Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Wolverhampton

Case Study - Advanced Chemical Etching Ltd

KTP is the ACE up the sleeve

The Company

Advanced Chemical Etching Limited (ACE) is constantly stretching the boundaries of innovation in delivering solutions to some of the world's biggest names. Located in Shropshire, the company specialises in the manufacture of precision photo etched metal components for customers involved in aerospace, automotive, electronics, medical and fuel cell industries.

Challenge

The company identified a need to improve its existing process for etching aluminium, an attractive metal with many applications in the automotive and aerospace industries.

Conventional chemistry yields poor quality in the final product when used to etch aluminium. It was therefore very important for ACE to develop the capability to etch aluminium, allowing high quality parts to be produced at relatively low costs.

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership was seen as the ideal mechanism to improve ACE’s process and meet the requirements of customers in the aerospace sector.

Molecular etching

Solution

Dr Muhammad Eesa, a graduate in Chemical Engineering was recruited by the University of Wolverhampton as a KTP Associate, working as Technical Research Manager within ACE.

Various ways to improve the current process for etching aluminium were explored; however this only highlighted the limitations of the existing procedure. A new process was developed which involved a new etching chemistry as well as an innovative method for cleaning the etched parts.

This process has opened up business opportunities in the aerospace, automotive and electronics industries. The new method offers outstanding precision with sharp and well defined features, and it has also reduced the costs of raw materials as well as reducing wastage.

Results

The KTP produced positive results for all those involved.

Key successes include:

  • Increased capability of etching aluminium to high quality standards
  • New business opportunities in the aerospace, automotive and electronics industries
  • New skills and knowledge embedded into the company
  • Investment in two new etching machines to accommodate the increase in productivity
  • Further investment planned to expand the company’s R&D activities
  • Improved customer satisfaction due to higher quality and more cost effective products
  • Increased awareness and accessibility of the University's capability and resources
  • Development of a new manufacturing degree at the University of Wolverhampton
  • Associate employed permanently at the end of the KTP

In their words

In their words KTP University of Wolverhampton University of Wolverhampton Logo