Demonstration/Validation of Zinc-Nickel as Replacement for Cadmium/Cyanide Plating Process for Air Force Landing Gears

Mr. David Frederick | USAF Hill AFB



This project will demonstrate low hydrogen embrittlement (LHE) alkaline zinc-nickel (Zn-Ni) coatings as a replacement for cadmium (Cd) coatings. Cd is an inherently toxic metal that easily leaches and causes both short- and long-term human health effects. The innovative LHE Zn-Ni plating process represents a more environmentally acceptable alternative and meets or exceeds the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Department of Defense's (DoD) material requirements in lieu of Cd plating and aluminum ion vapor deposition (IVD).

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Technology Description

LHE Zn-Ni is a cyanide-free plating process that demonstrates excellent throwing power and meets the requirements for a non-embrittling process per American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Specification F519. The coating consists of a uniform zinc alloy containing 12-20% nickel and demonstrates excellent sacrificial corrosion protection for steels. This project will install a prototype production-ready LHE Zn-Ni plating line at Hill Air Force Base's landing gear overhaul facility for demonstration and validation of the plating process and provide landing gear components for field service evaluation.

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The LHE Zn-Ni process, as a direct replacement for Cd, will have a similar production cost. IVD aluminum is also a current DoD-wide alternative for Cd, limited to line of sight applications, but the equipment is very expensive to operate and maintain and has part size limitations. Implementation of the new process will result in cost savings resulting from the elimination of IVD aluminum and reduction of the regulatory requirements related to Cd. Another benefit is the elimination of cyanide, which is a large component of the Cd plating bath. The current plating process exposes maintenance personnel at depot facilities to toxic metals and cyanide. At field activities worldwide, problems also arise from the potential for Cd-laden wash down water to leach into local groundwater. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2015)

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Mr. David Frederick


Phone: 801-777-7352