By Michael L. Martel, Contributing Editor
Pennsylvania-based, respected solder manufacturer for a quarter century emerges on the SMT/PCB scene; Offers a wide range of products and services including BALVER ZINN COBAR solders and waste recycling programs
Whether small or large, a company in the U.S. getting into the SMT/PCB electronics assembly industry begins with a bewildering needs list of equipment and materials, including a source for solder, e.g., bar, wire, fluxes, paste, and more. You have a wide range of choices, but many of them are offshore. You want to choose a vendor and qualify their products, but you’d also like it if they weren’t an ocean away, or a globe away. It would be nice if you could even drive to your vendor’s factory, or take a short flight, and verify their quality and ask some questions face-to-face. If you have a problem, they might even come out to your plant and work with your engineers to make everything right for your assembly process.
Unless you pick one of the few solder companies who make their own products in their own furnaces right here in the continental U.S., then you might be buying solder from the Far East. But now, the list of domestic choices has now grown longer. A new player has stepped into that small group, a small company that isn’t new, but rather new in the role of domestic supplier of high-purity solder to the PCB assembly industry; Amerway, Inc., established in Altoona, Pennsylvania since 1989.
Amerway began as, and still is, a family-owned business; run by its second generation now, the company employs approximately 40 people, and operates 3 shifts. On top of that, Amerway is growing; the company recently purchased 25,000 square feet of factory space to augment its current 50,000 Ft2 facility.
“We’re not yet a household name in SMT and PCB assembly, but we plan to be,” predicts Terry Buck, President. Terry is an experienced veteran of the electronics manufacturing industry, “Although we are originally better known to other industries that use solder, particularly stained glass and industrial applications, we have manufactured for the electronics industry and are further expanding our focus there.”
Specialty Products, Alloys, and Fluxes
“The range of solder products and forms that we offer is wide, and constantly growing,” says Terry Buck. “It includes bar solder, wire solder, and different formulations of fluxes. We also offer the highest-quality solder paste and pre-forms through our partnership with Balver Zinn Cobar. But we can customize alloys and fluxes to meet the specialized needs of our individual customers. We’ve been leading the way in that area for a long time; it’s a capability that we’ve become recognized for. We work closely with our customers to engineer specific solutions to their process requirements.”
Amerway also specializes in specialty anodes and solder that is an essential component of high-grade copper roofs. Developing problem-solving solutions for various specialized industries has helped Amerway take a leading role in process development and problem-solving for many different applications, and positioning them as a leading solutions provider for electronics manufacturers large and small right here in North America.
That capability is enhanced, Terry adds, by Amerway’s location in the heart of the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region. “We’re a U.S. company, and we make all of our Amerway products right here in Altoona,” he says. “You can drive here, or we’ll be happy to visit your manufacturing facility where we can learn first-hand what your needs are.”
“We are specialists in formulating fluxes to help customers obtain optimum wetting and results with various alloys,” says Tim Brown, Sales Manager. “Our solder wire is one of our most popular products. We offer Lead-Free Cored Wire, Lead-Free Solid Wire, and leaded versions of both as well for Military and Hi-Rel applications. We also specialize in Bar Solder products,” Tim adds, “offering Cast Notch Bar, Lead Extruded Bar, Lead-Free Bar Solder, and Style 60 Cast Solder Ingot.”
“We can customize any order to suit your needs,” says Mark Fink, Production Manager. “We can provide any wire diameter size, spool size, alloy, flux core or solid wire, lead, lead free, bar weight, bar dimensions, cast bar or extruded bar.
Solder Analytics for Customers in Amerway’s Lab
“We especially want to make sure that when customers buy our products, they start out with great results, and have continued success,” says Tim Brown. “That’s why we offer a Solder Pot Analysis program for our customers. We recommend a periodic solder pot analysis to maintain solder pot integrity and to check for any contaminants that may affect quality and solderability. Our state-of-the-art SpectraMax spectroanalysis machine determines the level of solder impurities and tin levels that helps us identify any process or potential solder joint problems.”
Amerway provides solder pot analysis for the following elements: Tin (Sn), Lead (Pb), Antimony (Sb), Silver (Ag), Copper (Cu), Nickel (Ni), Bismuth (Bi), Arsenic (As), Zinc (Zn), Indium (In), Aluminium (Al), Iron (Fe), Cadmium (Cd), Cobalt (Co), Gold (Au), Phosphorus (P) and Sulfur (S). All samples are analyzed using the SpectraMax. “Our testing equipment is state-of-the-art and is calibrated using known standards for each analysis. We use atomic absorption as the test method. It’s fast and accurate,” Tim adds
Making COBAR Solder – Here
Recently, Amerway announced that in addition to their own premium line of solder bar, solder wire, fluxes, and custom alloys, they now offer Balver Zinn Cobar Solder Products including the well-known lead-free SN100C family of alloys developed by Nihon Superior Co., Ltd.
Balver Zinn Cobar SN100C is a nickel-stabilized tin copper eutectic, containing a small amount of germanium to reduce oxidation. SN100C generates bright and shiny solder joints, comparable with lead-containing solders. In 2005, NASA tests indicated that SN100C is the most reliable soft solder for wave soldering. SN100C is especially preferred for the higher process temperatures of selective soldering.
Amerway is one of very few licensees globally that are allowed by Balver Zinn Cobar to manufacture and sell SN100C right here in the U.S. and supply it to Amerway customers.
Amerway Holds ISO 9001 Quality Certification
Recently, Amerway achieved a milestone when the company was awarded the coveted ISO 9001 quality certification. It took time and a great deal of effort and cooperation from Amerway team members, recalls Tyler Port, Quality/ Project Manager, who was brought aboard, initially, specifically to achieve the ISO 9001 goal. “Although the effort began in April of 2016, I was hired to complete the ISO certification when I returned from a scheduled military deployment,” Tyler says. “Prior to joining the military, I had worked for Amerway for more than three years. During my deployment, I researched and learned everything I could regarding ISO certification, so that when I returned, I immediately got to work.”
Based on his prior experience with Amerway, as well as his research into ISO, his efforts enabled Amerway to achieve ISO 9001 certification in the space of 5 months. “We see the certification as a testament to our company’s dedication to product quality assurance and purity,” he adds.
Recycling Partnership for a ‘Green’ Solution
Amerway, Inc. recently partnered with metals waste recycler Conecsus, LLC to offer customers a ‘cradle to grave’ soldering solution, from Amerway’s high-purity soldering products to Conecsus’ recycling programs for dross and other metals waste by-products. Conecsus, LLC is an ISO 14001 EMS certified recycling company and a refiner of SMT solder/solder paste wastes and residues, as well as Tin, Lead, Antimony, Silver, Gold, and other metals from a variety of manufacturing industries. Conecsus converts these wastes into usable metal products, paying cash to the customer.
“This partnership with Conecsus allows us to offer our customers a ‘green’ solution to handling metals waste at the end of the electronics assembly process and put money back into their pockets,” Terry says. “It’s truly a ‘cradle to grave’ solution for electronics manufacturers. As partners, we can offer these products and services as seamlessly as if we were one company. This relationship makes both companies stronger and more competitive in the marketplace.”
“Amerway is a small, family owned business with the technology and capabilities of much larger corporations,” Terry concludes. “We offer a free solder pot analysis, high purity material, shorter industry lead times, a Certificate of Analysis and Certificate of Conformance with every order upon request. Buying from Amerway means buying direct from the manufacturer.”
For more information, visit www.amerway.com, or contact the company at 3701 Beale Avenue, Altoona, PA 16601; Tel. 814-944-0200.