To compliment the announcement of their M18 Compact Heat Gun, Milwaukee also showed us their new M12 cordless soldering iron. Anybody that does electrical work knows the two tools go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Read More About the New M18 Heat Gun
The most common use case for a soldering iron is probably repairing wires, whether it be under the dash of a truck, in a control panel, or deep inside some equipment. That’s where the duo of heat gun and soldering iron come together — you join the wire with solder then insulate the connection with heat shrink tubing.
Stuart’s Note: When I asked about who this was aimed at, Milwaukee’s product manager mentioned the potential for field work, and for other jobs where a corded solution isn’t ideal, such as when working with automotive wire harnesses and doing things like car speaker or accessory installs.
Other uses include connecting and removing wires and other components on a circuit board, or crafts such as making jewelry or stained glass. It remains to be seen if this M12 soldering iron has enough power for the latter. One task you won’t be doing with an iron like this is soldering copper pipes — leave that to the torches.
Here’s a quick look at the specs we know so far:
- Max Temp 750°F
- 20 second heat up time
- Temperature monitoring and control
- 3-stop pivoting head
- LED status indicator
- 45 min runtime under no load with a 1.5Ah battery
- Conical and chisel tip included
- LED worklight!
Milwaukee says this soldering iron monitors the temperature of the tip — a feature of better and usually more expensive irons. By monitoring the temperature, the iron can tell you when it’s ready to use, provide more power to the tip so it doesn’t get too cold to melt solder on larger work, and prevent the tip from overheating and damaging itself or what you’re soldering.
When you turn the iron on, the status LED blinks green to indicate the tool is heating up. When the tool reaches soldering temperature (450°F) after about 20 seconds, the light turns solid green. The tip will continue increasing in temperature until it reaches 750°F. When you turn the iron off, the LED the light will remain red until the tip cools down, at which point the LED turns off.
The soldering iron has a pivoting head which can be adjusted to three different positions with the push of the button on the side. You can rotate the head to a right angle, 45°, or straight to make it easier to get into tight spaces.
When Stuart talked to the product manager he was told the bare tool will come with both a conical and chisel tip and sell for $80 or less. There’s no information about a kit yet.
Price: less than $80
Available: October 2017
Buy Now (Bare Tool via Acme Tools)
Buy Now (Kit via Acme Tools)
*Thank you to David Frane for contributing photos to this post.
Let’s start out by talking about a few things Stuart and I worked out from what we were told. Stuart was told that the M12 soldering iron had a 18-30 second heat up time. I was told that the green light turns solid and the iron is ready to use after the tip reaches 450°F, and that is after approximately 20 seconds. We are speculating that the 30 second heat up time is how long the iron takes to get up to its max temperature of 750°F. Or that could be how long it takes to heat up to 450°F when the battery is running low.
We were only shown the conical tip. Stuart was told that the chisel tip design is being finalized — I really hope they come out with more than one chisel tip, but I’m not holding my breath. They most likely will compromise on a medium sized chisel tip, because this soldering iron is really targeted at the guy in the field who needs to get the job done, not a technician at a bench who can often choose from a wide array of tips.
When I was told that the tip was temperature controlled, the first thing I asked was if it could solder to a penny. That’s always been my test to see how well the temperature control works. Many so-called temperature controlled soldering irons can’t output enough power to keep the tip at the set temperature when in contact with a large heat sink like a penny.
I mentioned in the intro that when doing electrical work, most notably if it involves wiring, you’ll often use a heat gun and soldering iron together. So why then did Milwaukee make the heat gun M18 and the soldering iron M12? First off they told us that 60% of their customers use both M12 and M18 tools together. The real reason is more of a matter of function. The M12 platform just doesn’t have enough power to run a heat gun and the M18 platform is too large for a more delicate tool like a soldering iron.
If you are at a desk or somewhere near an outlet, a corded soldering iron with a good choice of tips is more than likely going to be your go-to tool. If you need to get out in the field away from AC power, previously your best choice was a butane powered soldering iron — which has its own issues.
Stuart’s Note: Cordless battery-powered soldering irons have historically sucked. I ordered a Hakko that I posted about previously, but haven’t tested it very thoroughly yet. When I need to do some quick soldering, I’m more inclined to reach for a corded soldering station. This new Milwaukee M12 soldering iron holds a lot of potential. If it sounds like Ben and I are excited about it and its potential, it’s because we very much are.
