At its core, heat treating is simple: Use heat to change the properties of metal components to improve their performance.
But when those parts are incredibly complex aerospace and defense components, it’s not so simple. That’s why heat treatment in the industry is governed by the Nadcap program.
The program —formerly the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program— contains strict rules Nadcap-approved heat treaters must follow. It serves a critical purpose: Keeping aircraft in the sky, submarines underwater, satellites in orbit and weapons systems functioning as intended.
Given the serious and safety-critical nature of components that make up aerospace and defense assets, the Nadcap program is not a list of suggestions. If heat treaters haven’t earned Nadcap certification, they’re not doing business in the industry.
Origin of Nadcap
Rapid modernization of aerospace and defense assets occurred throughout the latter part of the 20th century. As aircraft, submarines, satellites and their instrumentation became increasingly complex, ensuring the safety-critical parts that comprise them met stringent standards became a key priority.
Prior to the formation of Nadcap, individual aerospace and defense OEMs completed heat treatment and other manufacturing audits of suppliers on their own. The auditing process was exhaustive, expensive and redundant. OEMs and government officials wondered if they could enhance quality and efficiency in the industry if a single entity developed standards and performed audits.
The result was the Nadcap program, implemented in 1990 and administered by the Performance Review Institute.
Nadcap-approved heat treater requirements
Nadcap requirements are quite prescriptive. Other industry standards programs give suppliers varying amounts of leeway en route to achieving the benchmarks they set. Nadcap features no such liberty. It’s their way or the highway.
Nadcap-approved heat treaters must meet requirements regarding all aspects of their operation, including:
- The types, sizes and capabilities of heat treating equipment used to treat aerospace and defense components.
- The details of how certain components must be treated (for instance, we need documentation showing our vacuum brazing or other solution treating operations meet muster according to the Nadcap program).
- The degree of precision in pyrometry (remote temperature measurement) that must exist in heat treatment furnaces.
- Ensuring furnace repairs are executed in accordance with the standards.
- The properties of appropriate quench oils and the quality tests the oils must pass before use.
- The training of personnel operating the equipment used in aerospace and defense heat treating.
Becoming a Nadcap-approved heat treater requires proving that you have the equipment and processes in place to treat safety-critical aerospace and defense components. Keeping the certification is all about maintaining the mountain of documents showing you’re continually able to meet the strict requirements.
Excellence in aerospace and defense heat treating
With two of our plants (Kansas City and Cleveland) holding the designation, Paulo is a leading Nadcap-approved heat treater with a long history of success in aerospace and defense heat treatment.
We take the program seriously, devoting a corps of full-time team members to maintaining our key certifications. That comes at great effort and expense, but we believe it pays off.
Nadcap program administrators recognize our efforts, too: Each of our Nadcap-certified divisions has achieved “merit” status, which means the program’s auditors visit our sites less frequently than firms who lack the extra recognition.
We’re proud to have earned Nadcap’s trust, but what’s even more heartening is being on the leading edge of improved quality for heat treated aerospace and defense components. Improving parts and making our customers more successful has been at the core of our company since it was founded in 1943.
If you’re thinking about outsourcing an aerospace or defense heat treatment project, our guide to outsourced heat treating is a great resource for learning more about how an outsourcing relationship works. If you’re ready to discuss your next job in detail now, request a quote.