If you’ve ever welded, you know that some welders blow a shield gas over the work for different reasons. For example, you often use a gas to displace oxygen from the area and avoid oxidation. You can also solder using a nitrogen shield. This allows higher temperatures and a reduction of flux required in the solder. Wave soldering often uses nitrogen, and JBC offers a soldering iron that can employ nitrogen shield gas. [SDG Electronics] puts that iron through its paces in the video below.
As you might expect, this isn’t a $50 soldering iron. The price for the iron is just under $1,000 and that doesn’t include the power supply or the nitrogen source. The nitrogen generator that converts compressed air into nitrogen is particularly expensive so [SDG] just used a cylinder of gas.
Cost aside, is it worth it? The video shows solder jobs at different flux levels with and without nitrogen. We couldn’t see much difference, although [Steve] mentions that the soldering seemed to be a little easier under nitrogen. The higher flux solder also performed better. Examination under a microscope showed some differences, but nothing that would compel you to spend on the gas iron. With no flux, the solder didn’t want to wet. Adding a small amount of flux resulted in a good joint with nitrogen and while the normal soldering iron didn’t do as well, it wasn’t bad and it isn’t clear why this would be a big advantage for practical use.
There were some advantages to using nitrogen for some specialty soldering jobs, but it didn’t seem compelling. Using flux helps and you would have to buy a lot of flux to break even on the investment in this iron.