Russ Cockburn

Member Article

ACE doubles capacity with £1m investment

One of Shropshire’s fastest growing manufacturers has taken another important step forward with the opening of a new building that will more than double its factory size to 20,000 sq ft.

Advanced Chemical Etching Limited (A.C.E.) has invested more than £1m into taking on two new adjacent units and in acquiring additional state-of-the-art equipment that will enable it to reduce lead times and further improve quality.

The company, which offers precision components, prototyping and low volume production, is sourcing a number of the new etching machines from a specialist US manufacturer that will be installed and up and running by early 2013.

These acquisitions have the potential to double current capacity and comes at a time when the business is securing an influx of new orders for components used in next generation aircraft, F1 cars, cutting-edge medical implants and newly developed parts for heat exchanger and fuel cell technology.

In addition to the building expansion, A.C.E. has also appointed Ian Whateley as its new Managing Director, with the aim of him overseeing growth from the current £3.5m turnover to £6m by 2015.

Alan Rollason, Chairman, explained: “This is a very exciting time for our business and the fact we have been able to double our floor space gives us the opportunity to attack new opportunities.

“All of the infrastructure and systems have been put in place and we’re just waiting now for delivery and installation of the new etching machines. Once these are up and running we’ll be able to etch many more millions of parts per year in a diverse range of materials.

He continued: “I’m also delighted that we’ve been able to secure the services of Ian, as MD who has worked in our sector for more than 30 years. He brings with him a wealth of experience overseeing the type of growth we are anticipating.

“His arrival also comes at a time when we are stretching the boundaries of innovation with our latest process development for the etching of aluminum and advancements in etching titanium, molybdenum and other exotic metals.”

A.C.E. specialises in development of prototype components, pre-production and volume fulfillment to customers in aero, 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 and even frames for designer glasses.

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.

Latest production machinery, a dedicated laboratory and state-of-the-art measuring capability ensures 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, aluminum, molybdenum, titanium, nitinol and elgiloy.

Ian, who started his career as an apprentice before senior positions with other photo etching companies, picked up the story: “I’m really excited about joining A.C.E. The company has a unique ability to provide etched part solutions to many complex contracts that our rivals won’t even consider.

“This is a very powerful selling tool and, with the new investment in technology and the building giving us far greater capacity, we are confident we can achieve £6m sales within the next two to three years. Naturally, this would mean around 15 new jobs, taking us up to 50 staff.”

He concluded: “A lot of money is also channeled into R&D and I’m confident that we’ll be able to announce some exciting advancements soon that are set to come out of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership we’re currently working on with the University of Wolverhampton.”

Advanced Chemical Etching Limited is part of the Midlands Assembly Network (, a collective of eight sub-contract manufacturers who work together to share best practice and pitch for new work. The group includes Alucast, Barkley Plastics, Brandauer, FW Cables, PP Electrical Systems, SMT Developments and Westley Engineering.

For further information visit or follow the company @Ace_ChemEtching on twitter.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Russ Cockburn .

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