Taking weight out of the equation puts ACE on course for £800,000 export present

A global desire for greener cars and more fuel efficient planes is set to deliver a major export boost to Advanced Chemical Etching (ACE).

The Telford-based precision engineering specialist is predicting international orders to generate an additional £800,000 of revenue, with prototype and low volume parts in demand from customers in more than 15 countries.

Employing 60 people at its Hortonwood site, the company’s ability to etch in aluminium and titanium has seen it play a major role in the development of heating elements for ice protection on aircraft and high-performance interconnectors and bipolar plates commonly used in automotive battery packs and fuel cells respectively.

These are all identified as major growth areas for the business, which is set to celebrate its 20th birthday in 2020.

“The parts we produce are very complex and there are not many firms with our capacity or capability,” explained Chris Ball, Executive Director at ACE.

“Our different etching processes have been developed to deliver the tightest of tolerances and over £600,000 has been invested in the last year in new equipment to ensure we can produce up to 2000 sheets per day…a massive increase on this time last year.”

He continued: “Automotive and aerospace are committed to reducing emissions and our technology lends itself to taking weight out of the equation, whether that is melting ice or supporting new battery technology.

“We’re already working on a number of projects that should come to fruition this year and have the potential to change the way cars, drones, space vehicles and aircraft are powered.”

ACE specialises in the development of prototype components, pre-production and volume fulfilment to customers in aerospace, 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, aluminium, molybdenum, titanium, nitinol and elgiloy.

Ian Whateley, Managing Director, continued: “2020 is going to be a big year for our business and we’ve started by launching a new brand and website.

“Export is also a major target and we have set about increasing our number of agents in key territories, including Germany, the Netherlands and Asia. Supporting this will be the launch of international websites with their own international domains.”

ACE spent £600,000 in 2019 on upgrading its facility in Telford and has just pressed the button on a further £250,000 investment to help it continue to win new work.

Pre and post cleaning machines have been installed to make the company quicker and new auto loaders have been added on to the lines to aid a move to ‘lights-out manufacturing’ in some parts of production.

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