Since your soldering iron tip is the part that eventually makes contact with the object that needs to be soldered, it is important to choose the right tips for your requirements. These tips undergo extreme temperatures and are the sensitive link between the soldering iron and the object that must be soldered. The quality of the tips you choose will have a direct effect on the quality of the soldered joints, their strength, and durability. The work environment and intended application of the iron play a major role in determining the size, configuration, and composition of the tips you choose for soldering.
General facts to consider
Since copper has higher heat content per volume when compared to most metals and it is an excellent conductor of heat, it is usually the preferred metal used for tips used in soldering stations or irons. While some tips are made of just copper, others may also compose protective plating or certain additives. One of the common problems faced with pure copper tips is that when faced with tin-lead alloys, the copper usually dissolves away. Again, adding impurities to the soldering mixture may improve oxidation and wear resistance of the joint, but it also leaves the copper tip vulnerable to deterioration. Many people go for either iron or nickel plated copper tips since it lends the tips resistance to corrosion and helps them maintain conductivity.
The tip type must be selected according to the soldering station or iron in use
You can find screw type tips or tips that can be slipped on or even plug type tips that are plugged inside the element. Similarly, you can also find a soldering iron with entire elements that can be replaced and they come with permanently attached tips. Regardless of what type of tip you need, it is important to ensure that the tip fits perfectly on the element, so required heat transfer is maintained.
Consider the tip configuration
You also need to choose from the many tip configurations including diamond, conical, ballpoint, spade and chisel tips. You can also find many variations within these different types of tips but the main point to keep in mind is that these tips must be selected keeping your requirements in mind. For example, you may require narrow tips to solder lesser accessible areas though these are not the most efficient.
Consider the size of the tip
Tip size is another important point to keep in mind when selecting tips for a soldering iron. Just like tip configuration, selection of tip size also entirely depends on your requirements. However, the body of the tip you choose should correspond correctly with the soldering iron body you possess.