Custom Alloys — Technology Taking Form
Technology is moving at a faster pace than ever before. As new and better devices come to market, new and better materials are created to serve as the building blocks of this technological renaissance. Here at Atlantic Equipment Engineers, we’re a unique source of specialty metal alloys and metal powders, with 50 years of experience providing custom alloys to support unique applications.
Our process starts when we receive material performance requirements from our customers. In order to control quality, we utilize only materials that are manufactured on site. The process of fulfilling the performance requirements involves working through numerous material combinations, and sometimes leads to the creation of materials that have never before been manufactured. Depending on their physical characteristics, these custom alloy powders can be manufactured into various forms, including rods, tubes, plates, fasteners, targets, crucibles and even evaporation pellets and pieces.
Custom alloys are used in a variety of industries including fiber optics, aerospace, automotive and fuel cell manufacturing, but they play a particularly important role in the development of optical coatings. When it comes to advanced military optical devices, such as night vision equipment, much of the device performance is dependent on the coated lens. These lenses are coated with very exotic materials that have been crafted for the task. Advanced optical coatings come into play in various other high end optical devices as well, such as microscopes, telescopes and binoculars. Often, the coatings are applied through vapor deposition in order to achieve a consistent, chemically perfect coating.
Our custom alloy manufacturing capabilities are based on the most recent advances in modern material science, and the alloys we create are used to fuel the next wave of technological advances.
We are the next ISO9001 Powerhouse
At AEE we are ISO9001:2008 certified, and we have been for years. Even before attaining this international standard, quality was an important part of our culture. It’s imperative that we ensure the quality, safety and accuracy of the materials we provide. After all, these materials are used for sensitive high tech products and calculated chemical reactions. When a customer orders a metal powder, compound or fabricated part from us, they need to be able to trust that they’re getting exactly what they need.
Ensuring the quality of our products formed the bedrock of what would come to be a thorough quality system, one that guarantees not just product quality, but service quality as well. We’re dedicated to providing the best customer service possible. That means being responsive and knowledgeable. When a customer calls AEE, they can be confident that someone will answer almost immediately. From there, we work hard to get them answers to their questions and the materials they need.
This focus on quality also results in cost savings for us and for our customers. It’s akin to the story of the carpenter who measures twice, and cuts once. By listening carefully to our customers and double checking our work we make sure to get orders right the first time, ensuring that our customers won’t face delays and that we won’t waste money redoing incorrect orders.
When you’re a unique source of mil spec materials, electronic coating materials, rare earths and other metal powders, the task of ensuring quality is ever growing. Achieving ISO9001:2008 certification and then building on that foundation has allowed us to create a quality system that is a source of pride for everyone in our company.
Tungsten and Medicine versus Gold
Tungsten, a gold competitor, has a long history of use in medical products, dating back to the manufacture of x-ray tubes in the 1800s. It’s particularly well suited to applications that require hardness and high heat resistance. Tungsten is also a highly conductive metal. But whereas electronic arcing can become an issue for other highly conductive materials, tungsten avoids this problem entirely.
Tungsten is 97% as dense as gold, with a similar resistance to bodily fluids and atmospheric contaminants. Tungsten’s density and electronic performance are also comparable to those of gold. These similarities allow tungsten to serve as a stand-in for gold in some instances. Manufacturers will often apply a gold coating to tungsten wire to cut costs.
Tungsten is frequently used to establish radio opacity in medical devices, often ones implanted inside the body. This is due to tungsten’s very high density, a property that allows it to transmit signals reliably. One such example is tungsten’s use in catheters. Catheters are threaded through veins to get where they need to go inside the body. To ensure accurate placement, doctors track the location of the catheters through the use of x-rays. Tungsten is also used in the manufacture of hand held devices utilized to conduct sonograms, once again due to the metal’s innate ability to transmit signals.
Tungsten is a durable, cost effective metal, and a resource to the medical device industry.
Lubricants – Is your machinery oiled enough?
As the productivity requirements of manufacturing equipment increase, it becomes ever more challenging to maintain equipment and keep it operating at peak levels. After all, faster movement means greater wear. Dry lubricants are an essential part of meeting this maintenance challenge, as they reduce friction in these high production machines.
Often, dry lubricants are blended with a solvent before they’re applied, typically a type of water, oil or grease. The material composition of a dry lubricant depends on the specific application it will be used in. Some aspects of the design are easier than others. For example, there is a relatively standard range of materials added to achieve the high temperature resistance necessary in a dry lubricant. The real creativity and expertise however, comes when trying to match the dry lubricant to the solvent that will be used.
Have you ever made pancakes and poured too much milk in the mix? If you have, you’ll know that lumps form in the batter. Well, the same thing can happen when mixing a dry lubricant with a solvent. The key to avoiding this is working with a materials provider who knows how to avoid this, and has the expertise to create a dry lubricant that you can apply however you want.
