New processes for etching aluminium and titanium parts is helping a Shropshire manufacturer of precision photo etched metal components smash the £5m barrier for the first time in its history.
Advanced Chemical Etching (A.C.E), which is located on Hortonwood in Telford, has seen sales soar by 20% over the past 12 months, with new contracts secured across the aerospace, F1 and automotive sectors.
The firm’s ACmE™ and TiME™ processes have generated significant demand from a global customer base that is committed to sourcing lightweight components.
The growth has necessitated the need for 15 new jobs and there could be more recruitment plans on the horizon if plans to hit £8m by 2020 are realised.
“When etching aluminium it generates its own heat, causing the standard etching solution to go out of control…our ACmE™ process negates this by allowing more machine etching time instead of waiting for the solution to cool down back into controllable limits,” explained Ian Whateley, managing director of Advanced Chemical Etching.
“TiME™ is similar and much safer than the conventional HF/Nitric mix and results in very clean etched profiles. The ability to develop these new technologies has seen us add hundreds of new clients to our books and we are looking to capitalise on this by continued investment in new machinery and capacity.”
He continued: “Our expertise is going all over the world too. Current export levels are at 30%, but with the increase in demand for titanium medical parts supplied into Europe and USA, we are expecting this to be closer to 50% by 2020.”
A.C.E. specialises in development of prototype components, pre-production and volume fulfillment to customers in aero, automotive, electronics, medical, telecoms and renewables.
The scope of its activities is far and wide and can include anything from safety critical components for aircraft and F1 cars to meshes and electronic connectors and even frames for designer glasses.
All parts are developed and manufactured at its main site in Telford or at the company’s dedicated sister business, ACE Forming Limited, in Kingswinford.
Latest production machinery, a dedicated laboratory and state-of-the-art measuring capability ensures it works to the most exacting tolerances and can manufacture components in materials, such as stainless steel, nickel alloys, copper, beryllium copper, phosphor bronze, brass and, thanks to groundbreaking new processes, aluminum, molybdenum, titanium, nitinol and elgiloy.
Whateley said: “The big investment to date in 2018 has been the installation of three new LED exposure print frames, which give us the ability to image up to 1500mm x 600mm sheets.
“We have further equipment planned for later this year, with several new production machines being added to our already impressive equipment list.”
He concluded: “All of this investment will increase throughput and improve our fine line technology for thinner materials. It’s all about making sure we are ahead of what the market wants.”