Soldering Tips

  • Why You Should Refrigerate Solder Paste

    Solder paste is a vital material used in the manufacturing
    of printed circuit boards. It connects surface mount components to pads on the
    board through its sticky consistency once heated and forms a bond and an
    electrical connection. Inside the paste, there are ingredients that serve as
    activators that essentially remove oxides from the surface being soldered and
    the powdered solder alloy itself once heated.

    As the paste ages, however, its physical characteristics and overall effectiveness will change. Most solder pastes typically have a shelf life of around 3-6 months when refrigerated. This makes refrigeration the best and most effective way to get the longest use out of your solder paste. Once your paste reaches room temperature or higher, the six month shelf life can shorten to as little as 24 hours. Generally speaking, the ideal temperature for most pastes is between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius. Temperatures warmer than this could separate the flux medium from the body of the paste, possibly causing printing defects and errors.

    Kester EP256 Solder Paste

    While it is not recommended to leave solder paste in warm environments, freezing solder paste is also not recommended. Placing solder paste in too low of temperatures could result in the precipitation of the activators. There are many different solder paste options, but whichever paste you buy should be stored immediately as soon as it arrives.

    Think of your solder paste as a carton of milk. You wouldn’t want to leave the milk sitting out in your car for hours before you finally arrive home from the grocery store. Solder paste generally comes in a package that has insulating materials or ice packs, but it is still recommended that you choose next day shipping and move it to a refrigerated environment as soon as possible.

    Solder paste is designed to have quick reactions at higher temperatures but remain fairly dormant at lower temperatures. This is why it is extremely important to keep the paste at the aforementioned temperature range until removing for use. GoKimco offers a wide variety of different solder pastes, but each product includes details on the recommended handling and shelf life.  

    Kester R276 Solder Paste, 35gr Syringe

  • Remember to use our Tip Finder™ to find the right tips for your soldering station!

    We know how difficult it can be to figure out what tips will fit your particular soldering station. We introduced the Kimco Tip Finder™ to help you discover a wide array of soldering tips that will work with your station of choice.

    We regularly update the Tip Finder™ to include new tip series and stations. If you still have trouble finding the tips you need, do not hesitate to call us!

    Check out the how-to video below.

  • Unique Hakko products you didn't know you needed.

    Hakko is well known for soldering stations and tips, but their product line is wider and more innovative than you may realize.

    Here are some Hakko products that you may not be aware of.




    Hakko FS100-01 Tip Rejuvenating / Cleaning Chemical Paste

    Hakko FS100-01 Tip Rejuvenating / Cleaning Chemical Paste

    "Tip tinner" paste is vital to maintaining soldering and desoldering tip life. Hakko's FS100-01 is an affordable way to keep your tips in great shape. Make sure to check out the included video on extending tip life with this amazing paste.








    Hakko FT-710 Soldering Iron Tip Cleaner

     Hakko FT-710 Soldering Iron Tip Cleaner

    Speaking of tip maintenance, the new Hakko FT-710 tip cleaner unit is the perfect companion to your Hakko tip tinner paste. This unit is easy to use and features metal brushes that scrub your soldering tips with amazing success. Keeping tips clean makes them last substantially longer, which translates into big savings for you over time. Plus, it looks cool!







    Hakko 394-01 Vacuum Pick-up Tool Complete with Batteries

    Hakko 394-01 Vacuum Pick-up Tool Complete with Batteries

    Hakko makes this handy battery operated vacuum unit for picking up small components. Whether you are a seasoned industry vet, or a part-time hobbyist, this little unit will come in handy while performing assemblies and repairs.

    Check back with us frequently for more updates on unique new Hakko products!

  • Proper Tecniques for Printed Circuit Board Cleaning

    Proper Tecniques for Printed Circuit Board Cleaning

    Printed Circuit Boards are delicate pieces of electronics and it is important that they be cleaned and maintained properly. Though many may feel that dusting a PCB is sufficient for removing potentially harmful build up, there are a few different methods for removing sediment that can help extend the life and improve performance of a PCB.

    canned-airThe first and most common item used for cleaning PCBs is canned air. This highly compressed air is great for pinpointing dust and particulates without damaging or disturbing the rest of the circuit board in the process. Using a dust rag or other, harsher cleaning agent can dislodge connections and can cause major issues down the road. Rough or abrasive cleaning can break connections and damage the circuit board to the point of replacement.

