What Is Solder Used for?

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Solder is used to form a mechanical bond between metal parts. The added benefit of electrical conductivity makes it a vital component in electronics manufacture and repair. Many types of solder exist, designed to suit specific purposes.

Solder Uses

  • Aside from electronics, solder is used for plumbing, jewelry making and other specialty manufacturing industries and repair processes where metal parts cannot be effectively or safely welded.

Solder Composition

  • Early solders were tin and lead alloys, typically 60 percent tin and 40 percent lead. Environmental concerns have regulated the use of lead and solder manufacturers have formulated lead-free solder, replacing lead with copper or antimony and small amounts of silver.

Solder Flux

  • Flux is a chemical used in soldering to remove oxidation from soldered parts and to help molten solder flow easily. Solder used in electronics contains flux in the solder wire core, while flux is added externally in plumbing, jewelry and metalworking operations.

Solder Size

  • Solder wire is designated by Standard Wire Gauge (SWG) or American Wire Gauge (AWG) diameter. Solder used for electronics is typically 19 to 22 AWG or SWG, while plumbing, jewelry and metalworking solder is of the larger 16 to 18 AWG or SWG diameter.

Solder Melting Points

  • Solder is designed to have a low melting point of around 370 to 460 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the alloy ratios used. Low melting points are necessary to avoid damaging other components and metal parts, and to allow for quick setting and cooling.

References

  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Andrew
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