Even when you are near an outlet, corded soldering irons have their own problems: the cord gets in the way and you need a safe place to put it down. With Milwaukee’s M12 cordless soldering iron, you have neither of these problems. Obviously there’s no cord to snag or have to deal with, and the iron can be placed down on its side or standing up on its battery.
When you are away from power, the only real solution has been a butane soldering iron. You have to buy butane, which in some places can be a pain, you have to light it, which isn’t always easy, and they exhaust hot fumes. We are optimistically looking forward to the M12 cordless soldering iron as a potential replacement.
Blown away by the Innovation’s coming out the TTi Family Milwaukee, Rigid and Ryobi.
DeWalts been resting on its laurels to long, Ever since the VP of R&D left DeWalt and went to Milwaukee, I’ve heard that its been a personal mission, to “squish the competition but esp black and yellow and make the bottom line black and blue and them just seeing red.
They are doing a great job in moving to defect from DeWalt.
Maybe you’ve heard of FlexVolt? Pretty cool system with saws that don’t stall lol.
Definitely looking forward to seeing user impressions on this iron; the price point is such that I’ll likely have no choice but to buy one.
Ditto. I love the M12 stuff.
I am curious what the run time will be with the 2Ah battery, while ideal for mentioned confined area’s but for bench top the upright platform base of the 4/6Ah XC batteries would make the need for a stand unnecessary just a pie tin for any stray beads.
I agree the cordless soldering units basically worthless, I had a “Cold Fusion” unit that was worthless.
I did just pick up a Pencil soldering iron with needle tips for replacing batteries and
repairing the headphones on some LG Tone BT headsets ( I’m hard on them).
When I first saw the “cordless soldering iron” I was think cool, but would really use it that much. ( It’s kinda like a Miter saw or Table saw that is too much trouble to setup without a stand with wheels – For me at least). Yet, some of the main reason’s I don’t solder as much as I could (easier, faster to splice – but often less reliable). The cord is really the biggest pain with soldering, (cord is always way to short and does, like Benjamin said is always getting in the way, or not practical or ease to use away from a bench.
So I may end up buying one day.
45min for 1.5. so 33% more for a 2ah battery. Each ‘ah’ is giving you 30min of runtime. I’m sure that will vary, depending on the time spent heating up vs at working temperature.
“Ever since the VP of R&D left DeWalt and went to Milwaukee, I’ve heard that its been a personal mission…”
So THAT’S the reason why Milwaukee has been knocking it out of the park the last couple of years! Fascinating.
I am a firm believer in the idea that some of the best-engineered equipment has always come from men who were hopped up on righteous anger and “on a mission”. Whether it was as profound as saving one’s country from an evil empire (NASA in the 50’s and 60’s) or a simple matter of just being ticked off at one’s prior employer (Valentine One radar detector), or a personal vendetta against a competitor (Ford GT40), having a chip on one’s shoulder can often produce magnificent results in engineering and design.
Knowing this about Milwaukee not only confirms my suspicion, but makes me want to expand my M18/M12 collection even further!
I’ve been waiting for this type tool forever. I’ve used butane soldering irons and it has been underpowered and always out of butane. The battery operated ones die during warm up. Would like to see a cover for the working end like a heat shield condom. Burned too many things putting the iron down. Will this be available on line before Home Depot gets it next year.
The Cold Heat iron is back.
The iron only draws full current when the tip is in contact with the solder, so it is not killing your batteries when it is sitting on a bench.
The tips are supposed to be better than they were a few years ago when they were an as seen on TV item.
I have one of the few original five AA battery versions and still use it today.
(The extra battery really increased it’s power output but unfortunately came out too close to the original company’s failure to make a real impact in the market.)
Everything I have heard or read about the Cold Heat soldering iron, and the several relabeled versions that cropped up, is that it was a utterly useless.
“Classic” on Amazon
“New and Improved” on Amazon
I had never met anyone who had anything positive to say about the Cold Heat product.
The original tips were too fragile for heavy use but the newest ones are much more robust.
The main problem with the Cold Heat was in power.
It worked well on circuit boards, small wires and jewelry, but the 4 AA version could not handle larger joints or tinning #12 wire.
The 5 AA version was so much better, unfortunately, very few of them made it to the market before the original company folded.
The idea of a tip that stays cold until it was needed was great, and the few seconds for heat up were never a problem.
I do admit that it was difficult to use the first few times.
The user had to learn the proper technique and needed to practice some as it only heats when the tip is pressing against the item to be soldered.
