Synonyms: Soldering equipment operator; hard-solderer; silver-solderer; brazer-assembler; brazier
Definition and/or description
Joins metal parts by means of a fusible alloy (“solder” or “braze”; see Note 1). A solderer/brazer selects and sets up manual or automatic soldering equipment and materials according to work specifications. Examines and prepares parts to be joined by cleaning, degreasing (may use ultrasonic degreaser), brushing, filing and other means. Clamps workpieces into position for soldering. Switches on and controls electric current or gas-flame. Cleans soldering iron tip. Applies fluxes, soldering iron tip, torch or flame, solder wire, etc. to the workpieces. Examines soldered pieces for quality and adherence to specifications. Cleans surface of the soldered workpiece to remove flux and solder residues. May melt and separate soldered joints to repair or reuse parts.
Adjusting (flow, pressure, etc.); aligning; annealing; applying (fluxes); arc cutting; arc welding; assembling and disassembling; bending; bolting; bonding; brazing; brushing; calculating (current); clamping; cleaning (surfaces); connecting (hoses; cables); controlling; cutting; degreasing; dipping; examining (quality of joint); filing; filling; fixing; flame cutting; fusing; grinding; guiding (rod along the flame); hammering; handling; heat treating; heating and preheating; holding; igniting; installing; inserting; joining; knocking (welds); laying-out; lifting and lowering; loading and unloading; maintaining; marking; melting; mending; mounting; moving; placing; polishing; positioning; preparing; rebrazing; removing (residues); repairing; screwing and unscrewing; securing; selecting (tools, materials); separating; servicing; setting up; soldering; sprinkling; straightening; switching (on and off); timing (controls); tinning; torching; touching up.
Industries in which this occupation is common
Soldering and brazing, as full- or part-time occupations, are encountered in a very large number of manufacturing industries, workshops, technical services, research institutions, etc., such as, for example, all electrical and electronic manufacturing, assembly, maintenance and repair; air conditioning and refrigeration; manufacture of metal boxes, housings, storage tanks and containers; gas and chemicals supply lines; radiator manufacturing and repair (car and home-heating); jewellery manufacturing; artwork; tinker shops in research institutions; musical instruments manufacturing and repair; dental labouratories; many “cottage” industries, etc.
– Blows, in particular on feet, from the fall of heavy workpieces, pipe sections, etc.;
– Cuts and stabs, in particular on the fingers, from sharp edges, protrusions, files (or other instruments) during the preparation of workpieces for soldering, and during the cleaning of the soldered product;
– Damage to eyes as a result of penetration of solid particles (particularly when using rotary wire brushes or abrasive wheels for cleaning), or molten metal, flux droplets, or droplets of cleaning solutions into the eyes;
– Electrocution or electric shock when using electrical soldering equipment;
– Skin burns from contact with hot surfaces, flames and splashes of hot solder or fluxes;
– Fires, as a result of ignition of flammable solvents and other substances, by the soldering flame or by sparks;
– Fire and explosions, particularly when using oxyacetylene, air-propane and other blow-torch processes;
– Chemical burns as a result of splashes of corrosive chemicals used in metal cleaning, in particular strong acids or mixtures of acids and oxidizing solutions (e.g., sulphuric/nitric or sulphuric/chromic acid mixtures), or metal-cleaning creams, etc.
– Acute (and sometimes fatal) poisoning by phosgene and other poisonous gases formed from chlorinated solvents in contact with a high-temperature source, in particular during brazing.
– Exposure of eyes to strong light emitted during certain high-temperature brazing processes;
– Heat rashes as a result of continuous exposure of skin to heat from the soldering and brazing processes.
– Skin allergies as a result of exposure to solvents, to rosin (colophony), hydrazine, aminoethanolamines, and activators in fluxes;
– Ulceration (and other dermatological problems) of fingertips due to the handling of metal pieces and exposure to fluxes;
– Rashes and dermatitis, especially when using liquid fluxes;
– Irritation of eyes, mucous membranes and respiratory tract as a result of exposure to aerosols and gases evolved in acid-cleaning processes (e.g., nitrogen oxides);
– Irritation of eyes, mucous membranes and respiratory tract as a result of exposure to flux components or to their decomposition products released during the soldering (e.g., hydrochloric acid, zinc and ammonium chlorides), fluorides, formaldehyde (formed in the pyrolysis of core solder), fluoroborates, rosin, hydrazine salts, etc., or to ozone and nitrogen oxides formed in air during certain high-temperature brazing processes;
– Neurotoxic disturbances as a result of exposure to aliphatic, aromatic and chlorinated solvents used in metal cleaning;
– Chronic poisoning as a result of exposure to a variety of poisonous metals present in the solder, most commonly lead, cadmium, zinc, antimony and indium (and in particular to their fumes released during the soldering) or exposure to poisonous metals in the dross and drippings from soldering operations;
– Adverse coronary effects as a result of chronic inhalation of small amounts of carbon monoxide in certain flame-soldering operations;
– Poisoning by substances released during the cleaning or soldering/brazing of painted workpieces (e.g., isocyanates).
Ergonomic and social factors
– Heat stress due to exposure to a hot environment;
– Fatigue and muscular pains due to repetitive work, especially when working overtime;
– Eye strain when working under inadequate illumination;
– Leg fatigue when working long hours in a standing posture.
- The process is called “soldering” when the solder has a melting point below 426 °C, and “brazing” or “hard soldering” (different terms may be used in different countries) when the solder has a higher melting point. Manual soldering processes include electric-iron, gas-flame, torch, chemical-cartridge and gas-heated iron soldering, as well as dip tinning; automatic processes include dip-, flow-, wave- and spray-gun soldering.
- According to published reports, solderers and brazers may be at increased risk of spontaneous abortions in the case of pregnant woman solderers; increased risk of bronchial asthma and hyperreactivity due to exposure to soldering fumes and gases, particularly to rosin (colophony) fumes and decomposition products, and to tetrafluorides.
National Safety Council (NSC). 1994. Soldering and Brazing. Datasheet 445-Rev-94. Washington, DC: NSC.