In recent years, there has been speculation that the US aerospace industry will phase out cadmium by 2023, however the survey from SIFCO ASC found that only 23% of respondents think they will actually be cadmium free within the next five years. What’s more, just under half of respondents performing corrosion protection touch-ups and repairs do not feel that they have the necessary resources to make an informed decision on a cadmium alternative. When asked why, 100% cited “lack of credible resources and documentation.”
SIFCO ASC provides both Cadmium LHE and Zinc-Nickel LHE touch-up kits to leading OEM and MRO companies in the field, and also works to find suitable alternatives for the future. Even though decades of research indicate that zinc-nickel can be a reliable alternative to cadmium in the aerospace sector, two thirds of respondents who plate cadmium cite aerospace specifications and prime’s requirements as their biggest barriers to phasing it out.
More than 50% of respondents who plate cadmium believe they have no other option for corrosion protection, as one stated, “We are dependent upon what the [original equipment] manufacturer specifies when it comes to corrosion resistant plating. Until the manufacturer allows alternatives, our hands are tied.”
However, Scott Peterson, Training manager at SIFCO ASC, is already heavily involved in bringing a cadmium alternative to the OEM and MRO markets. He said: “What this survey really shows is that there is much hesitation across the industry on this topic. The majority of respondents who don’t think the deadline will be met say the reason is a lack of alternatives, but we believe that this highlights a need for more knowledge sharing and collaboration to provide the level of confidence needed to make the change.”
To aid the industry in sourcing credible, detailed and up-to-date research on cadmium and its alternatives, SIFCO ASC has created an online Cadmium Knowledge Hub where its technical experts will regularly share a variety of content on the topic such as manufacturer testing reports and academic research papers. The site also encourages any other professionals in the industry to submit their own findings in order to help the industry move forward on this issue.
Peterson added: “We are working with a number of leaders in the field and finding that zinc-nickel can even outperform cadmium in some instances. When used with the right conversion coating, the corrosion protection of zinc-nickel is even more impressive. The changes are happening in some areas but the industry needs to come together and share best practices so that cadmium can finally be phased out.”