TriCom Alternative Coatings Overview

What is TriCom?

TriCom is an alternative coating based on a composite microstructure that consists of either a binary or tertiary alloy matrix, depending on the application needs. This environmentally benign electrocoating can be engineered for different applications by changing the electrolytic process parameters, bath chemistry, and/or heat treatment. This provides manufacturers with complete control over what protective properties they need.

With new environmental regulations continuing to be introduced, more and more manufacturers are learning about the advantages of TriCom alternative coatings and shifting their production to USC Technologies.

Features & Benefits of TriCom Alternative Coating

No hazardous waste stream, reduced energy requirements, reduced CO₂ emissions and free of hexavalent chrome.

Why was TriCom developed?

To stay ahead of the global push for eco-friendly plating solutions, and while looking to the future, our research and development team set out to invent an advanced, environmentally safe metal finish. The original goal was to create a solution that provided similar benefits to industrial hard chrome, without the hazardous waste, and could replace it in the field.

What was created, was the most innovative alternative coating technology that, with minimal effort, can be tailored to fit the protective requirements of the parts and components it would be applied to. Essentially, a new family of alternative coatings, TriCom, that will replace hard chrome, electroless nickel, HVOF, nitride, and many other surface finish technologies.

Chromium Alternative

Manufacturers have been looking for a competitive chromium alternative for decades. Restrictions on hard chrome, from OSHA (US) and RoHS & REACH (EU), due to its chemical toxins, have made its use complicated. TriCom is a viable hard chrome alternative plating due to its excellent wear resistance, superior ductility, and ability to achieve a similar hardness through heat treatment.

Superior sliding wear characteristics are achieved from the ceramic particles that are dispersed within the alloy matrix. Mating materials “ride” on the hard particles, giving surfaces treated with TriCom chromium alternative up to 5x longer life when compared to hard chrome.

In addition, TriCom offers superior oxidation resistance compared to chromium. Chromium begins to soften and lose its oxidation resistance around 400° to 425° C eliminating it as a wear coating when exposed to conditions over this threshold. TriCom alternative coating exhibits excellent oxidation resistance at sustained temperatures of 650° C (with limited exposures up to 800° C) while retaining its excellent wear resistance.

Electroless Nickel Alternative

Electroless nickel plating offers excellent corrosion resistance, heat mitigation, and coating uniformity. As a result, electroless nickel has been widely used as a surface finish when these characteristics are required. TriCom electroless nickel alternative coatings have these same benefits but provide a substantial improvement in each category.  

As a single layer barrier coating, TriCom alternative coatings exceed the current corrosion protection that electroless nickel offers. The surface coating is fully dense and crack-free which eliminates the possibility of elements reaching the base material to corrode the application. Each coating is applied uniformly, even on complex shapes with slots, holes, and small inner diameters. In addition, TriCom has a lower long-term cost due to the price of materials and reduced plating time.

HVOF Alternative

TriCom coatings are frequently used as an HVOF alternative. One of the main reasons why TriCom alternative coatings are preferred over HVOF spray is because of the coating’s ability to be applied to non-line-of-sight (NLOS) areas such as the inner diameter of a component. Unlike HVOF spray, and other thermal spray coating technologies, TriCom HVOF coating alternative can be coated to near net shape with no distortion of the component during the coating process. It is widely used as an anti-fretting, oxidation resistant wear coating on delicate thin-walled static seals used in gas turbine engines.

Why is corrosion resistance better with TriCom Alternative Coatings?

Coated as a single layer barrier, TriCom alternative coatings are fully dense and crack-free. The wear-resistant coating will bend and deflect with the part that it is applied to, therefore lowering the chance of delamination. This results in a significantly reduced chance of corrosion and increased life in the field.

How does the TriCom plating process work?

TriCom coatings are applied using an electrolytic plating process which has a deposition rate 4x faster than chrome. This results in 1/5 the energy consumption and reduces CO₂ emissions by the same. A rack holds the part that is to be coated and is immersed in an aqueous bath. An electrical current is then applied at the contact points.

The process is capable of coating net form shapes including external and internal diameters/surfaces. As with other electroplating processes, TriCom tends to lightly build up on sharp edges and fade in deep corners.

What industries are already using TriCom Alternative Coatings?

USC Technologies innovative TriCom coatings and processes have been able to solve several unique issues within the electroplating industry. Our chemical engineering team creates variations of TriCom that are tailored to enhance our client’s needs. While TriCom is currently used on applications in almost every industry, the major industries that we work within are Aerospace, Agriculture, Alternative Energy, Hydraulics, and Marine.

Has TriCom been tested and proven?

TriCom has been examined after thousands of tests including pre-qualification testing, Taber wear testing, ASTM G65 abrasive wear testing, ASTM B368 and ASTM B117 salt spray corrosion testing.

In ASTM B117 testing, TriCom lasted 2500 hours with zero degradation. In ASTM B368 testing, TriCom lasted 330 hours. Both tests were terminated at these points due to time, not due to any failure.

What environmental impacts does TriCom have?

When compared to other popular surface finishes, TriCom alternative coatings reduce CO₂ emissions, reduce energy demand, and create zero hazardous waste streams.

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