Category Archive: Uncategorized
Aeroplanes face harsh environmental conditions every day which makes efficient and effective aircraft maintenance and repair key to the success of industry. Conditions such as atmospheric moisture, high altitude, and temperature changes can all cause corrosion more quickly. This can result in structural damage, reduce the performance of critical components, and compromise safety. This is where corrosion protection comes in.
But, with aircrafts structure being complex and made of many different materials, they are difficult to inspect and maintain. This makes detecting and addressing corrosion quickly a challenge, leading to potential safety issues. Plus, the costs of this can add up, increasing the expenses already faced by aircraft manufactures of material maintenance. This is why more companies are turning to selective electroplating for corrosion protection.
Making component coating more precise and efficient
Selective plating is a process where a metal coating is applied just to a specific area of a component, unlike tank plating where the whole part is coated. Masking materials are used to cover any areas of the component that don’t need plating, and then the unmasked areas are plated using electroplating.
For aircraft maintenance this is particularly beneficial, as it can be used to repair and refurbish components that are otherwise difficult, costly, or impossible to replace. This could include components that are no longer manufactured.
By using selective plating, the aerospace industry can extend the life of critical parts, reduce maintenance costs, and improve the overall reliability. It can also be used to enhance the performance of components by applying a coating that is more resistant to wear and corrosion.
Reducing manufacturing downtime
Manufacturing downtime is a problem for any business, but it’s particularly severe for businesses that operate in highly competitive markets like aerospace. This is because downtime can result in a loss of production capacity, revenue and result in production delays that could lead to missed delivery deadlines, lost sales, and dissatisfied customers.
This is where manufacturers can benefit from implementing robust maintenance procedures, adopt predictive maintenance technologies and continuously look for ways to optimize processes and minimize unplanned downtime.
This is where selective plating really comes into its own for aircraft repair as it can help restore aircraft components such as landing gear, flap tracks, and engine parts. It can also improve engine performance, by applying coatings that are more resistant to wear and corrosion.
How SIFCO ASC’s customized system can help aircraft maintenance
Our Advanced Solution Control System (ASCS) by SIFCO ASC is an innovative electroplating technology that has cutting-edge dripless tooling. This means that all chemical solutions used in the process are recycled back into the system at the surface of the workpiece, eliminating the need for catch trays.
This tooling also allows for the component to be plated in any orientation – flat, vertical, or even above the aircraft repair technician’s head. This creates a creates a cleaner and more environmentally friendly working environment while also enhancing safety measures.
The technology is also portable and can be integrated into a production line. This means it can:
- Enhance throughput and productivity
- Reduce ergonomic risk
- Offer significant safety benefits for operators and employees
To learn more about selective electroplating in the aerospace industry, why not download our aerospace whitepaper.
With extreme oil and gas supply shortages looming ever closer and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve of the United States reaching its lowest level in 38 years, oil and gas equipment needs to run as smoothly as possible.
But, when two stainless steel parts of a threaded coupling are in direct contact with one another it causes constant friction. This can result in the galling of the metal, where the threads seize or abrade. In turn this can cause the joint elements to jam or damage the threads themselves.
For parts such as Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTGs), this threatens leaks and oil blowouts and can often halt the production processes. With oil and gas supplies as low as they are, the economic effects of this downtime could be more than simply getting the parts replaced or repaired. This is where copper selective plating comes in.
How Copper Plating Steel Can Help the Oil and Gas Industry
Newly manufactured stainless-steel couplings that are at risk of galling and seizing need a thin layer of copper coated onto their threads using electroplating. These threaded connections, often called premium threaded connections, are an attempt to improve the American Petroleum Institute’s standards for threaded pipes and couplings used in OCTGs.
These oil and gas pipes can be very large in size and the threads that need to be plated are at the ends of the pipe. This means, standard tank plating is impractical and usually impossible. But because of their fragile nature and risk of compromise, there is no margin for error for parts used in the oil and gas industry. This is where selective plating comes in.
Selective plating is a portable electroplating method used to enhance, repair, and refurbish localized areas on manufactured components, allowing for the electrolytic coating of surfaces without an electroplating tank.
Because of the importance of this, the oil and gas industry has been looking at ways to ensure consistency across the copper plating, which includes standardising the procedures around training and certification.
Ensuring Consistency in Copper Plating Training and Certification
Two of the leading oil field thread designers VAM and Tenaris have recently introduced programs to ensure the standards of copper brush or selective plating across the industry. These programs are designed to establish a standard procedure for the qualification, evaluation, and acceptance of copper selective plating.
