Precision Plating Company, Inc. (PPC), Chicago, Illinois, has adopted a new technology for high speed, high efficiency electroplating of continuously processed flat rolled sheet metal in strip-coil form. PPC is a prominent plater in the field of electronic materials. The company has long been recognized for its leadership in developing and implementing state-of-the-art electroplating technology. PPC has its own design, build and supply capability, which includes fabrication of both polymer and metallic plating components. The company builds it own plating machines and does fabricating work for others in the industry.
James G. Belmonti, chief executive officer of PPC, announced that this recent technological development was made in partnership with Electroplating Technologies, Ltd. (ETL), an independent R&D company known for its proprietary and patented ElectroJet® and HydroJetSM technologies. Mr. Belmonti said, “ETL’s ElectroJet process is a close proximity hydromechanical plating process, while HydroJet is a close proximity hydrodynamic plating process. We were interested in many of the features and benefits of each of these new technologies, but felt that HydroJet was most suitable for electronic materials.
“We worked closely with ETL during the past eight months to refine the mechanics of the process. We felt that the process would be well suited for electronic materials, which have very tight specifications as required by electronics hardware users. Plated components used for networking, computer hardware, telecommunications system and automotive electronic control devices require almost perfect coating profiles and surface quality.”
PPC worked with ETL to custom fit the HydroJet process and hardware to the company’s plating machines. The process uses certain principles of fluid mechanics to accomplish the replenishment of fresh electrolyte.
The plating gap is only about 5mm between the soluble anodes and the moving copper alloy strip. This requires constant electrolyte flow with very specific fluid mechanics in order to control coating profile and surface quality of the plated product. ETL developed a means of injecting high metallic ion-concentrated electrolyte into the “plating gap” as it is plated, making it faster and more efficient than conventional plating processes.
Fluid mechanics is also used in the process to strip away the “barrier” layer associated with all electrochemical processes. A liquid cushion prevents the coated strip from making inadvertent contact with the anodes and/or other hardware in the plating cell.
“The results we have experienced with the process are outstanding,” commented Mr. Belmonti. “We have essentially doubled the capacity of our plating operations by using this technology. This is a major step forward in our constant effort to better satisfy our customer needs. We have always prided ourselves on implementing the latest applicable technology into our plating machines to assure our ability to supply the highest quality electroplated products to our customers.”
The expanded facility will enable PPC to expand its markets, since it foresees numerous applications for both nickel plated and tin plated strip products, which makeup the backbone of electronic materials. “While downstream selective plating operations are performed to apply precious metals such as gold, silver and palladium, the bottleneck until now has always been the deposition rates of the nickel and tin,” commented Mr. Belmonti.
“As we move into the new millennium, our customers can be assured that PPC will always be looking for and refining new technology to provide the highest quality plated strip materials to all our customers.”