Vacuum Brazing Stainless Steel: Advantages and Disadvantages

Brazing is a metal treatment process used by every heat treating company to turn scrap and other metals into materials that contain necessary properties. The process involves joining metals by heating a filler metal to its melting point, and then placing the filler metal in between two or more metal pieces. There are several different kinds of brazing processes that organizations use to acquire necessary metal materials. Organizations might hire a heat treating company for torch brazing, furnace brazing, or for vacuum brazing stainless steel.

When a heat treating professional is vacuum brazing stainless steel, he or she will use a vacuum chamber vessel or furnace to heat two or more metals. During this process, the base metal does not melt and metals are heated uniformly to maintain their original properties. Additionally, this process does not require the use of a chemical cleaning agent, or flux, so the resulting parts are ultra-clean. These are just a few of the advantages of vacuum brazing stainless steel.

Another factor to consider when evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of this process is the quality of the resulting joint. Since the vacuum brazing process uses slow heating and cooling cycles, residual stresses are greatly reduced. The joint area is therefore leak tight and a high strength joint. Unlike with other processes, vacuum brazing stainless steel is a reliable and repeatable process. Multiple joints can be brazed at once as the furnace will be capable of handling one joint or an entire batch of assemblies. A heat treating company can even braze one thousand pieces with varied, complex components at one time. For example, an individual would be able to perform metal joining, heat treating, and age hardening on a number of different metal pieces in just one single furnace heat cycle.

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The main disadvantage of vacuum brazing stainless steel is the high cost, due to the need for a vacuum chamber vessel. Organizations can combat the high cost by brazing multiple parts at once, even parts that have to be brazed in different ways, since a single furnace heat cycle can braze multiple parts at once.

Once an organization decides that its stainless steel or other metals need to be vacuum brazed, it must find a competent heat treating company to carry out the process. One way to evaluate whether or not a company is capable of meeting brazing needs is to evaluate the resources that are at the company’s disposal. A company with large brazing furnaces will be capable of brazing large assemblies, allowing for a quicker turnaround time at a low cost. However, a heat treating company with a few large furnaces is not ideal because customers will have to wait in line if a large number of customers placed orders first. The company should have a large facility so that customers can be sure that orders will have a quick turnaround time regardless of how many other orders have been placed.

Another factor to consider is experience, as brazing companies that have been operational for several decades offer unparalleled expertise. A heat treating company with the right size, capabilities, and experience will get the order right the first time and deliver it on time, so make sure to evaluate multiple companies before placing an order.