Because lead-free soldering is done at a slightly higher temperature (423 – 439 °F, 217 – 226 °C) than lead-based soldering (361 – 374 °F, 183 – 191 °C), specific fluxes and desoldering tools should be used when working with lead-free solder. The fluxes are easy to transition to, though, and many companies have already purchased Hakko’s lead-free desoldering handpiece from Kimco Distributing Corp. For most businesses, the transition will not a significant investment in equipment, even though specific tools are needed.
The Hakko FM-2024 Desoldering Tool is designed for use with lead-free solder. The N1-series nozzles that are used with the FM-2024 are shorter than standard nozzles, and the N1 nozzles have a wider throat. This reduces clogging and makes it easier to work at the higher temperatures that lead-free solder requires. Businesses that already have an F-series Hakko Station can convert use the Hakko FM2024-21 Conversion Kit that is available from Kimco Distributing, instead of purchasing an entire new station.
Many fluxes used with lead-based solders will not perform well at lead-free solder’s higher temperature range. More active (and more corrosive) fluxes that are designed for lead-free soldering should be used instead. Kimco Distributing carries a full line of fluxes for both lead-based and lead-free soldering.
Since lead-free solder is becoming more common and has several advantages over lead-based solder, businesses that are purchasing new soldering equipment should consider tools that are compatible with lead-free soldering. Companies that are considering transferring to lead-free solder and already have tools, though, should be able to make the transition with a minimal investment in tools and equipment.