danger-sign wsArgon is a favorite gas used in many vacuum brazing shops, since it is an inert gas that will not react with any of the metals being heat-treated or brazed in those vacuum furnaces. Thus, dry argon (as measured by a dewpoint meter right at the furnace) is often used for partial-pressure brazing applications, or for rapid-cooling needs, or merely as a gaseous atmosphere to allow better conduction of heat between components inside the furnace. But argon can also be dangerous, and even lethal!

Argon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas, and because it is heavier than air it will flow to the lowest spot in your shop floor, often down into holes or pits built into your shop floor. Many companies build those pits in their shop floors so that equipment can be lowered down into them, thus eliminating the need to add height to the ceilings of the buildings. By Dan Kay

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fig 4 wsJoint clearances must be tight for effective Ni-brazing. 1. Nickel-based brazing filler metals (BFM) can leave a hard, non-ductile eutectic phase in the middle of a brazed joint.

The hard, non-ductile metallurgical phase-structures that form upon solidification of Ni-brazed joints must be carefully controlled, or else they can, and will, result in cracks inside the joint in stressful mechanical or thermal-cycling service. By Dan Kay

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bonding-zone ws-2Brazing is a highly versatile joining technique that can be used to join many different types of metals, and can even be used to permanently bond engineered-ceramic materials, such as alumina, to a variety of metals. It is being done everyday in industry.

Alumina, which consists of aluminum-oxide powder granules imbedded in a glassy matrix binder system of calcium-oxide and silicon-dioxide (among others), can be joined to ceramic or metal structures primarily by two different methods, as shown in Fig. 1. By Dan Kay

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repairing-cracks-comp lgWide Gap Brazing when Parts don't Fit Together well for Brazing - A common occurrence (unfortunately) in the brazing world is the need to join two parts together by brazing in which the brazing gap is too large, i.e., in the range of 0.010-inches (0.25 mm) or larger. Ideal brazing clearances should be in the area of 0.000-inches to 0.005-inches (0.00mm to 0.125mm) maximum for most brazing filler metals (BFMs).
Brazing depends on capillary action to draw the liquid BFM into the brazing joint, and tight clearances are needed for best brazing to occur. If the BFM is pre-placed in the brazing joint prior to assembly of the parts then capillary action is not a major factor since the BFM will melt in-situ and join the two members without the need for flowing any distance through tight capillary spaces. By Dan Kay

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Image_6-wsWhy does Brazing require Temperatures above 450C (840F)? Brazing, when performed correctly, is a joining process that produces a permanent bond between two or more materials by heating them to a temperature above 450C (840F), but lower than the melting-temperature of any of the materials being joined, and a permanent, metallurgical bond between these materials is produced when capillary action draws a molten brazing filler metal (BFM) through the clean, closely fitted faying surfaces of the joint.

The filler metal is not supposed to become fully liquid (i.e., have a "liquidus") until the brazing temperature reaches at least 450C (840F). If the liquidus of the filler metal is below 450C (840F) then that filler metal would commonly be called a "soldering alloy". People often wonder about the temperatures used to differentiate brazing from soldering. Why 450C (840F)? Is there some significance to these "exact" numbers? By Dan Kay

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brazing-paste_wsOver the years I've helped many brazing shops resolve common brazing problems (such as leakers, non-wetting surfaces, etc.). In evaluating these situations, it is not uncommon to discover that sub-components (such as brackets, or fittings, etc.) from outside suppliers can actually be the trouble-makers!

Often the brazing shop is not aware of how some of their suppliers are making the sub-components that will be subsequently brazed. Then when there is a problem brazing some of the assemblies containing these sub-components, the brazing shop may try to solve the problem by trying to find out what is wrong with their own in-house brazing operations, getting very frustrated when an in-house cause for the problem can't be found. Many suppliers are not aware that their own manufacturing processes can have a negative impact on brazing. Unless you have talked with them extensively about how certain processes will, or will not, hurt brazing, they will continue to do what works best for them in supplying a nice looking product for you in as cost-effective a manner for themselves as possible. By Dan Kay

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Oct8-fig_NLEven with built-in "holds" when heating low-carbon steel parts up to brazing temp, some heat treaters are getting a high percentage of the tubular brazements "pulling apart" somewhere during the cycle, i.e. the smaller-diameter tubing pulls away from the larger-diameter tubing, even snapping the welded clips off one of the tubes so that they are not brazed together along their length. What's happening, and how can they "fix" this problem? By Dan Kay

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