CREST Pilot Line: A resource for industry

Graph Engineering is an Irish-owned, family-run business with over 50 years’ experience specialising in the treatment of aluminium. Graph offers a high-capacity and rapid-turnaround anodising service. They specialise in sulphuric acid anodising, hard anodising, PTFE impregnation, chromate conversion,  spray coatings and dry film lubricants.

Anodising is a technique for forming protective oxide (anodic) layers on metal alloys such as aluminium and titanium. However. the bulk of titanium parts for the medical device industry are currently being anodised overseas. The CREST team has been working on anodic surfaces for more than 10 years, developing aesthetic coatings that enable the finish to withstand exposure to extreme pH conditions. Through an Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund project (ADAP), a pilot scale production line was built to investigate the new technology to support ongoing patent activity and to develop new projects with Irish companies.

Some of these coatings have been commercialised with Irish companies and are now in full scale production (e.g. Volvo XC60). Over the last 5 years the team has also developed new anodising techniques that can be introduced onto existing production lines. The pilot line built by CREST enabled Graph Engineering to work on trial parts for new customers without impinging upon the daily workload on their full production line.

With the analytical expertise in CREST, these new products can be then characterised by electron microscopy and accelerated corrosion testing according to recognised international standards. Based on this work in CREST, Graph has recently started providing a competitive servide in Ireland for Titanium anodising. This generated knowledge enable the team to join a consortium wioth SEAM (WIT), Shivo Medical and Stryker Orthopaedics working next generation 3-D printed medical devices. The consortium is funded under the recently funded Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund., annouced in December 2018.

 “Through work on the anodising line at CREST DIT we have been able to significantly improve efficiencies on our commercial process line.  These improvements have led directly to an increase in almost 55% on export sales to automotive industry clients and increase of 12% in employee numbers in R&D.” Dr Sive Geoghegan, CEO, Graph Engineering