Complex components used in high-precision industries like aerospace, biomedicine, and electronics usually comprise more than one distinct part. Each part is often etched or machined individually and then joined together to form a brazed assembly.
Brazing is a critical manufacturing process, as the joints created by brazing are used in mission-critical applications, and any joint failure can have serious consequences.
Elcon Precision specializes in vacuum brazing for joining ceramic-to-metal and metal-to-metal assemblies for an extensive range of critical applications, from aerospace and medical components to microwave-transmitting tubes.
Our experienced team of engineers will select the appropriate brazing fixtures, joint design, alloys, and process best suited to your application.
In this article, we review Elcon's process for vacuum brazing, the benefits of vacuum brazing, and the factors to consider before you select a service provider for your brazing project.
What Is Vacuum Brazing?
Vacuum brazing is a manufacturing process that joins together components (called parent components) using a filler metal called a brazing alloy.
It may involve joining together metal-to-metal components or two dissimilar materials, such as ceramic to metal.
The braze alloy is heated in a low-pressure environment, such as in a vacuum furnace. Braze alloys have a lower melting temperature than the parent component material.
The braze alloy is first fixtured between two close-fitting components of the parent material to hold it in place. The furnace is then heated to a temperature that will melt the brazing filler metal but not the parent materials.
The braze alloy melts and flows into the joint by capillary action and fills in gaps between the parent components. Once cooled, the braze alloy forms a high-strength metallurgical bond with the parent materials.
It is a reliable, high-quality, and clean process that creates strong, durable, leak-proof joints suitable for demanding applications.
Since the process occurs in a highly controlled vacuum environment, it prevents oxidation, corrosion, and contamination of the joint surfaces, resulting in clean, oxide-free joints.
This makes the vacuum brazing process particularly suited for joining together materials sensitive to oxidation, such as certain alloys or reactive metals.
The Benefits of Using Vacuum Brazing For Joining Dissimilar Materials
Choosing this advanced process for joining dissimilar materials provides your product with a variety of benefits, including:
Vacuum brazing is a state-of-the-art technology for producing high-quality, reliable joints between two dissimilar materials.
The two parent materials may have different melting points, dissimilar thermal expansion coefficients, and unique chemical compositions.
You need expert teams to select the right brazing alloy to create leak-proof, robust bonds between the filler alloy and the parent materials.
You also need precise control of the heating and cooling rates during the brazing process. This minimizes any distortions and or stresses to the newly-formed joint, preserving the dimensional and functional integrity of the parent materials. This is essential so that the assembled component can withstand harsh and testing environments for which it was designed.
At Elcon, we use state-of-the-art technology for joining dissimilar materials to produce high-quality, reliable joints.
Even though vacuum brazing requires specialized equipment, many aspects of the process result in cost savings:
Vacuum brazing prevents oxidation and contamination of the joint surfaces, resulting in clean, oxide-free joints that do not require any other finishing or cleaning.
Other joining methods, like welding, need an intermediate layer between the parent components. Vacuum brazing eliminates the need for any intermediary material as the braze alloy is metallurgically compatible with the parent materials and creates a strong bond. This saves the material, process, and labor costs for the intermediate layer.
Moreover, when you work with a service provider like Elcon Precision, you'll benefit from our Design for Manufacturability (DFM) expertise which ensures that we optimize the process and materials used during prototyping and ensures that once we move into full production, we have the best design suited for efficient and cost-effective manufacturing.
Vacuum brazing is a precisely controlled manufacturing process - which means there is inherent control over all aspects of the joining process, allowing us to deploy stringent quality control measures.
We can control the brazing temperature, heating and cooling rates, and furnace pressure. A well-controlled environment minimizes variability and ensures consistent quality of the assembled component.
We use advanced quality testing procedures, including helium leak performance tests, vacuum leak testing, joint strength tests, XRF, and 160 KV X-ray inspection tools.
At Elcon, we are committed to the highest quality standards. We are AS9100D-certified, ISO 9001:2015-certified, ITAR-registered, and RoHS-compliant. This level of quality control is essential in industries where reliability and performance are critical.
What To Consider When Selecting a Vacuum Brazing Provider
Executing an advanced manufacturing technique like vacuum brazing requires a service provider with the requisite experience, equipment, and expertise.
Here are some key points to consider when you evaluate a vacuum brazing service provider:
Experience in vacuum brazing
Working with an experienced service provider is crucial to ensure successful and reliable joint formations. Vacuum-brazed components are used in mission-critical applications in aerospace, renewable energy, and biomedicine. This necessitates high-performance, high-reliability joints that will withstand demanding environments, vibrations, or very high temperatures.
Elcon has extensive experience using vacuum brazing for critical applications, from aerospace and defense to medical components. Our brazed assembly services combine high hermiticity and repeatability with minimal oxidation and part-to-part variation to ensure your application will perform to the highest standards.
Check if the vacuum brazing provider you are considering has industry-relevant certifications, such as AS9100 for aerospace or Nadcap for special processes, and can meet the required compliance standards.
Elcon Precision is AS9100D-certified, ISO 9001:2015-certified, ITAR-registered, and RoHS-compliant. Additionally, we use DFARS-compliant metal components where required. We are committed to ethical business practices and promoting the use of conflict-free 3TG resources.
Before you finalize a service provider, ensure that the provider can supply a range of brazing materials and has the expertise to select the right parent materials and braze alloys to produce the finest-possible brazed assembly for your application.
Each material has specific chemical and functional properties, capabilities, and limitations. Trust an experienced service provider with expertise in brazing the specific materials relevant to your application.
Elcon uses a range of metals like stainless steel, titanium, molybdenum, and ceramics like alumina, beryllia, sapphire, and zirconia. We also offer tailored solutions to meet your specific material requirements.
Partnering with a service provider is not a simple process. Both parties must be able to communicate what they need from the other to make the partnership work successfully. For example, the service provider must be responsive to the client, clarifying doubts, answering queries promptly, and addressing concerns over delays or budget constraints.
The client, on the other hand, must also articulate requirements clearly and comprehensively. Elcon prioritizes client communication. Our teams go the extra mile to ensure they effectively communicate technical information, provide regular project updates, and promptly respond to any queries or concerns you may have.
Check if the service provider has experience in your specific industry or sector. Different industries have unique requirements and follow specific quality standards.
A provider with in-depth knowledge of your industry will better understand the specific quality requirements, regulatory compliance, and unique material challenges you face.
Elcon has extensive experience in brazed assemblies for various industries such as aerospace, defense, energy, electronics, biomedical, and more—making us well-poised to offer tailored solutions that meet your industry's specific needs.
Trust Elcon Precision With Your Vacuum Brazed Assemblies
Contact our experts with your vacuum brazing requirements.
We have expertise and experience in photochemical etching, CNC machining, and brazed joint assemblies for high-precision components.
Whether you have a question regarding our processes or certifications or are interested in discussing a new project requirement, we're always ready to talk.