Author Topic: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip  (Read 1755 times)

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Online KL27x

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This is how soldering iron tips are manufactured.

Notice how the iron layer gets machined prior to chrome plating being added. It gets machined at the tip. It gets machined at the back.

Here you can see the flats of a knife tip getting some love on a coarse belt sander. https://youtu.be/X_HmAF6Hj2E?t=93

The chrome layer on the tips is very thin. If you avoid the chrome, you can sand the exposed iron part (the business part) of the tip as needed. With a fine paper, it takes just a few passes to remove an oxide layer. Wherever you have "shined up" the iron, it's enough. But with 1000 grit paper, you should probably win an award if you are able to sand all the way through the iron layer by hand.

My hakko tips will eventually oxidize over the coarse of year or two of high volume soldering. My preferred method of cleaning this oxide layer is with a stone file. Wipe off all the solder with a paper towel, then turn the iron off and let it cool. Shine up the part I want the solder to stick, using a fine stone file and a drop of mineral oil. Wipe off the oil and dispose; it will contain some lead. The area I opt to shine up may or may not be the entire un-chromed part of the tip. Apply solder immediately on first warm-up. Good as new.

« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 08:32:57 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline Stray Electron

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2019, 08:21:57 pm »
  My first job in electronics was installing Central Office equipment for the telephone companies.  Part of that involved wiring the equipment to the FRAME in the Frame Room with 52 pair cables.  Typically we ran several dozen 52 pair cables on every job and each of every wire was wrapped onto a terminal pin and then soldered using a 100 Watt American Beauty soldering iron. The soldering alone would take over a week. Every job meant soldering up to forty thousand of connections and would literally wear a good size dimple into the tip of the soldering iron.  I used a file to file down the tip and removed the dimple and I promptly got my ass chewed for doing so.  It was pointed out to me that the tips were solid copper and weren't supposed to filed or ground down but hammered back into shape. 

   My point is, that if you have good copper tips you should hammer them back into shape and then tin them and not file, grind or polish them.
 

Online KL27x

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2019, 08:32:10 pm »
True. There are (usually sub 20.00, mains powered, firesticks) some irons that use a solid copper tip. They are often plated with only a microscopically thin layer of nickel. You do not need to worry about how to clean this nickel when it oxidizes. It will wear right off, exposing the copper. And then the copper will oxidize. Whether you want to hammer the copper back in shape or not, you will have to remove the copper oxide before it will work properly (for another 5 minutes).

If your tips are iron plated, the iron layer is not microscopically thin. Just don't forget that the chrome layer is.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 08:38:16 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2019, 08:53:53 pm »
Interesting video.

The chrome layer on the tips is very thin. If you avoid the chrome, you can sand the exposed iron part (the business part) of the tip as needed. With a fine paper, it takes just a few passes to remove an oxide layer. Wherever you have "shined up" the iron, it's enough. But with 1000 grit paper, you should probably win an award if you are able to sand all the way through the iron layer by hand.

I would not advise using abrasives because most people would reach for something like 300 grit paper, 1000 is quite fine and not something most people would have on hand.
For sure this oxide could not have been removed with a brass brush?

Quote
In addition, fine point and slim tips cannot carry as much iron plating as blunter tips without losing their sharp profiles. Tip life can often be extended simply by selecting a blunter over sharper tip wherever possible. Resist the common tendency to pick the finest tip. Often, the blunter tip is the right tip.
Occasionally, commercial tip tinners are used during normal soldering operations for reasons of convenience. This should not be done. Commercial tip tinners are designed to restore detinned tips to working condition. They contain an abrasive, and are not meant to be used for routine tinning. The abrasive will cause excessive wear of the iron plating.
Finally, never use an abrasive material like sandpaper, emery cloth, rags, Scotch-Brite®, or dry sponges to clean a tip. Use a clean, wet sponge. If there is a buildup on the tip, you may want to use a brass brush (AC-BRUSH) to clean the buildup.

https://www.elexp.com/Images/Weller_Coping_with_Lead_Free.pdf
https://www.newark.com/pdfs/techarticles/oki-metcal/extendingTipLife.pdf

Anyone know the material removal rate of 1000 grit sandpaper? Apparently Weller tips are 150-400um iron plating (depends on tip geometry), other brands may have different amounts. 400um lasts more than twice as long as 200um, at the cost of reduced performance.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 08:56:08 pm by thm_w »
 

Online KL27x

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2019, 09:14:13 pm »
Quote
I would not advise using abrasives because most people would reach for something like 300 grit paper, 1000 is quite fine and not something most people would have on hand.
For one, that is a stupid reason.