Mil Spec and what that means right now
AEE has been a trusted source of Mil Spec materials for 50 years, having been established to meet the meet the needs of NASA and other U.S. Department of Defense research and development programs.
Each Mil Spec encompasses a range of performance specifications governing factors like burn time, particle size, and constituent impurities. They’re a convenient shorthand that was made prevalent by the DoD. But over the past several years, the government has moved away from Mil Specs. The challenge with moving away from Mil Specs is that many contractors still call them out. Without the Mil Specs, they’re unsure what materials will give them the performance they need.
Our website is a rare source for original Mil Spec documents, and with our years of experience we are uniquely equipped to navigate the maze created by Mil Specs that are still commonly used. In many cases the Mil Specs refer to long established AEE part numbers.
We can work with customers using these materials from the production of “First Article” samples to full scale production. First we establish the performance specifications of the Mil Spec, then we create the product that meets those specifications. This capability is unique to AEE and again demonstrates the level of customer service you can expect from AEE, a division of Micron Metals, Inc.
In our last blog we mentioned our work with companies and researchers developing new technologies, including entertainment technology such as HD televisions. There is a process that has become increasingly common in the manufacture of these new electronic devices known as vapor deposition. In this fascinating process, an electronic beam is aimed at a high purity metal “target.” This target is shaped like a disk or a puck of raw material. The electronic beam doesn’t melt the target. Rather, it strips off molecules to create a vaporized atmosphere of whatever material the target is made of. That atmosphere gets deposited onto the substrate that needs to be coated.
We supply the raw materials for a manufacturer of these targets and the custom manufactured targets as well. As technology becomes more sophisticated, the requirements for each technological component become more exacting. High purity vapor deposition targets are no exception.
Everything is evolving, from electronics to the technology used to manufacture those electronics, we’re proud to meet each new challenge and continue to supply materials to some of the most advanced companies in the world.
Research and Development — Easy? I think not.
Many times, the clients we supply to are developing new technologies the world hasn’t seen yet; by engaging in Research and Development. In the past, these ‘breakthroughs’ included flat screen and HD televisions. Now, we’re just as curious as everyone else to find out what they’re working on. What’s the next big thing?
Research and development is a complicated process, no matter the project. When designing something new, there is an endless array of decisions to make, processes to implement and functions to test. The key to getting your new product through to the other side of this grueling process is controlling as many variables as possible. The more you can control, the more progress you’ll make towards your end result.
That’s where Atlantic Equipment Engineers comes in. We can control every aspect of the materials we supply, from the materials chemistry, to constituent impurities, to particle size in the case of powders. We have the experience to handle any unique requirements you may have. This attention to your special requirements applies to any material you source through AEE, be it a high purity food grade iron powder, a complicated custom alloy or specialized Mil-Spec material. So if you need materials for your R&D process, we’ve got you covered.
Premium Industrial Product Suppliers
At Atlantic Equipment Engineers we are industrial product distributors, but our mindset is that of a service company. We have the capability to manage a just-in-time inventory flow, in both large and small quantities. And every aspect of our delivery can be customized to fit perfectly into our customers’ applications.
Firstly, we can use our customers’ freight carriers to deliver product to them, inserting what we do into their existing processes. We also offer custom packaging for all of the materials we supply. The first consideration with custom packaging is quantity. Many of our customers don’t want big, unruly cans of product. They want something they can grab off of a shelf and insert into their process. For one of our customers we take this one step further, creating exact formulaic packages, premeasured precisely to the exact amount needed for a particular process.
We also help our customers select exactly what they need. We’ll provide material samples, identify the material they want to proceed with and bring in the necessary inventory. We keep that inventory on our premises, and distribute it to them over time. That way they don’t have to continuously requalify interim material lots—they’ve qualified the entire lot up front.
Storing materials for our customers until they need them also prevents our customers from having to dispose of excess material, an expense almost as costly as bringing the material in in the first place. We also provide packaging that preserves the materials for the necessary shelf life, further preventing the need to dispose of excess or expired material.
We work tirelessly to provide our customers with products and services tailored to their exact requirements.
High Purity Metal — Got them in Powders? Check.
Here at AEE our goal is to help our clients. Period. We have an extensive inventory of high purity metal powders and compounds, and we do everything we can to get our clients exactly what they need as soon as they need it.
Many of our customers come to us knowing only what they want to accomplish. We can help them get the perfect material for the job. Other customers know exactly what they want and we ship it right to them. We send out most orders next day air. For many orders, if we get them by 2:00pm they’re out of our facility that same day.
And speaking of our facility, we moved into a new one back in December. We were in our last location for 20 years, but as our business grew we needed to expand. Our new facility is twice the size and allows us to store more inventory, move that inventory more efficiently and ultimately get you what you need, faster.
We encourage you to look around our website. We have an ever-expanding selection of materials available in a wide variety of forms. And don’t worry if you don’t see your industry mentioned on our website. We can help customers across a broad range of industries, and it’s a challenge to list them all.
After 50 years we’re more capable than ever to meet your needs.