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Very often, heat exchanger manufacturers increase the flux loading on components to be brazed to compensate for furnace atmosphere or other process related deficiencies. The flux is an excellent “band-aid” and can be used as such, but only while the true problems are located and rectified. Long term use of higher than recommended flux loads can lead to other problems.

Over fluxing causes more KAlF4 evaporation and condensation. This will load up the dry scrubber more quickly. White powder will accumulate more quickly on the curtains at the exit end of the furnace. If this is noticed, there is a very good chance that the dry scrubber is loading up more quickly.

There will be a more rapid build-up of the flux inside the furnace. This is a common issue with over fluxing whereby flux builds up on the muffle floor at the entrance to the cooling zone where it will solidify. This flux build up has been known to deflect the mesh belt.

There is more rapid build up of the flux on the fixtures which can significantly reduce maintenance intervals.

Over-fluxing can lead to visible flux residue on the brazed heat exchanger which may increase the incidence of flux residue fall-off. Excess flux residue dulls the appearance of a brazed heat exchanger and can also accumulate in the gasket areas causing problems with seals. Too much flux residue will also inhibit surface treatments such as painting or conversion treatments.

The theoretical amount of flux required to dissolve a 100 Å oxide film is about 0.02 g/m2
(1 Å = 10-10 m = 0,1 nm). For a 400 Å film, still only 0.08 g/m2 flux is required. These do not take into account losses to moisture, oxygen or poisoning of the flux by Mg alloy additions.

In practice however, the recommended loading for fluxing is 5 g/m2, uniformly distributed on all active brazing surfaces. This is more than 250 times the theoretical amount required for oxide dissolution. To visualize what 5 g/m2 flux loading might look like, think of a very dusty car. As the heat exchange manufacturer gains experience with his products, he may find that a little more is required for consistent brazing or that he can get away with a little less flux.

Too little flux will result in poor filler metal flow, poor joint formation, higher reject rates, and inconsistent brazing. In other words, the process becomes very sensitive.

Too much flux will not affect the brazing results. However there will be pooling of flux which can drip on the muffle floor, the surface of the brazed product will be gray and there will be visible signs of flux residue. Furthermore, flux will accumulate on fixtures more rapidly which then requires more frequent maintenance. More importantly yet, using too much flux will increase the process costs.

In some cases, heat exchanger manufacturers use higher than recommended flux loadings to mask furnace atmosphere deficiencies. This should be viewed as a short-term solution and the furnace problems should be addressed.

See also: How to evaluate flux load?