(l-r) Ian Whateley and Chris Ball of Advanced Chemical Etching

A Telford precision engineering specialist is now trading 10% above pre Covid-19 levels after it recorded its largest ever monthly intake of orders.

Advanced Chemical Etching (ACE), which employs 54 people at its facility at Hortonwood, has seen volumes in the automotive and aerospace sectors increase rapidly, alongside exciting new opportunities for its titanium, copper and aluminium etching expertise in the race for electrification.

The latter lends itself perfectly for battery interconnects, so important to the development of energy management in existing and future electric vehicles.

With turnover 30% up on last year, the firm has also pressed the button on a new recruitment campaign to find several new production engineers.

“The pandemic put us on pause, but we’re now seeing strong signs of growth with aerospace picking up and renewed interest for our manufacturing capabilities in automotive, electronics and medical,” commented Ian Whateley, Managing Director at ACE.

“Our sales are back above what we were doing at the start of 2020 and, interestingly, we’re doing a lot more in the EU, with 15 new clients already secured in Germany. Many of them are tapping into the lightweighting opportunities our etching can deliver and this is something we are actively looking to explore in the coming months.”

He continued: “We’re looking to develop the business to hit £10m in three years and then £12m by 2026. The process improvements we implemented during the lockdown have given us the capacity to manufacture well over 1000 sheets per day, that’s a 30% increase from before we entered the pandemic.”

ACE specialises in the development of prototype components, pre-production and volume fulfilment to customers in aerospace, space, precision 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 groundbreaking new processes, aluminium, molybdenum, titanium, nitinol and elgiloy.

Chris Ball, Executive Director at ACE, went on to add: “To support the recent process improvements we’ve made, we’ve just signed off on a £500,000 investment that will see us acquire additional etching machines, new metrology capabilities and an increase in material stockholding.”

He concluded: “There has also been the purchase of a new CNC machine that will support our ability to offer domestic and international customers the chance to benefit from both etching and machining of precision components.”