its application.
Product review – The above product is a stainless-steel tweezer set that is useful in handling small components and details the soldering process. This tool is ideal for electric soldering fields as small detailed electric parts can be easily placed when soldering.
Soldering is a mechanical joining process that needs proper workmanship to achieve perfect joining. Keeping the perfect tool setup near your soldering application will always provide you with comfort and support in achieving excellent workmanship. The tool type you chose always depends on the specific soldering tasks and you must have proper knowledge of each tool type before implementing it. In this discussion, you have familiarized general soldering types and the conventional tools for each type of soldering process. The recommended tools in this discussion are for general soldering applications. Thus, it is always a good practice to adhere to industrial standards and requirements when buying a perfect tool for your industrial soldering applications.