Soldering stations are an indispensable tool for electronic assembly and repair. Essentially, a soldering station or solder station is a soldering iron with an electrical power supply which is used to control the temperature of the soldering iron.
Soldering stations come in various styles and designs. Lower priced soldering stations use a variable potentiometer to control the temperature. More advanced units are designed with microprocessor controlled features and monitor the temperature of the soldering iron via a thermocouple device. These units usually integrate digital displays into their design.
Most soldering stations come with a stand which holds the soldering iron. The stands usually have a celluslose sponge and flux pot for tip cleaning.
Using a soldering station for production or repair usually means having several different tips available. Tips vary in size and shape for different work. It is important to keep tips clean from burnt flux and oxidized materials that will build up and accumulate on the tip. When this happens, heat transfer is blocked and the built up residue can contaminate the soldering process. Tip cleaning and eventually tip replacement is an important part of using a soldering station .
There are several different manufacturers of soldering stations. Some of the more popular legacy brands are Weller, Hakko, Metcal, and Radio Shack and Xytronic. Additionally, some new brands have emerged in recent years as internet marketing has made it easier to build and market a brand. Some of these brands are Aoyue, Marlin P Jones and Associates, BlackJack SolderWerks, RP Electronics and Circuit Specialists.
Generally, the legacy brands provide good product and can be purchased at a local supply house or over the internet. Prices may be higher than some of the “internet” brands because these products are normally channeled through resellers which add an additional profit margin to the selling price.
Below are some links to some of the more popular legacy brands:
Radio Shack: www.radioshack.com
The new “Internet Brand” products are rapidly gaining a toehold in the solder station marketplace. Most of these products are manufactured today in China ( as are many of the legacy brands ) and are sold directly from the company building their brand to the end users. With massive electronic production occurring in China these days, the quality, performance and reliability of these brands have greatly improved over the last few years.
Below are links to some of the more popular Internet brands:
Circuit Specialists: www.circuitspecialists.com
Marlin P Jones: www.mpja.com
RP Electronics: www.rpelectronics.com
Additionally, one of the largest manufacturers in China today is Aoyue. This company makes a full line of soldering stations and soldering equipment and dominates the huge production market in China and Asia. Aoyue also corroborates with many of the Internet Brand producers and manufactures for them under contract. In some cases, the Internet Brands are simply re-badged Aoyue products. In other cases, the products are produced uniquely for the Internet Brand company using designs and features specified by that company.
The web site for Aoyue is: www.aoyue.com
An example of this ODM ( Original Design Manufacturing) can be found with the BlackJack SolderWerks brand. This brand is owned & marketed by Circuit Specialists and can be located at the Circuit Specialists web site: www.circuitspecialists.com
Wayne Thorpe, President
Circuit Specialists, Inc.