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Epner Technology mourns one of our own

Epner Technology mourns one of our own

This virus scourge has taken the life of Steve Candiloro Jr. known to all as JR.  His plating knowledge and engineering talents were without peer. Plating was in his DNA. It began as a young boy working alongside his father in Steve Sr’s chrome plating operation, called Technical Metal Finishing.

When that company closed, JR went to work as a lab technician at Lea Ronal, an early supplier of proprietary gold plating baths.  His father went on to manage a plating shop on Long Island.

Cohan Epner, as my company was then known, was named after the two founders when they opened for business in 1910 gold plating jewelry and novelties. The company grew steadily over the years and in 1979 a large production contract from Xerox was straining our capacity, so driven by the Xerox contract, we decided to change the focus of the company from the gold plating of jewelry, to high-tech specification plating, which included exploring the new market opportunities that were opened up by our Laser Gold high reflective infrared plating process.

This new breed of customer needed a plating supplier that was able to understand and meet the specifications and technical requirements that were common to this market. A far cry indeed from our customer base of the previous sixty years.

We needed to hire a production manager with high-tech engineering and specification plating experience, so I turned to the “tech reps” who work for the suppliers of our various plating baths. They know every plating manager in every shop and when I asked each one, “Who is the right person for this job?” they all came up with the same name. Steve Candiloro Senior, JR ‘s father.

I invited Steve Sr. to lunch and made him an “offer he couldn’t refuse”. He took the job and it soon became apparent that our “new hire”, a graduate chemical engineer with many years in the “trenches” of our industry, had a depth of technical plating knowledge and hands-on shop experience that was truly unparalleled in our industry.  It was not long before JR again became his father’s apprentice, joining our company in 1983.  In the mid-90’s Steve Sr. and I backed off from the day to day running of the shop and JR became the Production and Plant Manager. He redesigned our waste treatment system so that we went to zero discharge. It took away the stress he felt every time the EPA showed up. Next, he upgraded the air handling and scrubber systems in the shop both improving conditions for the staff while removing any chance of dangerous fumes getting out untreated.

Perhaps JR’s most significant legacy is that, unlike most people in our industry, JR did not hide his vast knowledge. Whether it was plating a difficult substrates like Beryllium, Molybdenum or Neodymium, etc.…With open collaboration with Dr. Gustek our Head Laboratory Manager, he figured it out, documented it, and shared his techniques and know-how with the platers that actually handled the parts.  This cross-training is what has permitted us to survive and indeed, grow and thrive since his passing.

Often, when wearing my salesman’s hat, coming through the shop accompanied by a customer with an “impossible” project I always introduced JR as, “The guy that makes my bullshit come true” He never let me down.

An example of that last sentence occurred about four years later when that our company was presented with, arguably the most incredible and challenging plating project any shop in our industry had ever tackled.  This project would stretch JR’s plating-engineering know-how to its limit, and the result proved this talent beyond any doubt. Let me explain.

It all started about ten years ago. I was sitting in my office after hours when the phone rang and the person on the line, calling from Missoula Montana, asked if we could plate the inside of a water-cooled, stainless steel Bell jar? I envisioned he was talking about a typical laboratory bell jar. Open at one end with a dome shaped closure at the other. Usually about a foot in diameter and 2 feet high. I asked, “How big is it “? He replied,”13 feet high, 7 feet in diameter and it weighed about 40,000 pounds. And oh yes, we need 100 of them done”.

When I got up off the floor, I asked him how many plating companies he had approached with this project? He said he had been all over the world trying to find a shop that would even discuss it much less agree to do it. I said, “I think we might have a shot at it but the non-recurring cost would be enormous” I threw out a million and a half bucks for NRE to see if he was real. Indeed, he was. I knew JR had experience with the smaller jar that I had originally envisioned. He would make the bell jar its own plating tank. After inserting an anode, we would repeatedly fill and drain it with each solution in the process, just like a washing machine. When I laid out the project to JR, his reaction was just what I expected.  “Let me at it” he exclaimed, and a day later he presented me with his plan of action.

He had designed a steel gantry-like stand that would support the jar by its trunnion “ears” and then the stand and jar would be transported by a forklift with 50,000 pound capacity into the loading dock area of our building. Preparation for that required moving our entire wastewater treatment system onto the plating shop floor with re-plumbing every rinse tank as well as removing part of the building to accommodate the height of the jar in the stand.

Another huge upfront cost was the gold plating solution more than 2000 gallons valued at over $4 million would be needed to fill the jar so. JR designed what we laughingly called a giant fiberglass condom which he had fabricated at a local boat builder. This plug would displace about half that volume as well as offer a mounting surface for the nickel and platinum coated titanium anodes.  That still left us with a gold inventory requirement over $2 million, which was required to fill the one-foot gap between the plug and the wall of the jar.

The customer did not balk at paying these up-front costs as well as the six-figure price I quoted for each bell jar.

