NASF REPORT: SUR/FIN 2012 Excels in Las Vegas

This year’s NASF conference in Las Vegas was said by many to be the “best SUR/FIN” they attended in some time.
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With record registration, a busy exhibition hall, over 65 sessions and more, attendees had ample opportunity to learn, build relationships and enjoy a “West Coast” location for the first time in memory.
The western venue brought new faces and participation from a segment of the industry that had never before attended the event. The actual program developed by the NASF’s Technology Advisory Committee—the revamped SUR/FIN Manufacturing & Technology Conference—mixed a business outlook with developments in processes and products, along with the latest on the regulatory scene.
The conference was also considered the best in recent memory, covering the latest advances in surface finishing technology, as well as dealing with important regulatory issues. The light metals, automotive, electronics, aerospace and defense communities heard a variety of timely topics. On Monday, an International Panel discussed industry perspectives in Singapore, China, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Brazil.
The Pentagon also returned for a third year in a row to jointly sponsor the NASF-DoD coatings workshop sessions.
NASF sponsored an international surface finishing panel to highlight current trends and the future of plating and finishing worldwide. The panelists represented finishing trade associations and companies across four continents, and NASF marked the milestone discussion with the launch of a new initiative—the Global Surface Technology Roundtable. The Roundtable will be a forum to exchange information and inform NASF members on pertinent developments, as well as collaborate on issues of mutual concern.
More than 65 presentations are now available to attendees at nasfsurfin.com. The four major keynotes are available as well, and we’ve summarized them below"
� Mary Lee Gambone, Rolls Royce: The Challenges of Health, Safety and Environment in the Aerospace Finishing Arena, sponsored by Products Finishing
Dr. Mary Lee Gambone of the Rolls Royce Materials Engineering effort in Indianapolis, shed light on the challenges facing Rolls Royce in surface engineering applications in the aerospace sector, presented sponsored by Products Finishing magazine. While Rolls Royce is popularly known for its ultra-luxurious automobiles, their prime business lies in power systems, including marine, energy and civil and defense aerospace applications.
In her opening comments, Dr. Gambone reviewed the workings of a gas turbine engine, noting the many surface engineering applications within it. These power systems are critically dependent on very robust surface finishing systems. A review of the global regulatory climate led to a focus on addressing cobalt and nickel compounds present in high temperature wear coatings and coatings for critical rotating components, hexavalent chromium compounds used for corrosion protection throughout the gas turbine engine and chromic acid for manufacturing operations.
She reviewed efforts to reduce the use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), replacing chlorinated solvents, eliminating cadmium plating (including aluminum, nickel and zinc-nickel replacements), reducing nickel usage and waste with the replacement of “home brew” processes by proprietary systems, reducing cyanide use by eliminating bronze plating and high efficiency copper plating, and elimination of Cr(VI) in several applications (stripping, conversion coatings, paints and plating). She looks to complete elimination of chromium plating with Ni/W/Co plating, trivalent plating or thermal spray.
Dr. Gambone concluded by noting that Rolls Royce was addressing all environmental issues arising in chemical surface treatments to protect the health and well-being of customers, suppliers and employees across the globe, as well as to comply with international law.
� NASF Scientific Achievement Award Winner Patrick Benaben Delivers 2012 Blum Memorial Lecture
Since its inception in 1958 under the auspices of the AES, the NASF Scientific Achievement Award has been given annually to a person who has contributed to the advancement of the theory and practice of electroplating, metal finishing and the allied arts or has raised the quality of the profession or has been involved in a combination of these.
In 2011, the award was given to Dr. Patrick Benaben, Full Professor at École Nationale Supérieure des Mines, in St. Étienne, France. Over the years, he has been a prolific contributor to the surface finishing science and technology, and has focused his research on new electrolytic processes, in particular, on the use of ionic liquids in hard chromium plating and on such materials as high ordered alumina obtained by anodic oxidation. He has authored or co-authored about 100 papers and is inventor or co-inventor of ten international patents. He has been a member of NASF since 1990 and served six years as 1st Vice-President of the International Branch. He has been awarded both the Silver and Gold medals for outstanding papers published in previous NASF publications.
Dr. Benaben’s lecture title was “Hexavalent Chromium - What Else,” a rather timely topic this year. He first described the nature of chromium, and the uses of chromium metal in industry and in commerce. Applications in surface engineering included decorative and hard chromium plating, chromium anodizing, chemical conversion and passivation, sealing and etching.
He then went on to note the risks involved in its use, including chromates, fumes from welding of stainless steel and ferrochromium alloys, chromium fumes during electroplating, and others. This led to a discussion of the toxicity, health and regulatory issues of the day.
Given those challenges, Dr. Benaben discussed “what else” would serve as substitutes for chromium and its deleterious health effects. He stressed that there are two aspects to consider when considering exposure to toxic forms of chromium: (1) exposure during processing and (2) exposure in the end product to the general public. The difference is significant, and is often discounted in the ongoing regulatory debate.
