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Flux pen is used in both extractive metallurgy and metal joining.
In high-temperature metal joining processes (welding, brazing and soldering), the primary purpose of flux is to prevent oxidation of the base and filler materials. Tin-lead solder (e.g.) attaches very well to copper, but poorly to the various oxides of copper, which form quickly at soldering temperatures. Flux is a substance which is nearly inert at room temperature, but which becomes strongly reducing at elevated temperatures, preventing the formation of metal oxides. Additionally, flux allows solder to flow easily on the working piece rather than forming beads as it would otherwise.
The role of a flux in joining processes is typically dual: dissolving of the oxides on the metal surface, which facilitates wetting by molten metal, and acting as an oxygen barrier by coating the hot surface, preventing its oxidation. In some applications molten flux also serves as a heat transfer medium, facilitating heating of the joint by the soldering tool or molten solder.
Fluxes for soft soldering are typically of organic nature, though inorganic fluxes, usually based on halogenides and/or acids, are also used in non-electronics applications. Fluxes for brazing operate at significantly higher temperatures and are therefore mostly inorganic; the organic compounds tend to be of supplementary nature.