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mhconley 15th June 2009 02:52 PM

Lead Free Solder Recommendations and Procedures
 
I am new to DIY electronics; I have never soldered anything other than sweating copper pipe. I have read a lot of information on the Internet on soldering and plan to purchase a Weller WES51 soldering station. Since I have never soldered an electronic component before I thought it would be best to learn to solder with lead-free solder.

I searched this site but could not find the information I am seeking. I have many questions…

I have found various lead-free silver solders, most tin with a little silver and a touch of copper and some with no copper. Is there any preferred metal combination or brand of solder? What gauge / thickness solder should I use for most electronic work? What temperature setting?

Any tips for soldering with lead-free solder vs. standard lead based solders? Do I need to use liquid flux or is flux cored solder sufficient? Any other tools a must? I read about using heat sinks on heat sensitive components. Any tips or other resources would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Martin

jcx 15th June 2009 04:25 PM

for diy electronics the eutectic leaded solders are much easier to use

AndrewT 15th June 2009 04:45 PM

Hi,
stick with leaded solders.
The standard eutectic 63/37 is great for most DIY jobs, is easily available and is cheap. Buy two or three diameters, 500gms of each.

If you have unplated tips/bits then a SAVBIT style (a small proportion of copper) of solder helps prevent erosion of the copper bit.

theAnonymous1 15th June 2009 11:47 PM

Hi Martin,

There is really no need to use lead free solder here in the US. I can't think of a single positive aspect of using the stuff, so stay clear of it if you can.

mhconley 16th June 2009 01:52 AM

I plan on buying Kester Sn96.5Ag3.0Cu0.5 solder since I cannot find eutectic lead-free solder (Sn95.6Ag3.5Cu0.9) from any manufacturer. I'll look elsewhere for tips and tricks. From what I have found it is no different than working with leaded solder.

Martin

Mr Evil 16th June 2009 02:01 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by mhconley
...From what I have found it is no different than working with leaded solder...
It is much harder to get a good joint with lead-free stuff. Even if you do make a good joint, it still looks like a bad joint because it's not shiny like ordinary lead/tin solder. Furthermore, the higher temperatures required make it easier to damage components.

I wouldn't choose to use lead-free solder unless there was some compelling reason to.

Conrad Hoffman 16th June 2009 02:20 AM

Since you don't have experience, it's important to learn using leaded solder. You need to understand wetting and what a good joint looks like. IMO, if you start with lead-free, you'll probably make unreliable joints and damage components for a good long time, possibly forever. After learning with leaded solder, you'll understand how much of a problem lead-free is, and why some people expect electronic reliability to take a turn for the worse in the near future.

mhconley 19th June 2009 06:04 AM

After further research and the overwhelmingly negative response to my posts here I have decided to go the leaded route.

It seems there is limited benefit from using lead free solder and the fluxes used with them may actually be more detrimental to one's health than the lead.

I plan to pick up some eutectic leaded solder with the Weller soldering station...

Thanks for opening my eyes.

Martin


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