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Production soldering iron recommendation

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by PortlandElectronicsGirl, Jul 28, 2016.

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  1. PortlandElectronicsGirl

    PortlandElectronicsGirl

    2
    0
    Jul 28, 2016
    Hello everyone,

    I run a boutique cable assembly business, and I've been running the heck out of a Chinese-made 852D+ Rework Station (you know those with the heat gun built in?), but I'm looking to upgrade to a better unit. I don't know how much longer mine will last after hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours over a few years of constant use, plus the handle gets hot and the temperature not super consistent. And I'd like something nicer.

    What's your recommendation for a good quality production iron, suitable for daily, constant use? For years, decades maybe, I was a Weller girl and have been looking at their basic adjustable irons, but lately I've been leaning towards Hakko, and their FX888D sure looks nice. It's not super important to have a thermometer in the tip, as long as the heat is constant. I do use a lot of very high grade solders that are difficult to melt with some irons, if that matters (like the Cardas Quad Eutectic, Mundorf SilverGold Supreme and WBT silver solders).

    I'll also be doing a lot of PCB work soon, mostly through hole but some SMD, so an iron that's good for both this kind of work, and cable assembly, would be nice.

    What's best out there without shelling out hundreds of dollars?

    Thanks!

    RB
     
  2. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

    9,551
    1,975
    Nov 17, 2011
    This is a contradictio in adjecto. As much as one may wish to get high quality tools for low cost, little money typically gets you low quality.
    For a reliable soldering station you'll have to put in >100$. I've made good experience with Weller stations, I cannot speak for other brands.
    One criterion that comes to mind is quick and easy changeability of the solder tips for working on components or wires with different sizes, technologies and thermal requirements (e.g. SMD or through hole).

    Would you be willing to post a selection of solder stations taht are under consideration so we can give our judgement?
     
  3. PortlandElectronicsGirl

    PortlandElectronicsGirl

    2
    0
    Jul 28, 2016
    Well, I don't solder every day, and the old Chinese 852D+, which didn't cost more than $100 or so, has served me well, so I know I don't need to spend hundreds to get what I'm looking for. I don't need top of the line, I just want something that holds temperature better, doesn't have such a hot grip, and will hopefully last a while.

    The Hakko FX888D is what I've been looking at, and I went ahead and ordered one to see. Many very serious users have said it's plenty for their needs. And despite the fact that I'll do cables, through-hole AND SMD, I don't need to switch tips very often, and when I have needed to, unscrewing the iron on the 852D+ hasn't been a big deal.

    If I can find something decent and affordable to standardize on, I can buy more of them as my little company grows. I was just kind of more looking to see what people use in the serious hobbyist / very small business professional category. Once we have a few full-time assemblers, I'm sure I'll look to upgrade but I don't need the best right / high end right now.

    Thanks!

    Rhiannon
     
  4. eKretz

    eKretz

    251
    25
    Apr 8, 2013
    Personally I love my Ersa and wouldn't be without it - or its equivalent at least (JBC, Metcal), but they're a bit more than $100. IMO, if using this tool for business, Harald is right - one ought to buy something that's a known quantity and of production quality - the Chinese stations I've tried really aren't - and can be very hit or miss with regards to quality and reliability. To make excellent joints every time requires the ability to get heat into the joint fast - no matter the amount of heat that is absorbed. This is tough for the cheaper low wattage irons. Hakko ought to do the trick too though.
     
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