This IS NOT a request for bids, quotes, or proposals. This is a Sources Sought announcement and for informational purposes only. The purpose of this notice is to conduct market research and obtain information from qualified sources. No award may be issued from this Request for Information (RFI) Notice.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is the printer of United States Currency and certain other security documents. These are printed using the intaglio printing process. The BEP produces its own engraved intaglio printing plates. The BEP is preparing to transition from applying a wear-resistant coating to these intaglio plates by the galvanic process to coating using a physical vapor deposition (PVD) process.

Before coating using the PVD process, the intaglio plates must be dried to remove remaining liquid on the surface from a previous rinse process. The rinse solution is composed of water and isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and must be removed from the surface of these engraved metal plates leaving no trace deposits. Therefore, the BEP desires to learn from qualified sources what systems exist to thoroughly dry intaglio plates prior to PVD coating.

Plate Description:

BEP will be drying large metallic plates composed of nickel, brass, bronze, or stainless steel. The exact specifications of engraved plates will vary, and overall size will vary from approximately 400 mm x 400 mm x 1 mm up to 900 mm x 900 mm x 1 mm with mass not exceeding 12 kg each. A series of 3 punched holes, approximately 26 mm in diameter may be provided along two opposing edges of the plates for support during drying if required.

The goal of the requested system is the effective drying of the plates.

  • It is important that the drying is done in a manner that does not introduce contaminants or damage on the surface of the plates. Contaminants may be particles, including dust, but also the natural passivation/oxidation of the metallic plates that occurs over time. Damage would include any scratches, indentations, or other marks imparted on the plate.
  • Cycle time is important, and it is desired to take not more than 15 minutes to dry 3 plates.
  • If multiple plates are dried simultaneously, they should not touch each other during drying.
  • If plates are heated during drying, they should be returned to a comfortable manual handling temperature at the end of the drying cycle to avoid the risk of operator burns.
  • The system should take up as little floor space as possible.
  • The system should allow management of any exhaust (e.g. vapors, heat).
  • The system should be capable of being in the same room as the PVD Equipment
  • Electricity and compressed air are available at the installation site, but natural gas is not.

The BEP requests qualified sources to discuss the following in their response:

  1. What system do you propose for the drying of the plates?
  2. How would the proposed system help ensure the plate is free from contaminants?
  3. How would the proposed system help eliminate possibility of damage (scratches/dings) to the plate?
  4. How would the proposed system accommodate different sized plates?  Different weights?
  5. How would the proposed system manage the cycle time requirements of different materials?
  6. What is the approximate cycle time of the system proposed? Minimum number of plates per hour? Maximum?
  7. Would the system be capable of handling varying types of metallic plates?
  8. What regular maintenance would the system require?
  9. What control systems does the system include?
  10. What is the footprint of the system?
  11. What are the utility requirements?
  12. How does the proposed system manage exhaust?
  13. What level of operator training would be necessary for the system?
  14. What is the place of manufacture or equipment origin?
  15. What is the estimated lead time?

Please provide the following: Company name, address, phone number, primary contact(s), email address, ALL applicable NAICS code(s), business size (i.e., small/large), company's socioeconomics (i.e., woman-owned, Service Disabled Veteran Owned, HUBZone, 8(a), etc.) and DUNS Number.

Interested vendors shall provide a response to this notice via email by 1 December 2021 at 1:00P.M. (EST). All responses must be in writing only via email to the point of contacts specified in this notice. Telephone responses will NOT be accepted.  

AT THIS TIME NO SOLICITATION EXISTS. (DO NOT REQUEST A COPY OF A SOLICITATION). A FUTURE NOTICE MAY BE POSTED IF A SOLICITATION IS RELEASED.

Disclaimer and Important Notes: This notice does not obligate the Government to award a contract or otherwise pay for the information provided in response. The Government reserves the right to use information provided by respondents for any purpose deemed necessary and legally appropriate. Any interested party responding to this notice should ensure that its response is complete and sufficiently detailed. Interested parties are advised that the Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received or provide feedback with respect to any information submitted.

No Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should be included in your response. The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation.