Danaher Tool Group gets a grip on-nickel chromium plating...
Tool boxes. Garages. Pegboards. Junk drawers. Wherever you keep sockets, ratchets, wrenches and other tools, you will find the work of the Danaher Tool Group. Danaher has sold more of these tools than any other company in the world through its business segments, including Allen, Ammco®, Armstrong®, Coats®, Sears Craftsman®, Delta®, Holo-Krome®, K-D®, Matco® and NAPA®.
The Tools and Components Business Segment manufactures and distributes a broad range of hand-tools, tool holders, storage containers, hardware, wheel service equipment, fasteners and components for consumer, industrial and professional markets. Typical customers range from do-it-yourselfers and professional/industrial end-users to automotive mechanics.
Achieving this market share requires a rigorous commitment to quality in both products and processes. That is why the tools are nickel-chromium plated. The deposits provide high reflectivity and are free of pits, clouds and surface roughness.
This finish also provides corrosion protection. Danaher could have opted for a number of finishes to protect its tools, but because it requires a bright, metallic finish it chose nickel-chromium. Chromium has excellent tarnish resistance, and the nickel undercoat provides a good foundation for the lustrous chromium finish. The nickel also provides corrosion protection for the underlying steel.
Another feature of nickel-chromium plating is that it resists cleaning chemicals, handling and abrasive wear. Obviously essential when plating hand-tools.
Danaher's quality commitment to its processes includes recycling and recovery processes. The company was concerned about the nickel waste by-products it produced from the nickel-chromium plating line at its Gastonia, North Carolina, facility. Without any metal reclamation system, nickel dragout averaged 122 lb per day. The waste buildup was affecting raw material costs as well as posing an environmental hazard.
Danaher wanted to upgrade the performance and reliability of its waste treatment system to ensure environmental compliance. It also wanted to reduce the cost of compliance. Danaher decided to use atmospheric evaporation to recover chromium.
Its next step was to reclaim its nickel metal in the purest and most concentrated form possible and return it to the plating bath as a concentrated nickel salt solution.
Danaher Gastonia has eight plating tanks with approximately 14,000 gal of semi-bright and bright nickel plating solution. It has one trivalent-chromium-plating tank with 2,800 gal of solution. Baths are air agitated and continuously filtered, handling three turnovers per hour.
To handle the nickel recovery, Danaher selected Eco-Tec's nickel recovery system. It provided savings in nickel treatment chemicals and sludge disposal. It also helped them lower the nickel in the final effluent. This setup allowed Danaher to not only meet environmental regulations but exceed them.
The Recoflo process offered Danaher optimum efficiency by recovering a sulfate/chloride balanced concentrate at a pH suitable for recycling while rejecting brighteners, addition agents and sodium.
Roughly five months after the system was installed, Danaher saw a substantial payoff. In its first five months of operation, the company did not need to purchase any nickel salts to maintain its three plating machines. Also in the first five months of operation, the Eco-Tec unit recovered 22,300 lb, dry weight of nickel sulfate, which exceeded original projections. To date, Danaher has saved $415,000 by recovering its nickel. Danaher estimates that it will eliminate approximately 29 tons of generated solid waste per year.