Soldering is a mechanical process in which two or more metals are joined by filling the gap between the metals by filler metals. Now, this definition is more apt for industrial processes where large chunks of iron pieces and other metals are to be joined. On a smaller scale, normally used in electronic laboratories, soldering is referred to the joining of wires to printed circuit boards (PCB). It is also done to join two wires together or to join a wire to a battery.
In this article, you can find some necessary information and tips that will make your job of soldering wires easy and hassle free.
A Beginner's Guide to Soldering Wires
Choose an Adequate Soldering Iron
While soldering components of a PCB or an electronic circuit, always ensure that the soldering iron has the wattage rating that suits your circuit board. In other words, 'soldering guns', that are meant for metals with very high melting points must not be used for circuit boards. The amount of heat that you use during the process determines how well your wires will be soldered.
Composition of Solder Type
The type of solder metals used plays a crucial role in the quality of soldering. Generally, soldering wire used in laboratories is a mixture of tin and lead. Sn/Pb (tin/lead) concentrations of 60/40 and 50/50 are commercially available. The 60/40 combination has a melting point of 371 °F, while the 50/50 concentration has a 425 °F melting point.
Soldering Wires Together
To solder two wires together, you have to just touch the filler to the tip of the soldering iron and then solder at the required place. However, this method is usually not preferred as it melts the soldering material even before applying to the wires! The wires that are to be soldered must be properly joined and twisted a bit to impart stability. You should first apply the filler, also called solder material, to the wires and then solder them. When you start, the solder material will melt and you'll be able to see the wires joined. All this takes very few seconds and so you have to be careful that you don't overheat the joint. Also, the amount of solder material you apply must be estimated correctly.
Soldering Wires to a Circuit Board
When soldering the wires to printed circuit boards, you have to ensure that overheating is avoided, as this can spoil the entire circuit board. So, before soldering wires on circuit boards, it is better to mark all the areas with a marker pen or pencil. Take an adequate amount of solder material, put it on the corresponding place and then just slowly heat it. To ensure that your circuit board looks clean after you're done, use small amounts of soldering material.
Soldering Wires to a Battery
While soldering simple wires to circuit boards is safe and not risky, soldering wires to a battery can be risky due to the fact that batteries contain explosive ingredients and overheating them can cause them to explode. This does not mean that batteries are not soldered. It means that it must be done very carefully, preferably by an expert. Overheating of the contact point must be avoided. If you're a beginner or don't have enough knowledge about soldering batteries then doing it on your own is not a bright idea. It's better to get professional help.
So, as you can see, the basics of soldering wires is not very difficult to understand. All it requires is adequate practice and necessary precautions. You can take help of your lab assistants and teachers to learn this skill methodically.