    ACL StaticideThe next cleaning agents to consider are solvents. Sometimes dusting is simply not enough to remove particulates and other dust that is on a PCB. Solvents can help to remove large deposits like corrosion, rust, solids that have formed on the surface, and other issues that can damage and even stall the function of a PCB. When choosing a solvent it is always important to choose a product that has vapor rinse. This will help to remove all residue that is left after soldering.

    There are a few different ways that residues can be removed, the first is submersion of the PCB in the proper solvent. For soldering residue, water based submersions work best. It may also be sufficient to use air based cleaning to remove these harmful build up. For tougher residues using a solvent can help.

    Branson Ultrasonic CleanerUltrasonic cleaning can help to dislodge residue without much contact. The less users have to touch the PCB to remove residue the better. Extensive handling can cause damage without truly cleaning the PCB. Because these circuit boards are so small and delicate, it is important that precision is used to remove any dirt or other sediment. Taking the time to find the proper solvent for the issue at hand can save time and money in the long run and can insure a clean and well functioning PCB.

  • Why Should my Company Switch to Lead Free Soldering?

    If circuits were living creatures, solder would be the blood cells. Without this valuable tool, many of the luxuries we take for granted (like computers, smartphones and GPS) wouldn't function. For more than a century, lead based solder has been the standard for connecting resistors and capacitors to a circuit. However, a recent rise in environmental concern has the future of lead-based solder in question. It's already illegal in Europe, and it may soon suffer the same fate in the US.

    Is Lead-Based Solder Better?

    There are many hobbyists and amateur electricians who swear by lead based solder, because they think it provides a better bond. However, a skilled worker can garner quality results from a 100% lead-free solder. Most solders have a 60/40 ratio of lead to other metals, typically tin and aluminum. However, there are completely lead-free options available and their benefits far outweigh any perceived disadvantages.

    Benefits of Lead-Free Soldering

    • Safety- The threat of lead poisoning has caused this metal's elimination from virtually every phase of modern life. Precautions can be taken to prevent workers from inhaling lead vapors, but lead-free is a safer option. The National Institute for Health (NHI) suggests avoiding lead-based soldering, so there's no debate about which type is more harmful.
    • Going Green- Products made with lead-based solder can't be recycled, which creates far more waste. Lead-based solder also contaminates the ground water when it's buried in land fills.
    • Global Commerce- Products with lead-based solder have already been outlawed in Europe. Anyone looking to capitalize in foreign markets should be using lead-free.
    • Reliability- People may think that lead-based solder is more dependable, but reliable sources at Dartmouth College say otherwise. Lead-based solder has also been outlawed in Europe since 2011, and they have yet to experience any adverse effects.

    Why is Lead-Based so Popular

    It takes time to become familiar with 100% lead-free solder. It molds differently, and it may take a day or so for you grow accustom to the change. However, there is no credible data to suggest lead-free is any less reliable. Even if it did bond better, choosing lead-based solder over lead-free is like replacing the graphite in pencils with lead because it writes better. That one minor benefit is heavily outweighed by the bounty of benefits provided by the safer alternative. In general, people are typically opposed to change, but this is a simple decision to save the lives of those who build circuits and improve the health of the environment.

  • A Soldering Beginner's Shopping List


    Getting started in soldering?


    Here's a short list of things you're going to need as a beginner:



    It is hard to solder without soldering wire and flux. Before buying your wire, it's a good idea to read some reviews. You don't need to be an expert on all the different alloys out there, you'll learn a lot of what you need to know with practice and with time, but in the meantime, there are plenty of experts out there on the web who can lead you to a wire that matches your project.

    • Scrap Materials

    Having a few circuit boards, broken radios and remote controls around the house to practice with can help you to keep from having to learn as you go. If you don't have any scrap electronics laying around, browse a thrift store for anything with a circuit board in it.

