Case Study: Electroless Nickel Plating
Meet our Customer
If you purchase recycled aluminum to fabricate items like sardine cans, mini-blinds, beverage cans, computer parts, wine caps, light bulbs and automobiles, then chances are you’ve worked with our client. As one of the largest aluminum recyclers in the country, they’ve perfected the process, and the technology, of turning discarded aluminum cans into thin, uniform aluminum sheets ready to fill a new purpose.
Our client’s highly advanced continuous caster holds about 35 large, heavy chilling blocks, weighing upwards of 800 pounds each and made of steel with a two-inch copper bottom. These blocks are designed to cool the molten aluminum as it’s shaped into consistent sheets. Since the copper surface is the only area that encounters the aluminum, it needed a nickel coating to keep the aluminum from fusing with it. Did we mention the blocks are incredibly heavy?
Up for the Challenge
When our client first approached us in 1987, we knew we could plate the cooling blocks, but we didn’t know how. At that time, a process for racking and plating a specific thin area on such a large item didn’t exist. We had to start from ground zero, finding the best way to engineer a line with the capacity to coat just the copper bottom and handle the block’s weight. We created a dedicated line with 12 750-gallon tanks equipped with special trays, a unique fixture and a 5-ton crane to hoist and lower the blocks. Seasoned platers go through two weeks of specialized training to learn how to prep and run the line. No rookies here.
Our capacity to address our customer’s needs has allowed them to expand their operation and relocate to a larger facility. The number of chilling blocks we’re now plating has tripled since we first started. Our client may have come to us for our experience in electroless nickel plating but what has kept them here for more than 30 years is our ability to solve their problem and to deliver quality plating every time.
“Our expertise and extensive experience enables us
to figure out industry solutions for our customers
the way no other provider can.”
—Don Ytterberg, CEO, Advanced Surface Technologies