In the most commonly-used brazing process a flux is used to break up the naturally formed oxide on the material surfaces to be join, but the industry is constantly striving to minimize the use of fluxing agents to reduce costs and to improve the working environment for employees. In flux-free brazing magnesium breaks up the oxide. Without removing the oxide, no metal-to-metal joints can be formed.
“At MAX IV we were able to study the oxide development before the oxide breaks up, and we could observe how magnesium migrates to the top surface and whether it reacts to form an oxide or if it stays as a metal,” says Stenqvist.
Another example that reduces the flux is Gränges’ ground-breaking product TRILLIUM®. But Stenqvist says it’s also important for Gränges to play a leading role in the development of flux-free materials and technologies so the company can stay competitive.
“TRILLIUM® is a fantastic product that puts us in a great position for most applications, but we also need this kind of research to enhance our other existing products. With the knowledge we have acquired at MAX IV and other research facilities, I would say we are at the forefront in this field.”
The research at MAX IV and the analysis of the test results are not all that are on Stenqvist’s and his colleagues’ agenda right now. Gränges R&I has also recently conducted research at the Spring-8 laboratory in Japan and the DESY facility in Hamburg, Germany.
“In this project we try to make precise 3D maps of the grains and how they are orientated, and how this correlates to brazing performance,” says Stenqvist, who will soon be temporarily relocating from Gränges R&I for a two-year secondment to Gränges’ premises in Huntingdon, USA, to help develop its new laboratory.
But out of sight is not out of mind. “I will continue to be involved in these two projects,” he says.