Coatings for Iron and Steel - Tru Temp®

Areas of Opportunity for Manufacturers
Using Tru Temp® In-House Black Oxide

Black oxide finishes raise the quality and value of many tools and components because they give precision parts an attractive black appearance and long-term corrosion resistance, without a dimensional change. Consequently, black finishes are the material of choice for many products and are used to differentiate between different part numbers or different grades of finished product. With a black oxide finish, a part can often be positioned as a premium grade product that commands a higher selling price than an unblackened, or standard grade, product.

Ordinary hot black oxide processes utilize highly concentrated chemicals at 290°F that are inherently difficult to rinse off parts because they're very viscous. This leads to quality problems on certain porous materials (cast irons, powdered metal), or complex shapes, that show up in the form of red/brown finishes or white salt leaching problems. These quality problems destroy a part's value, upset the customers and can lead to costly warranty replacement!

The Tru Temp Black Oxide system utilizes solutions that are 100 degrees cooler and 80% less concentrated than ordinary black oxide chemicals! These milder operating parameters make the solutions easily rinsable, thereby avoiding the red/brown colors and white salt bleed-out commonly seen with ordinary black oxides.

The Tru Temp Black Oxide finish complies with MIL-C-13924 and AMS 2485, with excellent durability and corrosion resistance. Consistently good quality is easily achieved and maintained, with minimal training required for the operator.

Tru Temp Black Oxide can enhance the quality of your products!

With modern automated machines, fabricating the finished part often takes only seconds and contributes the largest portion of the part's value. So, why does it take days to get parts blackened, especially when this step adds only a small portion of the value? A serious mis-match in time vs. value-added!

Add to this the fact that today's customers tend to carry lower inventories of incoming products and often demand quick delivery (even for special part numbers), and you have a potentially costly problem looking for a good solution.

Here's where an in-house Tru Temp® black oxide line can be a very profitable investment. By reducing turnaround time for black finishing, literally to 18 minutes, manufacturers can react quickly to sales orders, making it easier to meet shipping schedules and keep key customers supplied.

Tru Temp In-House black oxide helps keep customers happy - that's what it's all about!

The new mantra in modern industry is Lean Manufacturing. To paraphrase one major manufacturer: Zero Defects, Zero Waste, Zero Incidents. In other words, maximize quality, efficiency and safety by streamlining part movement, eliminating unnecessary operations and paying attention.

The Tru Temp in-house Black Oxide fits this model better than any other metal finishing process on the market. Its patented combination of high quality finishes, short processing times and safe, pollution-free operation makes this process a smart addition to any manufacturing plant.

For example, sending parts outside for black oxide requires sorting and packing of the parts for shipment, then paying to ship them to the plater. Wait for the parts to be blackened and shipped back to you. Once returned, the parts must be unpacked and sorted again. Oftentimes, a few come back damaged or below specs, or don't come back at all. If so, deal with it, adjust inventory and send back to the plater for re-work. Then, put the parts into in-process storage until assembly. You probably know the drill.

By contrast, an in-house Tru Temp line streamlines part movement primarily by keeping the parts in-house. The parts are sent to the blackening line, processed, and are then ready for assembly. What could be simpler?

This streamlined part movement gives added control over the quality, scheduling and cost of the black finishing operation. Quality is maximized because your own people do the blackening (with training supplied by Birchwood Technologies) and can often perform the final inspection. Scheduling is enhanced because you can blacken on short notice, if necessary, and maintain flexibility. And overall finishing costs are generally lower because you avoid many extraneous costs associated with sorting, packing, shipping, paying the plater's profit margin, etc.

Lean Manufacturing enhances the future of manufacturing, and Tru Temp enhances Lean Manufacturing.

The automotive industry is now in the midst of very serious re-design work aimed at eliminating hazardous metal content that will cause pollution problems when the vehicle is salvaged at some future date. The primary emphasis is on hexavalent chrome, but includes many other hazardous metals and toxic organic materials. Smart manufacturers are looking hard for new finishing options NOW.

The Tru Temp Black Oxide satisfies all these End-of-Life concerns because the black finish is composed of black magnetite, a non-toxic inorganic compound. It is an attractive alternative to other finishes, such as: zinc phosphate, black zinc phosphate, manganese phosphate, black manganese phosphate or electroplated zinc + chromate. All these finishes contain EPA regulated metals and pose problems for End of Life directives.

Eliminate hazardous coating content - with non-toxic Tru Temp Black Oxide!

Every well-managed company tries to minimize finished goods inventory - it's just smart use of resources. The objective, of course, is to have enough stock on hand to ship complete orders promptly, without carrying excess inventory that doesn't turn over quickly.