As part of this, operators now need to receive formal and specialized training and certification from an approved selective brush plating vendor to apply selective copper plating to the premium threaded connections provided by VAM and Tenaris.
At SIFCO ASC, we have a selective plating certification Copper Select® that has been given the approved vendor status by both licensors. This means we can train and qualify operators from around the globe in selective plating methods in line with the VAM and Tenaris specifications.
It’s not just copper plating that we can train your operators on, we have a wide range of courses including a Basic Training Course and a Cadmium/Zinc Nickel Certification Training Course. All these training courses are available worldwide either at our headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio or on-site at a location of your choice.
Passing SIFCO ASC’s Copper Select® Certification involves the completion of a weeklong training course and submitting qualification samples for approval. Upon completing the process, the licensee will be allowed to selectively plate copper onto Premium Threaded Connections using the technique taught as part of the training course. To ensure standards of copper plating remain consistent, qualified licensees will be audited annually.
How and Why to Get Your Operators Qualified to Plate with Copper
If you’re interested in receiving the Copper Select® Certification you will need to enter a three-year licensing agreement with SIFCO ASC, purchase a basic set of equipment tailored to plating threaded connections, and consistently monitor and measure the results to make sure that the standards expected within the certification are met.
To ensure the highest quality standards are met, your operators will need to recertify before the end of the three-year period. The accreditation is also location-based, meaning that organizations with multiple locations, need to acquire the Copper Select® Certification for each site.
If your operators haven’t attained the Copper Select® Certification or any other VAM and Tenaris-approved training, then they can’t work on the premium threaded connections provided by either licensor. This can cause production to grind to a halt. Completing the Copper Select® Certification ensures the highest standards of selective copper plating for parts used in the oil and gas industry. This is particularly important at a time when there is increased pressure for this industry to succeed.
Find out more about our Copper Select® certification or our other training courses today.
Between credit and debit card issuers to the automotive and technology sectors, many industries are being affected by a global semiconductor shortage. This was partially down to a demand spike in the pandemic as well as supply-chain issues.
According to the American Machinist “The pandemic highlighted how semiconductor suppliers were ill-prepared for shocks, as some manufacturers faced thousands of product shortages per day”.
With chip factories being expensive to build and labor-extensive to operate, solving these challenges won’t be an easy task. In fact, it takes an estimated minimum of $10 billion to build a new chip manufacturing plant. And, that doesn’t include the workforce needed to operate it. Intel, for example, plans to build two semiconductor factories in Ohio, but these will need approximately 7,000 workers. This is particularly difficult with an ongoing workforce and talent shortage.
But this is where new technologies, processes, and investments can help companies work towards a solution.
Investments to tackle semiconductor shortages
The challenge facing semiconductor manufacturing has led to the US Government’s CHIPS and Science Act to boost American semiconductor research, development, and production.
According to a recent statement from the White House: “America invented the semiconductor, but today produces about 10% of the world’s supply – and none of the most advanced chips. Instead, we rely on East Asia for 75 percent of global production. The CHIPS and Science Act will unlock hundreds of billions more in private sector semiconductor investment across the country, including production essential to national defense and critical sectors.”
Following this act passing, companies across the semiconductor manufacturing sector announced nearly $50 billion in additional investments.
Going beyond shortages: four challenges facing semiconductor manufacturing
As well as the shortages, the semiconductor sector still faces several challenges that affect the reliability and durability of semiconductors. Here are the four top challenges semiconductor manufacturers need to overcome…
- Corrosion: This can occur because of exposure to moisture and other environmental factors. Corrosion can cause many problems including reduced performance, device failure and increased maintenance costs.
- Miniaturizations: As the demand for smaller and more complex devices increases, the size of semiconductors continues to shrink. This makes it more difficult to protect them from environmental factors like moisture, which can cause corrosion and other damage.
- Material compatibility: Semiconductors are made from a variety of materials, each with unique properties and characteristics. The challenge is to find a coating material that is compatible with the semiconductor material and provides adequate protection against corrosion.
- Cost: The semiconductor industry is highly competitive, and cost is always a concern. That’s why manufacturers must seek cost-effective solutions for corrosion protection without sacrificing quality.
Selective plating: an effective solution for corrosion protection
Selective plating is an electroplating technique that is used to deposit a thin layer of metal on a specific area of a substrate to provide corrosion protection for semiconductor components. One of the benefits of selective plating is that it can be used only on the areas that need protection, helping to reduce material usage and minimize the impact on the device’s electrical properties.
