We are exhibiting this April in Orlando, FL, at the MRO Americas exhibition for the first time in the event’s history. There will be 850+ exhibitors and over 15 000 visitors. We are joining forces with our local representative DAES Group, and their other capital equipment partners. Our stand 1154 is located in the main hall.
Come and visit us in Orlando in April and learn more about our exeptional surface treatment plant engineering capabilities in the Engine MRO component cleaning as well as aircraft component manufacturing.
RAPID EXPANSION AT ANODISING CENTRE SPECIALISING IN AUTOMOTIVE APPLICATIONS
BCW Treatments Ltd on Innovation Drive in Burnley is an aluminium anodising facility opened in early 2015 to provide a full service to companies using the subcontract machining services of BCW Manufacturing Group’s machine shops on the same industrial estate. Anodising is carried out in a Galvatek automated finishing line supplied by Turbex, which was deemed to be the best all-round package of three alternatives considered. Currently, an average of 2,600 square metres of product per week are finished across more than 240 part lines.
The Galvatek automated anodising line at BCW Treatments, Burnley.
Anodizing of automotive aluminium castings, sheets and extrusions
One of BCW’s automotive contracts involves the production of aluminium components mainly from A365 castings, 6060 extrusion, superplastic 5083, and 5754 sheet for a premium automotive customer in the UK specialising in manufacturing luxury sports cars and grand tourers. More recently, the subcontractor has received further business from another prestigious UK automotive customer that produces high performance 4×4’s and special operations vehicles. The work will start at the end of 2018 and entail the installation in an adjacent factory of a line for passivating components as a corrosion resistant pretreatment. Enquiries have also been received for finishing lightweight components for aircraft, such as cabin seating, and for electric cars, hybrids, amphibious vehicles and lorries. Consequently, by the end of the decade, the firm is destined to become a major force in component finishing in the north of England.
Dr Andrew Wilson, managing director of BCW Treatments explained, “Although more than a century old, modern anodising is an exacting discipline requiring extremely close control to achieve the highest quality and even more importantly the correct film properties.”Some manufacturers’ car parts are adhesively joined rather than welded and a nominal thickness of the anodic layer of between two and 10 microns is required, above which there is a risk of components pulling apart under stress. A tolerance band of four to six microns is achieved in the Galvatek line, so precise is the process.”
Two overhead transporters dip flight bars carrying aluminium components into 15 tanks sequentially. Up to five jobs can be processed simultaneously in the line.
Automation and ventilation play an important role
An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system drives the finishing process in Burnley, raising each manufacturing order and triggering the issue of material. The line’s control system learns which aluminium products are mounted on which universal or part-specific jig by scanning the manufacturing order. Once it knows the part number, the correct program is automatically selected. There are four load/unload stations at one end of the line, where components are loaded onto flight bars that progress to a buffer station from where they are picked up by one of two overhead transporters and dipped into 15 tanks sequentially. Up to five jobs can be processed simultaneously in the line.
Automatic dosing stations are provided for metered dosing of chemicals into several of the tanks, the quantity being worked out automatically according to the amount of surface area to be anodised on each flight bar. The working environment is clean and fume-free, as each tank is hermetically sealed and the lid is not opened until a transporter is directly above it. Positive pressure pulls the fumes through the handling system and extracts them to a scrubbing unit. After processing, flight bars are returned to four load/unload stations adjacent to the loading area and the test pieces are taken away for analysis, which includes pull and shear tests after adhesive has been applied. Following each successful test, the ERP system is advised that the components are ready to deliver to the customer.
The anodising line sequence
As a conveyor is not involved in transporting flight bars around the system, the anodising process starts in the centre of the line and progresses initially away from the load/unload stations. Alkaline degrease takes up to one hour in the first tank for the most soiled castings and the solution is rinsed off in town water in the next two tanks, the water being recycled between the second and third stage.
A fight bar being lowered by one of the transporters into a tank.
Tank 4 is a chemical etch using sodium hydroxide to remove pre-existing aluminium oxide from the surface of components. Immersion time is controlled to avoid unduly changing of the geometry of the components. It also precludes the need to plug holes, resulting in a cost saving and eliminating the risk of parts being returned by the customer if plugs are inadvertently left in at the time of delivery. An eco-rinse cycle in town water is performed in the next three tanks, again with recycling between the stages. The following process, which takes place at the far end of the line in tank 8, is the removal in a mix of nitric acid and hydrofluoric acid of alloying elements on the surface of components, especially of castings, that remain after chemical etching. Two further eco-rinse immersions in tanks 9 and 10 brings the pre-treatment to a close, by which time the components have travelled back past the centre tank towards the load/unload stations.
