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Pollution Prevention and Control Technologies for Plating Operations


Both market and regulatory forces are increasing the pressure on platers to make the right decisions on pollution prevention and control technology, and are aggravating the consequences of bad choices. Timely, accurate information is critical. Platers need to know not merely what works and what does not - they need to know under what circumstances a given technique or piece of equipment will be right for their particular shop, and what they must do to maximize the likelihood of success. They may not get a second chance.

The next few years will see continuing pressure to meet effluent guidelines on top of increased costs for waste disposal, while the pressure to minimize manufacturing costs will be relentless. To help the nation's platers meet this challenge, the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) and the National Association of Metal Finishers (NAMF) have sponsored a project designed to capture the collected experience of hundreds of individual plating facilities, and to distill that information into formats which would make the data accessible and meaningful to its intended audience.

A project team including representatives from participating NCMS member companies (General Motors, Texas Instruments, and United Technologies) and from NAMF was formed to finalize a detailed plan of attack and to oversee the project. The participants put together a project plan whose key elements included a survey of users and vendors, as well as input from the literature and industry experts. The object was to identify the range of pollution prevention techniques and pollution control equipment used in plating operations, and to assess their actual track records as a function of the processes and of the types of facilities in which each method is employed. The results were to be both summarized in text form (ultimately as a book-length report) and to be made available as an electronic database. The advantage of the latter format is the ability it provides to users to pose their own questions, and to use the data in ways not foreseen in the design of the study.

This volume, together with its accompanying database, represents the output of that effort. It is being made available on an expedited basis with the hope that it will prove to be a valuable resource both for users of pollution prevention techniques and control equipment and for their suppliers. Informed choices are likely to be better choices, and appropriate decisions on which pollution prevention and control technology to use on the part of platers, and which to develop and provide on the part of the suppliers, will benefit not only the individuals involved, but ultimately the entire industry.

Many individuals and organizations contributed to making the project plan a reality. The representatives who served on the NCMS Project Steering Group provided the initial vision as well as ongoing guidance throughout the two year project effort. They include David Marsh and William Sonntag of NAMF, who first articulated the need for the study and were instrumental in arranging the NCMS-NAMF partnership. The NCMS member companies' representatives on the Project Steering Group included (alphabetically by company) Brian Ramey, of what was formerly the Allison Gas Turbine Division of General Motors, Brenda Harrison of Texas Instruments, and Brian Manty, formerly with the Pratt & Whitney Division of United Technologies, and currently with Concurrent Technologies Corporation. The group benefited from the participation of Frank Altmayer of Scientific Control Labs, Inc., who also helped serve as liaison with the American Electroplaters and Surface Finishers Society (AESF). Dr. Abdul Abdul of General Motors North American Operations Research and Development Center kept abreast of the group's activities and made helpful suggestions along the way. And, of course, this report would not have been possible in its present form without the cooperation of the users and vendors who devoted literally thousands of hours to the completion of detailed survey forms, and to the reviews of the initial drafts.

Special thanks to the Joyce Foundation, whose support during the critical initial phases of this work made a timely start possible.

Paul Chalmer, Project Manager, Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing, National Center for Manufacturing Sciences

January, 1994

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