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Metals Used in Soldering: Antimony

Metals Used in Soldering: Antimony

Do you have a soldering iron like this one? – http://www.amazon.com/iCooker-Soldering-Iron-Watt-Solder/dp/B01774KARE…and want to know what metals are used in Soldering? Antimony is a grayish metalloid though some variations exist as metallic antimony.  The element in its pure form has a melting point of about 630 degrees Celsius. Various characteristics of antimony have made the element suitable for use in soldering. The first characteristic is that of thermal fatigue resistance making the soldered joints more durable. However, antimony is not nearly as widely used as other metals in the manufacture of solder. There are also concerns about the toxicity of antimony. This has resulted from the banning of antimony trioxide. This is a substance used mostly in fire fighting applications such as fire extinguishers. However, it’s important to note that antimony trioxide does not form within the normal soldering process and the substance therefore poses no threat while soldering.

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The use of lead solder having decreased significantly has seen the use of antimony increase. The use of antimony-based solder is relatively straightforward especially due to the relatively low liquidus of the alloy solder. The surface of the workspace should be thoroughly cleaned. However, due to the toxic nature of antimony trioxide, it is necessary to apply sufficient flux to avoid oxidization of antimony. This often occurs when antimony is burned in the presence of oxygen. The first step involves ensuring that the tip of the soldering iron is clean. The heat present within the soldering process causes oxidization of metals at the tip and may compromise the quality of the final work. Additionally, one could coat the tip with a layer of solder, a process known as tinning.

Antimony is relatively less widely used probably due to its lesser availability as compared to other metals such as copper, tin, aluminum, zinc and silver.

Metals Used in Soldering: Aluminum

Metals Used in Soldering: Aluminum

Aluminum is a whitish, soft metal and usually exhibits non-magnetic characteristics. It is among earth’s most abundant elements and happens to be the most abundant metal on earth. As the figures would suggest, the wide availability of the metal has resulted in its widespread use within various fields and activities. In soldering, aluminum is often used as solder. However, this is usually not in its natural form but rather as an alloy of aluminum and other low liquidus metals. The metal has density that ranks among the lowest in any metals, is usually light and has high corrosion resistance making ideal for use in very many industries.

In soldering, the most common aluminum alloys include aluminum-zinc and aluminum-tin. The latter has a relatively lower liquidus than that of aluminum-zinc thus making it more suitable for the common small-scale and hobbyist jobs. Most aluminum based allots have a liquidus of about 485 degrees Fahrenheit, relatively lower than that of zinc based alloys. However, the largest advantage to using aluminum is the tensile strength of the metal itself and that of solders based on its alloys. The solder has tensile strength of about 20,000 psi, way higher than almost any other readily available solder. The high solidus also implies that joints soldered with the alloy dry much faster than those with lower solidus.

In making a soldered joint using aluminum, typical soldering guidelines apply. The surface should be clean with good flux application to reduce the effects of oxidation. It is worth noting that aluminum is among the most reactive metals and oxidation would thus have a larger effect while using the metal than any other. The normal soldering process is then followed, stopping the heat once flow starts.

Metals Used in Soldering: Cadmium

Metals Used in Soldering: Cadmium

Cadmium is a bluish whitish metal that exhibits a melting point way lower than that of transition metals. This has made it suitable for use in soldering to make alloys with relatively low liquidus. Cadmium is in very many ways related to zinc from the metallic classification to the mining procedures and locations. The metal is usually found as a minor element in ores that contain zinc. It is therefore produced as a by-product of zinc mining. Like lead, however, the use of cadmium has been heavily restricted and in some instances banned to the toxic risk that exposure to cadmium causes.

In soldering, the use of cadmium in solder serves to improve its hardness, strength, resistance to corrosion and other properties desirable in soldering. The biggest advantage however is the reduced melting point that comes with the use of cadmium. This implies that metals that could previously only be used in hard soldering can be soft soldered as alloys of cadmium. The use of cadmium has reduced du tot the easy exposure through inhalation of metal fumes, dust and other highly soluble cadmium compounds. However, apart from soldering, cadmium intake has been found to be much higher through the consumption of tobacco.

Like in most other soldering alloys, the use of a cadmium-based alloy requires that the surface be well cleaned and fluxed and then preheated to a relatively low temperature of about 370 degrees Fahrenheit. The low liquidus of cadmium solder makes it suitable for the day to day use in household soldering. However, as the regulators suggest, it may not be among the safest solders to make use of.