Jack Horner, a well-known expert in finishing industry, passes away

As technical director of Allied Kelite, Horner wrote training modules and authored the technical service modules on copper plating, zinc plating and bright nickel plating.


Jack Horner



John D. “Jack” Horner, a well-known expert in the metal finishing industry, passed away in March, but not before leaving behind a legacy for all those he helped or those who had the opportunity to work with him to solve finishing problems.

As technical director of Allied Kelite, Horner wrote many training modules and was responsible for authoring the technical service modules on copper plating, zinc plating and bright nickel plating.

After graduating from Michigan Technical University in 1950, Horner began working in metal finishing and became known in the industry as “the platers’ pal” since he always wanted to help customers be successful, but he also had a strong desire to understand the nuts and bolts of the technology. He worked in process control and process engineering in production plating shops, and later joined the supplier side with Wagner Brothers. Soon that evolved into Richardson Chemical, Allied Kelite and then WITCO. In his career he spent time in technical service and research and product development in the management of various projects and teams.

Horner’s areas of expertise included many metal finishing disciplines, but his focus and passion included surface preparation, sulfamate nickel plating, copper plating and both electrolytic and electroless nickel plating. He was involved in the design and fabrication of the nickel plated reflector for the Hubble telescope, and was also directly involved in deriving the practical application of manufacturing procedures using nickel metal powder and sulfamic acid, demonstrating the importance of the selection of raw materials and the implementation for the Barrett Nickel Sulfamate technologies (concentrates and additives). He published many internal and external documents about the nickel topic.

Over his career, Horner’s passion was presenting at many local NASF chapters topics such as “The Trouble with Anodes,” or training type modules on surface preparation or general troubleshooting approaches. He also presented topics at the National Surface Finishing Expositions as early as 1964, such as “The Study and Effects of Some Variables on the Speed and Distribution of Deposits from Cyanide Copper Plating Solutions.”

He continued to present important topics and at the Sur/Fin 1997 Exposition he revealed “Properties of Electroless Nickel Deposits – Specifying and Measuring Problems,” which was a collection of experiences over 15 years covering deposit internal stress, deposit hardness, and neutral salt spray interactions for electroless nickel Technology.

Horner was very active in the ASTM B08 committee for much of his mid and later career which is responsible for metallic and inorganic coatings for the industry. Today, this committee has jurisdiction over 132 standards, published in the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Volume 0-2.05 and Horner’s imprint can be found on many of the standards published today. In October 1993, he received from ASTM the prestigious Lowenheim Award for his contributions and service to the B08 committee.

Throughout his ASTM career Horner headed up several sub committees as chairperson and also through his involvement as a member of many other committees as recently as four or five years ago. Since his retirement, he did consulting on a limited basis, most recently for the Nickel Institute in the area of nickel electroplating and nickel electroforming.

One of his accomplishments where he took a leadership role was related to the ASTM B578 specification, where he coordinated round robin testing for developing the precision and bias sections that were becoming required for all technical documents. The publication authored by Horner was “Microhardness Testing of Plating Coatings: Recent Round Robin Experiences,” which ended up in ASTM’s Special Technical Publication 947 in 1987. Subsequent work was also published in ASTM STP modules with the information still being viable today.

A very high honor awarded to Horner was when he wrote the first version of the chapter on “Electroplating” in the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, (4th Edition) Volume 9 in 1994 published by John Wiley and Sons. In 2000, this was adapted for the on-line version.

Over his career, Horner made a tremendous contribution to the plating industry on which current engineers can continue to benefit. He was known to be persistent for getting to the truth about strengths and weaknesses regarding technologies. He fought many battles for the benefit of the plater. Horner’s colleagues say he will certainly be missed, and as one friend said “A giant has left the room.”