Collaborative Development of a Functional Trivalent Chromium Electroplating Process
The long development time frame of 20+ years for development, testing and adoption of a new coating process is not uncommon in the aerospace industry, the primary target of Faraday’s trivalent chromium plating process. This is due, in part, to rigorous testing requirements. In addition, the development of a paradigm shifting innovation can be an arduous and lengthy process.
The initial phases of this development process were conducted by Faraday under EPA SBIR funding, with some input from academic and government laboratory sources for plating chemistry development. As we presented the data at technical conferences showing the demonstration of feasibility, we began to garner interest from OEMs such as The Boeing Company and depot-level maintenance communities within the Department of Defense. Such interest is vital to furthering technology development, by better understanding the industrial and military needs with respect to testing requirements, as well as implementation restrictions. We obtained funding through a government/industry consortium, the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, to pass some general tests that needed to be passed to show the functional performance of the coating. During this program, we determined that there are also specific tests for each application, e.g., aerospace versus automotive, and within each application, tests that are specific to each entity, e.g., from one OEM to another and the various services within the Department of Defense. These specific technical hurdles needed to be passed before additional interest, and funding, could be obtained.
Furthermore, realizing that plating industry sales are made mostly through chemical vendors, we identified and partnered with a vendor, Coventya, that has the requisite market channels and expertise to sell our trivalent chromium plating process. Coventya is working with us to stabilize the bath chemistry and determine bath lifetime and reliability. We recently began working on a US Army program for an expanded testing matrix working on a fully REACH-compliant trivalent chromium plating chemistry, developed in conjunction with Coventya, that does not contain boric-acid.
Acknowledgements: This study is supported by the US EPA SBIR Program (EP-D-11-044), the US Army (W911NF-11-2-0014) and private sources. The financial support of Faraday Technology, Inc. corporate R&D is also gratefully acknowledged.