Important Metal Finishing Details About Your Job

How to Work with Your Industrial Plating Provider

When supplying information to your plating supplier, it is most important to note specific plating details and requirements on the purchase order and/or the blueprints. Important requirements, such as plating thickness, surface finish, and masking needs should be clearly defined to avoid confusion or mistakes. Equally important is identifying the type of base metal, as well as the condition and hardness, to ensure that proper baking requirements, such as stress relief and hydrogen embrittlement relief, are met.

Here are some tips to help streamline the procedures.

  • Know the process

    Plating is a material additive process in that it deposits material to the surface of the base metal. The areas or parts being plated need to be prepared to allow for the proper adhesion of the material that is being added. Also, it’s important to understand that electroplating can result in areas that are thicker or thinner over the plated area. This is greatly affected by anode placement and a parts geometry.
  • Know your chromes

    Not all chrome plating is identical. Engineering hard chrome works best for industrial jobs and decorative chrome works well for aesthetics, but how do you know the right one to choose?
    • Hard chrome is best for surfaces that experience abrasion, wear, and corrosive elements. It is commonly used as a buildup coating to restore worn or damaged parts.
    • Flash chrome is thinner and better for surfaces that receive less wear and tear but still need protection, a low coefficient of friction, or great release properties.
    • Thin dense chrome is just as its name implies: ultra-thin chrome that is dense and has far fewer cracks. It’s perfect for aerospace, defense, and medical component manufacturers.
  • Component size matters

    Very large components pose special challenges, such as weight, length, or size of the area to be plated. Discuss capabilities and challenges with your supplier to determine whether special tooling, setup, material handling, and delivery requirements are necessary.
  • Shape matters, and so does current

    Electroplating is an additive material process, and the contour and shape of the parts can impact the distribution of the thickness of the plating. Sharp edges and protrusions will plate faster and have thicker deposits, while recesses, inside corners and holes will plate more slowly or may not be plated at all. This occurs because electrical current seeks the path of least resistance. Part features that extend outward attract more current and have a high current density, while inward features attract less or no current and have a low current density. The more current an area gets, the faster it plates and builds thickness. Providing scrap or test parts to your supplier is helpful, so that proper tooling and plating racks can be designed ahead of time to minimize uneven plating during production runs.
  • Stay on the same page

    Make sure you and your plater discuss every aspect of the job, even potential test plating trials, to guarantee that everything is completed correctly the first time. Communication is key to achieving an efficient and seamless experience.

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