This invention relates to an improved method of cleaning the tips of soldering irons. Soldering irons require repeated cleaning in between each soldering process so that the hot tip is free from accumulated solder, flux and other substances as this otherwise affects the quality and speed of soldered joints. The currently available methods of cleaning the tip rely on a water-wetted sponge. The hot soldering iron tip is cleaned by briefly rubbing the soldering tip on the wetted sponge. This action causes the excess solder to rub off as it rapidly solidifies from being cooled by the water component. However, because the tip cools rapidly, much of the solder and other residues remain on the tip and along its length. Attempts to remove this by rubbing a second time only makes the matter worse as the tip cools further and the solder and residues remain adhered solidly on the tip. Recently a method of cleaning involving the occasional use of metal shavings has been introduced to remove the stubborn residues but this still requires the wet sponge to be used for regular cleaning. The major problem has been that it has not been possible to use a dry sponge as the conventionally available cellulose sponge burns if used dry and does not have sufficient abrasion to remove the solder or residues from the hot soldering iron tip.
The present invention relates to the use of a sponge material made from melamine resins that does not need to be wetted for the purpose of cleaning hot soldering iron tips. It is sufficiently resistant to heat so as to enable this function to be achieved. When a hot soldering iron tip is rubbed on this melamine sponge, the solder is rapidly removed and is seen to form globules on the surface of the dry melamine sponge. These globules are then easily removed periodically by removing and inverting the sponge into a waste bin for responsible environmental disposal. Moreover the melamine sponge exhibits a remarkable cleaning action which is due to the materials open micro–cell construction.
1) No water required
2) Melamine has very low thermal conductivity: soldering iron tip remains hot
3) Reduced time between soldering operations as tip temperature is maintained
4) Highly efficient tip cleaning improves solder joint quality, especially for lead free soldering
5) Cleaned, hot tips emit less fumes from residues creating healthier working conditions
6) Lack of water prevents acidic residues from corroding the tip and therefore prolong tip life
7) Mild abrasive quality of melamine ensures prolonged tip life
8) No build up of evaporated salts on the hot tip from tap water: also increases solder joint quality
9) Environmentally responsible disposal of waste dry solder compared with rinsing wet sponges into the drainage system
The melamine sponge can be easily adapted to all the currently available soldering iron stations and accessories where the water-wetted sponge is simply replaced by a melamine sponge. It is cheap, very easy to cut and shape and can adapt to all the currently available soldering irons.