What to know when you buy your soldering iron tips:
What kind of soldering work you will do? That is the question you should ask when buy soldering tips for soldering station. If you do a lot of SMD (surface mount device) soldering, apparently, large chisel soldering iron tips are not very suitable. Yet, they are perfect for soldering large gauge wire since its large surface area that allows more heat to transfer from soldering irons to solder quickly. In case you have not bought your soldering iron yet, please check our review here.
Two things you need to know when shop for your soldering tips:
There are many different shapes for soldering tips used in many different applications such as jewelry making, plumbing stained glass and electronics. Here, let us talk about three common ones for electronics and circuit board soldering. They are round tip (conical tip), chisel tip and evel tip (hoof tip). Some tips work better than others in certain application. We will explain it in details.
Soldering tip size matters. If the tip is too small, it can not transfer enough heat to melt the solder. On the other side, if the size of the tip is too large, it may thermally damage the electronic components, peel off the pad and even damage the board sometimes.
Conical Tips (Round tips)
Conical tips are often used in many precision soldering work and for general soldering for electronics and circuit board. It is also a tip that most of people would imagine that a soldering tip should look like. From different angels, you can access many tight places with a small conical tip, such as soldering the pins of SOT23 package. The tiny tips can deliver heat to small areas fast enough for you to solder surface-mount components. The down side of using conical tips is that usually its tips are too small to deliver enough heat to large area, such as the large ground plane. In that case, you may use another common soldering tip shown in next section. Here is a picture of one of the weller soldering iron tips.
It is widely used in general purpose soldering. These soldering tips are used by many experienced users in the industry. These tips have much larger surface area, which helps quickly and evenly deliver heat to component leads. It is great for soldering wires, through hole components, and large SMDs. This is actually one of my favorite soldering tips for soldering stations. I often use it to solder SMD package with fine pitch pins. The trick is to apply solder to the pins on one side all at once with the broad chisel tip. Then, you will use a heat gun to melt the solder. Then, the solder will flow and find a right place to stay.
Evel Tips (Hoof Tips)
These tips are not as common as the conical tips and the chisel tips as mentioned previously. But, its large flat surface can be used to hold quite a bit solder. This is pretty much needed when we do the drag solder across multiple pins of the surface mount chips all at once.
As you may already know, Weller WESD51 and Hakko FX888 are quite popular within the electronics communities. Here are the links of their soldering tips for soldering stations at Amazon if you are interested.
How to clean soldering iron tips
You can clean solder tip with brass wire or wet sponge. Personally, I prefer brass wire and just do not like to dip hot soldering tip into the wet sponge. Who knows what sudden temperature change at soldering tip will do any harm to it. One picture is worth a thousand words. Here is a video to show how to clean soldering iron tips.
Here are two very popular soldering iron tip cleaners. Hakko 599B has more than 1000 reviews. You definitely need to check it out.
Aoyue has a less expensive soldering tip cleaner. You may want to check it out.
Thank you for your time to read this post. Hope you read something useful today. Good luck with your soldering tip hunting.