Metal Finishing Guide Book

2013

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condenses on the part to form a coating. Concurrently, ions from the discharge bombard the forming coating to enhance its density. IVD aluminum is a mature process that has been used successfully to deposit a variety of coatings for many years, and has traditionally been one of the most promising technologies for cadmium replacement. It is non-embrittling and galvanically compatible with aluminum substrates. In addition, it has excellent high temperature properties and can be conversion coated. Corrosion resistance has been reported to be comparable to, or better than, cadmium in some environments.2,21 Alloying the IVD aluminum coating is reported to provide even better corrosion protection; IVD aluminum-magnesium alloys with 10% magnesium have demonstrated significant pitting corrosion protection.17 Past NDCEE work found that aluminum-tungsten and aluminum-molybdenum also demonstrated improved passivation over pure aluminum.6 As mentioned previously, Boeing has qualified IVD aluminum to replace cadmium on component parts made of low strength steel (less than 200 ksi), stainless steel, aluminum, and copper alloys. In a past TARDEC study, IVD aluminum demonstrated the best overall performance on aluminum connectors. Specifically, on MIL-C-38999 circular connectors, IVD aluminum performed similar to or better than cadmium, with lower shell-to-shell resistance, but slightly less corrosion resistance. It was noted that, on MIL-PRF-24308 D-subminiature connectors, cadmium demonstrated the best overall performance, with IVD aluminum being the best performing alternative. It was also noted that on MIL-C-83513 microminiature D-subminiature connectors, IVD aluminum was reported to have a significant drawback for use on these connectors. During the IVD process, aluminum coated the entire connector surface (including the phenolic material), causing the pins to be electrically continuous with each other and the connector shell, resulting in shorts and eventual connector failure. As seen above, there are numerous drawbacks to using IVD aluminum for electrical connector shells. These include the aforementioned overcoating issues, as well as high start-up and operations costs because the equipment that is used to apply this finish is expensive. Also, while IVD aluminum is not completely limited to line-of-sight coverage, the conventional process cannot "throw" into deep recesses on some parts—particularly holes.1, 5 There are some coating performance concerns as well. IVD aluminum coatings display a columnar structure with a high degree of porosity. As a result, the coatings must usually be glass-bead peened to densify the coating and alleviate porosity and corrosion concerns. The NDCEE found that IVD aluminum coatings, even with CCC, provide only marginal cyclic corrosion results19 (see Table 1), underscoring the importance of a dense aluminum coating. Also, like many pure aluminum coatings, IVD aluminum has also been reported to have poor wear resistance, and has demonstrated galling issues. The latter is a particular concern for electrical connectors; an aluminum-to-aluminum interface could result in excessive mating forces, or even unmateable connectors1 (the incorporation of dry film lubricants have been proposed to resolve this issue, but this would have an adverse effect on electrical connectivity). In summary, while IVD aluminum may be viable to replace cadmium in many applications, it is not anticipated to be a direct replacement for electrical connectors. In fact, an Air Force study has recognized that IVD aluminum will not easily replace more than about 50% of cadmium plating requirements.17 358

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