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A Guide To The Components Of A Soldering Iron

A Guide To The Components Of A Soldering Iron

A regular soldering iron is made up of various components. Modern soldering irons have relatively more parts and components mostly geared towards efficiency and safety improvements. We look at the basic parts of an average soldering iron.

Thermostat- In soldering, a thermostat switches of the heater once the preset temperature is reached and avoids further rise in temperature. This addresses the weakness in common soldering pencils that lack any kind of temperature control. For the common pencil iron, the tool stays heated for as long as it is connected to a power source. Extreme exposure to power could eventually cause it to burn. This is the primary reason why temperature-controlled soldering irons are preferred over ones without.

Filament- This is the part that converts electrical energy into heat. The filament is basically a heating element made of a very high resistance wire that heats when electrical current passes through it.

Tip- This is the small, sharp end of a soldering iron. Tips usually vary in size, shape, and in some case the material. There are three main tip shapes, bevel, conical and chisel shapes. The type of tip you will use depends on the requirement s of the task in hand.

Power cord- The power cord is the strip of wire that feeds power to the soldering iron. These vary in size and type depending on the manufacturer. Power cords are usually insulated and contain anything between two to five wires inside, again depending on the specific brand.

Handle- This is an insulated part of the soldering iron that is held while in operation. The handle is usually made of plastic or rubber to prevent any form of electrical conductivity that would otherwise pose risks of electrical shocks to the operator.

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Modern Soldering Methods

Modern Soldering Methods

Like any other industry, the soldering industry has evolved constantly over time and has witnessed the introduction of new methods, techniques and tools. Some of the most notable improvements include resistance soldering, laser soldering, ultrasonic soldering and fiber-focus soldering.

Resistance soldering: This is done using a resistance soldering iron, a relatively rare tool. This involves passing a high-amperage current safely through an element of high resistance that provides very high but controllable heat used in soldering. The necessary conditions to using resistance soldering include an inbuilt step-down transformer, a resistive material which will produce the required heat and a complete electrical circuit.

Laser soldering: Laser soldering one of the more recent techniques that have the potential to replace regular soldering. In the laser technique, a laser beam from a laser soldering iron is used to illuminate leads which then emits heat and raises the temperature of the material to melting point. At this stage, solder is applied, melts and seals joints, crack and holes within or along the leads.

Ultrasonic soldering: Ultrasonic soldering relies on an effect known as cavitation. This arises when ultrasonic waves are applied to liquids. This effect releases a lot of energy within a very short time. This energy is used to remove the oxide layer from these elements that have very low solderability such as magnesium. Once the oxide layer is removed, there is no further need of flux application since the metal becomes fully solderable.

Fiber-focus soldering: This is perhaps the most advanced and the most complicated soldering technique. Basically, it involves passing infrared rays from various sources through a fiber elements and then focusing all these rays onto a single spot where the solder is applied and the materials bond. Infrared waves are used in heating in many industries such as aviation, kitchen appliances and spas. Fiber-focus soldering is however the least implemented of all available soldering techniques.

 

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Terms And Abbreviations

Terms And Abbreviations

There are various common terms and abbreviations used in soldering. This guide explains in brief the common ones of these. They include:

Soldering- Soldering can be described as the general process through which a filler metal (solder) is used to join pieces of metal or other components together. There are various types of methods depending on the technique, tools and methods used.

PCB- This stands for printed circuit board. It’s basically a board that has copper tracks laid onto it to transmit electric current. The board holds components together such as transistors and resistors.

SMT- Stands for surface mount technology. Surface mount technology allows soldering of components directly onto the surface of the PCB without the need to pass leads through the board. Surface-mounted components are becoming more and more common due to the obvious shortcomings associated with the use of through-hole soldering.

Desoldering- By the most basic definition, desoldering could be describes as the opposite of soldering. It is basically undoing what soldering does. While joints and bonds are created through soldering, they are undone through desoldering. This often happens as a result of mistakes made while soldering.

Soldering gun- A soldering gun is in essence an electrically-operated soldering iron shaped like a gun and uses the trigger to transfer and control heat transfer. A soldering gun is usually used in situations where the soldering needed requires more heat than can be supplied by a soldering iron. Soldering guns have a wattage ranging from 100 to 220 watts of power.

Cold solder joint- In soldering, a cold joint is the point of a bond formed by molten solder that did not melt fully or as required. Cold joints can be caused by a wide range of factors including incorrect soldering temperatures, poor contact between the solder and iron tip and use of poor quality solder.

 

 

 

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