Reaching new heights with automated selective plating equipment
In aerospace manufacturing, the performance and reliability of components is paramount to delivering safe journeys, even in the face of extreme friction and temperature. But the challenges don’t end there. Environmental regulations and increased competitiveness within the industry mean that manufacturers must find efficiencies in all areas, making innovation and collaboration more crucial than ever. That’s why, when the time came for a world-leading aerospace manufacturer to review their surface finishing process, they turned to the market leader in selective plating to find an innovative solution.
Aerospace is an industry like no other, particularly with regard to surface finishing. Renowned – and rightfully so – for its robust standards around the manufacture, repair and maintenance of aircraft components, the industry places great demands on manufacturers. The performance of components mustn’t be compromised in the face of friction, extreme temperatures and corrosive environments, all of which they are exposed to daily. Alongside performance, the manufacturing process itself must adhere to stringent health and safety requirements.
In recent decades, this market-leading aerospace manufacturer has seen their surface finishing processes evolve as they’ve strived to achieve greater component performance for their customers – from brush plating in the 1980s to in-house tank plating thereafter. Now, as industry demands have become even greater and components are required to operate in ever-more challenging environments, a new approach was needed.
Automating the process
Automated processes are now the standard in many manufacturing facilities. SIFCO ASC’s collaborative approach to automating the selective plating process enables users to realize ergonomic, financial and manufacturing performance-related benefits.
This manufacturer required nickel plating on their internal and external diameters for a prebraze application. Automating the selective plating process provided the main benefits this manufacturer was looking for: decreased ergonomic risk, traceability and repeatability of the process, and increased quality outcomes.
As standard, selective plating uses a low volume of chemicals, reducing both the environmental and cost concerns associated with tank plating methods which can result in excessive material and environmental costs and waste. Additional, the custom design of the machine provided unique features and allowed the manufacturer to realize even further benefits in approximately half of the footprint once held by their tank plating line. By using a Fanuc robot with built-in tool changers and tooling storage, the automated selective plating process provides complete flexibility. RFID tags significantly reduce the potential for human error by ensuring tooling is plating the correct part, tracking chemical usage and wrap wear, and facilitating the process to handle a variety of products while ensuring consistent quality. What’s more, the manufacturer was also able to completely remove their scrubber system from service. By using portable filter exhausts, they are more energy efficient and have lower operating costs.
Now fully operational, the automated selective plating machine provides SIFCO ASC’s customer with a highly reliable and precise process, bringing its onsite component plating process in line with their reputation as a leading manufacturer in the aerospace industry. The results are clear to see: the surface coating is highly uniform; quality is consistently high; chemical usage can be precisely monitored; production is robust and levels of output consistent; and operator safety has been improved.
To discover more about the SIFCO Process®, visit www.sifcoasc.com
SIFCO ASC drives quality, flexibility and safety with new TechnoPlate® power pack
SIFCO ASC, the world leading supplier of selective plating technology and solutions, has pioneered a solution to improve quality, flexibility and safety in the selective plating process.
The new power pack line, TechnoPlate® – which has been developed in collaboration with German-based Plating Electronics (PE) – equips users with the ultimate flexibility when it comes to selective plating. Its lightweight design means the power pack is 30% lighter than previous models, making it highly portable for use on the shop floor or in the field, perfectly complementing the plating process which can be applied in a dedicated workshop or as a truly mobile service. The TechnoPlate® units also offer the functionality to store up to ten application steps, negating the need for the operator to adjust critical settings such as volts, amps or polarity throughout the plating operation.
In addition to the TechnoPlate®’s greatly improved software features, built-in overload protection sees the unit immediately turn off output power if it becomes overloaded, improving protection and safety, while a detachable and adjustable control panel improves flexibility and usability. In practice, this enables the user to position the controller for use up to nine feet away from the unit for greater practicality in tight working spaces. Derek Vanek, Technical Manager at SIFCO ASC, said: “The TechnoPlate® has been in development for more than two years as our team have worked to create a line of equipment which improves the selective plating process for users. The beauty of our plating process is that it is entirely portable, meaning it can be applied virtually anywhere, requiring only a power pack, plating tools, small volumes of solutions and a trained operator. By making the power pack lighter, easier to use and building in improved functionality, the selective plating process is more flexible than ever and delivers consistent quality every time.”
