Shortage of alcohol-based fluxes for electronics manufacturing due to coronavirus, say Emil Otto
12 March 2020
The spreading coronavirus is now effecting production & availability of alcohol-based fluxes for electronics manufacturing, with rising prices & even sold out stocks the latest developments. Water-based or hybrid fluxes, with low alcohol additions, are moving into focus as a market-independent alternative for use in electronics production, according to flux experts, Emil Otto.
"We are currently facing extreme conditions on the world market. From 10th to 11th March alone, the prices for alcohols, which are necessary for the production of alcohol-based fluxes, have increased by 400% in some cases," reports Markus Geßner, responsible for marketing & sales at Emil Otto GmbH. Exploding demand, disrupted supply chain, closed manufacturing sites, speculation, and also the increased production of alcohol-based disinfectants have led to a massive price escalation. "Our customers are noticing this development. This has led to a significant increase in demand on the customer side, which basically means that we will not be able to supply alcohol-based fluxes within days, if this development continues", Geßner continues.
Emil Otto can, however, come up with alternatives that secure production on customer side. These include hybrid and water-based fluxes from the company's own production. Water-based fluxes are free of alcohol and thus, completely independent with regard to the material purchase prices and the possible production quantities. The soldering results are very good and are, in some cases, qualitatively superior to alcohol-based flux products. Furthermore, these fluxes, also known as Green Line fluxes, are not flammable, are therefore not classified as hazardous goods and have no legal restrictions on transport, storage and further handling in production. Since it must be assumed that transport capacities will continue to be limited in the future, care must be taken to ensure easy and simple transport.
However, if customers process components which are sensitive to temperature, Geßner recommends the use of hybrid fluxes with a lower alcohol content. "Since we have to use less alcohol for these fluxes, we will be able to produce larger quantities here. Water-based fluxes are no problem and we are actively supporting our customers and interested parties with advice and action, if they want to use them at this point. In terms of price and process technology, they represent a very attractive solution. We cannot estimate the further development of the market for alcohols. The last 24 hours have given us reason to assume the worst. However, we have independent alternatives in stock and can thus avoid our customers' bottlenecks," said Geßner.