� Rick Dale: Turning Junk into Gold at Rick’s Restorations
Tuesday morning’s keynoters were Rick and Kelly Dale. Rick is the owner of Rick’s Restorations in Las Vegas. To those who frequent the History Channel on cable television, Rick and Kelly are the hosts of the popular program American Restoration. His forté is taking items that were long ago thrown away—or simply put, junk—and restoring them to their former glory, at least as collectibles and perhaps to use anew. It is often said that they don’t make them like they used to, and Rick remakes them like they used to make them in the first place.
Items range from old soda vending machines and gas station pumps to air raid sirens, gumball machines, parking meters, barber poles—even train cars. Worthless rusty junk is transformed into priceless collectibles. You name it, they’ve probably restored it. And of course, all types of metal finishing processes are involved—stripping, rust removal, painting and plating for starters. Restoring these items is not easy, and each presents its own unique challenges. After listening to Rick describe what’s involved, the task of production nickel-chromium plating a rack of newly prepared auto parts sounded just slightly easier to many in the audience.
� Ken Mayland: Outlook for the Economy and U.S. Manufacturing Growth
For the last few SUR/FIN events, Dr. Mayland’s prognosis of the economy and state of manufacturing in America has been a part of the program not to be missed.
This year, he noted that the outlook for the economy is continued growth, but at “less than average” levels. He noted that “a slew of bad policy-making is hobbling business and hampering growth, and this is unlikely to change in 2012.” Despite a current cooling of manufacturing growth, he foresees very positive growth trends in the auto, aerospace and computer industries. Other segments which show potential include oil and gas, business equipment and mining. He noted that the outlook for machinery, fabricated metal products and primary metals was good, but cyclical.
He forecasts considerable longer-term positive potential, despite some short-term constraints. Due to the legacy of past policy blunders, the current regulatory policies and slower growth in other parts of the world, he expects a continued unsatisfying growth (2.0 – 2.5 percent) and high unemployment. China’s slowing growth contributes to this outlook, as does a significant increase in housing in the next one to two years. Nonetheless, he foresees continued low interest rates and satisfactory levels of corporate profits.
He looks to the November 2012 elections for new policy directions. Without 60 seats in the Senate for either party, however, political gridlock will continue. Echoing a phrase from the recent NASF Washington Forum, the period after the election will be “the mother of all lame duck sessions” in Congress. The expiration of the Bush tax cuts, the kick-in of the mandatory cuts in spending driven by the earlier debt-ceiling “compromise” and new debt ceiling deliberations, among other factors, all will come into play at year’s end.
In sum, our rough patch is certainly not over, but Dr. Mayland sees a “good to great” future for manufacturing in the United States.
� NASF Hosts Chinese Finishing Association for EPA Meetings
The NASF in June hosted leaders of the Chinese finishing industry for discussions with U.S. regulators on environmental regulatory challenges and the future of standard-setting for the two countries.
U.S. finishers invited the Chinese delegation earlier this year as part of the NASF SUR/FIN international panel discussion in Las Vegas, and the launch of the NASF’s Global Surface Technology Roundtable.
The U.S.-China coatings exchange on standards and environmental sustainability spanned meetings from Washington to Los Angeles, where NASF’s California chapter hosted the Chinese delegation for a tour of the Los Angeles County Sanitation District. Keep reading the NASF Report in Products Finishing magazine for more coverage in the future.
NASF Web-Based Education
Industrial & Precious Metal Plating and More
NASF’s education foundation will continue with its web-based curriculum this summer. Following the July webinar Energy Conservation Ideas (contact the NASF if you missed this brand new programming), the Industrial & Precious Metals Plating course will again be offered in a web-based format.
This course takes place in eight, two-hour sessions on Aug. 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28. These sessions will also take place at 12:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for four weeks. Participants can enjoy all the benefits of the Foundation’s education program without ever having to leave the home or office.
Industrial & Precious Metals Plating: Member: $565; Non-Member: $750
1. Preparing Metals for Plating - Part 1
2. Preparing Metals for Plating - Part 2
3. Reel-to-Reel Plating
4. Industrial Nickel Plating
5. Gold Plating
6. Decorative Gold Plating
7. Silver Plating
8. Palladium, Palladium-Nickel, Platinum & Rhodium Plating
9. Tin Plating
10. Alternatives to Electroplating
Also offered in online this Fall and Winter: Electroplating and Surface Finishing—Part 2 and Zinc and Zinc-Alloy Plating. Each course consists of eight, two-hour sessions.
If you think you would like to participate, but are unable to make one or more of the sessions due to other commitments, please don’t let that deter you. We record all web-based curriculum and have the recordings available for up to 30 days for all registered participants.
Contact Luke Zorich at Lzorich@nasf.org, or at 202-457-8401 and visit our website at nasf.org/nasf-education.php for more information.


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