I still grab it before my Weller for a quick couple of joints as I can be finished and put away the cool tool before my Weller is hot.
I had one years ago. It worked great for basic soldering (speakers and the like), but it wasn’t pretty work. I enjoyed the cold-tip and lack of a cord to fight, I used rechargeable batteries, so it wasn’t just constantly eating alkalines either.
Oh god. The Cold Heat soldering irons were so terrible at actually soldering anything an a PCB. The tips that were included were super fragile, and required precision to get it to solder anything. Not to mention, the tips had a tendency to fuse the wire and tip together with the solder or the wires themselves.
The Cold Heat had a very terrible flaw. You could not use it on ESD sensitive components as the way it worked introduced voltage & current into the component. I learnt this the hard way when trying to fix a USB flash drive with a broken connector, bridged to connections and fried the flash memory.
Count me in. The price point sounds good and I will definitely give this a shot. I’m loving my M12 tools. Oddly, I find myself using my DeWalt 20v stuff less and my M12 tools more and more. They are all great but the handier size seems to win the day more often than not.
That’s funny…it does take a long time for Dewalt to release new tools,but when they do….they change the game……as far as m12 ,well it’s a great system and maybe the best out there….cool new soldering iron and heat gun
(Heat gun is M18.)
I’m going to buy into this system if I can get some practice hand time to make sure they’re as ergonomic as my 10-12 Bosch 12v tools.
I’ve previously not much liked Milwaukee’s M12 (to me) excess over molding design. Maybe I need bigger hands?
But there is genuine innovation going on with Milwaukee and I love that aspect of these intros.
I bought into the M12 system pretty early on, and am so happy with the choice. Originally, it was just for work, but I find myself reaching for my cordless 1/8″ grinder, or oscillating tool for my hobbie all the time. Sometimes you just need to do a quick operation without having to plug something in. This soldering iron will be finding its way onto my workbench and into my fieldbox when I run my model ships.
Meh… waiting for the Fuel brushless model.
To me, this tool looks absolutely clunky. I use a Hakko FX888. It is nimble even with the cord. I find myself soldering small parts. Holding the solder and the cordless Milwaukee looks like it would be cumbersome.
To be fair, the Milwaukee tool is designed for soldering wiring harnesses and the such, applications where the precision and control of the Hakko and other better soldering stations are less advantageous. This tool is all about portability and the ability to deliver sufficient heat.
I’m looking forward to its release, but there’s no pretending that it’ll stand in for a good corded soldering iron in most benchtop applications. I wouldn’t use it for soldering LEDs to a PCB, for instance, but maybe it’ll surprise me.
I’d like to know how well this compares to a good butane iron. The butane irons I’ve used appear to be way more compact than this. They also heat up pretty darn quick, often have interchangeable heads (including mini heat gun style), many can have their heat adjusted, and they refuel in under a minute. They’re also relatively cheap. If this handheld gun were capable of fine tuning the temperature, that would be the only advantage I can see. I know this is new and exciting, but please weigh it properly against the alternatives.
Mixed reaction here. I haven’t seen wattage published, which tells me it’s probably around 40W like the other common 12 VDC soldering irons. But it’s in a bulky package like a 300W gun — uncomfortable for any extensive delicate work where there are many and/or smaller wires. And yet it doesn’t have the extra wattage for larger conductors.
Seems like it would have been more useful to do a larger 300W M18 “gun” in this form factor, and then on the M12 version either have the element detachable at the pivot with a coiled cable, or just make it a pen-style iron with a short cord to a M12 battery pack.
Maybe it would be useful for doing a couple of conductors at a time where things are spread out, like replacing a tail light on a trailer. Otherwise, I’m struggling to envision where I’d rather have this versus pulling a drop cord or using a 12 VDC iron. I think I’d rather deal with the cord than the bulk of this iron.
I like the idea – think I like the design – will wait till I hold one to make up my mind.
Like most of the feature idea – it has to have temp feedback control because of battery run time. SO check – like the comment about soldering to a penny. A penny on Glass – not on a SS metal table.
My only real pet peeve here – and I get the supposedly ergonomic concern – but there should be an M18 model. so as to keep the same battery base as the heat gun. So I hope Dewalt is listening when looking at this because if they make one I’d want a 20V max model. Yes there’s a bit of an ergonomic issue – but I’m not going to mount a 6AH battery on it either. (place the battery in a different. orientation etc).
But otherwise I like the idea and think it’s a bit overdue.
