Posted on Tue, Jun 04, 2013
About 10 years ago, Integran embarked on an effort to develop a "green" alternative to toxic hard chrome plating, which became our Nanovate CoP plating process. Nanovate is Integran's line on nanocrystalline metal electroplating processesand "CoP" signifies that the metal is a Cobalt Phosphorous alloy.
First: Show Performance
Originally, the focus was on meeting the main technical requirements of the main aerosapce and defense applications, especially hydraulic and other fluid power applications. Through a decade of testing, we have demonstrated that the Nanovate CoP process outperforms hard chrome in all of the following areas:
Corrosion Resistance - Nanovate CoP has much better corrosion resistance than microcracked hard chrome as the nanocrystalline structure is fully dense providing much better protection of the steel, even at reduced thicknesses. We achieve this performance without the need for a nickel underlayer that is common with hard chrome in some aggressive applications.
Sliding Wear - The Nanovate CoP achieves better sliding wear resistance due to a lower coefficient of friction over hard chrome. This causes lower sliding wear loss and better seal performance.
Fatigue of Steel - The Nanovate CoP actually causes very little change to the fatigue performance of the uncoated steel, and in some cases, improves the fatigue resistance! This is in stark contrast to the well-known fatigue debit that hard chrome plating imparts.
Now: Show Cost Effectiveness
Recently, we have also started to zero in on the cost benefits of Integran's nanocrystalline cobalt plating process, and in particular, how the Nanovate CoP process can REDUCE COSTSover hard chrome plating for high volume production. In particular, our process compares as follows to hard chrome plating:
Labor - Labor normally accounts for around 50% of the total cost of plating. Because the Nanovate CoP process has a high efficiency (>90%) it results in an extremely high plating rate (up to 200microns an hour!). Can you imagine plating 30 microns in 8 minutes?? For operations with multiple shifts, this means as many as 3 shifts can be consolidated into 1 single shift with the same part through-put.
Facilities - With facilities that run multiple lines of chrome, consolidating the lines 3:1 with the same throughput means less footprint on the shop floor, and less amortized capex, both which reduce the effective cost of the process.
Equipment - With higher efficiency, smaller power supplies/rectifiers and less of them are required to plate Nanovate CoP despite the higher deposition rates.
Material - Material costs accounts for 10-25% of the total cost of plating. While some will note that cobalt is more expensive than chrome, the Nanovate CoP process operates without the need for expensive replenishment chemicals. Cobalt itself is practically the only thing that is needed to operate the process, making the material costs between the two processes very similar.
Thickness Reductions - All of these items above ignore to leverage the improved corrosion and wear performance to lower the thickness of the plating which still meeting customer requirements. The effect of lowering thickness only further enhances through-put (which further drops the labor and facility elements) and the material costs.
The process itself fits right into an existing chrome line with very little modification. The material grinds like hard chrome, uses the same seals as hard chrome, and utilizes the same pre- and post- plating infrastructure. In addition, Integran can design continuous plating infrastructure to support this process for customers wanting processing of very long product.