Choosing the Right Metal Finishing Process

Metal finishing involves applying a metal coating to a base material or component for the following reasons:

Choose Metal Finishing Process

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  • To improve performance
  • To improve appearance
  • To protect the base material

Finishing processes can take a few forms:

  • Physical
  • Chemical
  • Mechanical

Metal finishing can do many things, including giving an exterior car part an attractive luster and making an electrical component corrosion and heat resistant. There are a number of different plating processes, and it’s critical to weigh the options carefully before choosing the best one for your finishing projects.

Common finishing processes:

Electrodeposition – This process, also referred to as electroplating, is common for industrial plating. It involves putting the metal component to be plated into an electrolyte solution, which contains dissolved ions of the coating metal. You then send an electric current into the solution. Depending on the materials used, you will adjust the purity and temperature of the electrolyte solution, the length of the process, and the strength of the current. You can electroplate with precious metals (gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, etc.) or alloys (palladium/nickel, tin/lead, zinc/nickel, etc.)

Electroless plating – Another industrial plating method is electroless plating which does not employ electricity but rather a chemical reaction to deposit metal onto a substrate. It is slower than electroplating, but there are a number of benefits. Electroless plating can be cheaper and simpler and result in a much more even coating.

Electrocoating – This plating method is used for large components and was originally designed to add a protective layer to steel car bodies. The part is submerged in epoxy solution, and an electric current is sent through the solution (as with electroplating). Electrocoating or “e-coating” is often used as a primer coat, creating a surface that paint will stick to.

Passivation – Passivation is a popular method for plating components that need to be more corrosion-resistant. This process uses a chemical reaction to apply a thin coat of a protective material, such as metal oxide. It is frequently employed to enhance silicon for use in microelectronics.

Abrasive blasting – This is a two-in-one process that takes care of both finishing and cleaning. The process uses high-pressure propulsion to remove debris and create a smooth surface coating.

You will need to select a finishing method that works best with your budget, time requirements and the intended use of your component. Contact Gold Plating Services for additional help choosing a method or to purchase electroplating supplies or other metal finishing equipment.

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