Author Topic: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip  (Read 1847 times)

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Offline Shock

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #25 on: June 17, 2019, 09:07:15 am »
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.

No, the Pace fiber cleaning tool has no chemicals. It's not going to ruin your tips.

It's a heatproof lightly abrasive brush, as I said soft to the touch. It's whole purpose is cleaning tips without being a heavy abrasive. It won't restore a tip that is heavily oxidized or with hard baked on flux. However, it helps prevent getting to that stage.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Online KL27x

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #26 on: June 17, 2019, 01:19:03 pm »
So you have a brush that is abrasive. But it won't scratch iron oxides or chrome. I don't think we understand "abrasive" the same way.

And if it doesn't remove heavy oxidation but prevents it, then doesn't it sorta do what a wet sponge does... except you have to stop what you're doing and use two hands? :-//
 

Offline Shock

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #27 on: June 17, 2019, 05:41:56 pm »
So you have a brush that is abrasive. But it won't scratch iron oxides or chrome. I don't think we understand "abrasive" the same way.

It's more abrasive than a wet sponge, light oxides and stuck on flux no problem. Stuff that's been baked on forever, no.

And if it doesn't remove heavy oxidation but prevents it, then doesn't it sorta do what a wet sponge does... except you have to stop what you're doing and use two hands? :-//

For non standard tip geometries, tweezers etc it's easier to use this brush all the time. The brass wool is fine for standard tips, but the fiber cleaning tool does a better job if you get a build up. Yes two hands to clean the tip using the brush, if you have problems using two hands at once and remembering to pick up the solder, it might not be the tool for you. :)

My theory why people run into issues with tips is they are hesitant to apply solder to the entire tinned section of the tip when not in use (they are taught never to apply solder to the tip for a start). When using the sponge without a dross edge the solder fouls the sponge fast which is another deterrent. They use the sponge then solder for some time, sponging again only occasionally.

During cleaning at no time do they reapply solder to the entire tinned area, which also aids in removing oxides and brings the tip back to optimal wetting (unless it's too late). Most of the tinned working area of the tip eventually oxidizes beyond what the sponge can clean until the tip becomes totally unwettable.

They then crank the heat up and when that doesn't work try to use methods like sandpaper out of frustration. It's not a good idea for most people as they can easily get carried away sand off the platings. If they learned nothing the cycle repeats.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 05:44:27 pm by Shock »
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Online KL27x

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #28 on: June 17, 2019, 08:06:46 pm »
Quote
if you have problems using two hands at once and remembering to pick up the solder, it might not be the tool for you. :)
It's just you have to actually stop to pick this up. And unless you are ambidextrous, you have to move the iron to your leftie. The brass wool is in my iron stand, ready to jab/swipe whenever needed. It's just a little different, and a bit of a pain. I am sure it helps.

Quote
My theory why people run into issues with tips is they are hesitant to apply solder to the entire tinned section of the tip when not in use
I totally agree with almost* your entire post, to be clear, including this.

This is one of the many reasons I get away with as little care I do with a CF bevel. Whenever the tip has at least a little solder on it, it covers the entire tinned area. When you use a lot of other tip types... say a bevel, a chisel, or conical... quite often you do not use the entire tinnable surface. So if you are soldering for long periods of time, it might start to oxidize up there, even if you were to cover it with solder when you are done. This the reason for frequent cleaning with sponge or brass I suppose.

Quote
They use the sponge then solder for some time, sponging again only occasionally.
Honestly, with the CF tip, I only use the brass wool very occasionally. Usually the reason is to
1. remove excess solder prior to soldering something that is extra-sensitive to bridging, like say an FPC connector).
2. to remove burned flux on the side over the chromed area
3. to remove xtra component that I accidentally picked up.

The CF tip really just keeps ticking. The reason I might occasionally need to resurface my CF is probably because it is so hard to mess up that I occasionally put it back in the stand completely solder-starved without even thinking about it. I mean, until I had received the negative consequences, I started to think the tip was unstoppable. Months and months before those consequences appear, and tada; I have bad habits that sometimes resurface.

*Only thing I disagree is where you say platings. I agree people unwitting damage one of those platings, but I don't think the iron plating is accidentally damaged very often at all. I think that is quite hard to do without having the actual intention. I imagine it's so unlikely as to be essentially impossible. If I were to take one of my conical tips, chuck it in a drill, and hold 400 grit sandpaper over the tip while spinning it at full speed... I don't think it would significantly damage the iron plating, unless I moved to fresh area of sandpaper several times and spun the tip for several minutes. And I would see obvious huge amounts of material removal well before the plating was worn through. It would be obvious I had resurfaced the tip long long time ago. It is accurate, in my mind, to worry more about misshaping your tip than it is to worry about wearing through the iron plating. You'd have to be beyond any sort of reason to damage the iron on accident.

