Over the past few years, I’ve built up a few battery packs for myself and for other people. Most of them worked fine – in fact, one of the first packs I built over five years ago is still in service, working fine in a torch in the bottom of my cupboard.
The big problem with soldering to batteries is that you tend to damage the plastic separator, and the cell seals. This – as you might guess – is not a Good Thing™. In some cases, solder can splatter over the cell’s pressure relief vent. There’s a reason the datasheets make a big fuss about the vent – in an overpressure situation, the vent is used to release the excess pressure in the cell. Needless to say, blocking the vent with solder is never a good plan, unless you’re trying to get a Darwin Award, or you happen to enjoy watching your battery pack undergoing rapid, uncontrolled self-disassembly.
In industry, resistance welding is used instead of soldering. Not only are the welded joints smaller than solder blobs, but they cause less damage to the cell. The only problem is the cost of resistance welding equipment. A low-end resistance welding machine can cost upwards of GB 2,000.
The Poor Man’s Battery Tab Welder - [Link]