    • Goggles and Gloves

    Some find heavy gloves to be restrictive when doing delicate soldering work, and some don't use gloves at all, but it's a good idea to practice safety first when starting out.

    If you don't own a basic soldering station already, then it goes without saying that you can't begin your project without one. Know that the best kits are not necessarily the most expensive, but the cheapest do tend to be less durable than mid-range models.

    • Pliers and Clamps

    The ability to keep everything where it needs to be is of the utmost importance when soldering. Pliers andclamps can help to stabilize your work surface for a safer, cleaner solder.

    Some basic cleaning sponges will help you to wipe the solder off the tip.

    Once you have all of this in order, you should be ready to embark on your beginner projects.

  • Hand Soldering With Lead Free Materials: A How-to Guide for Beginners


    Lead FreeSoldering with lead-free materials does not need to be difficult. There are a number of tools that are designed specifically to make this job easier. When they are combined with the right techniques, a novice can enjoy an end product that is clean and residue free.

    Choose the Right Kester Solderimages (1)

    For the best results, use the appropriate alloy combination that is designed to be drawn into the wire. One such alloy is made of a tin-silver-copper combination (SAC) such as Chip Quik SMD291SNL10 Rework Solder Lead Free. This solder has a melting temperature of 217 degrees and is designed to be no clean. When compared to the other popular alloy formulation that utilize tin-copper (SnCu), this type of solder offers a quicker melting point, ensuring that it wets better and has better flow.

    KES-Pb-free-alloy-wire_27_4_1Choose the Right Wire

    To promote the proper wetting necessary to solder components together, the wire you choose needs to have at least 2% flux by weight. Using wire that has this weight allows for a good balance between wetting times and the possibility of residue. For wetting times that are deemed too slow, 3% flux can be used. However, the residue that is typically the result can be unsightly. Kester flux is specifically designed to work within lead free applications. Charring, splattering and the breakdown of the flux are minimized even when the necessary higher temperatures are used.

    Choose the Right TipSoldering tip locator

    The right tip choice makes all the difference in the delivery of the Kester solder. Lead free tips are crucial to both the success and aesthetics of the bond. These tips need to be able to deliver enough heat so that the right amount of coverage is generated. To increase the life of tips, it is important that the entire tip be designed for lead free applications. Those tips that are simply tinned with solder that is lead free tend to have a dramatically shortened life span.

    Choose the Right Technique

    Before making the final selection of flux, ensure sure that parts can be easily soldered with it. This will help reduce the desire to add excessive amounts of flux as well as the need to rework the piece repeatedly. Keeping contact times to a minimum will also result in a cleaner end product.

    Lead free soldering can result in a stable connect of materials that is also clean and residue free.



  • What soldering tip do I need?

    Solder tip finding toolSoldering can be at once an incredibly rewarding and fun thing to do and a complete hassle. Without the right information, finding a tip that fits the job you are completing may be difficult. There are a few different tips that are specific to certain jobs and knowing a bit about them can make all the difference.

    Chisel Tips- chisel tips are perhaps the most common soldering tips on the market. They are easy to use, easy to come by, and are an all around great tip that fits plenty of different needs. For those just starting out, this type of tip is almost always best to get a feel for your soldering iron and your solder tip. This tip is good for creating smooth joints, smoothing over solder deposits, and more. This is truly the all around tip and should be part of any kit.

    Pointed Tips- This type of tip is almost always best for pin point work. This means that it is good for small detail work. This type of tip is good for moving the solder around after it has been deposited on the area you are going to be working with. It is perfect for creating small solders and pinpointing where you want your solder material to land and ultimately stay. This type of tip is great for both advanced and beginning users and is great for any soldering station. The Edsyn LT602-1LF tip is a fantastic pointed tip.

    Rounded Tips- these tips are great for depositing solder and for creating strong joints. This type of tip is great for beginning users and for advanced users and are perfect for depositing solder. If you are looking for a good solid soldering tip, round tips are great and offers stability in soldering for those that may not be all that sure about what they are doing.

