There are primary directions EN technology can move and, in all likelihood, all will move in parallel: Optimized or unique deposit characteristics; Optimized bath performance; Eco-responsible technology.
Optimized deposit characteristics would likely be a result of advancements in formula and operating conditions. New additives that modify structure could lead to reduced porosity or increased resistance to chemical attack. Although ternary alloys have never caught on in commercial applications due to poor cost/benefit ratios, this potential is always there.
We are already seeing the first few signs of anti-counterfeit technology embedded as a composite promoted by a handful of companies. This may provide a boost to the existing EN composite market that has never quite lifted off the ground.
Optimized bath performance to increase bath speed and tank stability are currently being evaluated and would have a direct impact on customer’s productivity. EN bath life extension technology is also under continuous evaluation. Electrodialysis is readily available from several suppliers but there are even simpler technologies that show promise for removal of reaction by-products.
Eco-responsible technology, because green is no longer just the color of an EN bath. It’s a social mindset and it is only going to become further engrained. Technology to extend EN bath life mentioned above is certainly part of this but there are other opportunities to make an EN process “greener”. EN baths that operate at lower temperatures offer obvious benefits and reducing emissions with certain novel additives shows certain surprising benefits.
Our mature industry is at a crossroads. In order to pursue and commercialize the innovation mentioned above it is important that we collectively view today’s challenges as tomorrow’s opportunities.