If you solder, at one point you have come across "untinned" tip. So, what is this? Ok, this is when your soldering iron loses its "shining appearance" thus does not readily wet the solder anymore. That could be disgusting?
Yeah! No one would like to have that nasty experience of delayed solder melt. What's the impact of this? Once your soldering iron tip gets this way, tinning becomes a necessity.
Whatever you are trying to solder, the untinned tip does not make a good thermal conductivity. It does not merely work well. Knowing How to Tin a Soldering Iron Tip will be an ideal way to improve the tip thermal conductivity.
Step By Step Tinning A Soldering Iron Tip Guide
What is tinning and why is it important?
Now you might be having a clue on what tinning is all about. Maybe precise definition will do you no harm. Ok, tinning refers to the process where the soldering iron tip is thinly coated with tin. This is something you be involved in more regularly especially if you are involved in soldering works. It come with lots of advantages, tinning makes your iron tip to conduct heat better.
What are soldering tips made of?
Since copper is a good thermal conductor, soldering irons are predominantly made of copper metal. However, the metal would quickly dissolve upon solder application, if they were just made with copper. To stop this effects, the soldering iron tips are often iron plated. This is usually a very thin coat, and much care should be put into consideration when cleaning the tip especially when using anything abrasive to clean the tip.
In case the tip oxidizes or accumulation of the flux burnt, you will not be able to solder appropriately, therefore cleaning the tip more regularly is advised. But, how we do clean the tip?
Cleaning a Soldering Iron Tip
Tinning the soldering iron tip should be done on the clean tip. Traditionally, the tip was kept clean by dabbing it into a wet sponge. This is often integrated into soldering station stand. Apart from removing flux off, it also helped in cleaning the excess solder. However, this not necessary now. With proper tinning, you can still achieve the same quality and better soldering experience.
Tinning the Tip
Tinning your tip is quite simple, all you need is to apply some new solder on a clean soldering iron tip. After that, the rosin in the solder will flux hence enabling the solder to take to the tip. The result is a shiny "appearance" at the tip leaving it bright and silvery. Please make it a practice to apply a little solder at the tip when you are done with your soldering works before turning your soldering iron off for storage.
How to Tin a Copper Wire
In tinning two wires, you need to apply the tip of your iron to the wire for a short time, say one or two seconds. Then, to the wire, apply the solder. In most cases, the solder freely flows onto the wire coating it. It is quite a simple process; even if it is stranded wire, the solder will flow and fill the wire. If a little ball has been formed due to too much solder on the wire, you might need to snip the end off.
You should be very cautious not to apply to much heat since the heat will start to melt the insulation. The insulation may shrink back on a cheaper cable when too much heat is applied. After tinning the wire, you can cut it. However, it appropriates just not to overheat it.
It takes a longer time than usual to tin larger copper wires. Therefore, you can use a soldering iron at higher temperatures.
Proper care and maintenance of the soldering tip not only increases soldering production but also reduces solder joint failures. Nearly all soldering iron tips are iron-plated. For you to maximize service using iron plated copper, it has to start by properly maintain the iron tip on your end.
As you now know, the most common causes of tip failures are highly contributed by the protective layer of the solder thus making the tip to be oxidized. This is often referred to as "de-tinned". Rather simple, a state where the tip cannot accept the solder to efficiently transfer the heat to the metals or wires to conjoined.
To avoid these problems in future, you should take care of the soldering tip and avert causes that might lead to a de-tinned state of your soldering iron tip. So, what are the major causes of "de-tinned"? Many might ask themselves this question. Well, it caused by various factors.
- Failure to cover the soldering tip with little solder during storage or idling time.
- Oxidation speeds up when operating at high temperatures. If possible maintain the temperature of 800°F (427°C), or less.
- Use of tiny solder wire for its small diameter carries low flux to keep the tip tinned.
- Lack of flux in the soldering operation. Use of no-clean fluxes and low-residue fluxes.
- The solder used with low tin content.
- Using wick, repairing and touch-up.
- Instead of a wet cellulose sponge, one can use dry sponges, human-made sponges, rags, paper towels, or metal wool in wiping the tips.
Finally, tinning a soldering tip is one the best way to revive the thermal conductivity of your soldering tip. However, when your tip gets dirty so fast, sometimes you may be forced to purchase a tip and tinners.
It is highly effective in ensuring that your soldering tip is adequately tinned and maintained. Why not give it a try?
There are also other cleaning pastes that have proven to be stronger flux that will help you in tinning and cleaning the tip.