PaintSquare.com


The First Word in Protective & Marine Coatings

A Product of Technology Publishing / PaintSquare
JPCL | PaintSquare News | Durability + Design | Paint BidTracker

Free Download of

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page


DoD Touts ‘No Mask’ Plating Process

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

More items for Coating Application

Comment | More

New award-winning technology for electroplating of metal parts can—for the first time—eliminate the century-old, hazardous, tedious, error-prone step of hand masking, researchers say.

The new option—known as “No-Mask Conforming Anodes”—was pioneered by a team of industry and Department of Defense participants, led by the National Center for Manufacturing Science (NCMS).

 Researchers say that the new technology creates zero toxic waste

 Video images: NCMS

Traditional electroplating generates “mountains” of toxin-saturated used maskant, NCMS says. The new technology creates zero toxic waste, researchers say.

The team consisted of depot engineers from the Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD), the Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) Southwest, and Advanced Tooling Corporation (ATC). The project was funded through the Commercial Technologies for Maintenance Activities (CTMA) program, a DoD-supported NCMS initiative.

‘Nothing Less Than Astonishing’

“The results of this project are nothing less than astonishing,” said Bill Chenevert, NCMS Program Manager for the project, which has been underway for several years. “We took this 100-year-old process and gave it a technologically advanced overhaul, saving money, time and the environment.”

The development has transformed a “massively inefficient process” that “burns through enormous amounts of power” and “generates mountains of toxic waste” into a “zero waste system,” the team explains in a video demonstrating the technology

According to NCMS, the pilot project:

• Reduced  pre-plating part preparation by 95%;

• Reduced plating time by 45%;

• Increased plating tank capacity by 50%, improving overall throughput; and

• Yielded $2.2 million in immediate annual savings from the pilot parts alone.

Given the tens of thousands of metal parts it electroplates, the Defense Department may save as much as $50 million in the first three years, researchers said.

Dangers and Waste

“The basic techniques involved in electroplating have not changed substantially in over 100 years,” NCMS notes in an article on the project in Digital Manufacturing Report. “You carefully hand-mask areas of the part you wish to protect from plating, and dip the whole thing into an electrified tank for several hours.”

The process is hugely time-consuming, prone to error, involves highly toxic plating baths, and creates vast quantities of toxic waste—multiplied by the thousands of vehicle, aircraft and machinery parts exposed to corrosion and wear in military and manufacturing applications.

The goal of the no-mask project was to eliminate masking labor, achieve faster plating times, improve uniformity of deposits, and minimize the hazards involved.

“Masking used to take hours and hours,” said Randy Taylor, president of ATC. “It was subjective, from one person to the other. It was a lot of operator error; different interpretation of dimensions could result in variances that were unacceptable.”

How it Works

In lieu of hand masking, the team developed no-mask air- and liquid-tight conforming anodes that are custom-made for the part being plated. An acid-resistant PVC fits tightly around the part.

The tooling incorporates the anode configured to the specific part shape, which researchers say improves the speed and uniformity of the metal deposit by ensuring optimal anode placement for each part, regardless of geometry.

 The part is fitted with an air-tight, liquid-tight conforming anode custom-made for the part being plated
The part is fitted with an air-tight, liquid-tight conforming anode custom-made for the part being plated.

Areas to be plated are exposed to the solution and anode; the rest of the part does not electrically interact with the plating process.

No-mask anodes are also designed to minimize hydrogen bubbling; they can even be operated outside a plating tank, with plating fluid pumped through the tool at high speed, NCMS says.

The custom-made anodes are fully reusable, eliminating the hazardous waste from toxic-saturated maskants used in the conventional process. The process also minimizes the risks of hydrogen embrittlement, a major source of metal fatigue and damage, the team says.

‘Great Idea’ Winner

The process will not eliminate electroplating, which is “here to stay,” NCMS reports. “We need this technology.” But the advance will “bring it into the 21st century.”

The project won the prestigious “Great Ideas Competition” in November at SAE’s 2011 DoD Maintenance Symposium and Exhibition in Fort Worth, TX. The annual symposium brings together thousands of government and industry representatives to exchange ideas to improve maintenance practices and procedures.

Watch the video.

   

Tagged categories: Masking; Research

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

PaintSquare
SSPC 2014 Product Demos

Watch product demos by SSPC 2014 exhibitors. Check them out now!


Safway Services
One Source. Every Solution.

The Safway Group is your source for multiservices. Painting, coating, insulation and more – all from the most trusted name in the industry.


Montipower, Inc.
The MBX Bristle Blaster

Get a 2.7 to 3.3 mil profile and a Near White Metal Clean. For info visit www.mbxit.com or call 877 629-8777


ABKaelin, LLC
Quality is our bottom line

Services include:
• Environmental, Health &
  Safety
• Contractor QP Certification
• Quality Assurance Programs
  and Auditing
• SSPC C3/C5 and other
  Training
• Coatings
• Design/Construction
See our website at abkaelin.com or contact us today abkaelin@comcast.com


NLB Corporation
VacLance cleans up as you work

Add vacuum recovery to any NLB rotating water jet lance with a VacLance attachment and vacuum source. Model DM32283 works vertically, horizontally and in corners.


DRYCO
The one way to control
a tank: DRYCO

Temporary climate control equipment. Dehumidifiers,
Heaters, A/C, Power, More…
Toll Free: 866-379-2600


LS Industries
LS Blasters: Optimum Steel Cleaning Efficiency

Simplify surface prep with the precise shot control of LS Blasters. Our blast technology delivers optimum coverage and finish. 800-533-8008

 
 
 
Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker JPCL Europe

 
EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About PaintSquare.com   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us
 

© Copyright 2000-2014, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail webmaster@paintsquare.com