Taking Off: Fully Automated Selective Nickel Plating
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 the 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.
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. Following a full situation analysis, the team at SIFCO ASC recommended an automated plating system using a collaborative robot in order to adhere to Safran’s robust manufacturing standards.
The robot, now fully operational at Safran Landing System’s Gloucester, England facility, provides the company with a precise and highly traceable, repeatable and accurate process, well-suited to the high-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.
For more information, visit: sifcoasc.com/automated-plating-systems/