OH PS test I’d like to see – solider together some 12ag lines together (can it do 16 of them) and can you put a terminal on a 4ga or even better 0000 cable. The last might be too much
Jokes aside, If you’re seriously doing 4awg or 0000 wire, then a better option would be resistance soldering, such as https://americanbeautytools.com/Resistance-Soldering
I got to thinking about what I’ve seen people do in the shops I go to and occasionally you see the guy that crimp on the 0000 connector and then fills it with solider because it needs to be.
Or the people that think a 4ga battery cable must have soldered ends before going into the screws on a capacitor install.
LIke I said probably too much.
Yeah, never a good idea to tin a wire that is going to be screw clamped or crimped .
From the soldering irons I’ve seen – this one looks like it might be too heavy for light work and too light for heavy work.
I’m not an electronics guy or car audio person – so its hard for me to comment on those applications.
We used soldering irons for things like copper flashing, roofing, and some plumbing work. That work is obviously not the target market for this tool.
I can’t see it being hot enough for a commercial jeweler. Jewelry business that we plumbed-up – seemed to use torches. Some asked us (but we always declined) to provide natural gas lines with laboratory-style gas valves to hose-connect to an oxygen/gas torch – but local gas utilities (and anyone with any sense – let alone licensed gas fitters) were set against this practice for good reason.
My wife dabbled with stained glass for a time – this doesn’t look like it fits that application either.
I guess we’ll see how it sells.
That first line (“too heavy for light work and too light for heavy work”) is perfect.
This is exciting, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a lighter version using the M4 battery. I love my Milwaukee 2101‑20 M4 screwdriver. All our service techs carry them.
When the techs need to solder something in the field, it is usually a couple of small joints for a quick repair, so 10-15 minutes of quality soldering time is plenty. They don’t need an Iron very often, but sometimes they are in locations where getting ac power (and at the correct voltage) can be a chore.
I’ve shot Milwaukee half a million emails suggesting them almost begging them to add to the M4 line with a soldering iron. Maybe they can’t get the technology to work at that voltage and size or maybe the best way to do it is already locked away in Patents which they can’t touch.
Looks cool! It’s probably good enough for small stuff, the larger m12 batteries would probably make for a better base. At less than $100, I may find myself with one.
I hear a lot of good things about the butane units…as long as it isn’t freezing cold and you have backup fuel, I think you can probably do more for longer. But, if you have a lot of m12 stuff for light duty applications like car audio, i can see this being a winner.
I’ve used butane irons for a while and can’t really see a way to improve; they get hot fast, super fast to recharge (as compared to batteries), and are robust and simple. Pretty cheap too. Butane refills are cheap & easy to get. The “pens” are small and easy to use. The ones I’ve been using come in a metal box that acts as a stand for the hot iron and keeps the sponge and solder tube when not in use.
I’ve not had an issue in the cold that I can recall, but maybe I just didn’t need to use it when it was really cold. But batteries will have issues in that cold too, so maybe it’s a wash there.
IMHO it’s too heavy and bulky, and I don’t think it will retain great power, but I will definitely give it a try, if you’re already into the M12 it’s a good addition, and the boost in flexibility should overcome the ergonomic defects.
I will definitely be buying one of these when it’s available. I have been using a Weller soldering gun for the last 35 years and while it has been great, I still find the cord a pain when doing wiring on car audio etc.
I am happy to see they will be providing a chisel tip as that’s the one I use almost exclusively, I find the point tip too small for car an motorcycle size wiring.
Not an issue for myself as I have plenty of batteries, but did Milwaukee give you any indication of runtime?
They told Stuart 45 min runtime under no load with a 1.5Ah battery. This doesn’t mean much in practice.
They didn’t give any indication of how many solder joints or something comparable to how many heat shrinks like they did for the heat gun.
Thanks Benjamen. Probably call it 30 minutes real use then. Even that’s plenty enough for my needs.
Doing small electrics at the bench, my 50 watt Weller low volrage iron is ideal. From a cordless with a 10.8V battery pack that needs almost 5A current drain. For soldering anything bigger I would want 80 Watts. This sort of power is a strength of the butane cordless irons.
Like the gentleman said, Milwaukee appear to have made an underpowered tool based on these first indications.
To make it more useful, it needs the 2Ah batteries and needs to work them harder. 20 minutes run time would be OK for the user but not very kind to your batteries.
