Although heat shields are not normally made to high dimensional tolerances, we make heat shields that go on steering thruster engines for satellites by electroforming in nickel as shown in “Light weight structures” before. These are extremely light weight with gold interiors to reflect the thermal energy.
The A J Tuck Co. made its début as a lamp manufacturer a hundred years ago, making beautiful decorative lamp bases of electroformed copper. We no longer make our own lamps, but do make decorative parts for others, some for lamps. We can make a reproduction of any image provided by making a silicone rubber reverse mold from that image, and then electroforming onto the rubber exactly replicating what was provided. Some images we have done are shown in this photo.
Heat exchangers for all sorts of applications, including rocket engines, can be made by machining grooves into a base metal, filling the grooves with wax, electroforming copper or nickel over the wax, bonding it to the base metal, then removing the wax leaving intricate channels throughout the structure. This makes a heat exchanger of any size or shape with complex cooling channels all of a single piece of metal with no braze or weld joints.
We electroform copper on Teflon tubes, which are then machined to form capacitors for MRI machines and others. We have a way of mechanically bonding electroformed copper to Teflon.
Precision metal duct work used to funnel air flows around jet engines can be made by electroforming nickel. The attached picture is one that we did, but they can make any shape and size as single parts without any seams, for any application. We have made tiny ones with nozzles for high speed printing of numbers on soda cans.
Copper EDM electrodes having intricate detail can be made by electroforming in copper. This picture shows an EDM electrode used for cutting an egg crate mold into hard steel.
Submarines require special valves that close off air sources silently so as not to be detected by enemy sonar. We make the difficultly dimensioned valve seats by machining the reverse image in aluminum and electroforming nickel.
For titanium clip applicators used in laparoscopic surgery, we use our hard nickel to make nickel belts that hold the titanium clips that are fed around and into an anvil pinching them off and sealing off internal vessels without stitching.
We make reflectors for aircraft landing lights, optical energy transmission and other uses by electroforming nickel on shiny, reusable stainless steel mandrels that we make here. We can also put gold on the mandrels first so the reflectors can have highly reflective gold coatings all over the insides without having to gold plate them afterwards.
Infra-red cameras and detectors are like digital cameras, only the pixel system is sensitive to the infrared spectrum instead of the visible light spectrum; a lower frequency than visible light in the Electromagnetic Spectrum. Also, putting a box around the pixel system (chip), as in a photo camera, won’t work because infrared energy, which is heat, will come right through the sides of the box. Also, all high end IR cameras and detectors operate at cryogenic temperatures, so the pixel system and surrounding items must be instantly cooled down, especially for military applications. We make thin walled metal shells that go over the pixel systems upon which the lenses are mounted called Coldshields. They must be metal and thin walled to cool down quickly. The outside surfaces must be gold plated to reflect IR energy coming in from the sides, and the interior surfaces must be blackened to absorb IR energy coming through the lens at an angle. Also, the interior surfaces must have complex geometric shapes with extremely accurate dimensions to achieve the “3 bounce rule” for dissipating any stray IR radiation entering the lens on an angle, so the pixel array only sees what the camera or sensor is aimed at, and is not blurred by stray radiation.
We make coldshields to customer’s designs per the attached photo. We also have a reflectance meter so we can record and send to our customers the IR reflectance data of the exterior gold coating and the IR absorbance of the interior black coating, both of which we supply.
Electroformed comparator gauges are used to determine surface finishes for all sorts of manufacturing processes, such as machining, grit blasting, etc., and can be made by simply electroforming nickel against the actual surface sample, then using that electroform as a mandrel to replicate the surface. We make flat visual gauges that replicate imperfections found on jet engine turbo vanes when the engines are being re-built. We make these by electroforming nickel against the actual defects cut from blades sent to us by the jet engine companies. The workers see these images on the gauges we make and written instructions tell them what to repair.
Many plastic items to be injection molded require surface detail that cannot be machined, such as golf club grips that look like wrapped leather. We electroform nickel on master images supplied by customers, machine the outsides to fit in their molding machines and remove the master images.
Many plastic items, such as doll heads and automobile arm rests, are made by roto-molding, where uncured liquid plastic such as PVC is put into a hollow mold which rotates in an oven curing the liquid as it sloshes around, forming a hollow plastic part with features exactly replicating the interior of the mold. Electroforming a master image in nickel and mounting it to a holding structure to go into a roto oven will result in parts that are direct replications of the master image made. We make roto-molds for all sorts of things from casino gambling machine decorations to medical dummies.
Some applications for coaxial cables require transmitting very high power RF energy, strong enough to melt the cables with Teflon inside because of the heat from its resistance. We build rigid coaxial cable assemblies using wax mandrels with the center conductors inside. The wax gets melted out after the exterior is electroformed in copper leaving just air between the center conductors and the walls, which has much lower resistance allowing the systems to function. In this picture a couple have been cut open to show how the center conductor is seated with Teflon spacers.
Microwave energy that is transmitted through air or space, must also be transmitted from the antenna to the mechanism that deciphers the information. This is usually done with a metal tube called a Waveguide that has internal dimensions relative to the physical band width size of the radio frequency energy passing through it. The higher the frequency, the smaller the RF band width and the waveguide tube dimension. Also, the RF engineers put geometric features inside the waveguides that alter the signal to do what they want it to. These features require very high precision dimensions. Most waveguides are made by assembling extruded tubing, castings, and machined parts, but for many really close tolerance and complex waveguides the only way to achieve the internal dimensions needed is by electroforming. We make a wide variety of microwave components for our customers including millimeter waveguides, filters, orthomode transducers, magic T’s, diplexers, mode converters and horn or dish antennas as seen in the attached photos, and have been doing this for air and space microwave transmission since the 1950’s. The smaller photo shows microwave antenna horns for receiving satellite TV on airplanes.