Grinding Chrome-Plated Pistons for Aircraft Landing Gear

A new customer turned to Duval Precision Grinding for OD grinding on aircraft components after a different grinding provider had worked on the parts but failed to deliver the desired result. Our engineering team worked with the client to identify the production issues causing the problem. This allowed us to ensure that operations were executed to the client’s specifications under a strictly managed precision grinding process.

The project required OD grinding on chrome-plated pistons that would be used as part of the landing gear hydraulic system. Given DPG’s extensive experience with chrome-plating OD grinding of hydraulic components, landing gear, and nuclear and turbine engine parts, we were confident that we could manage the job. Though we weren’t certain of the part’s exact use, we knew it would be operating in an environment with hot hydraulic oil.

The Challenge of Grinding Chrome Plated Parts

One of the biggest issues was the chrome plating itself. The chrome had been masked improperly, causing irregular thicknesses and a high likelihood that the edges would chip during the grinding process. Our grinding and process engineering experts worked collaboratively with the customer to identify opportunities to correct the excess chrome issue during the manufacturing process. It was somewhat complex, with five landing ODs, three were around Ø1” & 2 were around Ø1.250”. With a total length of four inches, tolerances of 0.0005” total and a surface finish of 16 microinches or better.

While this was a severe case, the issue of excess chrome on a part is somewhat common. To limit the chrome application on specific surfaces, the steel base metal needed to be masked for plating using wax or a hard masking. Additionally, the timing of the chrome application must be precise to ensure a chrome layer that does not exceed the desired thickness. If the part spends too much time in the electroplating bath, the chrome grows beyond the edges, creating a part with a brittle, uneven chrome coating. Though there are ways to mitigate these issues, they typically show up due to decisions made for time or cost savings during the manufacturing process, which simply passes the buck to the grinder who will attempt to clean up the excess chrome. 

Corrective Process Engineering Delivers Successful Results on Chrome Pistons

A better method is to communicate with your grinding vendor during the planning and engineering stages of the project to ensure that the production process will set the stage for successful grinding and produce a part that exceeds expectations.

The client was relieved that we were able to help refine the production process and rescue the part from a potential manufacturing disaster. Our ability to overcome obstacles while delivering precision and quality is the reason many of our customers choose to work with us. We apply decades of precision grinding experience to help you achieve the most challenging tolerances every time. Do you have a project demanding the highest level of precision grinding know-how? Request a quote from Duval Precision Grinding today!

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