Introduction: Moulded Shapes From Salvaged PCB Tin

As I am into electronic, I often salvage components from old PCB, with my soldering iron and my de-soldering pump. Doing that, I also get the tin used to held the component in place. So I decided to keep this useless tin (most of the time you need flux to solder) "just in case...".

Then, recently, I realised that this tin is easy to melt, and, as it is not so liquid, easy to mould !

Disclaimer: There are some (small) dangers in this instructable:

  • This will be hot (300-400°C)
  • I don't really know danger of tin, but it may have bad effect if you put it on your skin or on your clothes (especially when it's from old PCB, it contains lead)
  • Lead is dangerous, avoid use it. To be sure that no lead is in the solder, only use solder from RoHS PCB (it's printed on the silkscreen)
  • Don't do this in a closed room, melting solder can produce toxic gas

Step 1: Getting Some Tin

Ok so first of all you have to get some tin, to do that, just get useless PCBs and salvage their components, and the tin.

Then, when you have enough tin, you can regroup them in a single 'blob'.

Step 2: Make a Mould - 1) Cardboard

As weird as it is, 300°C heated (and molten) tin doesn't burn cardboard. That's a cool news !

So in a first try, I make a mould of cardboard, with a cutter.

But you can't really make detail, and the cardboard is kind of weak...

Step 3: Make a Mould - 2) Metal

To make a better and stronger mould, you can use metal from an old disk or floppy drive, or any easily bendable metal.

You don't need much height, but a good length, so you can just pick the exceeding piece of metal of the cover. And you will still be able to close it, it will have no impact on it !

Then you have to bend and form your mould with pliers, like on the picture. You also can use a component leg to make a ring to hook your object ! Or, as I have done, you can mount your shape on a ring !

Step 4: Cast the Tin

You have 2 manners to make your shape:

I/ By hand

Put a blob of tin on a flat surface (PCB, cardboard, metal) and then give to it the form you want by hand, with your soldering iron. This technique doesn't allow you much details and can be a little annoying, but to make simple shapes like hearth, it's just fine !

II/ With a mould

Put your mould on a flat surface, and put under the mould component legs if needed (to make a ring or a pendant), then fill the mould with tin. To melt the tin, place the tip of your soldering iron on it, and wait a little. When the tin is fully melted, spread it evenly in the mould. Wait a minute or so to let the tin fully cool off.

Then, just pop the mould off.

At this point, your shape may not be really good looking, depending on how you make it and the tin quality.

Step 5: Finishing Touches !

To make your shape perfect, you can use these methods:

  • Using a cutter to remove some tin
  • Or add it with your soldering iron
  • Again with your soldering iron, you can do some minor changes or finishing touches

But make sure not to let your soldering iron too long on it, or your perfect star will become a big blob !

If you have remarks, tips, or pictures of what you made, let me know in the comments !

Comments

author
rickharris (author)2016-07-01

The lead content is really your big problem. Lead accumulates in the body as you can't easily get rid of it. This can lead to brain damage and other health problems.

This is why world wide the use of lead in gasoline has been banned.

I suggest you follow you method but buy some lead free pewter and use that.

author
telec16 (author)rickharris2016-07-05

Thanks to highlight that, I added a warning about tin.

author
jonesaw (author)2016-07-01

I Like it, this sounds fun!

author
seamster (author)2016-07-01

Cool idea! :)

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