Stainless steel is a very important metal for many applications today. However, you can run into several problems when fabricating or brazing stainless steel to copper or other metals. But why is this metal so difficult to work with and what can be done to simplify the process in a cost effective manner? Let’s explore the possibilities.
Why Is It So Challenging?
Because of the cost factor, you cannot afford to make any mistakes and end up with scrap. Plus, after fabrication, your materials must have a bright and shiny finish. This is not easy to achieve.
It is important to have a controlled atmosphere furnace for your operation. This ensures the proper heating and cooling environment with no chance for oxidation or contamination. Oxidation can lead to a tarnished looking product which is not satisfactory with shiny metals.
No Second Chances
With some processes (like soldering) if the first attempt fails, you can simply try again. You may need to re-clean the surfaces but at least you are not dealing with scrap. However, if you are brazing stainless steel to copper and send the materials through the process, they must come out perfect on the first pass. Otherwise there is little you can do but reject and scrap. In fact, many companies simply give up on this method because they do not have the right equipment for the job.
The Importance of Cleanliness
Stainless steel requires the utmost of cleanliness in order to braze properly. Without a pure atmosphere, the tiniest of particles can form oxides and this can seriously damage the integrity of its corrosion resistant properties. In addition, oxidation can interfere with the process of brazing and the materials will not bond properly. Even if the braze bonds well, you could still end up with a dull or blackened finish in the presence of oxides.
Cleanliness is not just important for the furnace. The entire process must be carefully monitored before brazing. Parts must be cleaned and kept clean by everyone who handles them.
High Tolerance Bonds
In order to form a strong bond, the joints must fit together perfectly. In other words, a thousandth of an inch or so can make the difference between a good product and scrap. Brazing stainless steel to copper or other metals is not an easy process, and this is the reason many companies choose to outsource these services with a trusted brazing company. This eliminates the possibility of scrap and lost profits from production.