Redesigning the soldering iron!

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by solderotter, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. solderotter

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 27, 2014
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    Hi, we’re a team of engineering undergrads hoping to redesign the soldering iron. Specifically, we’re looking at making it safer and more usable by younger teens and children.

    We’re looking for any feedback or advice you might have, especially if you have kids, so if you can spare a few minutes to fill out our survey, that’d be awesome. Or if you have any questions, feel free to shoot us an email at: <snip> . Thank you for your time and input!

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/14cAsPIbiU_jf09aFBU03nplbYuBtr0JpTPzrWEp4OFw/viewform

    also, does anyone know why there is so much metal exposed towards the tip?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2014
  2. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    Give them a conductive ink pen
     
  3. sirch2

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2013
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    Just give them a soldering iron. I've been soldering since around the age of 10 and my kids have had a go at a similar age. You only burn yourself once or twice before you learn.
     
  4. Sensacell

    Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2012
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    Making it "safer" will most likely make it less functional.
     
  5. richard.cs

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    Mar 3, 2012
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    I teach groups of 12 year olds to solder as part of my employer's "outreach" program. I really don't think it's necessary, but if you want to optimise a soldering iron for young children then I suspect you would want to redesign the stands and the handgrip.
     
  6. Kermit2

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 5, 2010
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    Less functional. That really does describe the probable result. Children must learn how to perform tasks in a way that is safe. Mentors must allow for mistakes, and kids must learn that some mistakes can hurt. A safer hammer? Use it wrong and you hit a finger. Lesson learned. A safer pair of pliers? Use it wrong a you get a bad pinch and maybe a little blood comes out. Lesson learned. Toss a 12 year old the car keys and wave goodbye? Hell no! You take them to a large empty paved area and ride with them giving instructions. Hand over a chainsaw? Again, Hell no! Making something dangerous safe for children requires an adult, using adult reasoning skills.

    A soldering iron can burn flesh. An adult, using adult decision making skills, should decide if the child is ready to handle such a task and give proper instruction in the handling and operation of the tool. Making the tool 'safer' is good. Making it idiot proof is not how to handle it. That aspect is conquered by teaching the new user proper precautions that address the inherent dangers.

    Nothing is foolproof, because fools are to ingenious. :)
     
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  7. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
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    I always wondered that same thing.....?

    Having a very small tip exposed, not so much for safety but for accuracy.....maybe a tip 2 mm in diameter.?

    How about a .079 ball tip?:confused:
     
  8. Alec_t

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 17, 2013
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    Unless you have a very thick/bulky insulating shroud around the iron shaft the surface temperature of the shroud would be almost as high as the shaft temperature; so little safety benefit. A thick shroud would make handling the iron, particularly if soldering in restricted spaces, difficult.
     
  9. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
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    This could be excellent for all the child labor in China... oh wait.. They don't care about safety.. :)

    task has already been completed...in one form anyways..
    Google.. "cold heat soldering iron"
     
  10. strantor

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    If I were to reinvent the wheel, I would make it square, so that it wouldn't accidentally roll over anybody's toes.
     
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  11. spinnaker

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    I don't agree. There are plenty of things that can be done.

    An auto shutdown feature for one. If the iron is not moving it shuts down after X minutes. Maybe some irons already have that feature?
     
  12. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    If it has auto-shutoff, it should also have auto-start so it must sense when I am about to use it again and start heating so it is ready as soon as I need it. ;)
     
  13. GopherT

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    Nov 23, 2012
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    My wife bought two "cold heat" soldering irons for my kids at Costco about 4 or 5 years ago. They are useless because they use resistive heating (two micro pins) to heat the solder. I think they have a high voltage switcher inside to get enough heat. Also, their ultra thin solder must be used. You cannot solder to PCBs because of the micro-pin configuration and lack of power. We were only successful soldering 30 gauge or smaller wires. Just not enough power. They are sitting in the "useless junk" pile.

    I don't know why I didn't return them to Costco or even allow them to be opened - my kids were already doing fine with a regular soldering iron.
     
  14. spinnaker

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    Well then you would really have something. A device that can read minds.

    Seriously a reset button would do. You would just need to wait till it heats again. Not a big deal IMHO if it saves a ruined iron or worse, a burned down house.
     
  15. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    I'm not impressed with the ergonomics of the traditional iron, and I think it could definitely be improved while retaining functionality.

    For one thing, the cord placement is a pain. A pistol configuration helps a bit but that is usually seen only in guns with the transformer built in to the handset, which is not so good for small work.

    Another pain is the long hot barrel that can burn fingers and insulation but is not functional for getting the soldering job done. I'd much rather have something like a nice pen with just a short hot zone at the tip. Lose the 3" of hot sleeve. A retractable tip would be nice but it's hard to imagine how you'd do that.

    One good thing about the traditional iron that I'd hate to lose is the ability to rotate the tip. Sometimes a small rotation, say 30° one way or the other, puts the tip into the perfect orientation for making the solder joint.
     
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  16. wayneh

    Expert

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    An in-between solution could be an iron that cools 20° while in the stand but heats up as soon as it's withdrawn.
     
  17. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
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    Good! Now let's go to solve the problem of taking it from the wrong end.

    I know someone who did it!

    (It was painful, let me tell you...)
     
  18. strantor

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    You're not dredging up something I said 926 days ago, are you?

     
  19. spinnaker

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    I know you have a maritime background. In this country, we have a saying regarding sailing, "If you haven't been aground, you haven't been around".

    Same deal goes with electronics. If you are around a soldering iron long enough you are bound to get burned in one way or the other. Same thing of getting shocked by touching an energized circuit.
     
  20. atferrari

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    No strantor. You are not alone. It was me! :p :p.
     
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