Etching specialist positions itself at forefront of future technologies

2 mins read

Precision manufactured components in Telford are being increasingly used in the next generation of electric cars, medical components and for use in vehicles involved in space exploration.

Advanced Chemical Etching (ACE) has bounced back from Covid-19 disruption to post an impressive 17% sales rise on pre-pandemic turnover and is now targeting £10m in sales by 2024 after enjoying an increase in demand for prototypes, pre-production and low to medium volume parts.

Located in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility on Hortonwood 33, the company has had to take on new staff to cater for interest in its service, including five new production operatives and a current recruitment drive to employ three sales staff to cover domestic and international sales.

This will take the total number of staff to nearly 60 and complements a £850,000 investment drive in boosting material stock, new autoloading technology and the latest etching machine.

Chris Ball, Executive Director at ACE, commented: “Growth has been driven by a mix of existing and new customers increasing requirements thanks to our excellent service levels and quality and delivery performance, which is one of the best in the industry.

“The sectors that are really tapping into our etching capability and the exacting precision this provides are electrical vehicles, fuel cell technologies, specialist engineering, medical components and space vehicles. Yes, a small SME in Telford is helping international customers with quick delivery of etched parts for many new energy applications.

He continued: “Thanks to the hard work of our amazing staff we have come through the pain of Covid-19 in good shape and made the decision early on to try to offset supply chain disruption by increasing our stock of stainless steel, copper, nickel and titanium alloys.

“This is already paying dividends as we can offer clients lead times that few of our rivals can match. Speed to market is so important and we deliver that.”

ACE specialises in the development of precision components to customers in more than 25 countries, spanning aerospace, space, general engineering, automotive, electronics, medical, telecoms and renewables.

The scope of its activities is far and wide and can include anything from safety critical components for aircraft and F1 cars to meshes and electronic connectors, battery interconnectors, fuel cell bi-polar plates and heat exchangers.

All parts are developed and manufactured at its main site in Telford or at the company’s dedicated sister business, ACE Forming Limited, in Kingswinford.

It works to the most exacting tolerances and can manufacture components in materials, such as stainless steel, nickel alloys, copper, beryllium copper, phosphor bronze, brass and, thanks to new processes, aluminium, molybdenum, titanium, nitinol and elgiloy.

Ian Whateley, Managing Director at ACE, concluded: “In 2022 we have a sales plan of increasing business by 15% for both UK and international customers, as well as making sure we maximise our investment in new etching machines that will increase our capacity and ensure consistency of process.

“So far, Brexit hasn’t really caused us an issue. If anything, our international customers have increased orders with us after we left the EU and, in most cases, this is because we can take on complex projects that a lot of firms will simply not touch.”