It can also be used with a variety of metal coating materials, including gold, silver, and nickel. This makes it possible to choose a coating material that is compatible with the component’s base material and provides adequate protection against corrosion.
Plus, selective plating is a cost-effective solution for corrosion protection. This is because the technique is relatively simple and can be performed on-site with standard electroplating equipment. This makes it possible to integrate selective plating into existing production processes without significant additional investment.
How SIFCO ASC can help the semiconductor industry
At SIFCO ASC, we have the knowledge and expertise to help manufacturers of aluminum chemical vapor deposition (CVD) tooling which requires Selective Nickel Plating (SNP).
This tooling gets worn out with use and is replaced by the semiconductor manufacturers. Research into the possible recoating of tooling is being investigated as an option to prolong the life of the equipment and avoid any unnecessary repair costs or downtime.
When it comes to the steel enclosures used in CVD processing equipment, manufacturers require selective plating of zinc with the main purpose of create ground area for electrical panel cabinets.
By working with SIFCO you can get help with:
- Concept and design: Our R&D and Engineering expertise can help you find the right solution for your application.
- Production: In this phase, our technical support team and contract service technicians can provide the skill and labor to carry out the most demanding applications. We also have certified trainers that can offer a hands-on experience for our customers so that they can plate their equipment on site without disruption to their production. Technicians will learn how to troubleshoot plating applications and accurately plate numerous deposits.
- Procurement and logistics: To make sure your solutions, supplies and equipment are readily available when and where they are needed, our team is on hand throughout the process.
For more information about how the SIFCO Process® and selective plating can help your semiconductor business, contact our team today.
The job of any vehicle’s transmission is to change gears to ensure the engine’s RPM’s are kept low (depending on speed and acceleration). When the vehicle’s transmission is in working order, fuel consumption is decreased, and the turning of the gears does not overload the engine.
With unpredictable environments and severe conditions, off-highway vehicle transmissions are put to the test every day in the mining industry. And when an off-highway vehicle is out for repair, it puts the operation and future revenues in jeopardy. This unfortunately was the case for the largest coal mining operation in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
While a vehicle was out for repair, the transmission case was dismantled incorrectly causing cracks and damage to the surface. This company could have used spot welding to repair and fill these cracks, but the risk of additional cracks and heat distortion was too high. Familiar with brush plating, they approached PT Rep Sal Indo, a SIFCO ASC partner in Jakarta, Indonesia to determine if the SIFCO Process® of selective plating was an option.
Selective plating, or brush plating as it’s known, is a portable method of electroplating localized areas without the use of an immersion tank. Its portability allows component repairs and OEM enhancements to happen in-situ with minimal masking and disassembly. The process is also 60 times faster than tank plating, allowing for operations to be completed within one working shift.
The area of repair on the transmission case was 356 x 620 mm (14 x 24.5 inches) and required Copper 2050 to fill defected areas, and a cap of Nickel 2080 for wear resistance. First, PT Rep Sal Indo pre-ground the surface to remove any high spots. The cracks were then filled by laser welding, after which a copper topcoat was applied. The copper was then dressed back to ensure it was flat across the entire surface. Finally, the area was capped with nickel.
With the use of selective plating, the company was able to salvage the part, saving a considerable amount of cost that would come with replacing the transmission case. What’s more, is the repair was completed within its regular maintenance schedule and the vehicle was back in operation without any additional downtime.
As with many machines, alignment of gears and components is critical. So, when even one component becomes out of round or out of tolerance, it can jeopardize not just the machine, but the entire operation with the threat of downtime and costly repairs.
Unfortunately, the largest coal mining operation in Kalimantan, Indonesia, experienced just this situation when a differential bearing housing became out of round from the relentless production required by the mining industry. But repairing this bearing housing isn’t as easy as it seems. They could build up the area with thermal spray, however this process is time consuming and comes with a high risk of mis-machining due to the critical alignment of the differential gear during assembly.
So, this coal mining company reached out to PT Rep Sal Indo, a SIFCO ASC partner based in Jakarta, Indonesia, specializing in the SIFCO Process® of selective electroplating. The SIFCO Process® is a portable method of electroplating localized areas without the use of an immersion tank. The use of handheld anodes allows technicians to mask off the specific areas to be plated, and apply the deposit in-situ, with minimal disassembly. Such was the case with the Differential Bearing Housing. By using selective plating, the repair was able to be completed with the gears installed, fully preventing the risk of misalignment. PT Rep Sal Indo fully repaired 2 internal diameters within 0.025mm – meeting the customer’s required specifications and significantly reducing potential downtime.