For two, the belts sander they use at this factory for finishing looks to be 80 grit.

The problem that average Mary/Joe will have is bad eyesight and inattention to details they are unaware of. If you use a piece of sandpaper unawares, you can very easily damage the chrome. If you can see what you're doing and have some hand eye coordination, you can sand just the parts of the tip you desire. And loose sandpaper will not be the right tool, except for maybe specific types of tips like CF bevel or knife, where the working part of the tip is easily sanded without touching the chrome. If you want to remove the oxides from a conical or from the shaft part of a chisel, you need to be more specific than just spinning the tip around in a loose piece of sandpaper.

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For sure this oxide could not have been removed with a brass brush?
Iron oxides are hard. I use brass wool, and that doesn't remove the oxides.

In my garage I find a brass brush doesn't remove surface rust on steel. It will just knock off the loose stuff. Gotta use a steel brush.

150um is 5 thousandths of an inch. 400um is 15 thousandths. Do you make PCB? What are the widths of your traces?

FWIW, for cleaning oxidation (once every couple years or so) I use something like hard/translucent arkansas stone. Or a synthetic sintered ruby machinist file. These are probably in the 1000 grit range, ANSI. But I might use a coarse paper like 200-400 grit to remove any gross defects or machine marks that bother me.

Quote
Anyone know the material removal rate of 1000 grit sandpaper?
What surface area, pressure, and speed? All you need to know is that you can't ACCIDENTALLY sand by hand through 5 thousandths inch of iron plated tip. Even a fine pointy tip. Even with 200 grit sandpaper. If you make it that far, it will not be an accident. With 1000 grit sandpaper or a fine machinist stone, you could not do it on purpose unless you had several hours to kill.

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400um lasts more than twice as long as 200um, at the cost of reduced performance.
I reckon 99% of home gamers discard/replace tips for reasons other than wearing all the way through the iron layer, anyway. I've never done it, yet, unless you include a gas iron where a hole burned all the way through from the catalyst heater to the outside of the tip. Either the chrome layer gets damaged and too far gone. Or the iron oxidizes and they don't know how to clean it and they think the tip is "done." Or the chrome turns dark and they can't have that.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 09:46:44 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2019, 09:51:37 pm »
For two, the belts sander they use at this factory for finishing looks to be 80 grit.

We don't know the plating thickness of iron they are using, so the practices of this factory aren't something we can rely on.

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Iron oxides are hard. I use brass wool, and that doesn't remove the oxides.

OK, that is valid. I've personally not used more than brass wool, but I will try 1000 grit now to see if it helps with wetting.

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150um is 5 thousandths of an inch. 400um is 15 thousandths. Do you make PCB? What are the widths of your traces?

Yeah, fine for 1000 grit, but lower grits? Not sure. As you said, using sandpaper can easily damage chrome or spot sand an edge/sharp part of the tip, causing more wear there than elsewhere. Which is why it makes sense to give blanket advice for novices to not use abrasives.
 

Online KL27x

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2019, 10:04:18 pm »
Quote
Yeah, fine for 1000 grit, but lower grits? Not sure. As you said, using sandpaper can easily damage chrome or spot sand an edge/sharp part of the tip, causing more wear there than elsewhere. Which is why it makes sense to give blanket advice for novices to not use abrasives.

Notice, even with 1000 grit sandpaper, you should take care to not touch the chrome. (Unless you WANT to remove part of it.) The chrome plating is on the order of 1 thousandth, and that includes a layer of bonding metal. The chrome is probabaly less than half a thousandth, and it can easily be sanded through... Especially if there are high spots on the iron underneath. It is also hard and brittle. Any deep scratches at the edge/border will create weak spots where the chrome will start to break and flake off. 

