CGTThe use of nitrogen assisted soldering equipment does mitigate some of the problems associated with using lead-free solders. Nitrogen helps on two fronts: first, it creates an inert environment around the soldering tip, reducing the potential for the tip to oxidize which would reduce its ability to transfer heat and hold solder. Second, it assists in the soldering process at the PC board level by purging oxygen from the immediate area which reduces the formation of oxidation on the work site. This helps to improve wetting/spreading and leaves a finish that is shinier and less grainy.
Nitrogen assisted soldering systems pass the nitrogen through or around the heater before it is directed to the work site which "pre-heats" the immediate area and can reduce thermal shock to component leads and to components themselves. Pre-heating also allows for the use of lower, safer and more effective soldering tip temperatures. Nitrogen compatible soldering systems are not significantly more costly than their standard counterparts and many manufacturers offer low cost add-on accessories to utilize N2 in the soldering process.