A little more than 2 years ago, I bought a Madell Tech soldering iron.
I love this little guy. It's very powerful, very fast, heats fast, and I like the "standby feature". When you put the iron on the stand, a little magnetic switch gets closed by a small magnet in the soldering iron handle. This sends a signal to the station and puts the iron in "Standby mode"... 200C temperature.
When you remove the iron from the stand, it will immediately climb up to your set temperature... REAL FAST, REAL QUICK.
This iron has built hundreds of kits and preamps for customers. I use this for everything. It's got enough power to handle LEAD-FREE solder and has no problem with large, heavy ground planes on my PCBs. I call it the little iron that could.
But the past few weeks now, I noticed it's not performing as well as it used to. It seems the temperature is not right... upon closer inspection of the tip, I noticed it has developed a tiny hole, that grew big. The melted solder basically is leaking into this "hole" in the iron tip and getting stuck there... and I'm having a hard time soldering components using this iron.
Well... 2 years using this soldering iron tip is a pretty good life... considering it's also set at high temperature for lead-free soldering and this gets used a lot.
I bought some replacement tips from Madell in the meantime. Not bad... $18.
In the meantime, I'm dead in the water. No soldering iron. Well, actually, I have (2) more soldering stations (made in china crap) but I hated them so I don't use it. So I will get rid of them.
I do have another spare... a Weller WD1001. It's brand new in the box so tonight I finally opened the box and set it up. It's nice, made in Germany. The tip is too fine though... but it seems to have problems/difficulty dealing with large ground planes... unlike my Madell Tech iron. For fine soldering pads, it's perfect though. Maybe if I replace the tip with something a bit bigger, it will be fine handling my heavy ground planes. But for now, it's a little frustrating to use.
I'll post another review of the Weller WD1001 after I replace the tips with something bigger (or medium size).
Weller WD1001 station on the left, Madell Tech station on the right. Also shown is a Hakko desoldering gun.