Soldering Tips and Tricks: Tip Repair

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Soldering Tips and Tricks: Tip Repair

The tip is the part of the common soldering iron (http://www.amazon.com/iCooker-Soldering-Iron-Watt-Solder/dp/B01774KARE) that comes into direct contact with the workspace while soldering. Most of these are usually made of iron and at times steel plated. The continued use and probably misuse of a soldering iron results in damaged tips that are less effective and if continued often results in non functional tips. However, there are easy ways to maintain the working state of a soldering iron tip. Some of these include:

Use of sandpaper

This is a cheap yet very effective method of restoring soldering tips to previous working conditions. After sometime, tips become covered in solder or metal oxides. This prevents heat from transferring from the thermostat to the tip as intended. Brushing your tip against grained sandpaper removes these coatings revealing a shiny coating as was in the new tip. Depending on the nature of the solder or oxide coating, grind the tip against the sandpaper until you are satisfied that a sufficient surface of the tip has been restored. Once this is done, it is necessary to test the effectiveness of the results by wrapping solder around the tip and heating it to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The solder in a clean and perfectly-working tip should melt and stick to the tip. If this isn’t the case, go back to the sandpaper grinding step and redo all steps.

Use of a brass sponge

This is among the most effective to maintain and restore a soldering iron tip to desired working conditions. It is very straightforward and to use and only requires gentle brushes of the brass sponge against the tip. Unlike regular sponges, the brass sponge does not have the undesirable effects caused by humidity. Cool sponges cause spontaneous cooling that eventually damages the tip.

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Summary of Basic First Aid Procedures for Soldering Hazards

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Summary of Basic First Aid Procedures for Soldering Hazards

The risks of sustaining physical injury while soldering are quite a number ranging from accidental fires, electrical shocks, fume ingestions, skin irritation and eye irritation among others. Having knowledge of a few first aid skills is important. The common ones include:

Minor burns: Sooth the burn. This is the first step in dealing with minor burns and often involves the use of a dampened cloth or cool running water. Clean any broken blister and use pain-killers that can be purchased over the counter. See a doctor for persistent symptoms.

Major Burns: Soldering rarely results in major burns unless the direct cause of the burns is a fire arising from soldering activities. If this happens, get the person to a safe place, get rid of all restrictive clothing and avoid the use of cold water while all the time monitoring their vital signs. Call emergency services for all major burns.

Electrical shock: The extent to which an electrical shock affects a person is dependent on various factors. These include the person’s health, voltage, type of current, time of exposure and the reaction time. Most mild electrical shocks, such as those in household soldering rarely leave marks on the body. However, large currents can cause visible burns on the body and worse still lead to internal organ failure. First aid for shock will involve cutting off contact with the power source, checking for vital signs, administering CPR if necessary and getting the faulty power system repaired.

Fume ingestion: These include rosin and lead fumes. If these come into contact with skin or eyes, wash thoroughly with soap and running water. If ingested, get rid of the source of lead and rosin, ensure a balanced diet and in extreme cases, you may require to undergo a Chelation therapy.

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Metals Used in Soldering: Silver

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Metals Used in Soldering: Silver

Silver is a soft, whitish metal that has the best electrical and thermal conductivity and also the best reflectivity among metals. These characteristics have made silver ideal for a variety of uses over a wide range of industries. In soldering, silver is used as an alloy with other metals to form solder that portrays among the highest liquidus of any solder. Silver, in its pure form has a melting point of about 1,863 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it generally unsuitable for low-temperature soldering activities. However, it’s widely used in brazing and wielding and forms some of the best and strangest soldering joints available.

In its common use, silver is soldered as an alloy of copper, zinc or cadmium. However, other metals such as tin are also used through rarely due to the effect on the tensile strength of their joints. Processes such as silver brazing make use of capillary action to form exceptionally strong joints that bind metals together. The filler metal, once it has reached flow combines with the base metal of the surface being soldered and cools forming a metallurgical link that holds the metals together.

Similar to all soldering processes, the surface to be soldered must be well cleaned and fluxed to reduce oxidation. The exception to using silver solder is the relatively high liquidus that calls for higher temperatures and equipment. For example, a typical silver-based alloy will reach liquidus at above 800 degrees Fahrenheit thus requiring more heat to work with than other common solders such as those of lead. However, large scale jobs often benefit from the high liquidus in that it results in joints way stronger and durable than can be found with the use of any other alloy. However, the required temperature often discourages the use of silver solder in small scale.

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