U.S. Chrome Tips for Designing for Electroplating
The chrome plating business is changing. With increased regulation, more facilities are closing, leaving customers looking for new alternatives. U.S. Chrome is ready to help. Since 1940, leaders from a variety of industries, from agriculture to aviation, and railroads to energy, have trusted U.S. Chrome’s short lead time, competitive pricing, and great quality. We hope you will, too.
There are many factors to consider when looking at your options for electroplating. Size and shape of your product matter, of course, but so do tolerance levels, desired thickness, conditions in use, and environment.
Here, we offer best practices tips for designing your electroplated product.
1. What you need to know
Prior to your consultation, it’s best that you understand a few things about the electroplating process, what to consider about the part being chrome plated, and your goals.
- Composition — What is the base material and hardness of the object? Does the object require a pre-plate stress relief or a post-plate hydrogen embrittlement bake? What is the object’s weight?
- Process — Remember that the thicker the chrome plating, the more difficult to maintain the object’s tolerance and surface finish. See the table below for guidelines. Also, remember to define the surface finish. If you have questions, we’re happy to help.
- Application — Where exactly will the chrome plating be applied? There are many techniques that can be employed to direct the plating to the needed surface. Electroplating requires electrical contact be made with the object. Contact points receive little or no plating coverage.
- Usage — Will the object requiring plating encounter abrasive surfaces or elements, or will it be exposed to high heat, or corrosive environments? Do you need conventional coating or are there special needs, like crack-free or oil retentive?
- It’s also important to keep in mind that electroplating does not hide defects. In actuality, it’s the opposite: Any dents, dings, pits, scratches, or other surface anomalies will be exaggerated, so be sure to examine the surfaces carefully prior to submitting for electroplating.
Having these answers ready will make the initial experience far more efficient. Any questions can be answered during your consultation with a U.S. Chrome professional.
2. Your Consultation
Now, you’re ready for your consultation with a U.S. Chrome representative. That session will include:
- Confirmation of the base material type and hardness
- Selection of the desired type of chromium coating. Is your plating application defined by a standards organization? If so, name the standard
- Confirmation of chromium deposit location
- Discussion of best method of stopping off the deposit. Can the plating fade outside the needed area?
- Confirmation of deposit thickness and tolerance requirements
- Required pre-plate surface treatment and effects on post plate finish
- Confirmation of before and after plate dimensions
- Specification for surface finish
- Responsible party for bringing object to size and surface finish after plate
3. Essential Blueprint Information
Many of our delays are due to missing information on the blueprint. When submitting your blueprint, please review it to assure the following information is included:
- Material type and hardness
- Required thickness of plating
- Plating standard reference, if so governed
- Before plate and after plate dimensions with tolerance
- Be specific about what surfaces are to be plated. A marked-up print or sketch highlighting the surface is extremely helpful
- Will this be precision plating or over plating? If the latter, keep in mind that this process requires post plate grinding, machining, and polishing
- Surface finish requirement
- Object’s weight to ensure safe racking and handling
4. Designing Your Product
Shape matters when it comes to electroplating. Here are best practices on how to make your experience as fast, durable, and affordable as possible.
- Make sure your design can accommodate the required plating thickness
- Minimize sharp outside and inside corners, holes, and recesses on the object when possible. Rounding corners with a shallow radius or chamfer will reduce excessive plating buildups
- Complex geometries often require multiple plating operations
- Parts weighing more than 50 pounds will benefit from the addition of internally threaded holes that can be used to affix lifting lugs and cathode straps
- Lessening the complexity of an object, such as, limiting surface features and masking needs, will speed up the plating process and aid affordability of the coating
5. Final Check
Before sending your parts to U.S. Chrome, be sure to check them for the following:
- Surface defects or imperfections. Remember, the chrome will only amplify these problems, not cover them.
- Check to make sure the part size isn’t too big or too small for the thickness of the chrome being applied. Oversized parts will cause a thinner chrome layer than specified to maintain tolerance. Undersized parts will require a thicker chrome deposit which could lead to the need for a post plate grinding operation to bring the part back into tolerance
- Parts are free of rust, heat scale, and heavy oil and grease
For more information, contact one of our five office locations today!