Off highway vehicles face demanding environments. And every component of that vehicle is essential.
For the largest coal mining operation in Kalimantan, Indonesia, that critical component was a wheel hub assembly. The wheel hub assembly allows the vehicle to steer freely, and is critical to the anti-lock braking and traction control systems. But when a tire is changed, often multiple times as in the mining industry, the bolt holes become worn and oversized – not allowing the bolt shank to retain its position.
So, when 18 bolt holes of the wheel hub assembly needed resized, there was only a couple of options – electroplating or welding and machining. Build up by welding and machining, however, requires complex equipment, extensive downtime, and potential heat distortion and mis-machining. Electroplating, on the other hand, has no risk for heat distortion and can be plated to size. But, since tank plating was not an option due to the masking required to protect the rest of the component, they decided to contacted P.T. Rep Sal Indo, a SIFCO ASC partner in Jakarta-Indonesia who specializes in the SIFCO Process® of selective plating.
Selective plating is the portable method of electroplating and is used to apply electroplated deposits and anodized coatings in localized areas of a part without the use of an immersion tank. By using the SIFCO Process®, P.T. Rep Sal Indo was able to restore dimension to 18 bolt holes, by first building up the area with Copper 2050, then capping the holes with Nickel 5644 for wear resistance. The total internal dimension of bore was plated within 0.02mm of the required thickness.
Mining companies will continue to face the everyday challenge of wear and tear on their machinery, therefore forcing them to reduce costs through rebuilding and remanufacturing their critical components. With the use of the SIFCO Process® these components can be restored to their OEM standards with superior adhesion and minimal downtime – helping mining companies move forward towards more continuous, cost-efficient and sustainable operations.
Now more than ever, the mining industry needs cost-effective solutions to meet the long-term challenges presented by harsh environments, rising costs and increased environmental pressures.
Mining’s off-road equipment and vehicles have to cope with extreme temperatures and harsh operating conditions including water and dust, as well as heavy duty cycles and vibration, all pushing machines to the limit. Component corrosion, damage and failure are inevitable, resulting in inefficiency and potentially the breakdown of mission critical equipment such as engines, drives and hydraulics.
With downtime and productivity at stake, the problems mount up for maintenance.
Selective plating v Tank plating
Electroplating is used extensively across all sectors but has special value in mining where harsh operating conditions are the norm.
The most common electroplating method is tank plating, where components are dipped into a bath of the required solution. The drawback is that components need to be removed from the equipment, shipped to the supplier, masked as appropriate and then be repackaged and shipped back, all of which adds cost and time. In contrast, selective plating is exactly that – it allows users to apply a solution to a specific area with the use of a hand-held tool, commonly known as the brush. Equipment is minimal and repairs can be undertaken minimal with masking on site, in a job shop, or even with the component in situ, thanks to a lightweight power pack and portable equipment.
Selective plating delivers ease, speed and convenience, literally at the stroke of a brush. Not only are plate deposits typically between 30 and 60 times faster than with tank plating, it all takes place at room temperature, eliminating any possibility of distortion or stress.
A typical case study.
Selective plating is an approved process in mining and has been used extensively for a wide range of applications across the sector. Although there are a number of processes, they all use a variety of alloys – including copper, nickel, nickel-tungsten and cobalt – to repair components and restore them to original OEM dimensions and standards.
One typical case involved an internationally respected manufacturer of large surface mining equipment. They discovered that 35% of all cylinder head failures were due to fretting and required a cost-effective alternative to replacing them. After initial trials, two methods were chosen for closer investigation – welding and selective brush plating. Both were evaluated against criteria, such as cost, time, and the overall quality of the coating.
The results showed that while welding was a low-cost solution, the deposits were of insufficient quality for the application, and were also subject to potentially damaging heat distortion – an inevitable consequence of the process. In comparison, brush plating – using nickel to restore dimensions and add wear resistance – delivered a durable and high-quality deposit, free of the risk of heat distortion. It was also 16% faster to apply and only marginally more expensive.
For these reasons, the SIFCO Process® was adopted as its preferred method for salvaging cylinder heads, bringing key benefits including reduced use of materials, less waste and lower energy consumption. Compared with the costs of new or replacement parts, this resulted in annual savings of some $95,000.
