The heart of our company is in its manufacturing operations. It binds together each of our departments with the common goal of customer satisfaction. The system is ever flexible to enable products to be easily custom tailored to meet specific needs and yet delivered in a timely fashion like a standard product.
An integrated bar code system tracks all inventory and work in process. It enables us to optimize production planning and to instantly pinpoint an open order’s status or available uncommitted inventory.
Records of all products shipped are maintained with the sales order for traceability and customer support. The documents include bill of materials, drawings released for the order, a copy of the product label, purchase order and all related correspondence.
Several grades of surface finishes are available depending upon the product series. The AP series has a 15, 10, 7 and 5 available conservatively measured in micro inches to a Ra max protocol. The AZ is standard with a 10 Ra and optional 25 Ra finish, also in micro inches. The AK and KT have coarser finishes appropriate for their applications of 64 Ra micro inch. A surface profilometer is used to verify a product’s surface profile on measurable wetted surfaces while microscopes are used to insure a burr and void free wetted area. An electropolishing and passivation step completes the surface treatment process for all of our AP and AZ products. A post EP visual inspection verifies previous inspections and the EP process. Surface chemistries are routinely analyzed and verified by an independent lab.
The primary materials of construction are secondary remelt (VAR) 316L stainless steel, single melt 316L stainless steel, Hastelloy C-22® and brass. Material heat lot codes are permanently marked on the UHP products and mill certifications are maintained in company records.
Surface treatment is as important a factor as the base material in achieving the desired surface chemistry and morphology. All of our AP and AZ products are, therefore, each fully electropolished and passivated with great care prior to assembly. The process line is located in a controlled area adjoining the cleanroom. It combines multiple cleaning and rinsing stations to properly prepare the parts prior to electropolishing, multi-step rinsing after both electropolishing and passivation with a blow dry station as a finishing touch.
Custom tailored rack systems enable a full internal surface treatment. Adjacent labs support the process, a chemical lab for bath analysis and a quality assurance lab to monitor the results. Hazardous waste has been virtually eliminated with a high volume distillation system to reclaim rinse water. The distilled water separated by the boiling process is recycled and used in our HVAC cooling tower. The resulting hazardous waste is properly handled with incineration and disposal. A unique containment system is built into the foundation of the building which enables catastrophic spills, however unlikely, to be captured and treated.
The water deionization system is constructed with butt welded PVDF piping and a constant circulating loop free of dead legs. The water quality is ensured by the double pass reverse osmosis system design with filtration to 0.1 micron. Water purity is carefully maintained through routine monitoring and testing. Resistivity is constantly monitored at 18 meg Ohm at multiple points in the system. An on-line analyzer monitors the total organic carbon (TOC) level of the system and water samples are routinely tested for other impurities.
A 10,000 square foot (1,000 square meter) certified Class 100 cleanroom is the cornerstone of our cleaning, welding, assembly, test and primary packaging operations. High efficiency ULPA filters are installed throughout the cleanroom with increased coverage to achieve Class 10 in key areas.
Particle tests are routinely performed at bench top level during production to ensure a ‘clean’ environment. Workbenches have perforated stainless steel table tops for laminar air flow. Particle generating equipment, such as welding power supplies and leak detectors, are either bulk-head mounted or located in a controlled service chase. Testing gases are delivered via a high purity piping system. All piping is below bench top level and valving is air actuated to minimize operator handling.
AP Tech’s custom engineered cleaning process combines an aqueous biodegradable wetting agent and dispersant solution with deionized (DI) water and ultrasonic agitation. All traces of the cleaning solution are removed through exhaustive extraction with 18 meg Ohm hot and cold DI water until a proper effluent resistivity is attained in the rinse drain water. Not only does this method virtually eliminate water-soluble residues, it also reduces particulate matter, ionics and hydrocarbon residues to unprecedented low levels. The cleaned parts are individually blow dried and then baked dry to eliminate volatile residues. During the bake-out process, contaminants are continually purged from the oven with ultra pure nitrogen (N2) and parts are left to cool naturally prior to being removed from the N2 environment.
As with other operations, the utmost care is exercised in the welding process. We utilize the most advanced techniques available to assure weld purity, full penetration and consistency. Welding is performed with custom computer controlled lathes that rotate the part to be welded rather than the heat source. This fully integrated and automated system enables complete control over the welding process and weld uniformity.
An Nd:YAG laser augments the Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) lathe welding in addition to TIG orbital heads. The laser achieves full penetration with a significantly smaller weld bead width and heat effected zone as compared to a conventional TIG weld. The laser is utilized for difficult applications such as welding a thin diaphragm to a thicker member where controlling the heat and fusion are paramount. Purified electronics grade shielding gases utilized for all welding processes are delivered through ultra high purity lines. Additionally, each weld is individually inspected externally and internally, where possible, to ensure integrity and freedom from discoloration.
Class 10 zones in the cleanroom help preserve AP and AZ product purity during the assembly process. Assembled components are then 100% pressure tested and functionally tested with nitrogen to insure proper operation prior to helium leak testing across the seat and outboard with a sniffer probe. AK and KT products are functionally and leak tested with N2 in a clean environment, but not a cleanroom per se.
Components which have successfully completed testing are then packaged prior to exiting the cleanroom. A final visual inspection, including a close examination of the connections’ sealing surface, is performed prior to double bagging. Product ports are covered with an aclar film and a protective cap. Labels, including a unique serial number for complete traceability, are applied. Units are enclosed in an inner bag which is flushed with high purity nitrogen and sealed. A second bag completes the double bagging and the product exits the cleanroom via a pass through interlock for final packaging and immediate shipment.
AP Tech is firmly committed to quality in every aspect of our business. Each of our employees, from the CEO and president on down, fully embraces and participates in our extensive ISO 9001 certified program. Quality is built into our products during each manufacturing step and verified with appropriate inspections. A team from the QA department performs unannounced audits of every facet of our manufacturing. Statistical process control enables close quality monitoring while providing data for our continual improvement and cost reduction programs. Metrics are posted in a main hallway which chart scrap rates, rework hours, returns from customers, on time delivery, etc. This enables both employees and visitors to monitor key manufacturing quality indicators.
It is the policy and objective of AP Tech to efficiently design, manufacture, and market, in an environmentally responsible manner, products that are safe, reliable, and that meet or exceed customers’ requirements as well as statutory and regulatory requirements. AP Tech is committed to continuously improving quality, service, and delivery performance while preventing and reducing pollution to the environment with the ultimate aim of enhancing customer satisfaction and the company’s contribution to the environment. This goal is achieved through the establishment, continuous evaluation, and deployment of the company policy and objectives at all levels and functions of the organization.