Monday, 5 February 2018

Lead free Solder


There are some problems to overcome when using lead free solders. 


One is that all, except for expensive compositions, lead-free solders have a higher melting temperature than tin/lead compositions.  The table in this link shows the melting temperatures.

Most lead-free solders have a wide pasty range, so careful attention needs to be paid when selecting the composition, if you want a eutectic, or nearly so, solder.

Some eutectic solders are:

65% tin, 25% silver with a eutectic temperature of 233C.  It is known as “Alloy J” and patented by Motorolla.

99.3% tin, 0.7% copper has a eutectic temperature of 227C. It is expensive.

96.5% tin, 3.5% silver has a eutectic temperature of 221C.  This is slightly lower than the tin/copper composition but more expensive.  It is also likely to rob copper from the soldering bit, although it is easier to solder with as it has excellent wetting properties.

Lower eutectic temperature solders are available:

91% tin, 9% zinc has a eutectic temperature of 199C.  It corrodes easily and has a high level of dross.  This makes it a poor choice for copper foil work.

42% tin, 58% bismuth has a low eutectic temperature of 138C.  It is a well-established solder, but it is expensive.

48% tin, 52% indium has the lowest eutectic temperature of 118C, but it is very expensive.


Copper bearing solders

Another problem is that a solder without lead, robs copper from the soldering bit/tip, and even more so at the higher temperatures lead-free solders normally require.  One means of avoiding the rapid deterioration of the soldering bit is to use solder with a small amount of copper included in the composition. As little as 0.5% can be useful.  Normally, nothing greater than 1% is required to extend the life of the soldering bit.

Eutectic copper bearing solder
However, only one of the commonly available solders is eutectic. This is 99.3% tin and 0.7% copper with a melting temperature of 227C.

Copper bearing solders and pasty ranges
Other copper bearing solders are available. Most of them have high temperatures and wide pasty ranges making them less useful for copper foil work.
  
Near eutectic solders
97.25% tin, 2% Silver, 0.75% copper has a small pasty range of 217C – 219C, making it a nearly eutectic solder and suitable for copper foil, except for its high melting temperature.

91.8% tin, 3.2% Silver, 0.5% copper has a pasty range of 217 – 218C, also making it a near eutectic solder suitable for copper foil; again, except for its high melting temperature.  With its high silver content, the solder is expensive.

95.5% tin, 3.8% silver, 0.7% copper has a pasty range of 217-220C.  This also has a small pasty range, but may be similar in cost to the 91.8% tin composition.

95.5% tin, 4% silver, 0.5% copper has a pasty range of 217 – 225C.

95.5% tin, 4% silver, 1% copper has a smaller pasty range of 217 – 220C, but may be more expensive.

Other copper bearing solders 
94.6% tin, 4.7% silver, 1.7% copper has a wide pasty range of 217 – 244C.

96.2% tin, 2.5% silver, 0.8% copper, 0.5% antimony has a
smaller pasty range of 217 – 225C and may be slightly cheaper because of the reduced silver content.
  
95.5% tin, 4% Copper, 0.5% Silver has a pasty range of 217 – 350C and is the usual lead-free plumbing solder.  The high melting temperature of 350C makes it unsuitable for most copper foil applications.

97% tin, 0.2% silver, 2% copper, 0.8% antimony has a high melting temperature and wide pasty range of 287 – 318C., which makes it unsuitable for copper foil.  It is known as “Aquabond”. 

95.5% tin, 4% silver, 0.5% copper has a pasty range of 217 – 225C.

95.5% tin, 4% silver, 1% copper has a smaller pasty range of 217 – 220C, but may be more expensive.

94.6% tin, 4.7% silver, 1.7% copper has a wide pasty range of 217 – 244C.

96.2% tin, 2.5% silver, 0.8% copper, 0.5% antimony has a
smaller pasty range of 217 – 225C and may be slightly cheaper because of the reduced silver content.


Lower temperature copper bearing solders
94.25% tin, 2% silver, 3% bismuth, 0.75% copper has a pasty range of 205 – 217 which is smaller than many of the other copper bearing solders.

90.7% tin, 3.5% silver, 5% bismuth, 0.7% copper, with a pasty range of 198 – 213C, has a lower melting point than many other copper bearing solders.

93.4% tin, 2% silver, 4% bismuth, 0.5% copper, 0.1% germanium has a relatively small pasty range of 202 – 217C, but because of the incorporation of rare earth metals may be expensive.