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Which is why it makes sense to give blanket advice for novices to not use abrasives.
We have this discussion every year on the forum. People are not giving this as blanket noob advice. Many/most people take this very literally with no exceptions, due to poor understanding of what they are actually dealing with. Most of us have replaced soldering iron tips for one reason or another. I reckon very very few people have ever worn through the iron layer on a tip. The tip would be very misshapen by that time, with deep grooves from wear, visible to the naked eye. Or if you use an aggressive flux that eats away at the iron, it might look melted and the chrome would get undercut and start falling off and receding well before the iron was eaten through.

If you have ever worn through the iron layer, a hole will develop. The copper will dissolve over time. You bump the temps, and it still doesn't work. And you will have an empty iron shell that doesn't get hot. You can see a gaping crater in your iron that you can poke a needle into. How many of you have ever had an iron tip do that?

An oxidized tip can present the same way, initially, in that is you scratch your head and initially try to bump up the temps. With a CF bevel, for instance, I rarely look at the working surface of the tip. And when there's a blob of solder on it, it can cover non-wetting defects. But on closer examination, I will see the solder isn't wetting, nicely. Even when there's a good looking bead over the entire tip, there's poor thermal transfer, because only half the face is wetted and has good thermal contact. Then it's time to resurface it. When I discover a hole on a tip that lasts that long and doesn't crap out for other reasons, like oxidation building up on the INside over the heater or the chrome falling off, I'll be sure to take some pics. 

I measured the OD of the shaft of a teensy CF1. It's 52 thousandths. If the iron is an average of 5 mils thick, the copper is only 42 thousandths OD in the center. The cross sectional area of iron vs copper is about 35% iron and 65% copper. If the iron is 10 mils on average, the ratio is 64% iron and 36% copper. 
« Last Edit: June 13, 2019, 02:51:53 am by KL27x »
 
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Online coppercone2

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2019, 01:44:37 am »
i knew i was avoiding replacing the soldering iron tip for some reason

old beater hakko since 2013

only the brass wool needs to be revived now, I don't want to buy that either. stone now :-DD
« Last Edit: June 13, 2019, 01:46:10 am by coppercone2 »
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2019, 05:38:36 am »
  My first job in electronics was installing Central Office equipment for the telephone companies.  Part of that involved wiring the equipment to the FRAME in the Frame Room with 52 pair cables.  Typically we ran several dozen 52 pair cables on every job and each of every wire was wrapped onto a terminal pin and then soldered using a 100 Watt American Beauty soldering iron. The soldering alone would take over a week. Every job meant soldering up to forty thousand of connections and would literally wear a good size dimple into the tip of the soldering iron.  I used a file to file down the tip and removed the dimple and I promptly got my ass chewed for doing so.  It was pointed out to me that the tips were solid copper and weren't supposed to filed or ground down but hammered back into shape. 

   My point is, that if you have good copper tips you should hammer them back into shape and then tin them and not file, grind or polish them.

I used to work for the "Postmaster General's Dept" (PMG) in Oz, who were at that time the Telephone "Company" in this country.

The part i worked in  was not phones, though, it was the Radio Section, which looked after both Radio Comms, & the ABC's Radio & TV Broadcasting transmitters.

The standard irons we used were "Scope" brand, which were an "instant heat" type with a carbon element which was pushed against the back of the solid copper unplated screw in tips.

They could run from a (supplied) transformer, or from a 6 v car battery.
It took quite a while with resin cored solder, but, over time, they would develop pitting on the pure copper tips (no "fancypants" plating).

The "fix" of choice was to file them back to shape------ anyone caught hammering them would have been yelled at!

One advantage of the screw in solid copper tips is that anyone with a lathe & some reasonably pure copper rod could make their own tips, including the odd special ones.

The "Scopes" could "box well above their weight" in doing heavy jobs, but for some really big jobs there were usually a couple of big "firesticks".
Get above that, & you were in the realm of plumbers irons, & a blowtorch, or even oxy-acetylene.

I did see quite a few Adcolas at Phone Exchanges,---- as far as I recall, they weren't plated either.

Over the next few years, Wellers started to pop up everywhere, & we were introduced to plated tips &
"Magnastat" temperature control.

