Author Topic: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?  (Read 22588 times)

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Offline TheAmmoniacal

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Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« on: May 04, 2014, 11:34:42 am »
I bought a small and handy 25W solering iron by Weller, model SP25N, it's very nice and ergonomic, the LED lights on it also makes quite a difference in my dark and sad room. The soldering iron came with the usual rounded tip, which after 2 weeks of normal use looked like this:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15526481/pic9/IMG_3393.jpg

I've never experienced this with other soldering tips, this one seemed to literally dissolve slowly in the molten tin. But I didn't have a wet sponge or a copper wool for cleaning, and I was using lead-free solder. I thought it had just been mistreated, and I didn't care much for it as I'm no fan of the rounded-tip shape. So I ordered a new set of soldering tips (MT2), this time the chisel shaped one. I also decided to buy a new stand for my iron, with a sponge and wool, I also got some proper solder (63/37). But again, the tip began to dissolve or disintegrate, this is how my tip looked like just an hour ago:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15526481/pic9/IMG_3396.jpg

And after soldering two diodes and four caps on a veroboard:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15526481/pic9/IMG_3395.jpg

How is this happening? Is the Weller tips just of a very poor quality/alloy? Should I just expect to keep burning tips or should I get a new brand of irons?
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 11:36:39 am by TheAmmoniacal »
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Offline amyk

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2014, 12:12:59 pm »
:o That shouldn't happen, even the cheap Hakko clone tips last longer than a few joints!

What sort of flux are you using?
 

Offline sleemanj

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2014, 12:28:54 pm »
Jeepers.  I can only imagine that you must be using some incredibly powerful acid plumbers flux or something.

Flux for electronics is simply pine rosin with some various agents to make it into a useful consistency, it just removes oxidation, helps wetting. 

Plumbers flux is an acidic paste to eat away at the surface of pipes, it's not for electronics.
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Offline liquibyte

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2014, 12:48:55 pm »
My MT-1's do that.  When it happens, I put the thing in a drill chuck and file it back to a point and finish off with a couple of grits of ever finer sandpaper.  I can greatly extend the life of a tip this way, otherwise it's too expensive.  If the flux is causing this, then blame Radio Shack because that's where I get it.  Personally I think Weller is doing this on purpose myself.  I sent them an email quite a few months back about how to extend the life of these tips and got no response.  If I ever buy another soldering iron, because of that response, it won't be a Weller.
 

Offline Neverther

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2014, 12:52:21 pm »
Looks like stickwelder, sure its not faulty and depositing the tip on to the joints via electrolysis? :-DD
 

Offline gaijin

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2014, 01:12:58 pm »
Tips are usually plated copper.
If the plating is damaged the copper will alloy with your solder eroding your tip.
Metcal had some pdfs on extending tip life.
http://www.okinternational.com/metcal/english/globalnavigation/applications/hand-soldering/extending-tip-life
 

Offline grumpydoc

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2014, 01:14:43 pm »
Copper bits dissolve in tin/lead solder, just a fact of life. The Weller's bit will be iron plated copper, the iron plating is there to stop the bit dissolving but if it is breached then the bit will start to dissolve.

Filing the bit will extend its life, in fact before iron plating bits was common this was done all the time.

Quote
Plumbers flux is an acidic paste to eat away at the surface of pipes, it's not for electronics.
Usually true, but not universally so. I have a tin of "plumbers" flux but which is very clearly colophony based - I do use it (sparingly) for electronics and it's fine.

EDIT: I've just re-read the original post and realised I didn't really notice the timescale you were talking about. Yikes, yes you do have a problem somewhere - that first picture looked like the tip of my 25W Weller but the one I've had in the iron 25 years (OK, that iron doesn't get used all that much).

Iron overheating, too aggressive a flux and physical damage to the tip - or possibly all three spring to mind.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 01:21:55 pm by grumpydoc »
 

Offline TheAmmoniacal

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2014, 01:26:48 pm »
:o That shouldn't happen, even the cheap Hakko clone tips last longer than a few joints!

What sort of flux are you using?

I'm only relying on the multicore flux in the solder itself, I've used the same for a long time with another soldering iron and I haven't seen any problems on that tip.
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Offline liquibyte

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2014, 01:48:47 pm »
I'm only relying on the multicore flux in the solder itself, I've used the same for a long time with another soldering iron and I haven't seen any problems on that tip.
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062715

Good solder, the tips just suck.  Failure by design?
 

Offline sleemanj

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2014, 02:13:10 pm »
I'm only relying on the multicore flux in the solder itself

Well that seems fine.

