Author Topic: How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?  (Read 1816 times)

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Offline DDunfield

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How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?
« on: April 20, 2018, 06:36:40 pm »
A while back I decided to supplement my ancient Weller and slightly less ancient Edsyn soldering stations with a Hakko FX-888D

I also ordered an variety pack of tips from a company called "Tecke" (via Amazon). Although 900 series tips are cheaper and reported to fit the 888D, having done a bit of research and discovering that there are physical differences which may affect operation, I ponied up for a more expensive set of tips which specifically stated that they were T-18 tips as spec'ed for the FX-888D.

They appear to be decent quality tips, but... I'm not convinced they are actually T-18 tips.

I had read that the main differences is that the 900 series tips have a cavity for the heater which is a couple mm  longer and has a slightly larger inside diameter.

Comparing the Tecke tips to the T-18 supplied with the FX-888D I find that the heater cavity is a couple mm longer and have a slightly larger inside diameter.

In the attached photo, the tip on the left is my original Hakko tip, and the one on the right is a Tecke tip.
The RED line on the rod at the bottom shows how far it can be inserted into the Hakko tip, and the BLACK  line shows the distance into the Tecke tip.
The tapered rod at the top has a RED line where the Hakko fully contacts it, and a BLACK line where the Tecke fully contacts it.

Trying to decide if this is just poorly made fakes, allowable tolerance in the T-18 specification (which I can't find), or if Tecke decided that they could sell clone 900 series tips for more by calling them T-18 tips (meaning I should complain).

I don't have an actual 900 series tip to compare it to. Perhaps if someone here has both, they could take a look and give an opinion?

Dave
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2018, 10:37:32 pm »
The most important improvement in T18 is the thickness of the base of the tip. If you put calipers on it, the 900M tip is 1/4" in diameter. Exactly 0.250". The T18 tips are 0.267" in diameter. This allows for more copper filling for better thermal coupling between heater/sensor and the working tip of the iron.

My eyeball calipers say your generic tips are roughly as thick as T18; the difference would be very obvious if the clone were only 1/4". The original form of the 900M also have an obvious taper/bevel around the base which your tips are lacking. This looks like a clone tip that has deviated from either spec. Maybe as an improvement, having the thickness of a T18 tip but retaining the length of a 900M tip? Certainly, I can't see that making the tip barrel/cavity a smidge longer would decrease performance, here, but I don't know what the inside of the Hakko heater looks like... I suppose the extra 1 or 2mm could end up dissipating heat rather than collecting it. The hole being larger/looser though? That is a drawback - possibly a compromise so that it works with all clone stations (reduces customer support costs!). But another factor is cost for making new dies/molds. Even if you're an expert in all the processes, it is very difficult to predict the final dimensions down to micrometers. And making new dies and samples can cost tens of thousands. In general, the clones will usually err in being slightly loose for completely practical cost reasons. If it's even slightly too tight, it's garbage. I only have 1 genuine 900M tip (I hope it's genuine; $20.00 shipped from Japan, lol), and it's only slightly looser than the T18 tips. I have a couple Plato brand 900M tips, and they are noticeably looser, yet. ALL of these 900M tips, genuine included, have noticeably lower thermal performance than genuine T18 tips.


But the real story is how much copper did they stuff in there? Does their process leave air pockets/gaps between the copper and iron layers. Is the iron layer consistent in thickness. Is the iron alloy wettable and resistant to oxidation as the real deal. Is the chrome plating as durable. Is the tip solidly constructed and brazed to prevent separation and oxidation of the copper inside through thousands of heat cycles?

If your clone tips aren't performing well, it could be as much to do with what you can't see as what you can actually inspect and measure. The more accurately you can cast and mill the iron jacket (possibly adding time/cost), the more copper you can stuff in there without leading to structural failures. The iron alloy is very important, too. It's a compromise between structural strength and stiffness*, thermal conductivity, wettability, corrosion resistance at high temp, how it casts or MIM's, machinability, and how well chrome can be plated to it. Hakko tips are well regarded for wetting like they just can't stop and for lasting a long time.

*I read of a guy dropping his [other big name] iron, and the tip bent 45 degrees. I've dropped my 1.5mm bevel tip which point down, and I just curled the lip of the tip on the very point. I pushed it back and still using it. It is a TFO, and the chrome didn't even crack or flake beyond a tiny spot lost right at the deformation. A cheaper tip (like my clone T12 tips) would have a huge crack and area of delamination/flaking.

