BJM Pump Helps Plater with 8,000-Gallon Demand

Aotco uses about 8,000 gallons of water per day for its various cleaning, plating and rinsing processes.

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Although electroplating hasn’t changed much from when it was first invented, there have been significant improvements to the technology and chemicals used.

These improvements have placed a corresponding and increasing demand on the equipment—namely the pumps that are in continual contact with the aggressive liquids involved in electroplating. As the electroplating process has improved, the pumps have had to keep pace.

Aotco Metal Finishing Inc. supplies specification plating and electropolishing services in Billerica, Massachusetts. Since 1975, the company has provided specialty plating to the aerospace, optical, telecommunications, medical and electronics industries, working extensively with gold, silver, nickel, tins and coppers.

“We do just about any kind of electroplating and electroless nickel plating” says Tim Tripodi, facilities manager.

Tripodi says the small company may have as many as 900 different jobs in a single month. Although most of the work is from the U.S., it gets contracts from all over the world, including electronic components for tanks, aircraft and satellites, and even components for the Hubble Space Telescope.

Aotco uses about 8,000 gallons of water per day for its various cleaning, plating and rinsing processes. Periodically, the baths and rinsing basins are drained into small pits and the spent fluid is transferred to a larger pit to be treated. Some of the water is gravity fed into the larger pit areas, but most of it is pumped.

Tripodi explains that there is no good way of knowing the exact potency of the water once it’s drained into a pit where it may mix with other spent liquid. Each job is unique and has its own learning curve. A particular job may have a new kind of part that suddenly starts dragging more acid than normal into the rinse, unexpectedly subjecting the pump to harsher chemicals. “There’s not a lot you can do with that other than try to dilute it,” Tripodi says.

Moving the highly caustic, and often hot water would be a challenge for any pump. But Aotco started using the BJM Perfecta Series pumps about 24 years ago. Tripodi says they have stuck with them because they perform better than anything else on the market.

“Right now I have probably nine pumps working,” Tripodi says. “Generally I have a Perfecta pump in a small tank that receives all this water and it’s pumped to another larger pit where the water is treated.”

Aotco sources its pumps from Maltz Sales, headquartered in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Maltz offers a comprehensive line of BJM Pumps, but for this job, the Perfecta Series pumps continue to fill the bill.

“They’re a good fit for this. They’re corrosion resistant, they’re submersible and they have a float on them,” Skip Bowen, salesperson for Maltz, says. Bowen, who is the rep for the Aotco account, has been with Maltz for 13 years and feels confident in continuing to recommend the BJM’s Perfecta Series pumps.

“They’re a very good pump company,” Bowen says. “They respond well, they’re a good price, and they’ve got a good inventory. We stock these submersible Perfecta pumps, and we sell quite a few of them to Aotco and several other companies.”

In addition to the heavy duty 304 and 316 stainless steel and titanium options, the attributes that BJM says make the Perfect Series pumps well-suited for this and similar applications include: the entire motor is encapsulated in NORYL; they are virtually unbreakable; compact and lightweight at only 13.5 lbs; they never rust; they provide excellent resistance against acids and alkalis; an on/off mechanical switch is easily adjusted to provide level control and eliminate unnecessary running; and a thermal breaker incorporated in motor windings shuts off power before overheating due to a locked rotor or long periods of running dry (130°C).

“Most of them do have some sort of head pressure on them,” Tripodi says of the pumps’ sturdiness. “There’s a couple that have more head pressure on them than others. They’re pumping up probably 13 feet and then quite a distance horizontally. That’s why I’ve stuck with the Perfecta, because that seems to work the best. It keeps its gpm up. Even with the head pressure, it’s still enough to do what I need it to do.”

Originally published in the September 2015 issue.

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