COVID-19 Update: NiCoForm continues operations as an essential manufacturing business
NiCoForm Express #8 January 2020
Periodic update on company happenings, new products and developments at NiCoForm, Inc.

In this Issue:

  • High Performance NiColoy® Bellows
  • Nickel-Phosphorus - Not Just for Optics
  • New Equipment for 2020
  • New OGP SmartScope for Inspection
  • New Web Site and Logo

High Performance NiColoy® Bellows

Unmasking a 9 inch Annular Bellows Unmasking a 9 inch Annular Bellows Before NiColoy®, nickel electroformed bellows were not usable at temperatures above 200 ºC (400 ºF), and could not be reliably welded. Additives in the electroforming solution rendered the material brittle at those temperatures. Our proprietary electroforming process was developed in part to overcome such limitations. Years of research resulted in NiColoy®, a material that is electroformed without organic additives. This alloy can withstand temperatures up to its melting point and can be welded or brazed without limitations.

Gold Plated Miniature Bellows, Contacts and Electroforms Gold Plated Miniature Bellows, Contacts and Electroforms Much purer than conventional nickel, the material is pore-free and more corrosion resistant than nickel. Naturally, these properties opened up new applications for seamless electroformed bellows. Aerospace, precision instrumentation, oil exploration, electronics and lasers are only a few industries where NiColoy® bellows found use. For enhanced conductivity or resistance to marine atmospheres, the bellows are plated with gold, copper, or nickel-phosphorus.

Nickel-Phosphorus - Not Just for Optics

Nickel-Phosphorus Plated Large Concave Mold Nickel-Phosphorus Plated Large Concave Mold Since 2014, NiCoForm has been plating Nickel-Phosphorus for US-based and international customers. Plastic optics manufacturers diamond machine optical mold inserts in this substrate. In addition to its high hardness, the deposit is also very corrosion and wear resistant, so we hypothesized that it could prolong the service life of catheter tipping dies. After successful field tests, several major catheter manufacturers have made the switch to Nickel-Phosphorus-lined tipping dies due to their improved performance.

Other applications soon followed, increasing the demand for this service to the point that we recently decided to expand our Nickel-Phosphorus production ability by installing a third production Nickel-phosphorus tank. This has been very beneficial when it comes to keeping turnaround times low for our Nickel-Phosphorus orders. Additionally, we begin to schedule work in the production control system as soon as orders are received, allowing the average turnaround time for a 0.020" deposit to be 2 weeks.

New Equipment for 2020

New machinist Jeff Andalora programming the Babin CNC Lathe New machinist Jeff Andalora programming the Babin CNC Lathe The rapid growth of NiCoForm in 2019 necessitated the addition of equipment and personnel to operate it. The Babin TML-5CNC lathe, installed last Fall, constitutes a clone of a Hardinge HLV manual lathe upgraded with CNC components. This small, affordable, and easy to use lathe serves as a convenient bridge from manual to CNC machining. It is used to train our less experienced machinists in programming and operating CNC machines. This addition has untied the bottleneck at the advanced Mazak lathe, where all tipping die components were previously machined.

In early 2020 we are bringing on line a Doosan MX 1600 mill/turn machining center that comprises a fully articulating milling head and a dual spindle lathe.  Replacing a CNC mill and CNC lathe, this unit will enable machining of complex 3-D parts with a minimal amount of operator set up. This will greatly speed up manufacturing of custom parts in small quantities.

Finally, one of the world's premier laser integrator specialists, Mundt Associated of Arizona, are building for NiCoForm a 5-axis robotic laser system.  Due to be installed in the Spring of 2020, this machine will be used for machining, welding, and marking of electroformed components and custom assemblies.

With this addition, NiCoForm will be well positioned to serve our customers requiring fully completed assemblies.

New OGP SmartScope for Inspection

Inspection Department head Chris Reynolds operating the new SmartScope measurement system Inspection Department head Chris Reynolds operating the new SmartScope measurement system The machine shop isn’t the only department getting new technology for the new decade. Our Inspection department has recently acquired an OGP SmartScope Flash 302 for use in verification of high-precision complex shape components and incoming inspection of mandrels.

Able to accommodate a wide range of part sizes and equipped with a rotary indexer, the SmartScope allows for easy fixturing and measurement of bellows and a variety of 3-D electroforms. Additionally, the instrument can store inspection programs, making repeatable inspection a much quicker process by minimizing user involvement. Inspection results can be exported and shared with the customers.

New Web Site and Logo

New NiCoForm logo To keep up with the ever-changing internet technology, we have fully redesigned our website and logo. The new website has a fresh contemporary look and unified desktop/mobile content. It will effectively communicate the advanced properties of our proprietary alloy, NiColoy®, highlighting new products, technological advancements, and company updates.

Photo galleries accompany product pages, illustrating the diversity of bellows and tip-forming dies we produced over the years. The News section informs of upcoming trade shows and recent technological innovations.

For easy access, we have catalogued our library of company-authored technical papers, press releases, and presentations. Anyone looking to learn more about the industries we serve and about electroforming with high performance nickel-cobalt alloys will find the website, full of useful information.
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