Lazy readers: At the time of writing, all of the RMA-223-UV fluxes available on EBay (except those sold by 'China Manufacturing Co'), as well as those available on DealExtreme are FAKES. To be fair, DealExtreme's version isn't bad at all as a general purpose flux, but it's still misleading.
While browsing the web to stock up on some soldering consumables, I came across some ridiculously cheap AMTECH Paste Flux on EBay as well as DealExtreme. The sellers of said items also maintain that their products are the real deal, and AMTECH USA (in typical AMTECH fashion) appeared to have no interest at all in providing feedback on the matter.
I decided to go ahead and purchase a few from DealExtreme, and after waiting nearly two months (damn you to hell, DX!), they finally arrived:
This is the first time I've seen AMTECH use holographic stickers, but I figured they'd probably have a distributor in Asia that customises the packaging to suit the required locale (and provide assurance against other clones)
It performed remarkably well during preliminary "through hole" testing, and had a great pine fresh scent to boot! I figured I'd import more and add them to the webshop, as there's almost certainly others here in Australia that are kept awake at night, anticipating the arrival of their international orders. And so, it began.
Not wanting to wait for DX's Shockingly slow order fulfillments, I decided to check EBay and pay a slightly higher price, in exchange for faster shipping. I was greeted with over THIRTY SELLERS at the time of ordering, one of which stood out for outstanding customer service. 50 x 10CC RMA-223-UV syringes were ordered and arrived the following week via EMS.
DAMN IT TO HELL!
Sigh. It looks like I just got served with knock-offs. If DX's version was fake, it was a damn good fake with no typing errors and a genuinely, well, genuine appearance. I can't sell this crap to my customers!
The flux performs identical to that sold at DX, but doesn't smell as fantastically awesome. Both have relatively poor "cleaning" performance, leaving a white moderately conductive residue if using anything other than Pure Isopropyl Alcohol for cleaning. It appears as though the water-content in other mixed solvents react with the flux, causing it to leave a white residue.
This wreaks absolute havoc in highspeed circuits, and will cause your SMD microcontrollers to behave erratically if not cleaned correctly (pulls MCLR partially high, adds capacitance to your OSCI/OSCO pins, adds glitches to your I2C comms, generally nasty stuff!) - It's pure IsoPropyl or nothing at this point.
So I got in-touch with the EBay seller, sending him the images above embedded into a mildly confronting PDF report. In all fairness, he was great in dealing with the issue and refunded 50% of my purchase price. He also got in-touch with AMTECH on my behalf, and verified that his products, as well as others sold on EBay, DX, etc are all fakes or partially blended.
We then worked out a deal, and managed to get a shipment of GENUINE FLUX in the following week; so here's what the real deal looks like:
As you can see, no fancy holograms. Just a green label (indicating RoHS Compliance) and a slightly modified SKU. AMTECH have also started using orange end-caps in January of this year, my guess is to make it even more annoying to counterfeiters.
The real SKU for this flux is RMA-223-TPF(UV). The TPF being an acronym for Tacky Paste Flux and UV the same for Ultra Violet. AMTECH add a special UV dye to the flux in attempt to thwart potential counterfeiting attempts (Hah! Didn't work, even the fakes are UV reactive!)
Performance-wise, you'll definitely notice a difference in quality. No awesome pine-fresh scent, but it cleans up far easier, leaves nowhere near as much residue and has brilliant wetting capabilities in comparison with the fakes. As an added bonus, they've sent an SGS report proving it's a genuine product (which I can't post online unfortunately) as well as a datasheet, which is available here
Hope this helps! Don't forget to check out our other write-ups if you're bored, and feel like hearing me rant about stuff
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