Time went by & the PMG morphed into Telecom Australia, but Weller reigned supreme for many years.

« Last Edit: June 13, 2019, 05:40:51 am by vk6zgo »
 

Offline Shock

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2019, 01:13:25 pm »
This is how soldering iron tips are manufactured.

Don't you mean that is how that company JNL makes cheap clone tips in China?
 
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Offline mzzj

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2019, 01:45:19 pm »
My Metcal and classic Weller tips seem to be plated copper and once plating is gone the core will dissolve rather fast.
Hakko 936 tips on the other hand appear to be some sort of alloy(yellowish like brass or bronze) that doesn't rely on plating as I can even file them to new shape and use after that.
 And they appear not to conduct heat as well as the metcal/weller.
 

Online KL27x

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2019, 02:55:45 am »
Quote
Don't you mean that is how that company JNL makes cheap clone tips in China?
I'm sure your iron tips are grown in lab in Area 51 using genetically engineered metal-shitting bacteria. Fundamentally, they're totally different. It's just a coincidence that the end materials and form and specs are essentially identical.   
 
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 03:05:05 am by KL27x »
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2019, 03:20:53 am »
One side note: always use compatible alloys.

My JBC nano tips survived more than a year with SAC305 at 350C, and recently I had to use it to solder larger joints, so I switched to 63/37 at 360C.
I know I should have used a higher power iron, but I did want to leave my HDE in another lab, and I sold my Metcal.

Wow, the spoon tip got completely eaten by lead! Not just the plating. The tip spoon structure was gone, just dissolved to nowhere!
The knife tip also got screwed up. It seems the plating was eaten and the thermocouple junction was revealed, and each time I touch something with the tip the LCD shows max temperature and it stops heating.
The chisel did survive, but I don't know if it will see another day.

Lessons: use only specified solder alloys with a tip. That's my $120 lesson.
 

Offline Shock

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2019, 03:21:23 am »
Quote
Don't you mean that is how that company JNL makes cheap clone tips in China?
I'm sure your iron tips are grown in lab in Area 51 using genetically engineered metal-shitting bacteria. Fundamentally, they're totally different. It's just a coincidence that the end materials and form and specs are essentially identical.

What I mean is, Hakko are plating tips with about 6 mil of iron, are you sure that company is making them the same as Hakko? I can't see how they can file them flat like that by hand and keep any form of consistency.

It looks like those tips have thick iron layer, not all tips are like this. How long would it take for 1000 grit to burn though 6 mil? Weller sells polishing bars for restoring tips, not sure what grit it is though.
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Offline blueskull

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2019, 03:24:25 am »
I can't see how they can file them flat like that by hand and keep any form of consistency.

ASML stepper lenses are hand polished.
 

Offline Shock

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2019, 03:28:34 am »
I can't see how they can file them flat like that by hand and keep any form of consistency.

ASML stepper lenses are hand polished.

Do they do it with a coarse belt sander and sparks fly off?
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 03:30:17 am by Shock »
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Offline blueskull

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2019, 03:34:29 am »
Do they do it with a coarse belt sander and sparks fly off?

They are after probably +-50um or even higher, not +-50nm.
 

Online KL27x

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2019, 04:59:06 am »
Quote
What I mean is, Hakko are plating tips with about 6 mil of iron, are you sure that company is making them the same as Hakko? I can't see how they can file them flat like that by hand and keep any form of consistency.

It looks like those tips have thick iron layer, not all tips are like this. How long would it take for 1000 grit to burn though 6 mil? Weller sells polishing bars for restoring tips, not sure what grit it is though.
6 mil is a lot of iron. Esp over the area of a knife tip. I have dissected a few Hakko and clone hakko tips, and 4-8 mils is my best guess. I have used a cheaper station and those tips were more like 15-20 mils. According to manufacturer/company data, JBC uses iron plating around 10 mils. Weller 4-15, apparently. This isn't anything magic. The finer the tip, the thinner you would want the plating. The fatter the tip, the less it would matter. But there is a limit where you will increase your failure rate. When you try to make the plating too thin, the average thickness might be fine... it's the thin spots that fail that will cause the problem.