I use a butane powered Portasol for soldering in the field. It is 10 years old and still works perfectly. It gets used a few times a month and then months go by without touching it. It is has similar form factor to a traditional pencil soldering iron. The Milwaukee unit seems awkward and bulky with its large handle to hold the battery then the swivel head and then the heating element and tip.
If you need it though, you need it.
That’s exactly what I thought. My Portasol has been amazing over the years and offers plenty of heat without much bulk. It starts up easy every time too. If you’re taking it into the field, you bring a refill with you as you would bring a spare battery with this, so where’s the advantage here?
The only thing I can think of is Heat Range being the issue. If a Butane is too hot for the work, then you stumble there a bit. Or Not Hot Enough in those extra rare cases, I suppose.
Not contradicting you on this, as I’m guilty of the same preference for my Dremel Versatip, just saying the heat range of the tool is the one and only reason I can see for wanting something closer to this Milwaukee.
No, I don’t think that’d be enough of an excuse, just saying it to get it out of the way.
I’ve had to rely on my Craftsman 4v solder iron for away from outlet soldering. Mainly behind the dash stuff. Slow but works fine & is relatively safe. Wouldn’t trust myself with a butane model, though ironically that’s what I use for heat shrinking (lighter). This be a welcome upgrade & one more tool in the proper color scheme.
Maybe Milwaukee can do an M18 version to be better than and replace this:
I’ve done quite a few audio installs over the years in my vehicles and know quite a few guys still in the business with some small and good size shops and I showed them this, all they did was laugh. Way to big and clunky to be using this to do car audio… They will stick to the Irons they use now.
I am and know quite a few top level installers that currently use the FastSolder tool (from Aussie Irons) and love it. It seems like it is even bigger than this Milwaukee…
This type of thing, or a Hot Glue Gun would be nice additions to the DeWALT 8Volt Max lineup, I think. Maybe a small heat gun for heat shrink tubing.
But, I agree it’s a bit on the large side. An ALMOST perfect tool, even though it’s from Milwaukee. I use a Dremel 2000 Versatip Butane for this purpose. Smaller than this one.
But I do like the concept! Wish DeWALT would make one in the 8V Max line, so I didn’t have to buy a whole new system for it… but that’s me.
Quite a few Scouters are into crafting with Paracord – and I’ve seen that Dremel torch quite a number of times being used to cut/fuse cord ends.
It does indeed! It also safely cuts Memory Foam, Styrofoam, and can weld Sterling Silver. One of a few hobbies of mine involves making jewellery. Sterling Silver and Schwarovski Crystal pieces. As long as you turn this Versatip to max flame size, and use a closed tip, it heats up enough to heat up fine-gauge Sterling Silver so that jump rings become links again.
The only downside to the 2000 Versatip is that the base nozzle out of the fuel tank is so fine that you can’t use anything but expensive Butane to run the torch. It clogs within 2 minutes of use, and can’t be replaced if the wrong Butane is used. I had to go from a Convenience Store “5X Refined!” brand to Ronsol after my first one died an hour after opening the package and filling it with the cheap stuff.
Luckily, the price difference between “The Cheap Stuff” from the Convenience Store for Lighters, and the Ronsol refills of the same size is $1 Canadian, so it’s not a huge burden.
I still hold out hope that DeWALT will take this type of thing on with the 8 Volt Max line. Hobby-Level stuff, not industrial. Cordless Hot Glue Gun that runs off the 8V Max battery? Perfect for small repairs and modelling. SMALL Heat-Blower that doesn’t go above, say, 150C? Perfect for Heat-Shrink tubing on small Electronic projects. Stubby Soldering Iron like this Milwaukee one, but shorter for tight spaces? All perfect solutions!
This one just looks too big to me. ALMOST a perfect tool. Doesn’t make me want to deviate from DeWALT just for this tool though. It’s not THAT game changing or needed. At least to me. Though it is a step in the right direction. Maybe another version will come that learns how small soldering irons are supposed to be, on average.
And, I own one of those “Cold Heat” soldering irons. They’re awful, even the reinforced ones. They’re not shaped right to work with a third hand, or to sit on its own to apply heat to a solder point. THAT thing is going in a COMPLETELY wrong direction!
Do you deliver to Australia and if you do how much
Maybe when my kids are old enough to sit through the long plane ride.
Soldering on site inside a building using a power point can also mean soldering near a smoke detector. With cordless you can take the item that needs soldering outside near your work van away from smoke detectors and away from filling out Hot Work Permits.