The TechnoPlate®’s other features include dual input voltage (100-250V single phase), switch mode technology for greater accuracy and efficiency and pole changer, enabling a change of polarity with the touch of a button. A fully digital LED display and adjustable front cover also make for greater practicality and ease of use.
SIFCO ASC’s 15-amp and 60-amp TechnoPlate® units will be available for purchase beginning in July 2019 and further models will be added to the line later in the year. For more information visit: www.sifcoasc.com.
SIFCO ASC Receives Presidential Award for Exports in US
On Thursday, May 23, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross presented SIFCO Applied Surface Concepts (ASC) with the President’s “E” Award for Exports at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. In total, Secretary Ross honored 48 U.S. companies with the President’s “E” Award, the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.
SIFCO ASC provides practical, cost-effective selective electroplating solutions to improve part performance and reduce manufacturing costs through corrosion protection, increased wear resistance, increased hardness, improved conductivity, anti-galling and more. SIFCO ASC’s contract services, chemical solutions and equipment have been utilized for over 50 years on both OEM components and on parts requiring refurbishment in various industry sectors including: aerospace, oil and gas, power generation, general industry, and more.
“SIFCO Applied Surface Concepts has demonstrated a sustained commitment to export expansion. The “E” Awards Committee was very impressed with SIFCO Applied Surface Concepts’ more than 50 percent increase of export sales over the past four years. The company’s innovative design of product offerings to meet the needs of export markets was also particularly notable. SIFCO Applied Surface Concepts’ achievements have undoubtedly contributed to national export expansion efforts that support the U.S. economy and create American Jobs.” said Secretary Ross in his congratulatory letter to the company announcing its selection as an award recipient.
“The President’s “E” Award recognizes sustained growth in a company’s entire export sales over a four-year period. In the case of SIFCO ASC, this would include our standard export markets, sales into Canada and Mexico, as well as those from Cleveland in support of our sister locations in the UK, France and Sweden. Therefore, the “E” Award is truly in recognition all SIFCO ASC team members as well as our partners and customers globally. I would like to thank everyone at SIFCO ASC for their efforts in helping us reach this achievement,” noted Todd Romanski, International Market Manager for SIFCO ASC. “We would also like to extend our appreciation to US Commercial Services Cleveland, Ohio office and the Global Target Program at Cleveland State University for the help and support to SIFCO ASC in earning this recognition.”
In 2018, U.S. exports were the highest on record with U.S. services at $821.1 billion and U.S. exports of goods reaching $1.7 trillion, demonstrating how American private enterprise can not only survive, but thrive, in the international market.
American companies are nominated for “E” Awards through the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service office network, located within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. Record years of successive export growth and an applicant’s demonstration of an innovative international marketing plan that led to the increase in exports is a significant factor in selecting the overall winners.
Discover the SIFCO Process of Selective Plating at Surface World Live this September
We will be exhibiting at Surface World Live 2018 from 19th – 20th September, Hall 11, NEC, Birmingham.
The UK’s only event dedicated to surface treatment, coatings and product finishing, Surface World Live offers a mix of insightful seminars and exhibitors representing all elements of the surface finishing industry.
We are excited to be sharing the unique benefits of the SIFCO Process for selective plating with attendees at this year’s exhibition.
A portable, targeted method of enhancing, repairing and refurbishing localised areas on manufactured components, the SIFCO Process is a trusted surface finishing solution for OEMs worldwide.
Visitors to the show will have an opportunity to discuss selective plating with one of our SIFCO ASC Bromsgrove representatives and discover how the process is significantly saving our customers downtime and money for repair and maintenance of worn or damaged components.
Come and visit us on stand T13 in the British Surface Treatment Suppliers Association visitors’ lounge to find out more about how we can help you protect, enhance and optimise the performance of your critical components and equipment.
