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Solder - specification changes

2175 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  DS239
Spotted on the Marklin board. This could have serious implications when soldering to electronic component boards or to existing solder:-

QUOTE Hi friends,

No doubt, the new year brings a lot of new item for us model railroaders: new loks , new cars , new layouts , and new regulations from the European Commission (Sorry, no adequate smiley available for this kind of feeling).

The point is: the presently available soldering wire will disappear from market within near future. This is enforced by a new regulation of the EU, which has meanwhile been approved by the most national governments in Europe, more or less without attracting public attention.

As you know, the soldering metal in our loks, cars, and layouts is an alloy of 60 % tin and 40 % lead. As lead is a toxic substance, especially when inhaled with the soldering vapour, the EU enforced that the existing soldering metal must be distracted from market, i.e. the tin-lead-alloy will disappear from the catalogs of the electronics distributors, such as Conrad, Reichelt, Farnell, and others. This is intended as a measure of health protection for employees in electronics industry, where large quantities of soldering metal are processed. As a replacement, a different soldering alloy consisting of 98 % tin and 2 % antimony will be offered. Good thing, in principle.

However, there are some drawbacks:

1. the new soldering alloy cannot be mixed with the old one. That is, you can't repair an existing soldering connection using the new soldering metal. Before you contact a wire or an electronic component at a soldering point of an electronic board using the new alloy, you must first completely remove the old soldering metal in the vicinity of the respective soldering point. May be difficult on a lok decoder, I think. And you can't reuse electronic components that have been in contact with the old alloy.

2. The new alloy requires a higher soldering temperature. With the old alloy, optimal soldering temperatures was 280 - 330 °C. The new alloy requires 350 - 400 °C. It is not clear whether existing electronics components and electronic layout board will withstand this elevated temperature.


For the time being this all is a case for us european model railroaders, and it does not affect our overseas friends. Allthough one never knows what will happen in the more remote future.

My recommendation: don't forget to order some spare rolls of old electronics soldering wire, as long as it is still available.

Hans Martin

Happy modelling
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QUOTE As a replacement, a different soldering alloy consisting of 98 % tin and 2 % antimony will be offered. Good thing, in principle
Depends on one's definition of 'good' - antimony is a notorious poison!

Quote from Wikipedia
"Antimony and many of its compounds are toxic.
Clinically, antimony poisoning is very similar to arsenic poisoning."

All the components of solder are poisonous, including the tin.
If interested, take a look at MedLine Plus A Service of The US National Library of Medicine.

All fluxes are also toxic/poisonous, some of them lethally so.

There is virtually nothing in life which is not in some way deleterious to human health. Following the imbecilic 'logic' of Euro-beaurocracy, would lead to the total banning of life, on the inarguable basis that life is the sole cause of the existence of death. Think about it

Following Doug's useful link, among other useful info, provides an interesting statistic. QUOTE solders use only 1.2% of the annual global consumption of lead, so you may feel that this yet another case of a 'sledgehammer to crack a nut'.
'Reasonable' seems to be a nonexistent word in the vocabulary of megalomaniac politicians, no matter what their nationality

On Chinese soldering.
Rest assured that there will not be two separate production lines for USA and Europe. There is a ton of info indicating that USA is going down the same leadfree track as Europe. Interestingly, it looks as though there may be some VERY important exceptions for the electronics industry. Who knows how it will eventually work out.

The people who really need to be concerned are, of course, plumbers.
What will they be permitted to advertise themselves as in future?
'Plumber' will obviously have to go, because 'plumbum' is Latin for lead (although it looks more like a colourful description for a baboon's backside). So, one must presume that our lunatic political leaders will ban that particular job description very soon, too.
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