Cost Reduction Strategies with Today's Silver Prices

Bob Henson - National Accounts Manager

World silver market prices have reached a level not seen since 1980. Since most braze alloys contain silver their price reflects the market rise. This has rekindled an interest in ways to reduce braze product cost. Here are several strategies that can help lower cost and often improve efficiency.

1. Lower silver content alloys. Most companies first look to this approach. It makes sense to evaluate your braze products to understand available options. Here are some substitution examples:

  • Stay Silv® 15 to Dynaflow®. For HVAC contractors a practical move is changing from Stay Silv 15 to Dynaflow. This reduces the contained silver content from 15% to 6% and lowers product cost about 50%. Dynaflow has been used in the HVAC industry since the early 1980’s and has proven strength and vibration resistance.
  • Blockade® for brass. Manufacturers often use a high silver alloy for brass connections. Blockade does not contain silver and its low melting temperature makes it a good choice with Stay Silv® white brazing flux for brass alloy base metals.
  • Safety Silv® 45 to Safety Silv 40 or 38T. The 45% silver braze alloy has always been a popular choice for copper, brass, and steel. Strong, ductile connections can be made with lower silver content filler metals. Safety Silv 40 and 38T provide a 10 -15% reduction in silver content and a corresponding lower price.
  • Filler metal change should be evaluated based on part design, service conditions, and component specifications. There are, however, likely alternatives for your application. Contact us for an evaluation and recommendations.

2. Rings or preform shapes vs. hand feeding. While mostly used for semi-automated brazing, a preplaced braze ring or shape is designed to provide the exact amount of filler metal with no waste. Some manual applications can also benefit from this approach.

3. Braze scrap reclamation. Companies using large amounts of braze filler metal often generate a large amount of scrap in the form of rod or coil ends or pieces. A percentage of the silver content in these pieces can be reclaimed and credited back to you. There are some minimum required quantities, so talk to us about how this program works and if it’s applicable to your situation.

4. Braze it right the first time. Repair, rework, and call backs mean more braze product use. More important it means additional labor cost. Our field sales engineers can work with you to improve braze efficiency and lower overall brazing cost. Let us discuss how we can help through process evaluation and training.