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cadmium electroplating, electroplating, metal finishing, aerospace finishing, metal plating, cad line

AerSale has installed a modular cadmium electroplating line from Ronatec C2C.  Photo Credit: All images courtesy of AerSale.

AerSale, headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida, provides aftermarket maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) services for the aerospace market, including heavy maintenance for aircraft and cargo conversions. The company handles a range of services for overhauling aircraft, from tear down to repurposing of components. AerSale recently converted its Rio Rancho, New Mexico facility into a complete landing gear overhaul shop. As part of the conversion, the company added a new cadmium electroplating line to the 100,000 square foot facility’s capabilities.

“Our facility has really gone almost to 100% landing gear overhaul,” explains general manager Dean Vitale. “We not only do the cad in-house, we also make a lot of our own bushings. A lot of companies that do this type of work buy bushings and send all of their plating out.”

The high-strength steel and aluminum parts that comprise landing gear, after going through the overhaul services, have to be treated for corrosion resistance. With the facility’s new focus, an on-site plating line seemed like a good opportunity to cut costs and increase efficiency.

“We added the cad line to keep the parts in house,” Vitale says. “We can keep better control of our quality, as well as our turn times and gain a little more control for our delivery schedules.”

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Ronatec’s modular electroplating systems are shipped with the electrical and plumbing pre-pulled, allowing for quick installation.

AerSale’s new cad line is a modular system from Ronatec C2C Inc. (Oceanside, Calif.). According to James Wetherald, vice president of Ronatec, the system offers several advantages. Ronatec lines are shipped with all of the electrical and plumbing pre-pulled, so installation typically takes five or six days, where as many line installations can take several months.

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The new cad line’s pneumatic hoist has a 500 pound capacity.

AerSale’s cad line was designed with a rail rider pneumatic hoist that uses an air compressor to control speed. The hoist has a 500 pound capacity and can be installed more quickly than an overhead bridge hoist, which saves time and installation costs.

The line features a water recycling system with “dual train” set up and self-regeneration of bottles. Wetherald says the system purifies city water to deionized (DI) level and, at the same time, cleans the rinse water from the tanks and brings it back to DI quality before sending it back to the line.

electroplating, metal finishing

The water recycling system alternates between two sets of self-cleaning DI bottles, minimizing down time.

“For aerospace manufacturing you have to have pure water,” says Wetherald. “With this system, once the DI bottles are about to start producing water that’s too dirty or below the desired quality, it flips over to another set of DI bottles, while it cleans the dirty bottles and pumps any cleaning waste residue water to waste treatment, automatically. The operator doesn’t have to do a thing. It’s all automated.”

In addition, the system features a closed-loop waste treatment system. All waste is treated on-site via an electric evaporator and then converted to solid sludge or sent to the water purification system and reused as DI water.

Vitale describes the process. “It goes through these filters and it gets pressed. And then there’s just this byproduct — almost like a clay — that can fit in a five-gallon bucket when it’s done. Any discharge water or rinse water gets cleaned.”

electroplating, metal finishing

A micro boiler system allows for back-up boilers and can cost as much as 80% less than a traditional boiler.

The line uses a dual micro boiler system, allowing for a back-up boiler. The boiler piping is run with schedule 80 CPVC.

“A black pipe boiler system would take me a month to install,” says Wetherald. “You can install these with CPVC — we installed AerSale’s system in about four hours.”

The system has a PC-controlled rectifier system with part data logging abilities and a digital central control panel. Other features include:

  • Temp read-outs and digital timers on each tank
  • Self-contained tanks with containment for all plumbing in the ventilation system 
  • ACGIH requirement rated ventilation system for all chemical and/or heated tanks 
  • Automated carbonate removal system
  • Dual micro chiller system
electroplating, metal finishing

The line’s tanks are monitored from a digital central control panel.

“So much of the system is automated,” says Vitale. “The tanks are monitored — all the tanks have their own timers and are controlled from a main panel. It’s really neat.”

“It was such a pleasure working with AerSale on the line,” says Wetherald. “They wanted it done right and they wanted to be as advanced as possible, which is really cool and makes the project fun because we’re able to come in and work as a structural team together for that common end goal.”