But even 4 mils is a lot of iron. If you have 2 oz pour copper clad, try grinding through the copper with a diamond burr. It takes awhile. And that is probably 3ish mils of copper if memory serves (1.4 thousandths per oz?)rOver the surface area of a knife tip flat, you would not use 1000 grit belt to remove 4 mils of hard iron. It's only for surface finishing or removing very small amounts of material from edges. Over the flat area of the knife tip, a 1000 grit flat abrasive would remove small high spots, quickly. Then you'd just be spinning your wheels once 80% of the area is flat and polished and you won't even reach the low spots. This is why you don't skip too many grits.  Imagine you have a really dull kitchen knife with small chips. But instead of using a coarse stone, you try to sharpen it with just a super fine finishing hone. You will not finish before the sun goes down.

I don't see how you could not finish something so basic as a flat bevel by hand. Man can make a chisel for hundreds and hundreds of years with much less. FWIW, I have some cheap clone T12 tips, and you can clearly see coarse belt sander marks on it. I estimated 60-120 grit before ever seeing this video. My genuine Hakko tips never show marks that coarse, but I would bet anything they are also machined after the iron is plated. Just finished better. Hakko might have better machines, more robots, more automation. They probably shape the tips with a similar grit, initially. What JNL uses might not be perfectly optimal, but it's probably pretty close for what they do. You want to do the major shaping and material removal with the coarsest grit. The cheap tips, they just stop there.

Quote
How long would it take for 1000 grit to burn though 6 mil?
On a belt sander? It would "burn" the edge of the tip, yeah. It's hard to say how long it might take to sand all the way through.. at least holding it flat. If you were intentionally making NEW bevels, grinding the edges and points down, then grinding the new edges down, etc, and turning it into a rounded pixelated mess, it would go much, much quicker.

By hand? Let's say if I were to rub one of my cheapo T12 knife tips flat against a flat translucent ark stone, I would not even remove the original machine marks before I got tired of trying.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 06:56:12 am by KL27x »
 

Offline OwO

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2019, 06:17:16 am »
Maybe don't buy ex🅱️ensive tips. I have been using a cheapie $10 temp controlled soldering iron for 5 years and I'm still on the original tip that came with it. I do batch soldering work from time to time, and in direct comparisons I can do the job just as efficiently or more efficiently than people with $1000 setups. It always amazes me when people with $10k+ worth of equipment in their lab fail to do anything better than I do with low end tools and very little test equipment.

"tip care" is an absolutely bullshit concept, get tips that aren't fragile in the first place and once they wear out (usually after many years) or you fuck it up just buy a new one for $1 each. With $1 tips you also don't worry about fucking it up. I have already sanded one side of my tip flat in order to get into tight spaces to rework smd passives, and it's still good as new. There is absolute no thin plating on my tip. If I forget to tin it and the tip corrodes, i just turn it up to 400 degrees C, put on some solder and flux, and the oxidization flakes right off.
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Online KL27x

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2019, 09:22:41 am »
Quote
It looks like those tips have thick iron layer, not all tips are like this. How long would it take for 1000 grit to burn though 6 mil?
Recently, I cut some 8" long strips of 1/8" thick aluminum on the bandsaw. I tried to clean up the cuts on the belt sander, holding the entire 8" long edge of the aluminum against the 80 grit belt at once, diagonally, so as to not create low spots. This leaves a nice polished edge up until maybe 75% of the edge has reached the same level, then it just makes heat. A few more thousandths is all it would take, but it just stopped.

This is just 0.75 square inches of aluminum before 80 grit is just burnishing and making heat rather than cutting. I reckon on wood, 80 grit works up to about 5-8 square inches for me. These figures depend on how much pressure you use, of course, so they will vary with the power of your machine and how hard you can press without messing up the work or bogging down your machine. On iron or steel, it would be variable depending on the hardness, but I am guessing it would be less area than aluminum. Now change the grit to 1000.

I set up the router table with an endmill and flushed the edges. Then touched them back to the belt sander.

