What is Net-Shape Electroforming?
Electroforming has been used to create exact metal replicas of various shapes and textures since 1838. It is an electroplating technology, in which a thick metal layer is deposited onto a mandrel, or original to be replicated, and is subsequently separated from it. The part thus obtained is called an electroform. The main advantage of electroforming lies in the process's atomic nature, assuring replication fidelity unmatched by any other technology.
Over the years, electroforming has progressed to using nickel rather than copper as the primary material, and has played a crucial role in producing coins and banknotes, LP records, CD disks and molded plastic holographic images. But neither copper nor nickel possess the tensile strength and elasticity that high-grade steels can offer, and both are insufficiently hard and wear resistant. Therefore, electroformed articles in applications requiring high mechanical properties have found only limited use. Historically, most electroforms required post machining because the deposited layer was neither smooth nor uniform enough in thickness. This increased the cost of electroformed items and hindered competitiveness of electroforming as a manufacturing method.
NiCoForm addressed these two limitations of electroforming at the same time by developing a new family of high strength electroformable Nickel-Cobalt alloys, NiColoy®. NiColoy® has mechanical properties that match the best modern engineering metals and can be electroformed stress-free to the near-net shape of the desired object. Virtually eliminating post-machining, the use of this proprietary alloy is for the first time transforming electroforming into a cost-effective manufacturing method for a wide range of engineering applications.