There are five essential questions you have to ask when considering electroplating. Asking — and answering — them will help you determine the right type of material, how thick the application, and even the look.
What is electroplating?
Electroplating is a technique in which a thin layer of metal is deposited onto a component or object to enhance the surface characteristics of the base material. The actual specifics are a bit technical — a process called hydrolysis distributes atoms evenly, merging the two materials — and there are a number of different types of metals that can be used, including copper, silver, nickel, and chromium, among them.
Just as there are many variations in electroplating, electroplated goods have different uses, too. Sometimes the coated surface is simply decorative, as in a collectible; other times it’s functional, as when we work with industrial machinery, processing equipment, and vehicles used in all modes of transportation. Sometimes the surface needs to be hard to prevent wear, other times it needs to be porous; sometimes it needs to be matte with low reflectivity, other times shiny.
That said, determining which electroplating is right for you requires answering some essential questions — but don’t worry, they’re pretty easy!
What’s the environment?
No, not the weather, but whether the component is being used inside or outside. And once there, what’s the temperature? Is it humid? Will the component be exposed to heat or corrosive materials like chemicals or sea salt? These environmental factors will determine which material is best for you.
For example, an aerospace company may need a hard surface for fighter jets, while a race car manufacturer may need something with lubricity.
If you’re still confused, call us up. We’re here to help.
What’s the look?
What does the electroplating look like? Is your electroplated surface simply decorative — costume jewelry, perhaps? — or does it serve a function, like an industrial fan. Should it be reflective or non-reflective? Is there a color requirement or does it need a specific finish, such as lustrous, semi-lustrous, or matte? These may seem like superficial concerns, but finding the right electroplating often requires asking deeper questions. U.S. Chrome does not provide decorative electroplating.
What are the technical requirements?
Electroplate users must know whether their surface requires utilitarian finishes. For example, if you know your piece will be near the ocean, you need corrosion resistant finish. Some may need to be scratch resistant or acid resistant. Perhaps you need a porous finish or one that’s conductive. Knowing how your component will be used helps narrow down the electroplating options tremendously. Again, we’re here to help, so send all questions our way.
What’s the industry?
Will your component be used in consumer goods? Electronics? For transportation, manufacturing or military? Knowing the industry makes it so much easier to pick the best suited, and most effective electroplating.
Are there any industry or government specifications?
Many government agencies and industries have specific composition requirements.For example, a locomotive crankshaft requires different elements than, say, landing gear on a fighter jet. Specific parameters change from country to country. If you’re working in an industry with an institutional body or governmental regulations, it’s best to know what that body needs before making your electroplate selection.
No matter the answers to these questions, whether you’re electroplating a motorcycle engine cylinder or an actuator on a fighter jet, you can count on U.S. Chrome to do the job well, under budget, and on time, too! [do the job faster, better, and for less cost!