The art of joining metals together has been recorded as far back as about 5,000 years ago. The first evidence of soldering and irons used in the process can be traced back to Mesopotamia.
While evidence points to that time period, techniques like soldering and brazing are believed to have originated very early in the history of working metals. It’s assumed that it started before 4000 BC. Historians believe that conjoining metals were used to make Sumerian swords around the year 3000 BC.
Soldering was used for more than just making weapons. The process was also used to make cookware, jewelry items, and other tools. It was also used in assembling stained glass windows. Soldering was done on burning coals or an open flame until late in the 1800s. It was in this time that the modern-day soldering iron was invented.
In 1894, the American Electrical Heater Company begins manufacturing electrical soldering irons on a large scale in Detroit. They began producing them shortly after American Beauty released their line of soldering irons.
Electric irons made for industry use were developed in 1921. The German company Ernst Sachs claimed to have been the first to develop it, though there are advertisements from 1894 for a similar American Electrical Heater Company product.
During the winter of 1926, a man named William Alferink applied for a patent for what was described as a combination of an automatic circuit break for irons and a holder. This patent is widely thought of as one of the first soldering stations. It took two years, but the patent was granted on July 3rd, 1928.
Almost twenty years later in 1946, Carl E. Weller was granted a patent for his soldering gun that could instantaneously heat up. Production then immediately started for the “Speedy Iron” in Pennsylvania. He manufactured it through the Weller Manufacturing Company, and this product was the first instant heat soldering gun. Three years later, American Beauty started to sell an electric iron that you could adjust the temperature on.
In 1951, a new company called WEN Products began to manufacture their own instant heat iron. Three years later, Weller sued them. Weller claimed that their iron infringed on their soldering gun patent and won.
Weller was granted another patent in 1960 for the “Magnastat” iron. This iron could control the temperature. It did so by utilizing a magnetic tip that was sensitive to temperature. This “Magnastat” iron became a huge selling point for them, and they began to include it in their W-TCP soldering station in 1967. In 1970, Weller Manufacturing Company was sold to Cooper Industries.
Weller irons are still really popular to this day. However, there are a lot of other companies that also sell soldering irons. If you need any advice operating your iron or want to know how a model works, the reviews and articles we offer at Hand Tools for Fun have all the info you need!