Visit Surface World Live to find out more: http://www.surfaceworld.com/surface-world-live
SIFCO ASC Modernizes R&D Lab
World leading supplier of selective plating technology and solutions, SIFCO Applied Surface Concepts (ASC), part of Norman Hay plc, has completed a substantial refurbishment of its research and development lab in Cleveland, Ohio.
Originally built in 1992, this is first major site renovation, designed to give research engineers a spacious, practical and durable facility in which to conduct vital research and development work.
On a typical day, the lab accommodates scientists, engineers, and technicians who work to develop SIFCO ASC’s fundamental knowledge through exploratory research and development, as well developing and implementing new technologies and providing direct support to customers as well as the company’s manufacturing teams.
Danijela Milosevic-Popovich, Research and Development Project Engineer, comments: “Much of what we do in the R&D lab requires creative thinking, experimentation and innovation; all things which are easier, more enjoyable and ultimately more successful in a modern, spacious and well-equipped laboratory.
Chic Allen, SIFCO ASC’s North American General Manager, states “The renovation will boost team morale and productivity will benefit considerably, which means our customers will reap the rewards of this considerable investment.”
Committed to employee wellbeing and maintaining workspaces which reflect its innovative, state-of-the-art products and services, SIFCO ASC identified the need for a complete modernisation within the R&D department, which included durable, easy to clean flooring, new cabinets, equipment and facilities and a new ceiling with improved lighting throughout the lab.
Danijela concludes: “Work has recommenced in the new lab with a number of customer-specific projects which require considerable innovation and creativity from our R&D engineering team. We are also busy characterizing our existing product offering through depletion testing while continuing to build our knowledge base on coatings like matrix composite plating.”
For more information on SIFCO ASC, please visit www.sifcoasc.com
SIFCO ASC Talks Automation and Chrome Alternatives at SUR/FIN 2018
Three seasoned industry experts from SIFCO Applied Surface Concepts (ASC) are sharing their insight on a number of critical industry topics at SUR/FIN 2018 from June 4 – 6, 2018. Subjects covered include alternatives to hard chrome, automation of selective plating, and component restoration for remanufacturing.
The annual conference, this year held at the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland, allows leading surface technology companies to connect, collaborate and contribute to industry developments. Throughout the event, multiple technical sessions will be held on the topics of automotive, aerospace, technology advancements, sustainability and waste management. SIFCO ASC’s focus will be in Session 7 – Aerospace & Defense: Innovating Performance Advancements and in Session 15 – Plating Efficiency Improvements via Equipment, Automation, Material Advances and Lean.
In Session 7, Danijela Milosevic, R&D Engineer and Project Engineer at SIFCO ASC is delivering a talk titled; “Advancements in Brush Plated Metal Matrix Composites (MMC)”. In her presentation, she will review the developmental research of safer, eco-friendly alternatives to hard chrome plating. Alternatives to chrome in the form of MMC, offer unique and superior characteristics to metal plating solutions including hardness, wear resistance, and oxidation protection at high temperatures. Conference attendees can watch Danijela’s presentation on June 4, from 5:00 – 5:30pm.
The second speaker, Derek Kilgore, Mechanical Design and Project Engineer at SIFCO ASC will talk about meeting productivity demand through automation of selective plating in Session 15. In his presentation, on June 6 from 8:30 – 9:00am, Derek will demonstrate how attendees can achieve consistent quality and process repeatability by incorporating automated selective plating into their process. The presentation will include data, video and imagery of a newly-developed, dual-spindled ID plating machine.
Also, in Session 15, Derek Vanek, Technical Manager at SIFCO ASC will present “Surface Engineering for Sustainable Manufacturing and Remanufacturing” and discuss why surface engineering technologies should be considered in remanufacturing engineering to restore or improve the performance of worn or failed components. During his 30 years at SIFCO ASC, Derek has worked in sales, training, project management, and marketing while publishing work on engineering technologies. Conference attendees can watch Derek’s presentation on June 6 from 12 – 12:30pm.
