Metlab’s Quality Assurance System

Metlab has a reputation for providing quality heat treating and surface finishing services. To ensure quality in every order processed, the company is focused on a complete quality management system. The quality system is run by Rachel Piccari, whose main function is to work with customers and the Metlab production facility for complete quality assurance.

Rachel Piccari - Quality Control

Rachel Piccari – Quality Control

“I work with Metlab’s customers to make sure what they are asking for is feasible and technically sound.” states Piccari. “I review each customer purchase order to check that all of the information that is provided on their order is clear, so we start each project correctly.” Over the past four years since her start with the company, the quality system has been updated and continuously improved to keep Metlab at the forefront of meeting specifications in various heat treating processes. Metlab’s processing and paperwork is ISO-9001 compliant, and as such is subject to continual review.

Piccari explains, “I invest quite a bit of time translating the customer instructions to our actual in-house processes. There are over a dozen terms in use for nitriding alone. And often customers send parts for heat treating and designate the steel by a trade name rather than the AISI or UNS steel designation. Ironing out the commercial request into a technical document can sometimes be a challenge, but this up-front order clarity makes the parts being processed flow through the shop floor efficiently. In addition, quality is measured at various points along the process as the parts are treated. If there is a question regarding treating a part, the customer will be notified to explore solutions for resolving that issue. I will review all the paperwork and results and make sure it fits with what customer has required. Additionally, I’ll write the certifications to go along with the job to finalize the project.”

Depending on the type of heat treatment specified by the customer, Metlab will issue a certification documenting the process and metallurgical results.  This can include surface hardness, or in the case of carburized and/or nitrided parts, surface and core hardness and case depth. For more complex requirements, certifications may include chemical analyses, and mechanical property evaluation such as tensile tests, Charpy impact strength, stress rupture, fatigue and metallurgical analysis. Metlab has even done salt spray testing on nitrocarburized parts to ensure that they meet the corrosion resistance requirements.

Rachel started with Metlab as a lab technician, checking part hardness, performing microhardness traverses on case hardened parts, and doing routine metallographic analysis. She has moved into the Quality Control position and is currently enrolled in an Engineering degree program in Philadelphia, as well as the Metal Treating Institute (MTI) 2017 YES Management Training Program. This program focuses on improving the leadership and people skills of individuals from the heat treating community.

In addition, Piccari has been training a new person to take over the lab, allowing her to focus entirely on Metlab’s Quality Assurance program. The experience in the lab gave her hands-on training to be able to identify quality issues and trace them back to the source to continuously improve the company’s processes. As an example, Rachel headed up a project to investigate the optimum stop-off paint and techniques for masking carburized and nitrided components, leading to more reliable procedures for heat treating these parts.

Metlab heat treats parts in accordance with all military and industry specifications. Jim Conybear, the director of operations for Metlab, oversees the overall quality function for the company. Jim has been a member of the AMEC Committee (Aerospace Materials Engineering Committee) which is under the auspices of the SAE, for over 40 years. Along with engineers from the commercial heat treating community as well as representatives from aerospace companies including Boeing, Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman and others, AMEC defines and maintains the specifications that are the standards for heat treating parts. Their stated objective is “to coordinate and utilize the knowledge, experience, and skill of engineers and technologists to develop and maintain material and process specifications that conform to sound, established engineering and material practices within the aerospace industry.” Jim is heading up the AMEC subcommittee that is revising AMS 2759, the specification which establishes the general requirements for the heat treating processes for steel parts. He has also been involved in defining the requirements for nitriding as well as quenching.

Metlab, through its focus on personnel and participation in continuous quality improvement, maintains its position as a leader in the supply of thermal heat treating processes to over 3,000 companies in a variety of industries.

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