Ummm.  I'm completely at a loss on that.  For such a massive destruction of the tip as appears shown in the second image in what you say is just a few joints... I just can't imagine.

Maybe the photo is presenting an illusion, but it looks like it's literally eaten a chunk out of the middle of the tip.

If it was me, I'd be getting on to Weller about it, Weller is supposed to be a respected brand.


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Offline Jeroen3

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2014, 02:16:53 pm »
Are you soldering on 500 C or something?
 

Offline liquibyte

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2014, 02:18:13 pm »
If it was me, I'd be getting on to Weller about it, Weller is supposed to be a respected brand.
I sent them an email quite a few months back about how to extend the life of these tips and got no response.  If I ever buy another soldering iron, because of that response, it won't be a Weller.
You don't have enough money for them to care.  I tried.
 

Offline gaijin

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2014, 04:04:02 pm »
The iron posted is nonadjustable at 400C.
Did a quick search and it looks like your not the only one having issues with this iron and tips.
It's looking like Weller's "hobbyist grade" irons/tips are terrible.

If your going to be soldering a lot I think it would be worth going with a new iron if possible a temperature controlled station.
 

Offline liquibyte

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2014, 04:27:12 pm »
Mine's the SP23L, basically the same thing without the LED's.  I do think my next iron will be a temp controlled something or another but it won't be a Weller.  It solders a joint fast if it's at full temperature and that's great.  I have nothing against Weller irons themselves but if I ask a question through their site and get no response at all, not even an acknowledgement, then I'll take my business elsewhere.  This is indicative of the overall attitude from companies lately it seems.
 

Offline saturation

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2014, 04:33:43 pm »


Sorry to see, but those pics are typical of tip wear, given the time frame, its accelerate wear.

Avoid temp unregulated irons, unless you expect to discarded it after one project.  I keep temp unregulated irons in my emergency toolkit because they are dirt cheap, lightweight, and I don't do solder repairs often.  You'll get as good performance as this Weller with a no-name brand or a Velleman brand iron, they run in the USA between $5-15.

If you want a truly portable iron, there are new models that are fully hand held with temp regulation built in such as the Hakko FX600 or 601.

Although the tips are plated, poorly done ones are uneven so it wear out faster at the thin end, leaving it open to erosion.  That "U" shaped erosion at the tip is typical of poor tips, excessive heat [>= 400C] and probably high pressure placed on the tip against the item to be soldered [ the tip platings soften at high temps and are more susceptible to physical scouring, accelerating wear further].

Grumpdoc's link covers all the tech details and you can find more in the archives on soldering.

FWIW I have soldering tips over 10 years old that get used monthly, and look nearly new, follow the 'life extending' tips suggestion linked, but in addition I keep my station at 300C or less and no more than 350C as its adequate for nearly all SMT and through hole work.  Shut or lower the station temprather than let it idle between use, as high heat kills tips.

For large ground planes, I use a cheaper unregulated iron that I can sacrifice, yet still has its original tips.  A single no-name station in the USA with tip cost less than a single true Hakko tip.

 
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 04:38:26 pm by saturation »
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Offline AmmoJammo

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2014, 09:08:42 pm »
Sorry to see, but those pics are typical of tip wear, given the time frame, its accelerate wear.


Normal wear? he said he soldered "two diodes and four caps" with the second tip... and it looks brand new to me, besides the crater in the tip!
 

Offline Tac Eht Xilef

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2014, 09:41:49 pm »
Sorry to see, but those pics are typical of tip wear, given the time frame, its accelerate wear.


Normal wear? he said he soldered "two diodes and four caps" with the second tip... and it looks brand new to me, besides the crater in the tip!

When I was young & poor I used to turn down copper billet offcuts into tips for my Weller iron. Even unplated pure copper lasted much longer than that - I'm talking days, not joints!

Yeah, that's not "normal" tip wear by any stretch. Well, maybe if it's idling at 600~700oC...

(I know, I know, once the cladding is breached iron-clad tips wear much quicker than straight copper tips. Still, the cladding should last months, not minutes...)
 

Online IanB

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2014, 09:52:30 pm »
The pictures don't look right.

In the first picture, the whole iron seems to be corroded and oxidized right up to the handle.

In the second picture the tip does not look right. Normally the tip would be a different color from the main shaft of the iron due to the fabrication process, and it would be pre-tinned.

In the third picture with the cavity in the tip, where is the solder? In none of the pictures is there any sign of solder or tinning.

