This year is not the centennial that H.C. Starck Solutions staff imagined, as the global civic, economic, and social climate continues to defy all logic. Our thoughts go out to the many businesses and industries suffering undue hardship as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, while also to all of our own who continue to show the grit and tenacity that made our company such a commanding force in the refractory metals sector.

We have celebrated 100 years of H.C. Starck by reflecting upon the plants and processes that have proven so integral to our success as the decades have gone by. This has become all the more pertinent throughout 2020 when showing gratitude to hard workers and celebrating success has become increasingly important.

This month, we are putting the spotlight on the Calne Facility in the UK, which has been synonymous with custom manufacturing for key growth markets for almost 50 years.

A Brief History of the Calne Plant

The Calne facility was founded in 1973 under the operating name Molypress Ltd. but it was not until ’78 that factory units were added to increase capacity and set up a molybdenum plating facility. Though fairly successful, the plant changed hands several times; SKW Trotsberg in 1988, CSM Industries a decade later. Finally, the refractory metals plant was brought into the H.C. Starck fold in the year 2000. It became a key part of the Fabricated Parts Group and eventually one of the foremost H.C. Starck Solutions sites in the UK.

Before that period of integration, however, there was an incident that almost undid decades of development. A fire caused by a malfunction of a neighboring electrical substation destroyed the new rhodium-, ruthenium-, electrolytic- and electroless nickel-plating line, chemical milling machines, belt furnace, x-ray fluorescent inspection equipment, and an assortment of jig and transportation trays. Heat and smoke heavily contaminated plating baths that escaped destruction in the fire. This eliminated any possibility of continuing to offer these services in-house in the medium term.

A short-term solution was to commission third-party manufacturers to take up the burden of supplying existing orders. It is one of the greatest commendations of the Calne plant that not one customer was lost during this period. It is a credit to all the employees at H.C. Starck Calne through planning, determination, and continuous development program, business not only recovered but also increased and improved. The Calne facility was eventually honored with a “Judges’ Special Award” at the 20th Best Factory Awards 2011, while additionally being recognized for its achievements in factory health and safety.

The Calne Facility Today

Today, the Calne site is renowned as the only manufacturer of molybdenum components with machining, fabricating, electroplating, and chemical machining capabilities on one site. Our comprehensive refractory metals fabrication capabilities allow us to manufacture to high tolerance, customized specifications through operations such as high speed, multi-tool, roll feed punching, and stamping in conjunction with wire erosion, laser and water jet cutting, CNC, DDG, lapping, de-burring, and polishing.

To support our machining and fabrication operations, we have one of Europe’s largest electroplating facilities specializing in ruthenium, rhodium, silver, gold, electroless and electrolytic nickel coatings held to thickness and flatness tolerances that are unmatched globally. Despite the array of refractory metal offerings available, Calne is the smallest manufacturing facility in the group. The team of 34 adheres to lean manufacturing methodologies while delivering top-quality services to all concerned customers. If you would like to learn more about our site, or any of the facilities covered in the 100 Years of Refractory Metals Expertise celebration, then contact a member of the H.C. Starck Solutions team today.