For over 50 years SIFCO ASC has provided selective electroplating and anodizing services, chemical solutions and equipment, offering automated plating systems that can be easily integrated into any production line. A global leader in the industry, SIFCO ASC hopes to provide a deeper understanding to the challenges that face the industry and innovative ways to overcome them.
For more information visit SIFCO ASC on stand 351 or, to set up a meeting, visit: www.sifcoasc.com/surfin-2018
*The SIFCO Process® is a unique and portable plating method used to enhance, repair and refurbish localized areas on components.
SIFCO ASC Appoints new General Manager in France
SIFCO Applied Surface Concepts (ASC) has welcomed a new General Manager to oversee their French operation. Nicolas Baudin brings with him a wealth of experience in R&D Project leadership and joins SIFCO ASC from GreenChem, one of Europe’s largest AdBlue chemical manufacturers and distributors.
Nicolas previously worked for Vallourec for over 10 years, holding various positions including R&D Project leader and Industrialisation Manager. He will be a driving force in maximising new commercial and technical development opportunities for the business.
SIFCO ASC France is a key supplier of Selective electroplating services, chemicals and equipment to the aerospace, power generation, oil & gas and defence industry sectors. The unique SIFCO Process® is used to enhance, repair or refurbish critical components and help reduce downtime. The company is pioneering the use of Robotics and the automation of selective electroplating and recently supplied Safran Landing Systems with a custom designed robotic plating station that provides the traceability and repeatability needed to meet the customer’s manufacturing requirements.
SIFCO ASC’s Group Managing Director, Lee Shelton said, “Nicolas was instrumental in the successful development of the Cleanwell project for Vallourec, creating a totally dry multi-function coating for Oil & Gas pipe threads. He is well known to the technical teams at SIFCO ASC and NHE, our sister company in the UK”
“Customer application R&D projects play a key role in the future growth plans for SIFCO ASC France and with significant engineering project management and R&D experience, Nicolas is an excellent fit with the future direction and goals of the business.”
For more information on SIFCO ASC France, visit: www.sifcoasc.fr
*The SIFCO ASC Process is a unique and portable plating method used to enhance, repair and refurbish localised areas on components.
Automated selective plating takes off after SIFCO and Safran’s pioneering project
World leader in selective plating, SIFCO Applied Surface Concepts (ASC) has developed the first robotic selective plating station for landing gear for Safran Landing Systems in Gloucester.
Safran Landing Systems (formerly Messier-Bugatti-Dowty) is a world leading manufacturer of landing gear systems and has a focus on providing solutions which are not only reliable and robust, but increasingly weight efficient and environmentally responsible, providing overall value across an aircraft program.
Safran’s facility in Gloucester has been at the forefront of landing gear technology for over 80 years. Today, the 100,000 m2 site employs around 1,200 people and it’s core competencies include design, research, development, and testing, and systems integration together with a comprehensive, state-of-the-art production capability. It is here that they manufacture the landing gear for a number of the world’s leading commercial aircraft.
Demanding aerospace operating conditions present continual surface finishing challenges for manufacturers. Components need to be able to withstand friction, extreme temperatures and corrosive environments while continuing to operate at optimum levels. For Safran Landing Systems, one particular challenge came in the form of a landing gear bogie beam design.
Landing gear design includes a stop-pad between the bogie beam and vertical part of the component to prevent wear as it is retracted into the fuselage. However, this impact results in potential wear at the interface, with a further risk of atmospheric corrosion. A design modification was agreed involving the application of a nickel chrome electrolytic protective treatment.
SIFCO ASC has partnered Safran on various surface finishing projects for over 20 years including more recent work to increase wear resistance on one of the aircraft’s axles. These projects are carried out using the renowned SIFCO Process® – the leading method of electroplating localized areas on components without the use of an immersion electroplating tank.
