How it all began: the history of the soldering iron and the advent of modern tools

    The soldering iron of the second half of the 19th century, which was heated on fire

    Pike has been known to man for about 4 thousand years is historically proven. Different peoples at different times soldered gold, silver products and objects from other metals. All soldering irons until the invention of the electric were designed for heating by an open flame. While the master worked with one soldering iron, the second was heated with a flame - this was how the problem of continuous operation was solved. Everything changed after electricity became familiar, and inventors began to create devices that operate on electric current.

    The first electric soldering iron

    In 1896, Richard Schneider and August Tinnerholm received a patent for the "electric heating apparatus" , now known as a soldering iron. This tool became known under the American Beauty brand, and the company that produced these soldering irons is still working. But these were piece devices.

    General Electric soldering irons were also used - the company received a patent for such a device in 1910.

    A little later, General Electric introduced an improved version of the soldering iron, equipped with a latch that held the soldering iron when the master did not hold it.

    The rack was equipped with a radiator, so that it absorbed the heat generated by the soldering iron and scattered it into the surrounding space.

    American Beauty Soldering Iron from 1947 - here it has a completely recognizable shape

    How soldering irons became popular

    The man who made the soldering iron popular and widespread was Ernst Sachs, a German engineer who created a soldering iron for industry (initially for manufacturers of metal utensils and other products, and only then for electrical engineering). It can be called the pioneer of electronics, because without soldering, the creation of portable electronic devices is impossible.

    Sachs patented his invention in 1921. His first soldering iron H-1 belonged to the “hammer” type and was intended primarily for tinning operations. The device became popular, and Sachs founded ERSA, gradually distributing a soldering iron throughout Europe. Thanks to his entrepreneurial abilities, the soldering iron began to be sold previously unprecedented volumes.

    Sax's invention became the basis for further modifications of the "electric heating device", both by ERSA and third-party manufacturers.

    In 1926, William Alferink received a US patent for a soldering station - this was the first system of this type in the history of soldering irons.

    In 1946, Carl Weller received a patent for a solder gun . He opened the Weller Manufacturing Company in Pennsylvania, which began to supply its products to companies and individuals.

    In 1949, American Beauty released a system that allowed you to adjust the temperature of the soldering iron when it was connected to this system.

    In 1951, WEN Products was founded, which began to produce its own soldering iron. It became popular, and in 1954 the first lawsuit took place between the Weller Manufacturing Company and WEN Products. The head of the first company accused the second of violating patent laws. He won the court .

    In 1960, Weller Manufacturing received a patent for a thermo-controlled soldering iron , after which the golden era of soldering irons had already begun.

    Modern soldering irons

    There are many varieties of soldering irons. They are classified by heating method, power and other parameters.

    According to the type of heating, soldering irons are divided into soldering irons with periodic and continuous heating.

    Periodically heated soldering irons:

    • hammer and butt. Just these soldering irons, which are a massive working tip that is mounted on a long handle, appeared thousands of years ago. They exist now, they are heated from gas or gas burners;
    • arc soldering iron. Such soldering irons are heated by an electric arc, which is periodically generated between the carbon electrode inside the soldering iron and its tip. Typically, such a soldering iron weighs no less than a kilogram, and the system heats up to a temperature of 500 ° C. Power consumption - 1.5–2 kW.

    Constantly heated soldering irons:

    • electric - they are heated with the help of an electric heating element operating from the mains, from a step-down transformer or batteries;
    • gas - a gas burner is built into them, which heats the sting. Gas comes from a can of liquefied gas or a large can through a hose;
    • fuel - the principle of operation is similar to gas, but instead of gas, liquid fuel;
    • hot air - creates a constant stream of hot air, which melts the solder;
    • infrared - heating occurs using infrared radiation.

    In electronics and electrical engineering, electric soldering irons are most often used. They differ in power.

    The most powerful soldering iron

    As a rule, these are hammer systems with a power of about 550 watts. The weight of such soldering irons is 1.5–2 kg; they heat up to 600 ° C. They are used for tinning, as well as for burning on wood, leather and plastic.

    The Ersa 550 is a typical member of the powerful soldering iron family. This is a hammer soldering iron with a power of 550 watts and a weight of 2.3 kg. By the way, it costs about 26 thousand rubles. Designed for sheet metal processing, installation and soldering of collectors and copper tires.

