Plastratum provides the latest automatic surface finishing technology equipment for a major Aerospace Manufacturer

Plastratum have successfully completed a fully automatic plant for the titanium anodising of aerospace engine components, supported and complimented by the inclusion of demineralised water plant with rinse water recirculation.

Final effluent treatment, thermal fluid heating and differential volumetric fume extraction and fume scrubbing with tank lid technology are also included.

The project specification was generated to return the NDT Blue Etch Anodising operation in-house to control quality and significantly reduce lead times, provide a new revenue stream and eliminate the risk of damage to the very high value added components during transportation.

Plastratum, the Birmingham based surface finishing equipment, effluent treatment technology and fume extraction and scrubber equipment company was chosen to provide the solution for this prestigious contract. Plastratum are the fastest growing chemical engineering Automatic plant and equipment supplier in the British surface finishing sector and has emerged with high-quality engineering and innovative designs beneficial for their customers.

In addition to providing the most advanced and latest anodising technology project the Plastratum designers and Engineers were charged to design and develop a special component agitation system understood not to have been used before and successfully provided the complete requirement and technology for the customer.

The enthusiastic, dedicated and professional manufacturing workforce, with a combined 120 years manufacturing experience, is integral and compliments the most energetic team.

The challenges

  • Specialist manipulation of a number of different components through the same process tanks.
  • <20µScm-1 rinse water for all processes
  • It was not possible to utilise any electrical heating.
  • Tight space limitations.

Space saving solution

The fully automatic anodising equipment has two parallel legs with a centralised fume extraction system, environmental canopied down draft transporters and automatic lid technology. One of the major challenges to be overcome was the limited factory space which had been allocated for the new machinery. Plastratum designed a water spray cross transfer from leg one to leg two which enabled the installation to be fully installed with ease.

Each leg has a load/ unload station enabling multiple, integrated programming of cleaning and chemical processing simultaneously, realising the benefit of increased productive output efficiency utilising Plastratum’s random-access software. This is integral with SCADA and management data acquisition which is, linked to the company’s production server. This provides a powerful management and production tool.

Water discharge saving of 80%

Water treatment is integral to the successful operation of this equipment. All rinse water must be less than 20µScm-1 and sufficient to provide excellent rinse efficiency. Although space limitations ruled out double or triple counterflow rinses, there was an opportunity to provide rinse water recirculation. This would enhance rinse water at the correct conductivity, with reduced discharge to foul sewer, thus dramatically reducing risk to the environment along with reducing treatment and discharge cost to the business.

A detailed evaluation of the precise components and chemistry was undertaken to calculate the volumes of water required and suitability for recirculation, utilising ion exchange deionisation. This extensive evaluation showed conclusively in favour of water recirculation and provided a water discharge saving of over 80% of the volume to drain. Therefore, there was substantial and consequential savings in effluent costs, both plant and on-going foul sewer costs.

The customer, unusually, had very limited additional electrical power within the factory where the installation of the new plant was to take place. Electrical heating would have exceeded the electrical capacity and a new cable supply would have to have been installed. This installation would have increased the project costs and seriously delayed the project, along with increasing the plant running costs using electrical heating.

Full in-depth feasibility study

As with all projects Plastratum undertook an in-depth feasibility study and was able to show the customer that a gas fired thermal fluid boiler and distribution system was beneficial and a cost-effective option which was advantageous to the installation and ideal for the customers’ needs. It was shown that the payback on capital investment would be as little as one and a half years when comparing the electrical costs against the cost of gas, the quantity of which was more than an adequate supply within the factory.

The major benefits of Thermal Fluid heating systems are:

  • The system only needs once a year servicing.
  • It is non-corrosive unlike steam and medium temperature hot water.
  • It does not require water treatment or boiler blow-down.
  • There is no additional expense of chemical additions.

In addition, the Plastratum design and engineering team were requested by the customer to provide a component manipulation system that operated in all process and rinse tanks. Unlike any system that was understood to be currently commercially and technically available, this was achieved to the entire satisfaction and acceptance of the customer and operates continuously, achieving total solution penetration within the component with a much higher degree of surface activity and product quality.

The fume extraction is a centralised common installation from both legs of the plant and supported by the Plastratum Differential Volumetric tank lid technology. The use of lids is instrumental in reducing the fume extraction volume using a turn down of 70%. 

Therefore, it is not only a much-reduced plant sizing and factory footprint allocation when compared to open tank fume extraction, it also reduces the quantity of expensive heated factory air to atmosphere. Once again this is of great financial benefit for the customer as it reduces operating costs.

The company is headed by Mike Taylor, Managing Director, a specialist in Effluent Treatment and Rinse Water Recirculation systems, Roger Speck with over 40 years’ experience in Chemical Engineering and Electroplating Equipment and Glenn Williams for fume extraction and odour control products.

Due to our continuous product development and in house design, coupled with a commitment to high quality technology and technical standards, we have secured total turnkey projects. We have demonstrated that we are able to design, manufacture, install and commission complete plant, equipment and associated products which are providing major financial benefits for our customers.

Please call us if you have a project that might benefit from our expertise.

Mike Taylor
Managing Director.

Telephone:        0121 314 1191
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