Neil Kenyon, Process Group Manager, initially approached SIFCO ASC to investigate the potential of the SIFCO Process® as a solution for the nickel plating application. While it was advised that this could be solved by manually plating a layer of nickel underneath a layer of chrome on the section of the bogie beam affected by corrosion, Safran’s robust manufacturing quality standards required the process to be highly traceable and repeatable. SIFCO ASC’s UK team consulted its French specialist engineering R&D department. Following a full situation analysis, the team recommended the SIFCO Process® should be automated using a collaborative robot in order to adhere to Safran’s robust manufacturing standards. However, this had never been done before and would require significant engineering expertise. In order to achieve the results demanded by the aerospace specifications, the two teams embarked upon a collaborative research project.
Initial work began at the end of 2013. Safran tested the nickel material in its specialist facility under simulated take-off and landing conditions. Once it was confirmed that the material was suitable in early 2014, SIFCO began work on designing the robotic system. During this time, to fast-track the benefits of the SIFCO Process®, the plating was carried out manually.
The robot, now fully operational at Safran Landing System’s Gloucester facility, provides the company with a precise and highly traceable, repeatable and accurate process, well-suited to the hi-tech facility it sits within. The integrated computer logs all of the relevant information including: the parameters plated; the batch numbers for the solution; current densities and solution levels. The fully-automated system also adheres to the company’s health and safety policy as it minimizes human contact with harmful chemicals. It currently processes 30 bogie beams per month and the team is looking to expand its use into other areas of the company.
Consistent plating uniformity has been achieved using this process, standing up to the robustness of the necessary qualification testing.
The SIFCO Process® has since been specified into the manufacturing process of new landing gear to prolong the corrosion protection. It is also being rolled out into Safran Landing System’s Mexico facility where landing gear components are also manufactured.
Study reveals industry barriers to phase out cadmium
A new survey from global selective plating company, SIFCO Applied Surface Concepts (ASC) highlights aerospace specifications and prime’s requirements as the main barriers to the phase out of cadmium in the US aerospace industry, and suggests more clarity on the topic is still needed.
In recent years, there has been speculation that the US aerospace industry will phase out cadmium by 2023, however the survey from SIFCO ASC found that only 23% of respondents think they will actually be cadmium free within the next five years. What’s more, just under half of respondents performing corrosion protection touch-ups and repairs do not feel that they have the necessary resources to make an informed decision on a cadmium alternative. When asked why, 100% cited “lack of credible resources and documentation.”
SIFCO ASC provides both Cadmium LHE and Zinc-Nickel LHE touch-up kits to leading OEM and MRO companies in the field, and also works to find suitable alternatives for the future. Even though decades of research indicates that zinc-nickel can be a reliable alternative to cadmium in the aerospace sector, two thirds of respondents who plate cadmium cite aerospace specifications and prime’s requirements as their biggest barriers to phasing it out.
More than 50% of respondents who plate cadmium believe they have no other option for corrosion protection, as one stated, “We are dependent upon what the [original equipment] manufacturer specifies when it comes to corrosion resistant plating. Until the manufacturer allows alternatives, our hands are tied.” However, Scott Peterson, Training manager at SIFCO ASC, is already heavily involved in bringing a cadmium alternative to the OEM and MRO markets. He said: “What this survey really shows is that there is much hesitation across the industry on this topic. The majority of respondents who don’t think the deadline will be met say the reason is a lack of alternatives, but we believe that this highlights a need for more knowledge sharing and collaboration to provide the level of confidence needed to make the change.”
To aid the industry in sourcing credible, detailed and up-to-date research on cadmium and its alternatives, SIFCO ASC has created an online Cadmium Knowledge Hub where its technical experts will regularly share a variety of content on the topic such as manufacturer testing reports and academic research papers. The site also encourages any other professionals in the industry to submit their own findings in order to help the industry move forward on this issue.
Peterson added: “We are working with a number of leaders in the field and finding that zinc-nickel can even outperform cadmium in some instances. When used with the right conversion coating, the corrosion protection of zinc-nickel is even more impressive. The changes are happening in some areas but the industry needs to come together and share best practices so that cadmium can finally be phased out.”
To visit SIFCO ASC’s Cadmium Knowledge Hub, visit: www.sifcoasc.com/cadmium-knowledge-hub.