The actual anodising stage of the process is in tank 11, which contains sulphuric acid, and lasts between eight and 10 minutes, during which time a nominal 4 to 6 microns film thickness is deposited. An ecological feature of the equipment is continuous dosing of the acid, instead of recycling the fluid when the aluminium content reaches say 20 grams per litre. Avoidance of waste is made possible by employing a pump to recirculate the fluid through a retardation unit, where the aluminium is filtered out. A clean rinse in three successive tanks containing deionised water, which is produced locally within the line, ends with an ultra-clean rinse to ensure that conductivity is less than 200 microsiemens.
The last stage, prior to the flight bar being taken back to the unload station, is hydrothermal sealing at 96°C in a proprietary chemical blend. Reserved for high-end applications and involving 30-micron particulate filtration, the process seals microscopically small pores created on the surface of components as a result of dielectric breakdown during anodising.
Harri Salo has been appointed After Sales Engineer at Galvatek. In this position he serves as the primary contact for customers looking for spare parts for their surface treatment plants.
“I have been studying and working in spare part operations for decades, but this job has the broadest description so far. It feels good to have total responsibility for the entire spare parts process, from purchasing to delivery,” says Harri Salo.
Salo previously worked in spare parts and service operations at Kempower, Finnsonic and Kemppi. Kempower supplied electrical power sources to Galvatek, while Finnsonic fabricates ultrasonic washing lines and non-destructive testing devices, so Galvatek was already familiar to him. His latest job was at Kemppi Oy measuring and analysing power electronic components.
Salo graduated with a degree in Automation Engineering from Lahti University of Applied Sciences and later earned an MSc in applied electronics and electrical drives from Lappeenranta University of Technology.
He lives in Lahti with his wife and likes to spend his leisure time outdoors hiking, boating, motorcycling and staying at his summer cottage in the countryside.
Galvatek has signed a contract to deliver a phosphating line, painting line, waste water neutralization plant and robotized material handling system to a manufacturing facility in Finland. Galvatek delivers the full turnkey project including design engineering, installation and commissioning. The size of the project is approximately three million euros.
Turn key delivery expertise decisive
“The competition was extremely tight. Galvatek was chosen because of our ability to manage the surface treatment plant, painting line and material handing solution as one turnkey project. Galvatek´ s long experience in this kind of projects was also appreciated,” tells Sales and Marketing Manager Tommi Rautiainen, Galvatek Oy.
The project will be executed in partnership together with Sasmetor (www.sasmetor.fi) and Orfer (www.orfer.fi), who as Galvatek subcontractors are Finnish technology professionals in painting lines as well as robotics solutions.
Industrial investments in Finland continues
The new project is a positive signal expressing growth of industrial investments in Finland. For Galvatek the recent project means another remarkable delivery to Finnish industries, following the deliveries of two fully automatic tin plating lines to Ouneva Oy in Finland in 2013 and 2016.
The name of the customer is not published because of the customer´s wish.
Galvatek is participating again the Surface World Show 2017 at NEC, Birmingham, UK
The event is the only one in the UK dedicated to surface treatment, product finishing and coatings industry. Galvatek joins the event together with our local partner Turbex Ltd. Come to Birmingham and meet us at Stand D1 at Hall 7.
TSA to replace toxic substances in aluminium anodizing
The REACH Regulation of the European Chemicals Agency effectively bans the use of hexavalent chromium for surface treatment as of 2017. Exemptions may be granted only in exceptional cases, such as military aviation applications. Less toxic aluminium surface treatment processes have been developed to replace the use of chrome, such as TSA (Tartaric Sulphuric Acid) and PSA (Phosphoric Sulphuric Acid).
“The benefits of using chrome have been its excellent resilience, low friction and the anti-corrosive properties of chromic acid anodizing. The problem is that toxins are released when manufacturing and processing chromed components, so it is understandable why the EU wants to discontinue chromic acid anodizing,” says Galvatek Senior Adviser Arto Jämsén.
Galvatek offers TSA and PSA processes to replace chromic acid anodizing. These environmentally friendlier processes comply with the REACH Regulation, and they also reduce energy and wastewater costs and are significantly easier to use. Galvatek’s automated lines meet all the demands of NADCAP certification and OEM customers, for example in terms of the traceability of components.