Superior, sustainable, in situ…
The mining sector has always faced serious challenges in terms of component wear and tear, and in keeping operational costs to a minimum. Now, the sector is also under increasing scrutiny to reduce its carbon impact in both the short and long-term. By re-manufacturing original components to superior standards, quickly and effectively in situ, selective plating can help mining companies take another significant step towards more continuous, cost-efficient and sustainable operations.
FAMAT, an equally owned subsidiary of Safran Aircraft Engines and GE, based in St. Nazaire, France, is a world leading manufacturer of aircraft engine casings. FAMAT has a focus on providing solutions which are not only reliable and robust, but increasingly weight efficient and environmentally responsible.
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 FAMAT, one particular challenge came in the form of casing grooves.
FAMAT approached SIFCO ASC to improve the hardness of their casing grooves through selective anodizing. Each component was made of Aluminum 2219 and assembled in the GE90 Engine. The 3-meter diameter grooves required 50 μm of Type 3 Hard Anodize for hardness and corrosion protection, but FAMAT allowed for a variation of +/-10μm per groove.
While each component could be tank anodized using extensive masking, FAMAT wanted to reduce the downtime that came with transporting each component off-site. Plus, with the ongoing production of two casings per day with two grooves each, FAMAT could not afford the downtime of three-to-four weeks per unit.
SIFCO ASC was able to successfully install a flow plating cell within the FAMAT facility. FAMAT has anodized two casings per day for the past five years with a repeatability rate of over 99%. The system has allowed FAMAT to take ownership of the entire assembly of the casing, as well as reducing downtime from three-to-four weeks to less than three hours per component. What’s more, with the flow plating system SIFCO ASC was able to reduce the variability of the thickness by 80% to +/-2μm per groove.
Heat exchangers are used throughout various industries to transfer heat from one fluid to another. Often, these fluids are corrosive to metal, making it important that components are protected against galvanic chemical damage. In this particular application, the heat exchangers were made of multiple steels including carbon steel, Inconel cladding, and stainless steel – increasing their risk for galvanic corrosion.
The customer required that each bore of the heat exchanger be plated with AeroNikl® 250 for corrosion protection. Each bore measured 19.2mm x 252.5mm (0.75in x 12in) and there were 689 bores per exchanger, with four heat exchangers in total. With an exacting specification to meet, it was impossible to obtain the required thickness of nickel using traditional brush plating techniques. The customer wanted to plate the parts on-site, which meant that tank plating wasn’t suitable either.
With the portability of the SIFCO Process®, SIFCO ASC was able to bring its encapsulated plating system to the customer’s facility to plate the bores on-site. The process required dedicated tooling which was designed to be locked on to each bore. With the tooling locked and sealed, the full process could be completed without changing the electrode. The hydraulic circuit was supplied by a centrifugal pump alternately connected to the electrolyte and rinsing water storage devices. With the setup in place, SIFCO ASC was able to plate two bores per hour with a thickness required of 100 μm (0.0004in), negating the need for the customer to disassemble or remove the heat exchanger from service.
The world-leader in the development and manufacture of cutting-edge location sensor technology approached SIFCO ASC for assistance with gold plating their resonators.
Their high-performance accelerometers, gyroscopes and other systems are designed to meet the stringent requirements of customers for precision guidance, stabilization, navigation and orientation applications. To meet the specifications and maintain the repeatability and traceability required by the company, SIFCO ASC knew encapsulated flow plating was the only viable solution.
Gold plating is an expensive application. For this reason, plating is often applied to a specific area of the component. But, when the component is less than an inch in diameter, with eight holes which do not require plating, the masking process becomes a labor-intensive challenge – slowing down throughput and impacting process efficiency.
Custom tooling and seals were developed to encapsulate the parts for the preparatory step, the nickel plate and the final gold plate.
Each tool had a fully autonomous process step which was embedded with selective and flow plating technologies and separated by intermediate rinsing steps. This dramatically reduced cross contamination between each step while ensuring state-of-the-art repeatability.
With encapsulated plating, under the trial qualification stages, SIFCO ASC was able to complete 17 resonators in two hours, equating to 63 parts per shift with 100% repeatability. This output rate was anticipated to be able to go even higher once production ramps up. Even distribution was also observed, and there was no adhesion loss after thermal shock. Most importantly, once all of the parameters were fixed, technicians received the same result every time.
To learn more about our Encapsulated Flow Plating technology, download our whitepaper.