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I just got a cheap Chinese rework station, which broke on me after a few minutes. After some inspection, I've found that most of these low end soldering stations look exactly the same, minus some coloring / aesthetics. Let's see a few examples.

This is the station that I have ordered. The picture is not accurate, as the unit that I have is branded under a fake company "Yuhan" and is likely not made for american use. That's besides the point, note the location of buttons and knobs on the front plate, which are true to the actual unit.

Let's take a look at another. This one is about 30% more expensive, and is actually branded under the name "Kendall", and has the same interface, and in the same location, but with different stickers. enter image description here

Seemingly the same product, no? Well, let's add another, 2 data points doesn't establish anything more than a coincidence. This is the Aoyue 968A+. it is double the price of the previous station.

[1]: https://i.stack.imgur.com/e6

It uses the same technology as in the first two, but also runs an extra tube through the compressor to form a "smoke absorber", which then gets spat back out the hot air module.

All of these stations seem like near exact clones, with different panels in the front and minor differences in the interface. So then to my question, What is the advantage of getting a higher quality unit if they all seem to be the same thing?

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closed as off-topic by Andy aka, Wesley Lee, Voltage Spike, Dave Tweed May 12 '17 at 18:33

  • This question does not appear to be about electronics design within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ All of these are low-quality units. I've worked with the Aoyue, and after about three minutes decided it was worth dragging my own weller station to my university whenever I need to do any soldering. \$\endgroup\$ – Joren Vaes May 11 '17 at 18:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ What is the question exactly? Right know i just want to answer "dont buy cheap low quality stuff" \$\endgroup\$ – Sclrx May 11 '17 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tuskiomi I enjoyed the question and +1'd for it. I also enjoy your approach, including the dismantling. I purchased one of the units you first described (and which you said broke right away.) Mine has been working fine for about 6 months so far. No problems. Mostly just learning it's "idiosyncrasies" than anything else (when it turns off the air, automatically, and stuff like that.) I also own a good quality binocular microscope with the right field of view, distance, and mag for this kind of work. But I'm just a hobbyist, so don't have experience with top end stuff, either. I'm okay with it. \$\endgroup\$ – jonk May 11 '17 at 20:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because asking about the advantages of higher quality should be apparent in any walk of life and is not specifically an EE thing. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 12 '17 at 8:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tuskiomi No, the ideal question would be asked in such a way that no comments would be needed to clarify it or generate any discussion. Answers would not need clarification either. Ask a question and get an answer. This is a different format from most sites. \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike May 12 '17 at 18:45
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Exterior similarities don't really mean that they're assembled to the same spec, with the same quality of components, at the same level of quality control. When dealing with tools, a lot of them will look the same or similar. Functionality is key with a tool, and there's going to be a general similarity in controls and layout with tools offering the same or similar functionality.

At home I use a Hakko digital soldering station, while at work we use Weller units. Both are similar quality and price (around $100), and both share a lot of control layout similarities to my old Radio Shack iron that was $40 and burned out in a year. Certain controls are necessary, and they're going to have similar positions because that makes the most sense for the user.

The first two rework stations are probably made by the same parent company and are identical in circuit and chassis design. Component choice and quality control might be better on the Kendal, which is why it sells for more. It might also just be marketing, as some people will pay more for a domestic-sounding name, believing it to also be better quality.

The Aoyue looks like it comes with more stuff, which might be enough to justify the higher price without being a better quality unit. It's also advertising additional features, which in marketing commands a higher price.

There's also the fact that companies might be imitating other, better-known units to ride on their coattails and grab sales from people who thought they were buying the brand-name unit.

TL;DR there are several reasons why units might look the same or similar, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're all the same underneath. Only you can decide if it's worth it to buy the more expensive unit.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I love the answer. if you would, how would you explain the air gun being the exact same model in the Aoyue as the other two? \$\endgroup\$ – tuskiomi May 11 '17 at 19:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ What makes you think it's the exact same air gun? \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. May 11 '17 at 19:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll get you a picture of my dismantled one when I get home, but for now accept a picture of someone else's repair pics from amazon. It's the exact same as my station, down to the pcb. image.prntscr.com/image/291d49f56d9c44c694486aeb8d9d43c3.png \$\endgroup\$ – tuskiomi May 11 '17 at 19:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Most likely the manufacturer isn't manufacturing their own heat guns. They probably source them from somewhere, and these low-end units probably all use the same low-cost distributor. That's very common in manufacturing - there aren't too many companies that manufacture every part used in their product. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris M. May 11 '17 at 19:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Awesome explaination! \$\endgroup\$ – tuskiomi May 11 '17 at 19:49

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