Polishing bars are similiar to tip tinners but they should only be used in a properly controlled environment such as a tool crib area. They should also only be used when the tip is at room temperature. Due to the silicones and resins used to bind the polishing media to the bar, using the bar on a heated tip can contaminate the tips’ working surface. Lightly brush the surface of the polishing bar over the area of the tip. Use caution so you don’t take off more iron plating that necessary.
Cleaning soldering tips is just one easy way to extend the life of your tips. For sometime now, the preferred cleaning method has been to rub the soldering tip on a damp sponge after each use. Many people still use this method, but because of the introduction of lead-free solders, more and more people are switching to dry tip cleaning systems.
First off, lead-free solders contain fluxes that are more active than the fluxes in leaded solders. The active fluxes can significantly shorten the life of a soldering tip by causing oxidation and corrosion. Using a wet sponge can shorten the life span of a soldering tip even more by thermally shocking the tip, barrel and heater (This can be seen in the photo above).
Of course Weller has developed two dry tip cleaners. Yes, they aren’t a new release for Weller but they are worth pointing out.
WDC: stand alone dry tip cleaning system.
WDC2: dry cleaner that fits into WDH10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 stands
*The new WD1002T soldering station even comes with the WDC2
Advantages of using both the WDC and the WDC2:
- Gently cleans soldering tips with special metal wool ball
- The cleaners will remove oxidation but leave a thin layer of tinning on the tip to prevent fast oxidation of the iron layer
- Because this is a dry tip cleaner, the tip will remain the same temperature during the cleaning process, avoiding thermal shock
- Using either cleaner will prolong the wettability of the tip when using water soluble flux
- The WDC is ESD-safe
A dull, gray tip is an indication that the soldering tip is not being tinned. The appearance is created by surface oxidation, which can only occur when the tip does not have a coat of solder protecting the working surface of the soldering tip.
Proper Tinning Practices:
· Always keep a thin, fresh coat of solder on the working surface of the soldering tip
· Avoid wiping the tip clean before placing it back into the iron stand. This is by far the single most common contributor to tip surface oxidation, but is also the easiest to fix. Leave the solder that is already on the tip in place and then wipe the tinning off the tip when preparing to use the soldering iron again, but immediately replenish it with a fresh layer. This assists in keeping the tip protected but also transfers the heat from the tip to the work being performed. A “dry” soldering tip cannot properly transfer heat (just as cooking in a pot without water, the solder and water act as the thermal medium for transferring heat).
On Thursday, July 31, OK International will host a webinar titled “Unlocking the myths of heating technology. A practical tutorial.”
Who: This webinar is designed to benefit a variety of people including assembly operators, product line supervisors, operations managers, engineers and anyone interested in heat technology.
What: Using audio, video and slides, this webinar will provide an interactive webcast. OK International’s soldering expert Ed Zamborsky will give you the best practices to increase productivity, product reliability and yield by effective soldering. Plus OKi will talk about their SmartHeat technology and it’s precise temperature control.
When: Thursday, July 31 at 2 p.m. EDT
Where: Online through your browser
Visit the OKi website to to learn more and register for this free webinar.
Tip tinners can cause premature degradation of tips when used too often. The aggressive nature of the fluxes used in tip tinners can contribute to short life expectancy of tips. Use tip tinners/activators when a tip is beginning to exhibit signs of non-wetting, but do not use them to repeatedly re-tin the tips. Many companies use tip tinner in a controlled tool crib environment where tip maintenance can be performed properly without inflicting unnecessary damage to the tip.
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