Sending in-process parts out to a black oxide plater complicates inventory control by requiring several days' extra inventory to allow for the turnaround time of outside blackening. This translates directly to extra dollars spent - unnecessarily, in many cases.

An in-house Tru Temp Black Oxide line reduces inventory levels, and costs, because blackening turnaround time is now literally 18 minutes! This gives manufacturers a Same-Day Response capability, allowing them to take an order in the morning, then fabricate, finish and ship the order that same afternoon. Some part numbers can even be changed to 'make-to-order' status, with no finished inventory at all, and still be shipped on the same day, or the next day.

Tru Temp aids prompt shipment with minimal inventory - a boost to the bottom line!

These are important issues for every company. Some chemical processes are environmentally friendly, but many are not. And, worker safety is always of paramount concern.

For example, ordinary black oxide baths require seven pounds per gallon of caustic soda, and operate at 290°F. Splattering, boilover and corrosive fumes are constant hazards for the operator, and can cause serious injuries. In addition, the bath generates large volumes of caustic fumes, along with sludge and scale deposits in the tank, requiring vigorous ventilation and onerous bath maintenance procedures that are dangerous, costly and time-consuming.

Room Temperature blackeners do not pose a serious safety problem, but do contain copper and selenium - both regulated by EPA. Though operators can utilize ion exchange to keep these metals out of the drain, proper management is important.

In a similar manner, other coating processes, such as zinc or manganese phosphate, may contain toxic metals that are EPA regulated (zinc, nickel, antimony), and also generate large volumes of sludge in the tank and scale deposits on heating elements. De-sludging and de-scaling are regular maintenance requirements that can cause significant downtime on the line, and quality problems, if not performed on schedule.

The Tru Temp Black Oxide system is the only industrial process that forms a true, black magnetite finish at a moderate temperature (200°F), and without EPA regulated chemical content. Most installations require no waste treatment at all, although some very large tanks may benefit from pH adjustment of the rinsewater effluent. Sludging does occur, but at a very minimal level, so maintenance downtime is rare.

Venting of the Tru Temp bath is recommended. But, since the bath operates below the boiling point, the bath produces only water vapor, not caustic fumes. And the dangerous splattering and boilover problems just do not occur with a 200° bath.

It is important to pay attention to corporate pollution liability and worker safety issues. Proper management of these issues should not be viewed as an excess cost, but rather as good stewardship that helps avoid potential future expense. The Tru Temp concept fits this model very well.

Lowering your safety & pollution liability, with Tru Temp Black Oxide, is smart management!

Competitive forces in the marketplace demand effective control of costs. But, oftentimes, sending parts outside the plant for black oxide finishing only makes this job harder. Consider this:

You pay someone to sort, pack and ship the parts to the black oxide shop. Then, you pay him $0.20 - 0.40 per pound to blacken the parts (including the plater's profit), and pay to have the parts shipped back. Then, you pay someone to unpack and re-sort the parts, deal with the lost & damaged pieces, on the way to assembly. If the black oxider's turnaround time is more than two days, you may also have to pay to finance extra inventory needed to keep your assembly and shipments on schedule while parts are out of the plant. And, if your black oxide plater makes you miss a key shipping commitment, you may pay dearly in the form of late penalties or lost future orders that make all the rest of your costs look insignificant.

An in-house Tru Temp Black Oxide line will require a capital outlay, but can also lower your finishing costs dramatically by eliminating these extraneous costs of sending parts outside. Perhaps another way to look at an in-house Tru Temp line, though, is not as a capital cost so much as a tool to create sales opportunities and enhance your relationships with key customers. These days, it is absolutely critical to give your customer what he wants, when he wants it. No manufacturer can afford to lose orders due to high price or late delivery.

Tru Temp In-House Black Oxide enhances your productivity, usually with a fast payback!

ISO programs have helped manufacturers manage their operations for better accountability and profitability. One area that is difficult to manage, however, is the practice of sending in-process parts outside your plant for black oxide finishing.

The purpose of ISO programs is to be able to certify the quality of every facet of the manufacturing process. This is easy for operations that are performed in-house with your own employees, but much more difficult when in-process parts leave the plant, because they are out of your immediate control. And, though most black oxide platers are probably excellent vendors, the fact remains that you can't certify as easily the quality of an operation you don't perform - you have to depend on someone else to fill that gap in the accountability chain. Consequently, it makes a lot of sense from an ISO standpoint to blacken parts in-house, with Tru Temp Black Oxide.

The Tru Temp Process safely operates at moderate temperatures, and offers high quality black finishes with No EPA Regulated Metal content. The operators quickly learn the details of the system, with training provided by Birchwood Technologies. Operational, Quality and Maintenance parameters are easily monitored, and are compatible with all ISO programs.

Tru Temp In-House Black Oxide streamlines your ISO program!