The factory, which treats the surface of plastics, invests in improved energy efficiency and larger volumes of goods
In February 2022, Provexa acquired the surface treatment company Plating on Plastic in Anderstorp, which is the only plant in Sweden that performs electrolytic surface treatment of plastic and the only one in the Nordic countries that also meets requirements for outdoor use of the surface-treated products. The company is now investing in improved energy efficiency and larger volumes of goods.
After the acquisition a little over a year ago, Plating on Plastic is now fully integrated into Provexa under the Galvano business area. The company did not lose either customers nor staff and has also managed to increase turnover significantly.
– I have worked here for 20 years and after a few years of negative development, we really saw a new spark when Provexa came in as owner, says Gordana Krklinska, Quality and Environment manager.
At Provexa’s facility in Anderstorp, plastic materials are surface treated with metallic surface treatments, usually through various types of chrome plating. A nickel layer is placed under the chrome layer, which among other things determines which finish is obtained. For most of the production, bright nickel plating is used, which gives a shiny surface layer. In addition to glossy nickel, they also produce matte and satin nickel, which can, for example, give a silky matte finish. Chrome-plated plastic is used on various parts on a vehicle’s exterior, which places high demands on corrosion properties and adhesion.
Today, Provexa is the only surface finisher in the Nordics that has processes that meet the automotive industry’s strict requirements. Plumbing and other industries are growing, but the automotive industry is the largest customer group, which is reflected in the company’s quality system.
– We are one of the few surface treatment plants that are certified for the requirements of IATF 16949, which is significantly more demanding than an ISO 9001 certification, says site manager Robin Hamic.
New added values
The fact that the factory in Anderstorp is now part of the Provexa Group means several new opportunities that can be offered to customers. Provexa in Gothenburg has a large range of surface treatment processes on metals and Provexa Technology has a well-equipped laboratory and performs tests and provides various consulting services.
– All ongoing control of processes and surface treatments is handled by the staff in Anderstorp, but if more complex issues arise, the expertise of Provexa Technology is available, Marketing manager Kristoffer Skalsky emphasizes.
There are also more possibilities for combining surface treatments. Once a conductive layer has been created on plastic parts, the surface treatment can continue in Gothenburg if, for example, a customer wants a layer of gold or silver on their parts. Earlier this year, the company started up a new route of transporting customers’ goods, with a truck that runs between Gothenburg, Karlstad and Karlskoga. The ambition is to expand the route to also include the factory in Anderstorp and customers in more locations.
Hexavalent chrome on its way out
Today, hexavalent chromium is used both in the pre-treatment and in the chrome-plating bath itself. Although there is no hexavalent chromium on the products after the surface treatment, the company is working to change both processes.
– We are in dialogue with two of our suppliers to be able to replace the chromic acid bath, which we use to etch the plastic, and we estimate that we will have an alternative tested and ready at the beginning of next year, says Robin Hamic.
Changing to trivalent chrome plating does not involve any technical difficulties as Provexa in Gothenburg has used trivalent chrome plating since 2001.
– We are very familiar with the technology with trivalent chrome plating, but before we can make the change in Anderstorp, we have to agree with our automotive customers on requirements for both appearance and corrosion properties, says Oscar Hultmark, business area manager Galvano at Provexa.
Improvement in energy efficiency
A lot of money is invested to get a more energy efficient facility. To reduce the need for heating, the factory roof has been additionally insulated, high-speed doors have been installed and work is underway to replace gas heating with geothermal heating.
– We are investing significant amounts in Anderstorp and expect to halve the energy cost as part of our sustainability work, says Kristoffer Skalsky.
Provexa assesses that there are great opportunities to increase goods volumes. Already today there are several interesting projects which hopefully mean that production can increase to two shifts this autumn. Today, vehicles and plumbing are the dominant industries, both of which want a durable and attractive surface, something that is also in demand in other industries. Surface treatment of plastics can also be done to obtain electrically conductive surfaces, for example for shielding of electromagnetic radiation. Solderability is another example of properties that customers demand.
– The market for plastic injection molding in Sweden is large and we want to be the customer’s first choice when the parts are to be plated. Our quality, communication and short lead times mean that the growth potential is significantly great. In addition, there is the possibility of taking business outside Sweden’s borders, Oscar Hultmark believes.
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Business area manager and sales at Galvano