New lines offer lower operating costs
“Replacing chromic acid anodizing with the TSA process can cut both power consumption and anodising time by half. The TSA process also requires less exhaust air, which creates significant savings in energy consumption,” says Jämsén.
Savings can also be generated by having to process lighter wastewater. Also, as corrosive toxins are not released into the indoor air, production facilities are not damaged and the work environment is safer.
“What is most important, of course, is that the treated component is at least as good as it would have been using the old chromic acid anodizing process. Furthermore, the processing of each component is documented in the Galcont system, making it easy to obtain NADCAP certification or to comply with the internal auditing of aircraft manufacturers,” Jämsén adds.
Galvatek has 36 years of experience in supplying aluminium surface treatment lines used in the production of aircraft components but also long history in building chemical cleaning lines for maintenance, repair and overhaul of aero engines. Galvatek systems can be found throughout the world on all continents, as the company has operated on a truly global scale for four decades.
“Our strengths include reliable turnkey deliveries with no unpleasant surprises in terms of schedules or costs. If a manufacturer already has a surface treatment line that complies with regulations, it is usually enough to modernise it. The old line can also be retained for other types of surface treatment, such as chromic acid treatment for military aviation applications.”
Patricomp introduces TSA to its existing surface treatment line
Patricomp in Halli, Central Finland, supplies components to the aviation industry, where its customers include Airbus, Embraer, Saab and the Finnish Air Force. Patricomp is the sole supplier of elevator tips for the Airbus 350, for example.
“We needed a new aluminium surface treatment line to comply with the REACH Regulation, as well as the demands of our customers. Airbus wants to switch to chrome-free components, and TSA is an Airbus-approved method. We were given very precise specifications by Airbus, according to which we introduced and use the process,” says Jari Vasenius, Sales Director at Patricomp.
Patricomp already had a surface treatment line delivered by Galvatek. It was originally installed in the late-1980s for manufacturing aviation components for the Saab 2000, for which Patria was a risk-sharing partner. The surface treatment line was modified in the 1990s when Patria began manufacturing components for the F-18 Hornet fighters of the Finnish Air Force.
“Today the same surface treatment line is used for CAA, TSA, cadmium, passivation, chroming and chemical milling process. While other companies are discontinuing the use of cadmium, we are actually investing in it to meet the demands of the military aviation sector,” says Production Manager Mirka Laakso.
Rapid modernisation project
Patricomp contacted Galvatek in spring 2012 and received a detailed offer in late 2012. The installations began in mid-September 2013, and the modernised line was inaugurated slightly ahead of schedule on 10 December. In the winter of 2013-2014 the line was tested, and Airbus approval was obtained in March 2014.
“The starting point was good, as the line already had free basins and we didn’t need to move walls. Galvatek’s experts calculated exactly what was required to comply with Airbus’s specifications in terms of electricity consumption, the surface area of the cathodes and fluid flows. In practice the modernisation meant resurfacing some of the basins, renewing electricity systems, increasing the number of sensors needed for documentation, and filtering the sulphuric acid and tartaric acid. Since the fluid is organic, it has to be filtered and purified using UV lights to prevent the formation of algae,” Laakso explains.
The modernisation work did not disrupt production at the Patricomp factory or the surface treatment line, which continued to operate at the normal pace of production throughout.
“The auditors from Airbus were very satisfied with the modernised line. The automated line and Galcont system document the processing of all individual components, as Airbus requires. This is a big difference compared to the old systems, in which components were floated in the basins manually. With such a line it would be very difficult or impossible to obtain approval,” says Jari Vasenius.
Galvatek was a safe choice
Both Laakso and Vasenius agree that they never had any uncertainties regarding the choice of supplier.
“The old line was built and modified by Galvatek, so it was quite natural to select Galvatek again to carry out the modernisation project. Selecting another supplier on the basis of cost alone would have involved a significant risk. We enjoyed excellent cooperation with Galvatek, and we were convinced by the expertise of the Galvatek team. We had no problems sticking to the budget or schedule,” Vasenius and Laakso admit.
Patricomp has annual net sales in excess of 5 million euros, 50 employees and 6000 square metres of production facilities. The factory is situated by the local airport in Halli together with Patria Aerostructures and Patria Aviation. Patricomp has Nadcap certification for NDT operations and heat treatment processes. Nadcap certification for surface treatment processes is expected in 2017. Patricomp has been part of the Spanish Aernnova Aerospace Corporation since June 2015.