*I just repeated this with a 4" length. It slowed to a crawl towards the end, but it finished the entire edge this time. For production work for finishing of flats, I suppose you could choose a grit where the belt is still just barely cutting with decent pressure by the time all the low spots have been removed on that specific work piece, if you wanted to do it with just one grit but wanted the best possible finish. Coarser would be another compromise, if you wanted more speed. But you could not simply start with a finer belt and just expect it to take longer. It wouldn't work. There's a point where a mil is a mile.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 10:32:58 am by KL27x »
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #20 on: June 15, 2019, 01:10:16 pm »
Good tips don't need abrasives or cleaner to pick up solder. I have Ersa tips which are decades old and still take solder like they are brand new. A gentle wipe over a wet spunge is enough to clean them.
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Offline eKretz

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2019, 03:51:45 am »
Same here. Ersa tips and I'm sure the other better quality brands' tips should never need an abrasive touched to them. I've still got the original set of Ersa tips I bought nearly 10 years ago and all still work just the same as they did when I got them.

Personally I wouldn't use an abrasive regardless. I've always had good luck just scraping with a piece of softer metal like copper shaped like a flat bladed screwdriver if it's necessary due to contamination or something. You just know that someone inexperienced is going to take a file to their soldering iron tip thinking "Well, sandpaper is okay,  so this should be fine. "
 
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Offline Shock

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2019, 09:44:39 am »
Most of the battle is not letting them get to that state in the first place. If you tin the entire tinned work area of the tip regularly and clean while soldering, plus keep a fresh layer of solder while the iron is inactive or off you get a nice fresh tip to work with every time.

From what I've observed, most people who have problems tend to let the oxidization creep down the tip until they have minimal exposed tip left. The crustier the oxidization and burnt on flux becomes over time, the harder it is to remove.

The downside of both sponges and brass wool they don't really suit focused repetitive cleaning. Pace sells a fiber cleaning tool, a heat resistant light abrasive brush (soft to the touch actually) that allows more controlled cleaning.

Good for cleaning different tip geometries as well like hooks, blades and chip removal tips, they get caught up in the brass wool and are harder to clean with a sponge. If you don't like sponges at all, it is the perfect complement to brass wool.



« Last Edit: June 16, 2019, 09:46:34 am by Shock »
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Offline madires

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2019, 10:49:22 am »
Another happy Ersa user here. In my case the tips last about a decade, even for unregulated irons. Most tips of cheap "dirty work" irons I had broke down after one or two years. They had holes large enough to desolder 0603s. ;D
 

Online KL27x

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #24 on: June 17, 2019, 12:30:50 am »
Quote
Good tips don't need abrasives or cleaner to pick up solder. I have Ersa tips which are decades old and still take solder like they are brand new. A gentle wipe over a wet spunge is enough to clean them.
I have read that wet sponge is supposed to "shock" the iron oxides so that they just wipe off. Perhaps that is why your tips last forever. In either case, there is iron being (very slowly) used up.

Perhaps if I used a wet sponge (once a year, lol), I would also not need to do any further cleaning using a Hakko iron.

Shock, dunno what is in that brush, but if it can remove iron oxides, it is also probably hard enough to damage the edge of the chrome, over time. I would personally prefer to use a fine stone file I can precisely aim over something like that. As I stated before, I might not even choose to clean the entire unchromed area. I might want to clean the tip all the way to the chrome line, or I might precisely shape only the area of the tip which I want to tin. This is personal preference. I'm sure most iron tips last way longer than they need to as long as you use any sort of common sense and care.

I would never suggest that you need to use abrasives to maintain an iron. I maintain that the notion you cannot or should not ever use abrasives is ignorant. Some tip tinners contain abrasives. Rubber pencil erasers contains abrasives. Your tip cleaning brush contains abrasives. Car polish contains abrasives. 99% of car waxes contain abrasives. Toothpaste contains abrasives. If you can tell the difference between chrome and iron, you can safely and efficiently use a large variety of abrasives you might already have lying around while doing LESS damage to the tip (the chrome!) than any Tip Tinning Jizz Cream tm. If you can not touch the chrome, at all, you do no damage. Maybe you think it takes some special skill of a Vietnamese nail lady to pull that off. But if you solder 0402 resistors, and you rework PCB's with sub 10 mil traces, and you dead bug micro QFN's and BGA's, I think you could probably also selectively clean/resurface a soldering iron tip.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 05:05:55 am by KL27x »
 


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