Airline & Aerospace Finishing

Recommended Time & Experience:  The CAF Prep Course and Exam covers advanced processes and techniques that require a strong Foundation in chemistry and math only provided through work experience and/or specialized training.   

The course and exam are structured for an individual who has at least 3 years’ experience in the Aerospace or the Surface Finishing industry.  A two-year degree or higher in a STEM related program is helpful but not required.   

Description:  This course will provide a broad range of information related to metal finishing operations that are common in the Airline/Aerospace industry. 

Designed For:  Individuals working in a facility following NADCAP standards.  It is recommended, but not limited to individuals in the following positions: Quality & Plating Management; Vendors and Suppliers of Chemistry & Equipment on the commercial and technical level; Technical Specialists (R&D, Lab) within Aerospace. 

Course Content Level:  Advanced (300 level)  

Approx Hours to Complete:  40 Hours 

Learning Objectives:  Those completing this course and/or earning the CAF certification are able to demonstrate: 

  • Expertise in each step of the surface finishing process related to the aerospace industry from preparation & manufacturing to final inspection. 
  • The ability to anticipate, recognize, diagnose, troubleshoot, and correct surface finishing discrepancies, anomalies, or defects‎. 
  • Competence in matching plating strategy to the end-use application and environment.  

Course Options

  • In-Person 

    Dates: June 4-7, 2024
    Registration Deadline: May 23, 2024
    Location: Atlanta, GA
    Member: $2,050 | Non-Member: $2,450

Course Description Part 1

1. Electroplating Basics
This lesson presents basic chemistry, electrochemistry and electricity principles. It introduces the student to the concepts of atomic structure, valence, atomic and molecular weights, pH, and chemical equations. Students will also learn how to make basic electroplating calculations such as plating time, current density, and area of parts.
2. Corrosion of Metals
This lesson provides basic corrosion principles related to a variety of corrosion mechanisms, including chemical attack, galvanic corrosion, stress corrosion cracking, filiform corrosion, and fretting corrosion. A discussion of the corrosion of commonly employed electrodeposits, including cadmium, copper, hard chromium and nickel is provided.
3. Hydrogen Embrittlement

This lesson will cover basic principles involved in the creation and elimination of hydrogen embrittlement effects of high strength-low alloy steels. Covered are:

  • Hydrogen embrittlement mechanism
  • Mitigation methods
  • Operational conditions that minimize the problem
4. Metals & Alloys Utilized in Aerospace
Issues related to the types of parts processed and the types of alloys that they are made from are detailed here. HSLA Steels, Stainless Steels, Aluminum alloys, high temperature alloys, titanium and magnesium are covered. A review of hydrogen embrittlement causes and remedies is also provided.
5. Chemical Surface Preparation of Substrates for Plating Substrates

In this lesson, students will learn various methods of cleaning parts prior to plating and other finishing processes. Included are:

  • Vapor Degreasing
  • Acid Pickling & Etching
  • Sulfuric Acid (70% v/v)
  • Sulfuric-Hydrofluoric Acid Immersion or Anodic Etch
  • Nitric-Hydrofluoric Acid Immersion or Anodic Etch
  • Hydrochloric Acid (Immersion / Electrolytic Treatments)
  • Chromic Acid (Reverse Etch)
  • Alkaline Electrocleaning (Immersion /Anodic/Periodic Reverse Treatments)
  • Preparation Methods for
    • Steel
    • Stainless Steels
    • High Strength Steels
    • Bronze
    • Nickel base super alloys
    • Chromium plated surfaces
    • Nickel Plated Surfaces
    • Aluminum
  • Strike Solutions
  • Woods Nickel Chloride Strike
  • Sulfamate Nickel Chloride Strike
  • Copper Cyanide Strike
  • Silver Strike
6. Mechanical Surface Preparation

This lesson covers mechanical means of preparing parts for surface finishing. Included are:

  • Dry Abrasive Blasting
  • Aluminum Oxide
  • Glass Beads
  • Plastic Media
  • Vapor Blast (Vapor Honing)
  • Pumice/ Scotch Brite – Hand Scrub
7. Masking Techniques

This lesson covers methods employed for selective plating. Included are:

  • Lacquers
  • Waxes
  • Tapes
  • Hot Melts
  • Proprietary Films
  • Plated metal or Anodic Films
  • Permanent Masking methods
8. Quality Conformance Testing

This lesson covers the more commonly conducted QA/QC tests used in aerospace:

  • Hydrogen Embrittlement Testing
  • Tensile
  • Step
  • Lawrence Gauge
  • Adhesion
  • Salt Spray
  • Hull Cell
  • Surface Tension Measurements
  • Plating Thickness
  • Copper Sulfate Testing for Passivation
  • Stress Tests
  • Hardness
  • Ductility
  • Porosity
  • Cleanliness
  • Surface Temper Inspection
  • Nital Etch
  • Ammonium Persulfate Etch
9. Plating Solution Maintenance

This lesson details the most common methods of maintaining and purifying electroplating solutions, including:

  • Filtration
  • Carbon treatment
  • Chemical Additions
  • Solution Analysis
  • Electrolytic Treatments
10. Chem Film

This lesson provides guidance for processing parts to achieve a high-quality chem film coating on these substrates:

  • Aluminum Alloys
  • Magnesium Alloys
  • Cadmium Alloys
11. Zinc and Manganese Phosphating
This lesson provides operational and trouble-shooting guidance for zinc and manganese phosphate coatings applied in the aerospace industry.

Course Description Part 2

12. LHE Zinc-Nickel Alloy Plating
This lesson provides chemistry, operation and troubleshooting guidance for the zinc-nickel plating process designated by Boeing as an alternative to the low embrittlement cadmium plating process.
13. Cadmium Ti-Cad and Nickel-Cad Diffused Coatings
This lesson explores the chemistry, operational conditions, purification and troubleshooting of cyanide cadmium plating processes used in aerospace finishing.
14. Copper & Silver Plating
This lesson will provide the chemistry, operational conditions, purification and troubleshooting of cyanide copper and cyanide silver plating processes as used in aerospace finishing. Also included is guidance on operating strike solutions.
15. Sulfamate & Nickel Strike Plating
This lesson provides the chemistry, operational conditions, purification and troubleshooting of sulfamate nickel plating processes as used in aerospace finishing. Also included is guidance on operating nickel strike solutions.
16. Hard Chromium Plating
This lesson covers the chemistry, operational conditions, purification and troubleshooting of commonly used hard chromium plating processes.
17. Anodizing Aluminum
This lesson covers the major anodizing processes used in aerospace, including Type I Chromic, Type II Sulfuric, Type III Hardcoat and alternates to chromic such as thin film Sulfuric Type IIB, and Sulfuric-boric Type IC. Solution chemistries, best operational practices and control practices are covered.
18. Electroless Nickel Deposition
This lesson provides the chemistry, operational conditions, purification and troubleshooting of electroless nickel plating processes used in aerospace finishing.
19. Brush Plating
This lesson will provide operational guidance for obtaining sound plated deposits on selected areas of a part by using brush plating methods.
20. Stripping
This lesson covers the chemistry and operational conditions used in stripping typical aerospace coatings.
21. Thermal Spray & PVD

This lesson will provide basic information on the most common alternatives to electroplating:

  • HVOF Spray
  • Vacuum Deposition