Maker Pro
Maker Pro

Designing a soldering iron for limited dexterity

chriskalo

Feb 21, 2021
4
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
4
Hi, I’m a student at Imperial College London studying Design Engineering. Three other students and I want to design a new soldering iron for people with limited dexterity, and more generally for everyone who would like soldering to be less fiddly. We find that even though we do not have limited dexterity soldering can be hard and we often get bad solder joints; so can only imagine what it’s like for those who do.

I wanted to message this forum in case anyone was interested in getting involved, either because you have limited dexterity (from age, disability, or anything really), or because you have some comments you’d like to share. At this stage we are not expecting any commitment, just any help we’d really appreciate!

Thank you very much,
Chris
 

Martaine2005

May 12, 2015
4,360
Joined
May 12, 2015
Messages
4,360
Hi Chris, although I think this is a great idea, I also think it’s far from being practical.
Given that soldering is never the same item nor the same area, it’s sometimes difficult without dexterity problems.
If you’re referring to a production line scenario, dedicated tooling can be designed.

Martin
 

chriskalo

Feb 21, 2021
4
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
4
Hi Martin,
Yes that is true it's a very hard problem to solve due to how diverse soldering can be. I suppose that could make it an interesting product because there is a problem with no obvious practical way to solve it yet. We are going to try and talk to a lot of people and find the root of the problem. But your point made me think maybe we should focus on beginners and hobbyists who will mainly be dealing with through hole soldering with largish components.
 

Martaine2005

May 12, 2015
4,360
Joined
May 12, 2015
Messages
4,360
I think you may need to start with collecting data from individuals who want to be able to solder. ie: missing limb, arthritis, gout, Parkinson’s or any other condition/disease.
Then concentrate on one design for one specific problem. This won’t be a one fix cures all.
Very difficult in my opinion.

Martin
 

Alec_t

Jul 7, 2015
3,249
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
3,249
we should focus on beginners and hobbyists who will mainly be dealing with through hole soldering with largish components.
For how much longer, I wonder? The trend these days, at least in commercial products, is to use surface-mount components rather than through-hole ones. The latter are getting more difficult to source. A tool which simplified the soldering of surface-mount components would be really useful.
 

(*steve*)

¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd
Moderator
Jan 21, 2010
25,505
Joined
Jan 21, 2010
Messages
25,505
Check out the guy who made a pool cue that does magic to mean you can't miss.

I can just imagine a soldering iron like that.
 

dave9

Mar 5, 2017
1,180
Joined
Mar 5, 2017
Messages
1,180
We find that even though we do not have limited dexterity soldering can be hard and we often get bad solder joints; so can only imagine what it’s like for those who do...

... But your point made me think maybe we should focus on beginners and hobbyists who will mainly be dealing with through hole soldering with largish components.

Then you are not necessarily solving that problem with a new iron design. This is more about learned technique using a standard, but decent quality iron including the right tip shape, size, keeping it clean yet wetted with solder. However, larger through-hole components are particularly easy to solder with the average low-end iron if the technique is good.

I am suggesting that if you can't consistently make good solder joints yet, that you need more practice to better understand the design issues that are important, and those that aren't as important.

I suspect that your real market is not going to be beginners as this is a more price conscious group, often doing *easier* soldering tasks, more often using leaded solder, and less repetition than someone soldering in their profession all day which can contribute more to pain from ergonomics problems, and arthritis in older people. Shaky hands might also be a problem but a stabilization system might cause as many problems as it solves from additional size and weight.
 
Top