In short, there are a lot of compromises in a tip. And a lot of processes involved. It is easy to copy a tip, in appearance, without spending all the time that Hakko has to fine-tune and optimize every operation and even the iron alloy, itself, with eye on the end result of the sum. And it's not necessarily that Hakko decided to spend a fortune in R&D. They have been making irons so long they have the benefit of many natural iiterations of replacing tooling to fine tweak the formulas, materials sourcing, and die and machining specifications/diameters and all, along with customer feedback and complaints. The first genuine Hakko tips were probably worse than the modern clones.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2018, 11:33:06 pm by KL27x »
 

Online Shock

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Re: How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2018, 10:32:25 am »
Don't T18 tips have the model etched onto the barrel of the tip?
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM               >>> WANTED STUFF <<<
Oszilloskopen: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2018, 07:52:23 pm »
Clone tips. He knowingly purchased T18 clone tips. And he is concerned that the tips he bought might be 900M clone tips falsely advertised as T18 clone tips. Follow the bouncing ball. :)
 

Online Shock

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Re: How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2018, 11:31:38 pm »
Hang on I'll put my Chinese CSI hat on then.

Quote
...allowable tolerance in the T-18 specification (which I can't find)...

No such thing. Case solved :D.

Tips are either made by Hakko and genuine or not. As far I'm aware noone makes them under license to Hakko, so specifications are whatever they want. More than likely that Tecke guy just sources them from China in bulk.

Probably the next best thing to original Hakko T18 would be a Plato brand tip which are just as expensive as Hakko, in bulk a little cheaper.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM               >>> WANTED STUFF <<<
Oszilloskopen: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2018, 05:34:16 am »
^ Plato tips are regarded as good quality. But they copy the dimensions of the 900M tips in the length and diameter of the base.

Those tips OP posted by Tecke brand (or seller?) are the first clones I have seen that are (essentially) T18 in external dimensions. I'd say OP received what was promised.

I wonder if one of the clone manufacturer's tooling has finally worn out and been updated to T18 style.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2018, 05:56:27 am by KL27x »
 

Offline DDunfield

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Re: How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2018, 09:38:00 am »
Thanks for all the useful info.

Yeah, I knew these were clone tips - good way to try a few different styles that I've been meaning to (My ancient Weller is dedicated these days to running a very fine point homemade tip which is fairly crappy, but the only way I can deal with individual fine-pitch SMD pins - the pack has a couple of nice fine-points, a large bevel, couple of horseshoe tips etc.). For most things I will use the Hakko supplied chisel.

My cheapish caliper measure the Hakko OD at about 0.269 and the clones at about 0.265 - looks like they were intended as T-18 tips and they "got close". I expect they will work "ok", and I will probably keep them and give them a go.

Thanks again,

 

Offline bob77

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Re: How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2020, 03:00:56 pm »
The iron layer on Hakko tips (and probably any clones) is PLATED on. I'm not sure why some are commenting about casting, machining, and milling. There will be no air gaps between the copper and iron.
 

Online Shock

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Re: How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2020, 09:14:34 pm »
Firstly the OP is talking about Chinese clone tips, secondly he isn't talking about plating he is talking about the gap between the inside of the tip and the heater, which as I mentioned is a waste of time because they tips are not made under license so there is no such thing as a specification.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM               >>> WANTED STUFF <<<
Oszilloskopen: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Offline bob77

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Re: How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2020, 03:16:31 pm »
Not the OP. KL27x commented:
"Does their process leave air pockets/gaps between the copper and iron layers".
"The more accurately you can cast and mill the iron jacket".
Neither one applies to PLATED iron.
 

Online Shock

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Re: How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2020, 06:13:39 pm »
I'm sure he is aware of what plating is and will chime in. I don't know how the Chinese make their tips but you can assume it's as cheaply as possible. I saw a video a while ago showing a Chinese factory milling what looked like iron tips.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM               >>> WANTED STUFF <<<
Oszilloskopen: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: How to tell a T18 from a 900 series soldering tip?
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2020, 04:50:20 am »
I'm actually pretty tired of that one. I'll let it slide.

Oh, sorry. I agree, the iron is probably plated on there. So this post from 2 years ago, I will go ahead and correct that point.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 04:52:58 am by KL27x »
 


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