Rigorous Quality Requirements Of The Aerospace Sector
Aerospace has some of the most demanding requirements of any industrial sector when it comes to quality, consistency and validated processes – and rightly so.
The safety of an aircraft, its passengers, crew and payload can and does depend on the smallest of stamped and plated electronics components.
Robustness, resilience and reliability are crucial. Components with plating just a few microns thick must withstand the most challenging conditions: friction, atmospheric corrosion and extreme temperatures.
A typical commercial jet engine burns fuel at up to 2,000°C in the combustion chamber. And between 30,000ft and 42,000ft – the cruising altitude of most airliners – the air temperature ranges from -40°C to -57°C.
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Can The Plating Company Meet The Varied Demands Of The Aerospace Subsectors?
Regardless of the global accreditation standards within aerospace, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to delivering real world solutions to complex aero-engineering challenges.
Sub-sectors such as general aviation, large civil aircraft, commercial space, unmanned aircraft systems, rotorcraft, airport infrastructure and aviation security all have their own specific requirements. This calls for meticulous attention to detail on the part of the stamping/plating company.
It also requires a deep understanding of the technical challenges likely to affect inter-related components and assemblies further up the aerospace supply chain. As a highly experienced plating specialist, Batten & Allen is regularly called on by aerospace suppliers to solve component issues involving electroplating quality and consistency.
Frequently the issues that suppliers face are the result of them not having asked the right questions and not having understood fully how their components and assemblies will be affected by the technical demands that the aircraft must meet.
Environmental corrosion is one of the biggest problems. Water or water vapour containing salt combines with oxygen to produce the main source of corrosion in aircraft. Planes operating in marine environments are particularly susceptible, as are those that operate in areas where the air is polluted by high levels of industrial fumes.
On the copper and copper alloys used in avionics systems, the corrosion forms a greenish film – compromising connectivity. Thin oxide, sulfide and inorganic films reduce the metal-to-metal contact and increase contact resistance.
Electroplating a layer of metal with very strong anti-oxidation properties is essential to enhance the corrosion resistance of components. It also improves the solderability and the reliability of those solder joints.
Can The Plating Company Meet The Added Demands Of Military Aerospace?
Military aircraft face far greater demands than their commercial counterparts. There is a world of difference between a civilian airliner shuttling between airports and a fighter jet capable of hitting Mach 2.8.
And within the military aviation world, the requirements for a fighter pulling 9G vertical zoom climbs are far higher than they would be for a military transport airlifter (or a refuelling tanker based on a civilian airliner).
Electronic connectors stamped and plated by Batten & Allen are used in some of the world’s most sophisticated military aircraft – including those that pull very high-G manoeuvres.
We provide specialised plating solutions that address the challenges of conductivity, insulation, hardness, ruggedness and exposure to chemical/caustic environments. Our products and processes conform to the following military plating standards:
- MIL-P-81728 – tin/lead
- MIL-C-14550 – copper
- MIL-G-45204 – gold
- MIL-C-13924 – black oxide coating.
How Experienced Is The Plating Company? And In Which Metals?
It is important to choose a plating specialist with high levels of experience and expertise in a wide range of metals including:
- tin-lead – improves solderability, relatively corrosion resistant, excellent conductivity, stops the formation of tin whiskers
- nickel – provides a unique combination of corrosion- and wear-resistance, offers excellent adhesion for subsequent plating layers
- zinc-nickel – combines the sacrificial properties of zinc (absorbs the worst of the corrosion before it reaches the substrate) and the corrosion resistance of nickel
- copper – malleable, corrosion resistant, offers superb conductivity
- silver – highest electrical conductivity, high levels of thermal conductivity, corrosion resistant, excellent solderability
- gold – does not corrode, able to withstand electrical connections that create higher temperatures
- cadmium – offers outstanding corrosion resistance
- black oxide coating – reduces corrosion and friction, adds thickness to steel, maintains sharpness.
Multi-layer plating must be carried out in such a way that it reduces inter-metallic issues and improves solderability (and therefore reliability).
Finishing aerospace components with nickel or a nickel alloy increases the hardness of the substrate, improving wear resistance and corrosion protection.
Anodising increases the thickness of the oxide layer on the surface of the substrate. It improves surface hardness, provides added protection against corrosion, and helps to extend the operational lifespan of components (and enhance their aesthetics).
Batten & Allen has half a century of experience and expertise in stamping and plating. Our 100-strong team includes 40 engineers, 30% of whom have been with the company for 20+ years.
How Sophisticated Is The Plating Company’s Equipment? How Good Are Their Quality Control Processes?
Guaranteeing the consistently high levels of quality required by the aerospace supply chain depends on superior technology in plating operations – and in quality inspections.
Batten & Allen has nine plating lines. The latest is a £1.25 million custom-configured, state-of-the-art machine capable of delivering up to 3.45 million parts per day.
Our measurement and inspection equipment includes:
- Metrohm 905 Titrando titration unit for quantitative chemical analysis to analyse plating solutions
- Three Fischer XDL-B multi-layer X-ray units to analyse plating thicknesses
- Agilent 4200 microwave plasma atomic emission spectrophotometer with high sensitivity for analysis down to sub-ppb – used to ensure quality and repeatability of gold and palladium plating.
Find out more about the benefits offered by our advanced plating and stamping equipment and technical expertise.
Does The Plating Company Have The Right Certifications?
Batten & Allen is certified to ISO 9001:2015, IATF 16949:2016 (Automotive Quality Certification) and ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management). Other certifications include REACH, RoHS and CFSI (Conflict-Free Supply Chain).
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