SMT, PCB Electronics Industry News

New Patented Technology for Lead Free Soldering

Feb 01, 2006

The Solderite Difference

Hand Soldering Stations share 3 common elements.

1. Power Supply. This is the key to generating heat to solder.

2. Temperature Sensor. This controls the amount of heat produced to solder.

3. Soldering Tip. The tip is a replaceable metal point which makes contact with the Solder joint.

Power Supply

The first step in soldering is to create heat. This is accomplished with a power supply. The power supply is the foundation that all soldering stations have in common. The traditional power supply used in soldering systems is a transformer producing a fixed voltage of power. The maximum wattage of most of these transformers is 80 watts. If you have ever walked by a large transformer you have most likely heard a humming noise. This noise is a direct effect of the unit creating power, a by product of this noise is heat. Heat within the power supply is the chief factor for power failure. Highly efficient power does not produce noise. It is essential to point out the efficiency of this type of power supply, as the soldering station can only be as efficient as the power it generates.

The Solderite difference

Solderite products use a switching power supply. The high efficiency and compact design of this power supply revolutionized the aeronautical industry. The switching power supply is not a fixed voltage system. The unit is capable of sending only the amount of power that is required to perform the function required. The switching power supply in Solderite products can deliver up to 115 watts, our competition averages 80 watts. This compact power supply delivers a very clean stream of power with minimal noise. The characteristics of this power supply are dependable, clean energy which runs cool avoiding thermal breakdown. The utilization of clean dependable power is the first factor which separates Solderite from other Soldering Stations.

Temperature Sensor

A sensor is a device that that senses a difference. If a noise sensor is placed in a very noisy room it must be adjusted above the noise level or it will continually stay turned on. A noise sensor placed in a very quite room can be adjusted to turn on at the slightest sound, and then turn off.

All other soldering stations employ a sensor near the tip of the soldering iron, which is constantly surrounded by energy created from the power supply. The traditional use of a transformer to create this energy has hampered the ability to finely tune the sensor to the slightest change. The noise created by the power supply must be compensated for, thus the sensor can only be tuned to sense anything above this background noise.

Solderite products employ a switching power supply that creates very minimal noise as compared to a transformer allowing for a finely tuned the sensor. Although most manufactures would consider this a success, the designers of Solderite products did not stop there. The energy created by the Switching power supply is not sent directly to the tip. The energy is sent through our patented system where the energy is converted into a digital format. The energy is now even cleaner and more efficient, allowing the sensor to be finely tuned to the slightest change.

The result of this is reflected in the fastest response time in the industry. Upon the tip coming in contact with the solder joint Solderite products can deliver up to 115 watts in .05 seconds. Our competitors average 80 watts in a couple of seconds. The other benefit is the temperature recovery time. When the soldering tip comes into contact with a cool surface (room temperature) the temperature of the tip drops. This drop in temperature increase the time to solder the connection. Our competition boasts of an average temperature drop of 70 degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature drop of Solderite products is 30 degrees Celsius. The fastest response time and an unparalleled rapid temperature recovery is yet another factor that separates us from our competition.

Soldering Tips

Soldering tips are a reoccurring cost of all soldering stations share. Soldering tips wear out with use and must be replaced. The implementation of lead free solder which manufactures must comply with in July 2006 make the cost and efficiency of soldering tip an essential consideration of the soldering station. Lead Free solder requires a higher temperature to reach its eutectic point. Additionally, lead-free solder is also more corrosive. These 2 factors combined cut the life of the average soldering tip in half thereby increasing usage costs. Clearly, in addition to solder quality, consideration in selecting soldering stations is soldering tip replacement cost and life expectancy.

1. Life expectancy

The number one factor in tip breakdown is heat. The melting point of lead-free solder is 217�a C. This high temperature combined with the corrosive properties of lead free solder will reduce the life of an average soldering tip in half. All Solderite tips undergo a process where the tip is covered with an electroplated coating that will withstand temperatures up to 400�a C. This far exceeds the required lead-free soldering temperatures.

A common occurrence in the work place is that the operator of the soldering station will increase the temperature on the soldering station in order to compensate for the slow response and recovery time associated with other soldering stations. This excessive heat also reduces the life of the tip. The efficiency of the Solderite systems allows the operator to maintain a temperature just above the melting point of the solder. The efficient nature of the Solderite station combined with the electroplated tips is a proven formula to increase tip life.

2. Replacement cost

The average life of a soldering tip in a manufacturing setting is one to two weeks. This average is based on standard lead solder. The implementation of lead-free solder cuts this in half. The replacement cost for soldering tips for the manufacture has now doubled in most cases. The replacement cost of soldering tips varies from $8.00 to $50.00. The most common systems used in manufacturing average close to $20.00. A manufacture who now is replacing tips twice a week after implementing lead free solder is now spending $40.00 dollars a week, he has 10 stations in his plant. $400.00 dollars a week times 52 weeks equals over twenty thousand dollars a year. All Solderite systems have been designed to handle the challenges of lead free solder including the tips. The replacement cost of Solderite tips averages $12. The replacement cost has already been cut in half. The additional benefit of the special electroplated protective coating has not yet been considered. In many cases the life of the solderite tips is one week. The life of the tip in any case can not be given an exact value. The combination of the operator keeping the tip clean and the diverse range of fluxes used are immeasurable variables that can not be compensated for. However in the average scenario the manufacturer replacement cost has decreased dramatically. Let us review the same case now using Solderite Soldering Stations. A manufacture who now is replacing tips once a week after implementing lead free solder is now spending $10.00 dollars a week, he has 10 stations in his plant. $100.00 dollars a week times 52 weeks equals just over five thousand dollars. The manufacture has now cut his replacement cost by 75%

The Solderite Difference

1. Efficient, Dependable 115 Watt Power Supply vs. Traditional 80 Watt Transformer

2. Finely tuned Temperature Sensor Provides the fastest response time and quickest temperature recovery on the market today.

3. Tip replacement cost which can save manufactures up to 75% vs. Standard Soldering Stations.

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