Choosing tips for soldering is not a hard job. I will try to give some guidelines for choosing the soldering tips for your needs. First of all, you need to buy high-quality tips. There are a lot of quality tips and you can hardly go wrong. Price determine quality. It is common to purchase a package of 10 or more tips and find the proper ones that you want to use. It is not hard to find the tip for wiring, but it is a little bit more difficult for PCB soldering.
Choosing Soldering Tips for PCB Soldering
PCB soldering is very sensitive, and you need to try different sizes of tips for almost every PCB. The main guideline should be size. Size is imperative and for small connections, it should be the smaller tip. If the tip is bigger than connections, you risk destroying the circuit board. Also, the shape is important too. The shape depends on PCB and man who is soldering that PCB. The design itself has an effect on soldering but not much as the person who solders.
I like to use flattened soldering tips and I find them as easiest tips for soldering. The Bigger surface of flat tips allow solder to melt faster, and that is why I like it. The bad thing about flattened soldering tips is that they get damaged very fast. Sometimes I destroyed it after two or three weeks, but if I buy some more expensive tips, it can “live” longer.
Also, great soldering tips are smaller with a rounded surface. They are most used I think. I use them too and maybe with them is the easiest way to solder. I think connections are excellent with them, and they are great for a start. But with time, you will try some new shape of tips and find appropriate for your needs. Keep in mind to choose the size for your project. The easiest way is to compare soldering tip with connections.
Mistakes with Soldering Tips
One of the biggest mistakes I have seen is that someone cuts soldering tips to get a customized tip. It is a good idea but when you try to solder with that tip, it will burn up fast or make bad connections. The best quality of soldering tips is on the surface and when you cut it off it loses quality. I tried myself to make that tip. It burned up very fast, and it almost destroyed my PCB. Someone who does not use often soldering iron can find these tips as good. But that is a very rare case, and I do not recommend it.
If you want to save your tips, then you should switch off soldering iron or station when you do not use it. It can burn up soldering tips and heat up tool. It can damage the tool so when you switch off you save the tips and the tool.