New lab proves to be UK firm’s ACE in the hole

Posted on 24 Aug 2016 by Jonny Williamson

A £150,000 investment in a cutting-edge laboratory and new metrology department is already paying off for Advanced Chemical Etching (ACE) after securing a string of new aerospace and medical contracts.

Advanced Chemical Etching (ACE) has landed more than £500,000 of orders thanks to its ability to offer access to new etching chemistry and expertise in aluminium, titanium and nitinol.

Inside the Telford-based firm's new metrology department - image courtesy of Advanced Chemical Etching (ACE).
Inside the Telford-based firm’s new metrology department – image courtesy of Advanced Chemical Etching (ACE).

Orders for the precision metal components manufacturer included supplying complex parts for aircraft engines, cabin interiors and landing gear applications, while medical customers have been tapping into the firm’s new capability for bone re-construction and bionic products.

Employing 46 people and with a projected turnover upwards of £5m by year-end, the Telford-based firm is now looking to target more customers in these sectors – and other industries – that may be looking to optimise design and new material introductions to reduce weight and save costs.

A director at ACE, Chris Ball explained: “The new laboratory really puts us ahead of the competition and gives us the ability to develop safer chemistry processes and control tighter design parameters…delivering performance never before seen in photo etching.

“In layman’s terms, it means we can offer customers the capability to ensure the quality of components for one offs and prototypes can now be transferred into the thousands normally found in mid to serial production.”

Ball continued: “Our aerospace and medical customers have been making the most of this new facility and the former now accounts for more than 40% of our turnover.

“There is now a significant opportunity to target F1, automotive and other high value engineering sectors who demand the same precision excellence.

“One of the more advanced objectives completed was to come up with an etching process to corrode corrosive resistant materials, such as inconel and titanium.”

ACE’s scope of activities is far and wide and can include anything from safety critical components for aircraft and cars to simple washers, electronic connectors and ornate clock faces.

The latest production machinery and a culture of continuous improvement at its 20,000 sqft facility ensures it can make products in materials, ranging from stainless steel and nickel alloys, and, thanks to ground-breaking new processes, aluminium; titanium; molybdenum; nitinol, and elgiloy.

The company, which is working towards AS9100, has made a number of key appointments to cope with recent expansion, including a new technical sales specialist and business development expert.

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