Electroless Nickel Error Bites-Me-in-the-Ass. or, How S**t Happens

It started with an inquiry from a high-tech machining job shop in California. A company was making two small aluminum parts for a major aerospace company and, thanks to a note calling out “Laser Gold per Epner Technology Specification 2011”, we naturally got the job to quote.

The machine shop, a first time customer, phoned Epner Technology in Brooklyn, and made a simple request asking where to get details of this spec in order to make allowance for the nickel plating thickness on his tight tolerance job.

Whoever answered our phone politely told the customer that there is a whole section on our website called “Specifying Laser Gold” that would provide all the necessary information.

Unfortunately, when I wrote that section of the website some years ago, I was totally focused on imaging optics. As such, on beryllium or an aluminum substrate, we called out for an electroless nickel thickness of between .004″ and .008″!. This heavy nickel is typically called out when the surface is to be optically polished or diamond turned.

While countless customers call out the Epner Laser Gold Spec, with an undercoat of electroless nickel that typically runs between .0005″ and .001″ thick., that information is usually found on the drawing.

Naturally in this case, the machinist, dutifully reading our website page, allowed for .006″ of EN! Right on the nominal. He was also late on delivery but don’t worry, “We’ll make up the time on the plater.”  A common machine shop mantra.

We clarified our website specification section immediately.  The customer is re-machining the parts. His customer was informed and is understanding.  And of course, Epner Technology will “eat” the costs!

Lessons Learned;

Epner Technology is a 102 year-old engineering plating company, so our website has a plethora of specifications, technical details, and application example photos.
As a supplier to every major aerospace company, including NASA, it is incumbent upon us, indeed, on any company in the high-tech world, to make sure information disseminated online through our website, blog and social media channels is accurate and truthful. Our apologies and our thanks to the machine shop that helped us to improve in this area.

References:

Specifying Laser Gold (Our now, totally accurate, specifications page)

 

 


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