5 Tips for Solder Tip Selection


There are many different soldering tip designs to choose from when selecting or updating an iron. The different shapes have their own advantages, and some are most effective when used for a given application. Let's look at the most common types of solder tip designs and some solder tip basics. 

Solder Tip Basics

One of the most essential details in the proper selection of a solder tip is to make sure that it is the correct size for the intended work. An undersized tip will not be efficient in transferring the needed heat to the work, making for a frustrating solder attempt and poor solder joints.

A tip that is too large will transfer excess heat to the work at hand. This can damage the pad and the component. In some cases, a large tip with a high degree of heat transfer will even damage the circuit board, creating issues.

If you are getting tips for an existing solder station, make sure that the tips are designed to fit and work with your equipment. Some tips are designed for heavy-duty applications, while others are intended for light-duty and precision work.

There are some soldering solutions, such as our advanced SmartHeat Technology, that should be used with the proper tips and cartridges to allow operation as designed. Using the correct tips and cartridges is one way to ensure that your soldering equipment does its best work. 

Tip #1: Chisel Tips Are a Versatile Choice

Chisel tips are probably the most common tip design, and they are a versatile shape for many soldering tasks. Chisel tips have a broad edge, allowing them to distribute heat evenly across component leads and pads.

There are many applications where the chisel tip is a good fit for the job. The tapered edge of most chisel tips allows it to get in between components as needed. They work well for wires, pass-through connections, larger surface mount components, and many onboard connections.

A chisel tip is also useful for many desoldering tasks when combined with a tool for removing the material. Ideally, the tip should be scaled to match the pad it is soldering without overheating the components. For a chisel tip, a good rule of thumb is to aim for 60% of the pad size or just over half.

Metcal has an assortment of chisel tips suited for a wide range of applications. We have fine, bent, long reach, and fine bent styles of chisel tips. The bent styles are available in 30° and 60° angles, perfect for your application.

Tip #2: Conical Tips Are Best for Precision Work

Most conical tips feature a pointed design and are primarily used for precise soldering applications. The cone-shaped tip delivers concentrated heat to a defined small area, making it well suited for most surface-mount components and other small tasks.

The cone shape allows the conical soldering tip to get into places that other tips may have a difficult time reaching. For this reason, it is often convenient to have a conical tip on hand for those hard to reach areas.

Beginners or those new to soldering should use caution when using a conical tip. The sharper points are more prone to damage than other tip designs, so they need to be handled carefully. Many beginners tend to apply a lot of force to the soldering tip, which with a conical tip could damage both the tip and the work.

Conical tips are often used in wire connector applications that are tight on space. The shape of the tip allows it to reach into the connector where other tips may be too large to fit.

Metcal features an assortment of conical tips in fine, bent, long reach, and fine bent designs. Conical angles are available in both 30° and 60° for your convenience.

Tip #3: Hoof Tips Can Handle Larger Amounts of Solder

The hoof tip is not as common as the conical and the chisel tip design. The surface of the hoof tip allows it to hold more solder than other tip designs, making it an excellent choice for applications that require a pre-loaded tip. 

The design of the hoof tip features a small concave impression on their surface. This allows the tip to distribute solder in certain applications. The hoof tip can also be used to collect excess solder as needed on a work.

Hoof tips are useful for drag soldering multiple pins of a surface mount component at once. Drag soldering is a technique for quickly soldering multiple pins, and care must be taken so that pins are not bridged in the process. 

Because they can be loaded up with solder, hoof tips are very effective for soldering small gauge wire, and other applications where the solder loaded on the tip is sufficient for making the connection. When used in this manner, the hoof tip can be a time saver. 

The hoof tip is sometimes referred to as a bevel tip. Metcal has hoof tips in both 45° and 60° angles. They are available in long reach, chrome plated, and mini designs.  

Tip #4: Knife Tips Have a Useful Edge

The knife tip has an edge shape that allows it to get into slotted cavities that is difficult to reach with other tip designs. It is well suited for multi-lead applications and J-leaded components such as PLCCs and DRAMs. The slanted edge of the knife tip is also well suited for repairing solder bridges.

Metcal carries knife tips in a 45° design, available in standard and long reach designs.

Tip #5: Blade Tips Can Be Time Savers

The blade tip is larger and wider than other solder tip designs. Blade tips are typically used for rework and pad cleaning applications.When combined with soldering braid and tacky flux, they are very effective at removing solder from multiple pads at once, saving time

Metcal features blade tips ranging in size from 10 to 50 mm, perfect for any number of applications. 

The correct solder tip can make all the difference when it comes to hand soldering tasks. We carry a wide assortment of tips and cartridges designed to make your work more efficient. Contact Metcal to see how we can help you with your soldering, desoldering, and reworking needs.