In a short time, Jr and his team had gotten production up to one jar a day until 103 were shipped!

(For those readers who might be interested in some of the technical details concerning the purpose and function of these huge bell jars, that information can be found at the end of this blog.),

This project represented the most challenging of the countless plating problems that yielded to JR’s know-how. His smile and his talent will indeed be missed.

We were flooded with many condolence letters from customers and suppliers. They were posted in the shop. One letter, spoke eloquently for all the others. It was written by a frequent visitor; an engineer at one of our larger aerospace customers based in the mid-west. He often showed, up hand carrying another one of those plating challenges. JR trusted him totally and he had the run of the shop.

An excerpt from his letter:

“Working so closely with JR these past few years was an incredible honor for me. From decades past, I was aware of the depth of technical talent JR possessed.  During the last several years I worked shoulder-to-shoulder with JR, I really got a sense for who JR was as a person and what he stood for.  I am very grateful for that experience”.

Technical Details:

They were used for the “growing” of pure silicon for both the chip market and for solar collectors. Each chamber starts the process with 30 or more pencil-thick, 12- foot long starter rods which glow bright red when the power is turned on. Trichlorsilane and hydrogen gas are introduced to the sealed chamber and the rods grow slowly over a period of some four or five days to a diameter of 8 inches. It takes more and more electric power to keep the rods glowing red hot as the diameter increases. Indeed, the single highest cost of semi-conductor production is electric power and the Laser Gold coating of the interior of the bell jar reduced this cost by an astounding 40% as it reflected the heat generated back into the process instead of being absorbed and wasted in the water cooling jacket on the outside of each jar.

Epner Technology mourns one of our own

Stephen Candiloro Jr.


Epner Technology mourns one of our own

Bell Jar Prior to Transport Into Building


Epner Technology mourns one of our own

Fiberglass “Condom” Plug

Epner Technology mourns one of our own

Final Inspection

Epner Technology’s Laser Gold is going to the Oscars

For the first time in 30 years this year’s Oscar was produced by a new team. The Motion Picture Academy has selected the brilliance and durability of Epner Technology’s Laser Gold electroplating process to “dress” the 2016 Oscar. No longer made of ”pot metal” which is mostly tin, these Oscars were cast in solid bronze by the renowned art foundry, Polich Tallix.

This change was precipitated by two facts. The first was the desire to return the Oscar to its art-object roots; a bronze casting with more detail. The second is an attempt to stem the steady flow of Oscars that had been awarded in years past, being returned because of worn gold plating.

The durability Of Laser Gold permits Epner Technology to offer a lifetime guarantee…. Not the lifetime of the owner, but the lifetime of the Oscar itself. The Wall Street Journal has written an article that puts in perspective Epner’s  Space and Art relationship.


Epner Technology’s Laser Gold is going to the Oscars

The Oscar Statuette has come to Brooklyn to get dressed in Laser Gold for his big night this weekend.

Here is how it happened: Yes, I too find it hard to believe.

For some years now, we have had a relationship with the finest art foundry in the country.

The company is called Polich Tallix in Rock Tavern NY, about two hours out of the city, and the owner is Dick Polich.  We have been gold plating, as his sub-contractor, castings that he has produced for some of the world’s renowned artists.

Polich, at 84, is a year older than I, and, thanks to this relationship, we two old farts really hit it off.

One day he calls me and says, “How would you like to gold plate the Oscars.” What was I going to say, “No?” It seems his firm was being considered by the Academy as a new supplier to manufacture the statuette, and he thought we would make a good team

That’s how it started. But here is the back story:

For many years, the present Oscar, was cast in Britannia metal, a fancy name for Tin. But the original figure from 1929 was cast in bronze, and when compared to today’s Oscar, the loss of detail was apparent.

In addition The Academy wanted to return this iconic figure to its original manifestation; that of a true art object.

Polich Tallix had made the short list of potential foundry suppliers that the Academy was seeking and after the Managing Director of the academy came East to visit their facility, he knew he had found his new fabricator.

Then he and Dick Polich made a side trip to Brooklyn to visit, in the words of Dick Polich, “The only plater we ever use.”

Of course I touted our Laser Gold. Its hardness would give them the durability for a lifetime of handling and  I began to regale him with tales of our work with NASA and what a great story this would be.

“The ancient art of bronze casting technique, paired with a space-age process used on the James Webb telescope and “Messenger”, the mission to the planet Mercury, among others.”

He said he would welcome Laser Gold’s uniqueness as a 24 karat gold that is three times harder than anyone else’s pure gold but he seemed a little uneasy with our space and defense connections.

His approach would be to highlight a craft company using the latest casting techniques (Polich use 3-D printing as part of the process) and gold plate it at a 100 year old family-owned plating company

“in Brooklyn.”  It seems that Brooklyn has a special cachet in the rest of the country.

