Industrial Etching Plants

Design, supply and installation of industrial acid etching plants for aviation and other industries

Galvatek has 38 years of experience in delivering surface treatment plants to the aviation industry worldwide. Our plants have been used by major OEMs, including GE, Pratt & Whitney, Boeing and Airbus and their suppliers.

We deliver entire plant projects, from planning and designing all the way to installation and start-up. We also provide service agreements that cover regular maintenance, remote monitoring, repairs, spare parts, modernisations and modifications. We deliver plants that are ready to use and ensure their operations even after delivery.

Industrial Metal Etching

Industrial metal etching (chemical milling) is a manufacturing method for metals that uses acid baths to subtract material and create the desired shape. Typically, the industrial metal etching process involves five steps: cleaning, masking, scribing, etching and demasking. Industrial metal etching is used in the aerospace industry for manufacturing complex aerospace components. Industrial metal etching system is used when mechanical machining is not an option and the metal removal and finish have to be uniform.

  1. Aluminium Etch
    Aluminium etch is a process by which a thin layer of the surface is removed, prior to penetrant inspection. Penetrant used is typically caustic or alkaline baths or solutions. Aluminium etching enhances the identification of surface defects before further processing.
  2. Titanium Etching
    Titanium etching involves the chemical milling of titanium alloys and is widely used in the aerospace industry. Titanium is often etched during the manufacturing process or prior to non-destructive testing using a variety of different acids, commonly hydrofluoric and/or nitric acid. Galvatek’s industrial etching plants offer automated temperature and process control, effective ventilation and occupational safety that are vital in titanium etching operations.

Nital Etching

Nital etching, also referred to as surface temper etching or simply temper etching, is a non-destructive test that is used to determine if overheating has occurred in a part. Nital itself is a mixture of nitric acid and alcohol. Nital etching detects surface variations, as softer tempered materials darken faster than harder areas. Nital etching is often used to test gears, bearings and shafts, for example. Nital etching systems are widely used in the aerospace industry, the energy sector and by manufacturers of engines and powertrains.

Macro Etching

Macro etching, also referred to as deep etching or chemical etching, is a procedure for revealing the large-scale structure of a metallic specimen, i.e. the structure visible with the unaided eye, by etching an appropriately prepared surface. Macro etching is typically used to study welded, machined or heat-treated components, especially nickel-based alloys, steel or titanium. Typical components include critical rotating parts, such as fan and compressor blades, shafts and discs.

Blue Etch Anodizing (BEA)

Blue etch anodizing (BEA) is a highly sensitive, non-destructive testing (NDT) technique that is used to detect surface discontinuities, such as folds, cracks, material segregation, overheating, and abnormalities caused by machining. Blue etch anodizing plants are used in the aerospace and energy industries to check gas turbine blades and other critical components.

Related links:

CASE: Kawasaki Heavy Industries
Non-Destructive Testing
Energy efficiency and Environmental Friendliness

Typically applied chemical processes for Galvatek etching plants:

  • alkaline cleaning
  • acid etching
  • chemical milling
  • descaling
  • desmutting

Typical chemicals applied in etching processes:

  • sulphuric acid
  • nitric acid
  • hydrochloric acid
  • hydrofluoric acid
  • fluorosilicic acid

Typical components processed by Galvatek etching plants:

  • Nickel-base components
  • Steel alloy components
  • Titanium alloy components

Typical parts include blades, fan discs, compressors, HP / IP turbine discs, rim / full cover plates and various other parts.

Candovent process ventilation reduces costs and enhances safety

Etching plants use extremely strong acids that corrode material from the surface of components. As a result, occupational safety and environmental protection must be prioritised when using these chemicals.

Candovent process ventilation is an innovation that has been developed by Galvatek to effectively extract vapours from chemical tanks. It eliminates the need for plant operators to wear special safety gear and prevents damage to the plant structure and ventilation system from corrosive vapours. The tanks are made from either stainless steel or special plastics, depending on the customer’s preferences. Samples can also be taken from the baths safely from external sampling points.

Candovent process ventilation saves not only the environment but also money. Depending on the climate, the air entering the plant has to be either cooled or heated. Candovent process ventilation can reduce heating/cooling costs by up to 90 percent compared to traditional ventilation systems. Candovent process ventilation also uses up to 20 times less air than traditional plant ventilation systems.

Coating removal line for gas turbine´s blades and vanes.
Galvatek stripping line with automatic transporter, closed tanks and Candovent ventilation system.
Galvatek chemical milling plant processing turbine engine components.
Galvatek chemical milling plant processing turbine engine components.
Automated Chemical Stripping Line to Land Based Gas Turbine Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO)
Galcont automation enables etching plants to be operated with up to 70 percent fewer employees compared to manually operated plants.

Automation offers consistent quality and efficiency

Galvatek chemical milling plants have an extremely high level of automation. The automated systems cover both process control and production control by constantly monitoring and adjusting chemical processes while also controlling material handling. As a result, payroll expenses can be reduced by up to 70 percent compared to manually operated plants. Automated plants are also much safer than manually operated plants.

Galcont automation improves efficiency and offers consistent high quality. The automation ensures that each component receives the exact same treatment. It also documents the process automatically, which provides traceability.

The Galcont system is easy to integrate with existing plants and IT systems. The automation can be used to optimise material handling, production, temperatures, processing times and dosages. All data is stored automatically in a database that makes it easy to compile reports and trace the processing of individual components, even years later.

Wastewater treatment and NDT in the same package

Galvatek can supply wastewater treatment systems and non-destructive testing (NDT) lines for all surface treatment plants. Galvatek is responsible for the entire delivery of the etching plant, wastewater treatment plant and NDT lines.

Following etching processes can be applied as a preparation for non-destructive Testing (NDT):

  • Chemical Etching
  • Macro Etching (also known as Deep Etching)
  • Blue Etching
  • Ferric Etching
  • Pre-FPI Etching and Pre-PFD Etching for aluminium, titanium and steel

Featured technical innovations

Automation - Galcont™

Galvatek's Galcont™ process automation system has been constantly developed and improved for already four decades to meet ever-increasing demands in surface treatment plant control.

Ventilation System - Candovent™

Galvatek’s Candovent™ ventilation system allows placing the surface treatment line anywhere in the production layout, without the need to build an encapsulated room around it.

Energy Efficiency and Environmental Friendliness

Every aspect of Galvatek plants has been optimized with energy efficiency and environmental friendliness in mind.

Want to hear more? Contact us and find out what we can do for you.

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Jarno Virtanen

Managing Director
+358 3 526 6600