Everything about this just looks completely wrong.
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Offline nanofrog

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2014, 09:57:03 pm »
FWIW, Weller's QC has been terrible over the last 8 years at least, and I've had issues with tips in another series' as well (LT series in particular).  :-- Specifically, the plating is poorly done (thin and not adhered well), causing premature  wear. Seems those from Mexico and Bosnia are the ones you have to watch; German and Japanese manufactured tips don't seem to have these issues.

But I must admit, even the bad ones I've gotten aren't to the extent the OP is describing in that short a period of time (assuming everything is on the level and proper materials and procedures are being used).
 

Offline echen1024

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2014, 10:39:45 pm »
I had a Weller "Firecracker" that lasted me a few years. I think my tip ended up looking like that, only because I was little then and every time I needed to clean off the tip, I would use an utility knife and scrape the crud off.
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Offline Sbampato12

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2014, 11:51:17 pm »
I don't know much about the 'low cost' unregulated solder irons from Weller.
But I have a Weller solder stations (WD1) and for my hobby I had it about 5 to 6 years, and didn't need to change a tip. I have two solder irons one is the WMP for the SMDs and a bigger one, wich I can't remember the code, and they still with the original tips.
And on my previous work, and my actual one, we have Weller stations too. The tips last more than a year, on low use, but at least turned on one time a day.

I saw a low cost solder station on the electronics fair, wich is being manufactured in china, they look worse then the Germany ones, but not like this tips showed.

The tips on my Weller like someone told before were made in Japan an Germany. But I don't think this is the cause of this problem.
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2014, 12:49:59 am »
But I have a Weller solder stations (WD1) and for my hobby I had it about 5 to 6 years, and didn't need to change a tip. I have two solder irons one is the WMP for the SMDs and a bigger one, wich I can't remember the code, and they still with the original tips.
And on my previous work, and my actual one, we have Weller stations too. The tips last more than a year, on low use, but at least turned on one time a day.

I saw a low cost solder station on the electronics fair, wich is being manufactured in china, they look worse then the Germany ones, but not like this tips showed.

The tips on my Weller like someone told before were made in Japan an Germany. But I don't think this is the cause of this problem.
I've the same station (WD1), and run both the WMP and WSP80 irons. Zero problems with the NT series tips for the WMP (tip COO = Japan).

It's the LT series I've had a few issues with (tip COO = Bosnia). Not with every tip, just some, that the plating was thin and came off of the tip. In one case, plating was so bad, it was flaking off before it was ever removed from the baggie it came in. Only the bad ones have been tossed (~3 out of 10), all others are original when I bought the station in 2008, and used when needed (most still look like new, a couple haven't ever been used). Never ran into this with prior Weller stations.

Other's have indicated they have had similar issues with these (LT series) on occasion here in the EEVBlog forum (and others).

Reports of those made in Germany, such as the RT series (and newer series' for the irons used with the WX stations), aren't indicating any issues. Have heard and read of issues with those made in Mexico (along with the stations) FWIW, but haven't had direct experience.
 

Offline Dago

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2014, 04:20:53 am »
I had this happen with a Weller WHS40 tip that came with the station. It lasted a few hours.

The weird thing is that tips bought afterwards (from Weller) worked fine and did not exhibit this behaviour :-//
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Offline TheAmmoniacal

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2014, 08:20:24 am »
The pictures don't look right.

In the first picture, the whole iron seems to be corroded and oxidized right up to the handle.

In the second picture the tip does not look right. Normally the tip would be a different color from the main shaft of the iron due to the fabrication process, and it would be pre-tinned.

In the third picture with the cavity in the tip, where is the solder? In none of the pictures is there any sign of solder or tinning.

Everything about this just looks completely wrong.

Just to address your comments. Yes, the iron is oxidized almost all the way up to the handle, but it's not corroded in any way. It just appears a lot darker in the photo. Both the solder iron and the tips are silver-metallic in color, and they both get that black-blue-yellow tinge to it after maybe an hour of use. The solder don't adhere very well to the tips, which makes it very easy to wipe off on the wet sponge. That's simply what I did, wiped it off before taking the pictures.

These are original tips by Weller made in Germany, I'll see if the same problem persists with more of these tips (bought 6).
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Offline TheAmmoniacal

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Re: Dissolving soldering tips by Weller?
« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2014, 09:17:19 am »
I'm not a very experienced solder, so I'll follow the links and tips given and hope the tips won't keep failing like this. It was just very unusual as it hasn't happened to any other brand of soldering irons I've had. Might be the time to invest in a good station though. Thanks for the feedback.
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