    High and medium power soldering irons

    Such soldering irons, at 40-150 watts, are usually used by electricians. A typical representative of this “family” is the ERSA-150 soldering iron, which weighs 245 g and is heated to 450 ° C. The tip of powerful soldering irons can be either curved, or wedge-shaped or conical.

    Soldering irons of increased and medium power are used both for working with wires and for processing glass or other materials.

    Low power and micro soldering irons

    The power of such soldering irons is 5–25 watts. They are used to work with electronic equipment: from micropaque to working with wires or elements that are clearly visible without a microscope or magnifier. Such soldering irons usually have a variety of interchangeable tips. Some models have an LCD display, which displays the temperature of the heating tip and the mode of operation of the device. Also, most models are equipped with a thermostat.

    A striking representative of the micro-soldering iron family is the TS-100 model.

    Its weight is only 35 grams, its length is 17 cm. There is an LCD display to display important information like temperature and operating mode.

    Not just electronics. What else can you do with a soldering iron?

    In addition to soldering electronic components and wires, a soldering iron can be used for soldering metal products, plastic, working with glass, including organic.

    Soldering of sheets of tin

    This is a frequent process in the manual manufacture of metal containers. In addition, soldering helps to fasten sheets of iron together, and the design can be made airtight. To solder iron with tin, a hammer soldering iron, solder with a small concentration of tin, flux and awl are needed.

    With this soldering flux performs the functions of both a solvent and an oxidizing agent. When a metal is heated, it is wetted and protected from oxidative processes. Well, as a flux, you can use rosin and hydrochloric acid, or zinc chloride and boric acid.

    For soldering iron or tin, you need an electric soldering iron with a power of more than 40 watts. As for soldering irons, which are heated by fire, they are no longer used.

    Galvanized iron and wire can also be soldered.

    Soldering plastic

    A soldering iron can be useful to a motorist to eliminate cracks or dents on a bumper or elements of a plastic object. In a normal situation, removing the bumper is not so easy, and replacing it is expensive. You can repair plastic car parts without dismantling them.

    It is possible to solder plastic using a soldering iron with a straight or bent tip, this method allows you to connect even fragments into a single whole. The second option is a thermal gun, which not only solders the parts, but also makes it possible to straighten the deformed areas. And the third option is a soldering station, which includes the advantages of the first two options.

    With a soldering iron you can repair almost any damaged plastic parts, not only for cars. Bicycles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, household appliances - everything can be repaired with a soldering iron.

    Soldering and cutting glass

    Specialized soldering irons can be used to solder stained glass art. For this, in addition to soldering irons, soldering flux and soldering ointment are required. The difference between "glass" soldering irons from ordinary is the inability to replace the tip.

    In addition to soldering glass, a soldering iron can also be used for cutting glass products. To do this, you need to gradually move the soldering iron along the line of the planned cut, so that the glass will crack (only a few millimeters in the sting area). After passing through the soldering iron along the entire line, one part of the glass will separate from the other.

    Fluxes and solders

    Soldering of metals is impossible without flux and solder. The flux counteracts the oxidation of the contact surface and at the same time cleans this surface from the existing oxide film, so that the hot solder actively contacts the metal. The solders are divided into soft (melting temperature below 300 ° C) and hard (300 ° C).

    There are pure solders - for example, tin or lead, and there are multicomponent ones that are most often used in modern electronics. All of them serve for soldering materials with different purposes (soldering of parts sensitive to overheating, soldering of motor windings, soldering of printed circuits, etc.).

    Well, there are even more fluxes. They can be of organic and inorganic origin, but their purpose most often is to remove oxides of soldered surfaces, reduce surface tension and improve adhesion of liquid solder. Before, there were few fluxes, mainly rosin. Now a wide range of fluxes is available to the owner of the soldering iron. The most popular flux is Amtech RMA-223, which is a mixture of rosin and solvent, EFD NC-D500 6-412-A Flux-Plus (rosin, solvent, activator), Interflux 2005 (also rosin, solvent, activator).

    Fluxes of different types are needed in order to provide optimal conditions for soldering different metals using different solders. Here one can’t get along with only one rosin, nevertheless in the courtyard of the 21st century.

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