Switch to 72m solder wire improves longevity of iron tips

2nd December 2021
James Anstee

Case study explaining how the switch to 72m solder wire makes soldering quicker and cleaner, and improves the longevity of soldering iron tips.

All is good after a switch to 72M solder wire

Specialist contract assembly company, Allgood Technology Ltd, recently moved to Koki’s 72M solder wires. Fraser Technologies, supplier of Koki solder products, explains how the switch makes soldering much quicker and cleaner, and improves the longevity of soldering iron tips.

Electronics manufacturing is a precise and agile discipline, requiring technical skill and proficiency. Like many other industries, manufacturers in the electronics sector are always searching for solutions to ongoing issues and more efficient production methods.

One of the industry’s most common issue is a demand for more cost-effective solder wire. The standard, un-leaded solder alloys most commonly used for hand soldering can be very aggressive, often ‘eating’ soldering iron tips. As technology advances and components get smaller, soldering iron tips have become more sophisticated and much more expensive; so ensuring they can be used for longer periods of time can have major cost savings.

Soldering solutions providers, such as Koki, are leading the way on R&D and the technical innovation that will solve this and other common issues.

Next generation of solder wire

Products like Koki’s 72M series of solder wires are designed to extend the life of soldering iron tips by up to four times. During the soldering process, the alloy forms a protective barrier to deter erosion. This, combined with a powerful wetting flux core, allows the operator to run the iron tip at lower temperatures, further improving the tip life, and leading to a significantly more economical manufacturing process.

The 72M series also has powerful wetting performance due to the introduction of new activators, and a new resin composition allowing better flux coverage. This can more than double the soldering speed, saving time and improving efficiency. The improved wettability applies to copper as well as to nickel and brass, the latter being metals which are generally considered difficult to wet.

In addition, these wires help to prevent bridging, which most often occurs when there is too much solder between joints and an unintentional connection is formed. The solder wire is so powerful it even prevents bridging in defect-prone conditions, such as low iron tip temperatures or fast sliding speed.

Another common issue with solder wires is complicated usability as a result of too much obstructive residue or offensive emissions and odours. The 72M series produces very low, clear residue and there is minimal flux spattering, to such an extent that some users can hand solder near optics without any issues. Perhaps most importantly for individual operators, the 72M series emits low fumes, causing minimal irritation.

Crucially for the electronics industry, the wires also offer high electrical reliability. Because the activation level of flux is categorised as ROL0, an IPC classification meaning residue is hard, non-corrosive, non-conductive and may be left on many types of assemblies, the 72M series inhibits electro-migration and secure high surface insulation resistance.

If you do need to remove the residues, we offer a compatible solvent flux removal aerosol to complete the package

New solder wire in action

Allgood Technology Ltd is a specialist electronics assembly company that manufactures loaded electronic boards for tier 1 global aerospace and automotive companies. Over the past 30 years, many solder alloys and flux combinations have been tried for hand and surface mount soldering but since the business moved to Koki’s 72M solder wires, it has found soldering much quicker and cleaner, and it has improved the longevity of its soldering iron tips by a factor of two to four times.

Peter Allgood, MD of Allgood Technology, said: “We are extremely satisfied with the 72M series both in terms of general soldering, which is quicker and cleaner than our existing wires, and we have noticed a marked improvement in soldering tip life. Because of our aerospace work, we use Metcal irons exclusively and their tips are not cheap!  Since we started using Koki 72M, tip life has at least doubled and is usually three to four times longer than we were getting before. This is saving us far more than the slightly increased costs of the wire.”

He added: “Our assemblers, the people who actually use the solder day in and day out, also took to the wire immediately. Without exception, they are all very happy with its performance.”

Roy Goshawk, Sales Manager at Fraser Technologies, which supplies the product, said: “We have seen 98% of our solder wire customers make the switch to the 72M series with great results.

“The 72M range of solder wires solves many of the industry’s key hand-soldering challenges, including tip erosion, wettability, waxy residue and spattering, while maintaining the high quality expected.

“Its special low silver and high reliability alloys are compatible for applications in the automotive and aerospace industries, making it an appropriate solution for a wide variety of customers, and an extremely versatile and high-quality product.”

As technology advances and the electronics industry continues to innovate, supporting products will need to develop alongside to keep up with demand. Soldering solutions should not be cause for issue when alternative products are available to provide the quality expected, while solving common challenges. Now is the time to stay ahead of the curve and make the switch.

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