Any spare gold soldering tip, please ?

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Externet
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Any spare gold soldering tip, please ?

Post by Externet » Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:24 am

Hi all.
If someone has an extra gold soldering tip, used or not, any brand, with or without the iron that could sell me please?

Question 2 ... Do you know if a jeweler would be capable of gold cladding a copper or iron-clad tip from a soldering iron ? Or it has to be solid ?

Thanks,
Miguel

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haklesup
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Post by haklesup » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:23 am

Gold can be electroplated directly onto Copper, Silver or Nickel base metal (same or next column in periodic table). Iron may require a Nikel barrier layer since gold and Iron are electromotive'ly far apart (3 columns apart) but I am not sure.

I suppose a jewler could do it but my first stop would be a commercial electroplater. He will charge a lot charge so if you bring a handfull of tips, it would likely cost the same as just one. Then you can sell the balance on eBay and make a profit.

Do you know how thick of a coating you want? this will greatly effect any prices you get.

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Post by Externet » Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:54 am

Thanks.
I will have to visit a jeweler; on the telephone I was told they can gold plate the materials as you listed, but if it is ironclad tip, I suppose copper or nickel would have to be deposited first.

Thickness? Whatever can last 1 to 5 years would be fine. For one hundredth of an ounce layer, I don't think price is to consider; am just sick of the unleaded solder behavior and willing to try gold, as heard many good comments (but none on unleaded yet)
Miguel

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Post by haklesup » Mon Nov 13, 2006 2:41 pm

A Jeweler probably won't have much control over the process thickness and likely only has one deposition method available. I would guess a Jeweler would either apply a thin cosmetic (flash) coating or a thick one of unspecified thickness.

In any case, my gut feeling (I have no reference) is that you probably want more like 12ct gold rather than 24ct pure gold. For one the 12ct is harder (so should last longer) and the silver content is compatible with the high Sn/Ag content of the solder. Might tin better I would think. I might also speculate that since 12ct gold is already essentially saturated with silver, it is less apt to alloy with and be contaminated by the solder itself. I think pure gold will work as well and maybe even wet better but not necessarily last longer. Maybe you can get one of each and compare.

A nickel underplating while not required to get the gold to adhere to the copper would provide a harder base metal (harder than Cu or Au) which would make the tip last longer and would lessen the need for a thicker gold top coat. I'd skip this for a prototype just to see if gold helps your problem but if it does work well and you decide to produce (altered) premium tips for sale, this would be a nice feature to test.

For more on lead free solder compatibility look in the context of PCB finish rather than soldering iron tips.

BTW. There is no shortage of electroplaters here in the Si Valley but it is expensive due to enviornmental rules. You may find a better price out of state and save more than the cost of shipping. In any case, these guys will give you far more detailed answers than a jeweler could.

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Post by jwax » Mon Nov 13, 2006 6:52 pm

12 ct Gold is 50/50 gold/copper. No silver.
What are you attempting to do Miguel? Gold plating a tip will look nice until you use it on solder, lead-free or otherwise. Gold will alloy/dissolve into most solders.

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Post by Externet » Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:22 pm

Hi jwax ! :grin:
Just sick of the ironclad tips in irons at my workplace, forming a coat of whatever preventing the unleaded solder to wet, making my life miserable. They run at 800ºF all day long.

Rework of production boards is constant, and this new solder behaves nasty (spoiled with the nice behavior of the lead/tin perhaps?)

Read several times that the gold ones last for years, but trying to find if someone has used them with unleaded solder. So I can request the company to buy them. If they don't, I will pay from my pocket, as I want joints done right. Actually is not soldering the nasty part, it is desoldering for rework what pisses me.
When a component is on a ground or power plane, sucks too much heat to allow the melt; and with horrible wetting of the tip it is really frustrating.

Will visit a jeweller to have a stub of 24K welded on a plain tip end, to see what happens.

Why is your opinion ..."a tip will look nice until you use it on solder, lead-free or otherwise"... Tell me more...

Another story is the only gold clad tips I could find, of course do not fit our iron brands (Murphy's) :x

Miguel

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Post by haklesup » Tue Nov 14, 2006 4:28 pm

Actually with the exception of 24ct gold which is pure any other alloy will be a ratio of copper or silver (neither of which is required). See the first chart on this page
http://www.gold.org/jewellery/technolog ... index.html The presence of copper or silver has an effect on the color and other properties.

Its all going to be a hodge podge of intermetallics after it gets used a while anyway. My deeper point was that starting with an alloy of gold would impart certain mechanical properties like increased hardness, higher melting point and maybe others. I'll leave it to you to figure that out since I'm not an expert.

In any case, you may find it to be cost effective to purchase a basic gold plating kit and do it yourself. If it works out, you just get more chemical and scale up to more tips. No shortage of venders found on google or pages for DIY plating. I'm not so sure how to plate alloys (or if they can only be cast). Most kits are for 24ct

As for the Iron clad tips Try a different flux/tinning paste and train the operators to use it lots more often. Iron tips I assume you use for the durability but at 800F if they go dry they will form an oxide layer quite fast. All you can do is remove the oxide (a limit to how much you can do) or prevent it in the first place which is what the tinning paste will help to do. IMO FLux is underappreciated and ignored as often as ESD protection procedures, you just can't rely on flux core solder. Tinning paste (mix of flux and solder) is even less appreciated.

Last note: This link looks like it might be useful http://www.emsnow.com/cnt/files/White%2 ... dering.pdf

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Soldering golds? or brass?

Post by VIRAND » Tue Nov 14, 2006 5:44 pm

I think brass tips exist, look like gold, and stay looking nice for a much longer time than others.

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Post by jollyrgr » Tue Nov 14, 2006 7:46 pm

Just guessing but I think "solid gold tips" would be VERY expensive. I think it only would need to be gold plated.