    Mini Wave Hollow Tips- hollow tips are great for depositing solder and for moving around solder material while it is still hot and creating smooth joints. Hollow tips are great for both beginning and advanced users and are a great all around tip. Hollow tips generally feature a small well that can hold solder material at the tip to make for easy depositing.  One of the most popular Mini Wave tips is the Pace MiniWave.  Pace originated the patented tip design and we feature it on our site.  Keep in mind, the Pace MiniWave tip can only be used with the Pace soldering stations.  If you have a different soldering station brand, call (800) 521-9197 or email us for options.

    Solder tips do not have to be confusing. It takes just a bit of practice and a bit of information and you can easily and quickly find the tip that is right for your job. The tip makes all the difference and can make soldering much easier.

    Soldering tip locator







  • How You Can Get Solder Training

    If your soldering technique fails, your assembly will fail. Unfortunately, it may not fail immediately. Poor solder joints may hold until the PCB is installed and on its way to the consumer. The minuet speck of solder goes unnoticed until it slides under the microprocessor and fries $100 in components. Solder training can save you or your business a considerable amount of money and troubleshooting headaches.

    Large industry solutions

    Large industries can benefit from in-house solder training. A better choice is to have one or more individuals trained as instructors. Several companies, including BEST and Omni, offer IPC Master Certification training for IPC-A-610, J-STD-001 and other requirements. BEST offers a mobile program that will come to your facilities. Courses can be designed to meet your business's soldering needs from BGA Rework, SMT and Advanced SMT.

    Blackfox offers downloadable training programs for in-house training. Kits are purchased separately and include options for NASA cable assembly. Certifications for soldering must be completed through actual classes. Advanced employee preparation will improve the chances for students to receive the required certification.

    EPTAC offers in-house and eTraining programs. The eTraining programs allow participants to have audio/video interaction with an instructor from any location. Students must own a copy of the IPC or J-STD manual prior to the start of the program.

    NASA requirements can be met through IPC J-STD-001ES in addition to other IPC class certifications. A downloadable workbook is available for students working on NASA-STD-8739.3.

    Small business and hobbyists

    The downloadable classes are also an excellent choice for a small business or hobbyists. A wide range of classes are available that will help individuals improve soldering techniques. Many training companies also offer free video courses designed for improving soldering skills for those that do not need to hold a certification. Even when certification is not required, improving your soldering skills will lead to greater efficiency and better results.

  • When Manufacturing or Repairing Printed Circuit Boards Quality Soldering Tips are The Difference

    Metcal_Soldering Tips

    Metcal soldering tips are the soldering tips of choice when working on assembly and repair of printed circuit boards. The broad selection of Metcal tips also makes them a favorite of professional journeyman who solder in the field such as electricians as well as hobbyists.

    Metcal tips are available in a variety of sizes so there is a Metcal soldering tip that is a correct fit for your job. Without the correct size tip, a good solder is not possible.

    In addition to a range of sizes, Metcal soldering tips are available with tip geometry that covers virtually any need. The right size and the right shape help to make joints strong and durable.

    Metcal tips also operate at the lowest possible operating temperature - frequently about as hot as a household iron. The eDirect technology built into Metcal soldering tips allows the user to solder using low temperatures on heavy loads by concentrating the energy (heat) at the load. Low temperature soldering is the preferred methodology as it lessens the dangers to the printed circuit board or any other item you are soldering. Using low temperatures reduces the pile on your scrap heap. Changing the temperature cartridge allows you to raise the temperature you solder at, but the makers of Metcal tips urge this be done only as a last resort.

    Another great feature of the Metcal Soldering Tips is that the tips are designed to connect to the hand piece by just pushing them on until they click. There are no clips or other fasteners so your field of view to the soldering area is unobstructed. Metcal tips come with a rubber mat to use for holding the tip while connecting it. This keeps them from getting scratched - accordingly no metal tools should be used when attaching them. The assembly process is simple, quick, and reliable.

    Metcal soldering tips are terrific tools for hand soldering. They are well engineered and provide:

    • Constant temperature
    • Easy connection to hand tools
    • Size and shapes for every need in making and repairing printed circuit papers

    In addition they are affordably priced and lower scrap losses..

    Contact KIMCO today for more information about Metcal soldering tips; call us at (800) 521-9197.


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