Redesign of a solder iron help required.

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by mcg, Jul 31, 2011.

  1. mcg

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 31, 2011
    Hello guys.:)
    I'm currently doing an Open University design course, and have been tasked with coming up with a new design for a solder iron. I'm thinking along the lines of a gun type iron that uses a pressure sensitive trigger to release precise amounts of solder via a syringe type needle, and to have another application built into the design to allow easy removal of excess runs of solder.

    I'd just like some feedback on whether you feel such a design would be more useful to you, and perhaps if you would like to see something else implemented into a design that would address any personal issues you've experienced first hand with using solder irons.

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. :cool:

  2. JingleJoe


    Jul 23, 2011
    how would it heat the components being soldered? if it just expells solder from the tip, that will just set without adhereing.
  3. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
  4. wayneh


    Sep 9, 2010
    One of the more annoying problems with irons is oxidative fouling. A damp sponge is the state-of-the-art "solution". Maybe there's a better way.

    Another annoyance is how easy it is to burn yourself. We want a nimble tool with safety guards!

    I wouldn't mind having a desoldering tip - a sort of heated vacuum cleaner. I suppose there must be such things already.

    Solder feed is not very interesting but a flux feed could be interesting.
  5. wallaby


    Jul 26, 2011
    I imagine the experts already have a particular setup they like and swear by.
    But I'm a novice... in this case my viewpoint might count.
    I've never liked the trigger guns; too heavy and awkward and there's always some big heated tip obscuring my view of what's happening.
    I prefer the simple light little iron for electrical work. The way I see it is the iron takes a while to get hot enough... not much of an issue if you plan ahead a bit, but then it stays blazing hot as long as it's plugged in. These things can't be set down in a hurry, as the heavy end is always the end that's hot. Look at my work bench if you think this isn't a problem.
    Possible area of improvement might be to have the iron running at 1/2 temp until you actually need to use it, and adding weight to the cord end of the tool so it rests with the tip away from the counter top you set it on. Even if it had a tubular heat shield over the tip (think syringe action) so the tip was shielded when not being used.

    I don't have a fancy bench set up for soldering with a holder and good lighting... I often take the iron to the work instead. When i finish a 2 second soldering job I'm suddenly in a panic as to where to put the iron. Geez, even if it had a magnet so I could stick it to something like the side of the refrigerator would be helpful.
  6. wayneh


    Sep 9, 2010
    wallaby, you need one of these. Watch for it on sale, which is often.

    I had the issues you describe but not anymore. The downside is that it's a lot more awkward to take to the job, but it does have the sponge built in, so it's not much worse than lugging your iron and sponge to the job.

    One reason I chose this set - besides it being darn cheap with reasonably good reviews - was that I could get relatively inexpensive extra tips, as these are always the weak link of a soldering tool. I like the smallest tips you can get for it. This greatly improves my ability to solder in close quarters.
  7. mcg

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 31, 2011
    First of all, thankyou very much to everyone for all the feedback and time taken to reply.:cool:

    I had posted this topic on a number of forums, and the problems encountered by experienced and regular iron users are numerous and cover a pretty large area. What is pretty evident is that most of these problems could be rectified by tweaking in the design.

    From all the input, I have decided that simple tweaking of my original idea for re-design won't cover all bases as it were, and have decided to build a design from scratch, implementing design features that should hopefully include

    1.The tool needing to be based on a pen shape design, easy and accurate (nimble) to operate with just your fingers. Also for the heated tip to have some form of gaurd to prevent you from burning yourself while in operation.

    2. To have alternating temperature settings for working with differing material surfaces that need solder applied too.

    3. Interchangable tips, and the smaller, the better.

    4. A way to cover the heated tip once soldering has been completed so you can pack your iron away safely.

    5. Safe removal of fumes generated during the soldering process.

    6. A way to desolder to rectify mistakes (probably the most difficult problem to resolve in an all-in-one design I believe .. but I'll give it a go)

    Thanks for all the feedback, you've made the re-design process that much more difficult .. he he .. only joking, much more easy now I have a clear indicator as to what problems need addressing.

    Once again, thanks to everyone for your time.:cool:
  8. ElectroDFW

    New Member

    Sep 2, 2011
    I like the solder feed idea; most are too expensive and bulky as an add-on.

    The two improvement I am needing in an iron are:

    1. Shorten the dang barrel! I can avoid a 1-inch tip pretty easily, but that darn 2-3 inch tube of skin melting metal I could do without. (One of the things that made the Cold-Heat device attractive)

    2. Built-in fume extractor! The fear of every hobby solderer is that accidental snootful of toxic chemicals that somehow escaped whatever fan we *might* be using.

    My 2 shillings,
    aka David M
  9. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    Personally I like the smell of resin, which isn't toxic. A shorter barrel is possible, but the reason they tend towards length is the heater, which is deliberately isolated from the tip electrically, a safety feature.

    I started using the cheapest Radio Shack irons there were when I was a beginner, and took filing the tip to shape for granted. Nowdays I use temperature controlled irons with tips that don't corrode. It is a case of you get what you pay for.

    I would not want a tip that dispensed solder in liquid (melted) form. Now an iron that had a solder feed mechanism that dispensed fine wire solder might work.

    The second handiest soldering tool I've used over the years is a solder sucker that had an automatic vacuum. Removing solder once it is applied tends to be the job that does the most damage for repairs. Typically I just use braid though, and when the spool is empty refill it with solder wire.

    Dave, what part of Texas DFW are you? Ever go to Tanner's Electronics?
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011
  10. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
    My 2c. Don't spend time on anything that covers the tip while in operation or varies the heat by pressure or position of the iron. I've had to solder in more positions than a Chinese contortionist with forceps in one hand, solder in my teeth and the iron in the other hand. A built in retractable holder/solder dispenser, 'at temperature' indicator near the tip or at the end of the barrel and a auto-cleaning tip would be on the top of my list. Navy 2M repair school makes you paranoid about tip cleaning.
  11. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
    A pencil type iron/handle with temperature control with a vacuum (fume extractor) tube (maybe teflon/silicon tubing isolated in a ceramic tube leading to a stainless tube near the tip or whatever to prevent it melting) that runs parallel to the body and sucks right down near the tip and another similar tube angled (adjustable) to point near the tip that feeds solder to the tip area would be excellent. Make sure all tubes/power connections are in a single cord for ease of handling. No one would like to hold a pencil iron with 3+ separate cords/tubes dangling off it. A button placed in an ergonomically feasibly position to trigger feeding of the solder with adj speed control located in the cord or near/on the handle would be excellent.

    You will find out quickly that you cannot figure out a way to feed the solder to the tip anywhere close to the control/adjustability you get feeding it with your other hand though. But built in fume extraction is simple though and for some reason I haven't seen a soldering iron with it.
  12. mcg

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 31, 2011
    The design is almost finished, so thanks again to everyone who replied. The info and ideas have been fantastic.

  13. ElectroDFW

    New Member

    Sep 2, 2011

    Unable to PM you yet, but yes, I think we met at Tanner's last month. If you remember, I had a particularly appropriate button I was wearing at the time.

    --David M--