Gold plating reduces oxidation of the tip while soldering. But instead of going to a jeweler I'd suggest visiting or looking at an automotive "BLING" shop. There are numerous car customizing shops that gold plate emblems, door handles, or other shiny car parts with gold. There are even platers that are gold plating coins such as the state quarters.

It might be possible to take a cheap piece of gold jewelry or even gold connectors and use these to roll your own gold plating system. To do your own plating should be simple enough. The electrical equipment needed is a high amp DC power supply. Possibly you could use a high power battery charger to do this if you don't have a bench supply. Or even a car battery might do for a "one off" job.

Here is a site that tells step by step how to use their kit. Using their information may get you started on a project in which you may already own everything you need.

http://www.americangoldplating.com/Gold ... CTURES.htm

For those more versed in chemistry maybe you can help out with this. I'm going to assume a few things about the process. Such as what metal is used in the "yellow handle" probe (the negative probe is stainless steel), what chemical solutions are used in the cloths etc.
No trees were harmed in the creation of this message. But billions of electrons, photons, and electromagnetic waves were terribly inconvenienced!

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Post by jwax » Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:42 pm

Maybe a jeweler is not the guy to talk about plating your soldering iron tips. Especially if he adds silver to make it look pretty.
Actually never heard of gold soldering iron tips at all. Certainly not in electronics soldering. Check http://www.semlab.com/GoldEmbrittlement ... Joints.doc
for gold embrittlement article. Lead/Tin story, but still an interesting read.
Gold dissolves/alloys quite easily. Even if you plated a tip with a proper alloy of gold, it would soon disappear in the molten mix.
BTW, what lead-free solder composition are you using?
Ask your solder supplier about alternative tips to minimize oxidised tips.

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Post by Externet » Wed Nov 15, 2006 8:34 pm

Good truthful link at emsnow, haklesup. Thanks.

The alloy used is 96.5%Sn, 3%Ag, 0.5%Cu by Kester. The recommendations are to shut off the irons immediately after use. It's impractical in real life with the intense activity, the workstations being shared by a dozen persons all day long. One that forgets or a few minutes delay and the tips are a mess.

Am willing to try electro-depositing 24K gold in a couple of tips to find out the truth. Will see.

Plan B am brewing is to mount an automobile cigarette lighter element under a thimble with solder in the iron resting support to keep the tip submerged... don't know if will solve something... Inventing lukewarm water is next :roll: I need a new brain !

Miguel

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gold plating on tips & lead free

Post by aisart » Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:14 pm

I've been reading this thread with interest and I would like to add my two cents.
I work for a manufacturer of soldering tools and we had tested gold plating 5 or 6 years ago. Nice idea but the plating will not last very long with SAC solder or in fact any solder. It will disolve.

Currently all tip manufactures are crazy trying to come up with a solution as tip life is degraded with lead free solder. Sadly the reality of things is that currently any plating other than iron is too expensive and unless you are willing to pay $100 dollars for a normal chisel tip, you are out of luck.

I would reccomend (note that I work for a soldering iron manufacturer so I am very biased) swiching irons, that allow you to work at lower temperatures (low mass/ high power ratio)tip, have a sleep temperature (lower temps while not in use but instant recovery) and some sort of shut off mechanism or hibernation to room temerature, where tip life will be extended due to decreased oxidation.

Currently there is 1 manufacturer that provide something similar to what I have described and that is JBC.

Metcal (now OKi) provides an automatic shut off down to 80F but as the movement sensor is in the handle any bump on the work area or cable will set it off running up again in temperature. Thermal recovery is rather slow (6 to 12 seconds depending on the tip size)

Weller has done a good job with their WDxxxx stations, as it has a included a sleep (set in minutes instead of automatic) feature but their shut off mode is very primitive and slow to react to the needs of the operator. Also applications needing high power (thick boards, heat sinks, etc) will suffer greatly as their transformers do not handle high thermal loads well.

All other manufacturers are way behind in this specific respect of extending tip life.

A very biased opinion I know, but the gold plating is not the solution.

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Post by Externet » Wed Nov 22, 2006 2:03 pm

Thanks for sharing your expertise !

A few days ago I had a Hakko FM-202 low mass chisel soldering tip recovered with 0,5mm thick solid jacket (not electrolytic plating) of 24K gold after grinding the iron clad out. (applied onto its copper core)

Was $25 for about 1 gram of gold, $25 for labor.

Cannot tell results yet as there is a good chance the labor was flawed, gapped between Cu and Au with flux; and the Au got damaged in 1 minute after turning on, spewing flux fumes.
The goldsmith is as me, experimenting on good will something not tried before, wishing to come up with somewhat a solution.

I really do not care if a wettable tip is more expensive as long as does its job for a decent amount of time. What would piss me is a manufacturer spending four bucks more in material and speculating on a $100 more per tip.

Perhaps you know of other clads behavior? Ag, Ti, Pt ...?

Thanks, please come back.
Miguel

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Post by jwax » Wed Nov 22, 2006 7:21 pm

Miguel- Methinks if you do come up with a viable alternative tip, you ought to visit a patent lawyer right quick.
The industry awaits, so good luck!

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Post by Externet » Wed Nov 22, 2006 7:47 pm

Naaaah... Me thinks will never involve again into a patent process :sad:
Last time the 3M giant gave me war. Not a game for little people.

Interesting how the industry invented the unleaded solder, imposed it on manufacturers, without a proper manual soldering tool to handle it. I can see the reason; everything is surface mount robot soldered in a pizza oven, not aimed to be serviced ever; and in that throwaway context, who cares about a manual soldering iron? Hobbysts? Ha! let them use the nice old leaded formula.

Miguel

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