Soldering is the act of combining two pieces of material by using a solder alloy and high levels of heat. Its primary function is to create a lasting electrical connection between two components of larger system. Soldering can be performed using either a torch to apply heat directly, or more commonly, indirectly via a metallic heat conductor. Each method has its benefits, as soldering irons are known for accuracy and utilization on small components.
Adhering metals to one another, typically on circuit boards of small- to medium-sized electronic devices, is generally known to be the most common application for soldering irons. But the devices have many other uses outside of simply repairing and modifying electronics.
Below is a list of common and not-so-common soldering functions.
Soldering irons can be used to help artists of many different types achieve their creative goals. Sculptors can solder many similar or disparate pieces of material together to create unique, detailed sculptures of various sizes. Metals like copper, aluminum and iron in the forms of wiring, sheets, nuts, bolts and rods can be easily mended together. Detailed metallic representations of things like animals, humans, vehicles, foliage and other objects can all be created using the help of soldering irons.
Professional jewelers, artists and DIY enthusiasts all have the potential to use soldering irons to create, repair or alter jewelry of all types.
In addition to material staples like copper and brass, used for many types of costume jewelry, finer metals like gold and silver can also be soldered. Undertaking projects like creating small bezels, crafting custom chains and links, making ball-end head pins and fusing together other small components can be accomplished with a soldering iron, such as Master Appliance's Ultratorch UT-40Si or UT-50 models. Bracelets, earrings, necklaces, belt buckles and much more can be altered using these tools to create or adjust the wearable pieces.
Due to the brittle nature of plastic, components on everyday objects made of the material can sometimes break after standard wear and tear, or if the object is dropped, for instance. Soldering irons can be used to repair cracks and breakages on plastics, preventing the need to purchase a new item to replace the old. But rather than using a metallic solder alloy like those used in standard bonding applications, a relatively thin strip of plastic can be used to create a seal instead. The process can make minor repairs to house items like toys, small appliances, containers and many other objects. Plastic soldering can also be used for artistic projects and in building plastic-based sculptures as well.
With some creativity, ingenuity and a will to improve an item's condition, a soldering iron can be a ubiquitous and helpful tool to have at one's disposal.