Contributing to the growth of industry through plating technology for fine partsERG Co.,Ltd
With its headquarters located in Tomioka City, Gunma Prefecture, "ERG Co., Ltd." is known for its precision plating technology for semiconductor inspection equipment and fine parts used in automobiles. Through a corporate culture of responding to customer needs and passionate R&D featuring external partnerships, ERG has refined its technology to a level unrivaled by other companies. We spoke with Sojiro Kirihara, Senior Managing Director at ERG.
Highly acclaimed for plating on fine parts
Plating adds corrosion resistance, functionality, and decorativeness by adding a thin film of gold, silver, nickel, etc., on the surface of a metals such as iron. Plating is also used for parts such as connectors for connector terminals. This makes plating an essential technology for parts related to electronic equipment. In recent years, the miniaturization of equipment has resulted in the miniaturization of parts themselves. Amidst such circumstances, ERG has earned high acclaim for its plating technology for fine parts.
"ERG has a corporate culture of using repeated trial-and-error to respond to difficult requests from customers. While responding to individual requests, ERG has refined our plating technology for a wide range of fine parts. Examples include a pin with an outer diameter of 70 μm (1 μm = 0.001 mm), which is finer than the hair, a coil spring wound with a 13 μm diameter wire rod, various pipes, capped holes with non-penetrating holes, and indented goods."
For example, the inner surface plating of capped hole products requires more advanced technology as the hole diameter becomes smaller. There are other plating companies that respond to needs by opening horizontal holes in parts. However, ERG is capable of high-quality plating throughout the entirety of capped holes without the need for horizontal holes. This is possible even for holes with an aspect ratio* of 1:10, meaning that the depth of the hole is ten times the diameter. Furthermore, in the case of pipes with through holes, ERG supports an aspect ratio of 1:100.
*Ratio of hole diameter to hole depth
Protecting quality through constant benchmarks and reliable management technology
In order to further refine its plating technology, which it already considers to be among the best in the world, ERG works to identify market needs at exhibitions and other events, as well as to remain sensitive to parts miniaturization and technological trends at other companies. ERG is also implementing unique measures such as incorporating a netted plating method for the processing of springs, U-shaped parts, and other fine parts which are easily entangled. The netted plating method features techniques used when making Japanese washi paper.
A turning point for ERG came about 20 years ago when it decided to focus on research and development to meet the needs of microfabrication. The company is also focusing on improving the work environment in order to shift the widespread image of plating work from dirty work performed in high boots and an apron to a process performed by technicians in white lab coats.
"Focusing on improving the work environment also helped us to improve the quality of our products. Electroplating is a technology that uses an external power supply to cause a chemical reaction in a product to precipitate a metal. The key to achieving high accuracy is to properly control the pH of the plating solution and the concentration of metal components. Our efforts to improve total management skills, including the working environment, have also led to improved quality."'
Employees wearing white lab coats work in a well-maintained work environment
Taking on the challenge of new fields by collaborating with aspiring companies
In collaboration with universities such as Shinshu University, Gunma University, and Kanto Gakuin University, ERG is researching chemical solutions for plating and processing technologies for difficult materials such as tungsten, stainless steel, and titanium.
"Tungsten is also used in inspection equipment for semiconductor manufacturing. At that time, the value of parts is increased by heightening the conductivity through plating. However, since the wire diameter is as thin as several dozen microns and it is easily deformed, the difficulty of processing increases accordingly."
Plating has also significantly contributed to the advancement of IT technology by improving the functionality of components. Based on the desire to take on any challenges related to fine part plating for metal materials, ERG seeks to expand the range of its activities through collaboration with processing-based manufacturing companies. Now, the company is focusing the medical field.
"For example, if gold can be plated directly on a material without using nickel, the material can be used for medical devices inserted into the human body. This will bring new approaches to medical institutions. ERG would like to take on challenges in new fields together with customers who have similar aspirations."
ERG Co., Ltd.
Senior Managing Director Sojiro Kirihara
ERG was established in 1947 as Kirihara Mekki Kogyosho Co., Ltd. The company specializes in precision plating of fine parts. Parts processed by ERG are used in a wide range of industrial fields such as electricity, communications, and automotive sensors. ERG is also actively engaged in the research and development of plating technology. The company has its own dedicated technical staff and prototype lines, and responds carefully to customer needs.
Coverage date February 3, 2020
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