IOW, I don't believe the iron plating wearing through is cause of most tip replacements. It's not the limiting factor in most cases. I think most tips are replaced because they are oxidized, and the user just buys another after trying the "right" methods to clean it, which some (like that brush) can't remove a heavier oxidation in any reasonable amount of time and effort. In over 20 years of soldering, including 4-5 years of part time production soldering, I have never worn through the iron plating on a tip.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 09:00:16 pm by KL27x »
 

Online KL27x

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #29 on: June 17, 2019, 09:07:16 pm »
Here's another way to imagine tip wear. An SOP gullwing lead is about 6 mils tall/thick. The average iron thickness is, say 4-15, by popular current manufacturer brochure. Say you drag-soldered a million of these IC's with a large bevel tip, to the point you wore through the iron. There'd be a groove in the tip of the iron the depth of those gullwing pin ends.

devil's advocate: "But the tip wears through oxidation."

Ok.

Let's assume abrasive wear through soldering is zero. There's nothing harder than iron in the surface coating of the IC pins, so wear through abrasion is insignificant. Oxidation is the main or only culprit. We protect from oxidation by tinning the tip. The part of most tips that should probably oxidize the most is perhaps the part of the tip between the bead and the chrome line. That area might not get tinned as often, as Shock has also previously suggested. So when we constantly clean the iron with sponge/brass/brush, we are removing more iron oxides from the iron plating near the chrome line.

What's the failure mode, then, of the iron plating wearing out? An ulcer or crater forms? At or near the chrome line, way up high on the shaft? I don't imagine this is the case. (Well, I have to acknowledge Blueskull's anecdote of dissolving a lead-free tip in lead solder, but I think it might be considered an exception >:D).

Maybe the iron is thicker up there? OK. So now, what's the failure mode? And do you think you would be able to notice when the 1 mil chromeline step turned into a 7 mils one? Do you think you'd notice when your knife (-tip  >:D) got dull? Would you notice when the point on your stabby bent conical receded into a vague blob shape?

Go back to that SOP IC. Do you think you could abrade those pins enough to completely resurface them without erasing the entire pin? Imagine any best and/or practical method you can. Do you think maybe you could abrade away less than half of the thickness on the pin, if you tried super duper hard? Or do you imagine you could even shine just the surface of those pins quite easily?

The copper underneath the iron plating was swaged in a die. There might be a few tiny low spots (or voids), but there are absolutely no high spots. Any high spot before iron plating would be needlessly detrimental to quality and failure rate; it could be easily avoided. Tumbling could be done for very little cost, if it were even necessary. This is why use of even files (in the spirit of meaning a rigid abrasive surface) is ok to shine up an iron tip. The chrome, OTOH, is way thinner and more brittle. AND it is plated over the iron layer. The iron layer is uneven and it receives some sort of machining or sanding to varying levels of finishing before the chrome is plated. Depending how well it was finished, there may be high spots, which is further reason the chrome layer may be very sensitive to abrasives on some areas of some tips.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 11:35:48 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline Shock

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #30 on: June 18, 2019, 05:23:32 am »
It's just you have to actually stop to pick this up. And unless you are ambidextrous, you have to move the iron to your leftie. The brass wool is in my iron stand, ready to jab/swipe whenever needed. It's just a little different, and a bit of a pain. I am sure it helps.

I see what you mean, but in practice it's not hard to clean with either hand for me. When it comes to cleaning anyway different solders (fluxes) being used ends up with different results.

Here's another way to imagine tip wear...
devil's advocate: "But the tip wears through oxidation."

What causes the tips to wear and fail normally is thermal stress, mechanical stress and slow dissolving of plating, which is dependent on the flux and frequency of use.

Proper technique is just to apply contact pressure with the irons tip. But even if you applied no pressure at all, the tips iron plating is slowly dissolving through coming into contact with solder and flux.

In a weird way any cleaning is going to slowly reduce tip life but the trade off is increased efficiency and quality of soldering, which may end up increasing tip life.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2019, 05:25:50 am by Shock »
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Online DimitriP

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #31 on: June 18, 2019, 05:40:04 am »
I enjoy tip cleaning threads as much as bicycle  washing videos (you haven't lived if you haven't watched a bicycle washing video!).
It's your tip, do whatever makes you feel good about cleaning it
If you take a belt sander to it and now it's worse don't come crying here.
If you are  cleaning it using only angel feathers and it won't come clean don't come crying here.

I like the damp sponge. I enjoy the audible tss everytime I touch the sponge.
Sometimes I'll turn the iron on just to touch the sponge in order to hear the tss.


   If three 100  Ohm resistors are connected in parallel, and in series with a 200 Ohm resistor, how many resistors do you have? 
 
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Offline Shock

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Re: Soldering iron tip care myth: don't use abrasives on the tip
« Reply #32 on: June 18, 2019, 05:56:08 am »
I like the damp sponge. I enjoy the audible tss everytime I touch the sponge.
Sometimes I'll turn the iron on just to touch the sponge in order to hear the tss.

The death cry of the tip as it begs for forgiveness heheh.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 


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