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Soldering woes - The Disintegrating Tip & Unleaded Wire

Frick

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#1
This is a tale of woe and despair.

Look at the images. That is a tip that has been used for a few hours. The iron is a Weller WM20, the tip is a MTN2. I do the same things I do at home (this isn't my iron, I'm not really working but sort of), the only difference is I have to use lead free solder with this one. This is the third tip, and this is what I am doing and have tried:

- At first I used a damp sponge. Good, Ersa-made sponges. With this tip I have used the wire tanglethings (I have no idea what you call them in english) because damp sponges make some unpleasant temperature changes. The tangle thing is made by Weller.
- I use Stannol KS100 TC solder (I have a feeling this might be the primary cause because of the high tin content).
- I turn the iron off when not in use for more than a few minutes.
- I tin it when needed (when finished jobs, before putting it down).
- I clean it and retin before shutting down.
- I do apply pressure at all.
- The things I'm soldering is basic electronic components in boxes (as educational material).

Is it the tin? Is the iron too hot, too cold? I do it the same way as I do with my own incredibly crappy iron and that tip just does not die. These tips are literally eaten through in hours. I've read A LOT about soldering lately and I'm pretty sure I'm doing the rights things. Are there special irons/tips for lead free solder? Should I choose a different composition?

Again, I am at a loss here. I do the same things I do with my own extremely crappy iron with a tip that just keeps going, but I have a hard time believing the solder can make such a difference. Or can it? And no, I can't use leaded solder. And besides, lead free is where it's at no matter what I feel about the subject. :(

Thanks for looking!

EDIT: Oh, I forgot to say that he used to have a $10 extremely crappy pen, and with the same solder I treated that pen way worse and that is still servicable.
 

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Frick

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#2
An update, making me think it's the iron or the tip. I've spent the afternoon massively abusing the cheap soldering station I have at home with the same solder. Max heat (450ish C), soaking cold sponges, smash the tip around, drenching everything in tin, not tin it... The only thing I've managed after a couple of hours is feeling nauseous from the gasses and the only thing I've managed is some slight dewetting.

WTH am I doing wrong?
 

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#3
get better flux and better solder and a colder iron 20w is waayy to much for light work try like a 10 -15w you are literally burning the solder you should not need more then 400F tip temp even thats way hot for PCB work 370~ is ideal I use 60-40 rosin core LEAD solder along with extra flux
a 20W is what you would use for tinning battery cable -.-

the colder the iron the more work time you will have and the more control you will have over the solder
 
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#4
I don't think I've ever seen that happen to tip ever :( is that tip hollow or something it looks like it's been overheated and melted where it's thinnest
 
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#5
I haven't had any issues with my Weller WES51 soldering station, still using the same tip after tens of hours of use with little to no signs of wear on class projects (usually jobs lasting a few hours each). I only use 60/40 rosin core solder and a tip cleaner puck (brass mesh). I clean and tin the tip just about every time I dock the soldering pencil to keep the tip from burning up, as my electronics engineering professor instructed.
 
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#6
Kind of old thread, but anyway, but just to make it clear:
Your tip has nickel coating and underneath the coating it is made of copper. Copper dissolves in tin and lead. As soon as coating is gone, tip dissolves rapidly. The higher the temperature, the faster it dissolves. Nickel coating should last much longer, this makes me think it is not meant for lead free solder, which needs higher temperature. high temperature could be the cause of faster wear of coating. Different manufacturers/models use other types of materials for tips, meant for lead free soldering.
 

Frick

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#7
get better flux and better solder and a colder iron 20w is waayy to much for light work try like a 10 -15w you are literally burning the solder you should not need more then 400F tip temp even thats way hot for PCB work 370~ is ideal I use 60-40 rosin core LEAD solder along with extra flux
a 20W is what you would use for tinning battery cable -.-

the colder the iron the more work time you will have and the more control you will have over the solder
Effect is not necessarily the same as heat, it's about how it handles the heat (though in this case it probably is about heat). My maxed out (420 C) very cheap 40W soldering station at home handled the solder better.

Kind of old thread, but anyway, but just to make it clear:
Your tip has nickel coating and underneath the coating it is made of copper. Copper dissolves in tin and lead. As soon as coating is gone, tip dissolves rapidly. The higher the temperature, the faster it dissolves. Nickel coating should last much longer, this makes me think it is not meant for lead free solder, which needs higher temperature. high temperature could be the cause of faster wear of coating. Different manufacturers/models use other types of materials for tips, meant for lead free soldering.
Aye I know about the copper and stuff. I'm assuing that tip simply does not like that solder. It might work better with a solder with less tin in it. I see there's an "L" version of this iron that comes with Iron plated tips. Dunno if they are better with tin... If this is going forward I will have to do some serious research about what equipment to use.