Soldering stations are considered the prime of all soldering equipments. This is due to the large number or collection of tools included within soldering stations. This ensures total compatibility between the different tools unlike purchasing individual third party accessories for your soldering iron. However, despite all these advantages, there are various downsides to using a soldering station. These include limitations in maintenance and purchase. We look at each limitation in detail.
This had to be the obvious starter. Soldering stations contain virtually anything you will ever need for your soldering tasks. This does however translate to very high prices for an average soldering station. Die to other factors such as brand name and guaranteed compatibility, prices for these items tend to be higher than the combined prices of each individual item combined. Purchasing a soldering station might therefore cost you more in the short and long run than purchasing each bit on its own.
The best type of soldering station is often complete with a set of tools to cater for all your soldering needs. However, most users, especially beginners and hobbyists will rarely use all the included tools. This implies that purchasing a soldering station probably leaves most users with sunk costs for items they will probably never use. This is expensive as compared to purchasing each tool that you need on its own.
The design of many soldering stations is such that only original parts can be used as replacements for damaged parts. This could become expensive especially if your soldering station is from the top reputable companies in the industry. This is as compared to going to your local electronics shop and replacing any damaged part for your soldering tools.
Welding is undoubtedly one of the best metal bonding methods especially when strength of the joints is important. Welding, unlike soldering and brazing causes the metal in the base joint to melt and then adds liquefied metal to create a pool that then cools and bonds metals. The basic process by which welding bonds two or more sheets of metal is known as fusion. Some common welding techniques include gas metal arc welding, flux core arc welding, electro-slag welding and submerged arc welding. The method involves using a welding torch, a relatively large piece of equipment that burns butane from cylinders to create a flame used to melt the metals. However, there are several downsides to using this. The most common include:
The smallest welding machine has relatively more weight and size than virtually any other soldering equipment. This implies that the usage of the machine is limited by its immobility. The bulkiness comes primarily from the gas tanks that must be used with the welding torch to provide the butane for combustion. This also implies that the machine cannot be easily carried around and is thus totally unusable by those that require movement.
Like the soldering torch, there is very little means of heat control if any. The flame produced by the butane is usually consistent regardless of the particular workspace. This implies that achieving a lower temperature flame is almost impossible and thus limiting the times when a welding torch can be used. This high level of heat however happens to be among the tool’s strengths since it’s able to bond metals through fusion.
Not usable on non-metals
Unlike other soldering tools, welding machines cannot be used on non-metals. This is due to the extreme heat produced by the flame.
A desoldering pump is a small piston-like tool essential for the removal of solder from PCBs and other components. A desoldering pump normally has three main elements; the spring mechanism, the tip and the suction mechanism. The working of a desoldering pump is a little bit complicated but doesn’t take long to learn. However, despite the advantages associated with the tool, it still has various shortcomings. These include:
Limited to small tasks
Like other small-sized soldering tools, a desoldering pump is only effective on relatively small tasks and can therefore not be used in large scale. For desoldering on large surfaces, other methods, mostly brutal ones are preferable. A desoldering pump has a small tip that heats sucks the solder from the surface. This tip size limits the amount of solder that can be sucked at a go.
The working of a soldering pump is complicated and requires some getting used to for perfection. The heat and suck mechanism could easily cause component damage through unintended heating. This is especially true for very small PCB components that like solder can be easily sucked by the desoldering pump. The heat is also insufficient at times and thus melts the solder only partially. This leads to a repeat of the process for the desoldering to be fully done.
A desoldering pump produces relatively low heat which is then focused on a very small space to melt solder. This is a huge source of inefficiency for the desoldering pump especially as compared to other methods such as use of a heat gun. It would take a desoldering pump a very long time to complete a task that would otherwise take a few minutes or seconds with a heat gun or compressed air machine.