Worldwide, the home appliance market is growing rapidly. This is because of increased levels of disposable income in many countries. The home appliance market is also changing; the widespread production of ‘smart’ home appliances is dramatically on the increase. This is very good news for those in the plating industry, as the electronics that make these appliances ‘smart’ need extra plated components.
Below, Matt Kreiner from Hitachi High Tech shares his thoughts on the importance of getting your quality control processes right and this growth opportunity.
What Makes an Appliance Smart?
Typically, a smart appliance incorporates a type of functionality that permits the user to interact with it using a smartphone. The connection is usually established via the household WiFi. Some examples of this include seeing if you’re about to run out of milk by using an in-built camera in your fridge, seeing where in the washing cycle your washing machine is, or monitoring if your dishwasher is running low on salt.
The ability to control the appliance via a phone promises to deliver ease-of-use and convenience to the consumer. It is driven by appliance manufacturers producing new features to stand out in a competitive market, and homeowners are buying into this technology in droves.
By 2020 an estimated 470 million smart home appliances will be installed around the world, with China accounting for half. This is a massive growth over the global 1 million units installed in 2014.
Take-up is continuing to increase as more manufacturers incorporate smart technology in their products. As an example, over the next five years the smart washing machine market is predicted to see 22% growth with 131 million installed globally by 2020.
The ability to connect the appliance to the household WiFi connection is at the core of this technology. This relies on extra communication electronics incorporated into the appliance. These electronics require supported plated components, such as mounts, pins, connectors, and harnesses. This is boosting the already increasing demand for plated connectors, by 2023 the global connector market is anticipated to hit an estimated $80.4 billion.
These connectors plus the other supporting components are all usually plated with nickel, gold, silver or tin, by utilizing immersion or electroless plating techniques. These are established methods within the plating industry, which means that without investing in new plating technologies, plating suppliers can take advantage of the increase in connector demand.
Improved Accuracy and Faster Throughput with XRF
The industry standard method for calculating plating thickness of deposited metal layers is XRF analysis. It is crucial to get the thickness of the plating correct – too much and the process becomes too costly; not enough and the underlying material is at risk of corrosion, or if the plating is cosmetic, it will look unsightly.
The detector type, setup, software, and calibration of your XRF equipment all have an effect on the speed and accuracy of your measurement process. One of the simplest ways to improve both speed and accuracy is to utilize a fixture which has been specially made.
This solution can ensure you place the sample in exactly the correct position every time, and on-screen guidelines make it simpler for an operator to line up the sample. This means installing and lining up components for thickness measurements is easy and quick.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.
For more information on this source, please visit Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.