(If some of you have gotten an e-mail from me recently you might have noticed my current signature line, “105 years under the same family management….and we almost have it figured out.”)

They gave us permission to describe what we are doing for our corporate publicity as long as any PR piece was first approved by the Academy.. Our first press release went out today.  You can read it at the end of this blog post.

Earlier this week ABC-TV in New York sent Sandy Kenyon to Brooklyn to interview both me and Dick Polich in my office. Afterward I followed them over to the plating shop where they really had a good time filming Steve Candiloro (JR to most of us) actually plating an Oscar. Mr. Kenyon seemed quite intrigued at the variety of stuff moving through our shop from a gold-plated chalice for a local Monsignor to Pac-3 missile parts for Boeing.

.We will have a link to this video on our web site shortly after it goes live on Thursday (tomorrow) during the 4 pm hour.


This Year’s Oscars® Made With Same Laser Gold® Plating Process Used in NASA Spacecraft

100-year-old Brooklyn-based Epner Technology supplies gold plating for awards


NEW YORK, Feb. 24, 2016 – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is fulfilling the task of returning the world-recognized statuette to its roots as a true art object. Epner Technology has done gold plating on bronze castings for such renowned artists as Mathew Barney and George Condo, and has had a long relationship as a gold plating supplier to Polich Tallix, the art foundry that produced this year’s Oscars. Polich Tallix was able to restore the detail and refinement of the original 1929 Oscar. Epner Technology is able to maintain this detail after “dressing” him in a suite of gold, but not just any gold –Laser Gold.

Epner Technology, founded in 1910, originally developed Laser Gold for Xerox® and later modified the process for NASA Spacecraft. The Oscars chose Epner Technology to help return the Statues to their original art form and legendary luster. Deposited by electroplating, Laser Gold is a pure 24 kt gold that is also three times harder than ordinary pure gold.  “This is the first time that this unique plating process was specified for the Oscars” said David Epner, President, Epner Technology.

Spacecraft, from the earliest GOES weather satellites to the cryogenic cooling systems on the James Webb Space Telescope Cameras, utilize Laser Gold’s ultra-high infrared reflectivity, critical to maintaining thermal control of the on-board instruments by reflecting the sun’s radiant energy back into space. This year’s Oscars will share the same ultra-rich gold and benefit from the durability of Epner Technology’s unique formula.

Hand delivered to Epner’s Brooklyn factory from the foundry, the first step in the process was to polish the raw bronze. Each Oscar was then racked, electro-cleaned, copper plated, bright nickel plated and immediately immersed in the Laser Gold Plating tank. The entire cycle took more than six hours each.

For more information contact:

David Epner,

Epner Technology Inc.

78 Kingsland Ave

Brooklyn, NY 11222

718 728 5948

The Passing of an Icon or, “Call me Charlie” Charles Townes

In a way it was a fitting time for the death of Dr. Charles Townes the Nobel laureate who led the team that brought the Laser to life.


Charles H. Townes, a Nobel-winning physicist who helped invent the laser, speaking in 2005 on receiving the Templeton Prize, honoring his efforts to bridge the differences between science and spirituality. Credit Gregory Bull/Associated Press

The announcement came two weeks before one of the largest trade shows in the world devoted to optics, electronics and lasers, namely, Photonics West. It was held at the San Francisco Convention Center,  where Tom Lippens and I were manning the Epner Technology booth along with 1250 other exhibitors and some 27,000 visitors during the week of February 9th. Here is my point: I would venture that as many as 75% of  those 1250 exhibiting companies owed their very existence to the work of Dr. Charles Townes and his associates.

I first met Dr. Townes some thirty years ago at another Epner exhibit stand at CLEO, the big Laser meeting then held in Baltimore. I was discussing some arcane aspect of our Laser Gold coating and its application for NdYAG laser pump chambers to a young laser engineer named Gary Vaillancourt. Standing off to the side was a tall, elderly gentleman patiently waiting for me to finish my conversation with Gary.

Not wanting to lose either potential customer, I signaled to the older man that I was aware that he was waiting.

Gary turned to see the target of my distraction, and then, spotting the gentleman’s name tag, created the most amazing moment I have ever experienced at a trade show. Dropping onto one knee in a genuflection of  honest awe, he reached up and started vigorously shaking Dr. Townes’ hand and exclaiming at the same time, “My God, Dr .Charles Townes….I cannot believe that I am meeting you at last.” It was a scene out of a movie! Townes could not have been more gracious and gave his young acolyte a moment of attention that I’m sure Gary remembers to this day even more vividly that I do.

Our paths crossed again some years later at an SPIE Astronomy conference in Hawaii. He came to my table-top exhibit to discuss our gold for some mirrors for his lab at Berkley.  I of course greeted him as “Dr. Townes” and he smiled as we shook hands and said, “Call me Charlie.”

For a more detailed look at this wonderful man’s incredible contribution to today’s world, read the N.Y. Times obituary linked here.