Rework stations are the perfect tool for dealing with delicate components, allowing for easy desoldering and adjustment without much risk of damage to the parts. However, unlike soldering stations, rework stations are expensive, cumbersome, and lack precision.
Rework stations and soldering stations are two tools in the same vein, but they have very different scopes of use. Today, we will be exploring the two different soldering tools and discussing the pros and cons of each, helping you decide which tool is right for you.
Rework Stations and Soldering Stations
Rework stations and soldering stations both deal with one simple process, soldering. However, while they do have some similarities, their uses differ vastly, each being better or worse at certain things. Putting vagueness aside, soldering stations tend to be more useful for precision work, such as through-hole soldering or more intricate work.
Rework stations work under different circumstances, providing a gentler approach, and being capable of working with almost any component. However, rework stations lack the same precision that makes a soldering station so useful.
The Basics of Each Station
Let us start by looking at the broad differences between the stations, namely the parts involved. If looking at the most basic product available, a rework station, also known as a hot air rework station, only comes with a hot air gun. While the exact options vary, there is not much more to the base product, aside from maybe a few different nozzles.
On the other hand, a soldering station comes with a few different parts, even in the base model, including:
A soldering iron, perhaps with several tips
A soldering iron stand
A sponge, either conventional or bronze
While both soldering stations and rework stations might contain other pieces, those are the basics. Also, while it may seem like a given, each one involves an electric power supply and, likely, a digital display for temperature and other important information. Another difference, one with more significance, is the size of the stations.
Scope of Use
The largest difference between the two stations might be what types of work they do best. While there are minute details to consider, the primary difference between their scopes of work can be summed up in this manner:
Soldering Station: Powerful tool suited for precision work
Rework Station: Useful tool that excels at quick, less surgical work
To Be or Not to Be Precise
So, precision is the strength of soldering stations, but what does that really mean? Think about these situations, each of which would benefit from the use of a soldering station:
Circuit board soldering, specifically through-hole soldering
Making a small repair to jewelry, pipes, and other pieces of metal
The Pros and Cons of Contact
One of the reasons for the differences in precision between the two stations lies in their method of applying heat. Soldering stations rely on direct contact with the solder or parts. On the other hand, rework stations never have direct contact with what they are attempting to heat.
While not significant in and of itself, there are certain pros and cons associated with this. Mainly, there are some major benefits to having no contact by using a rework station, such as the previously touched upon factor of not damaging sensitive parts. Other pros include:
Being able to use other tools without much risk, such as a tool for adjusting components while keeping the solder melted and ready for placement, allowing for easy adjustments. It can also act as a replacement soldering iron of sorts if precision is not needed.
An additional layer of safety. With direct contact, there are sparks, and while the risks are not entirely eliminated with a rework station and the elimination of direct contact, there is far less to worry about when using a hot air rework station. Considering the small components rework stations suit the most, this is helpful.
Both soldering stations and rework stations have their pros and cons, pitting precision against broad heat. In many cases, they are complete opposites, performing well in the areas the other does not. So, while a soldering station likely fits more of your needs, being more versatile as a whole, both are very useful and complement each other nicely.