Brush electroplating, also known as selective plating or spot plating, allows you to plate an entire item, or a specific part of that item, using a brush saturated with plating solution. It offers greater portability than tank plating, minimal masking requirements (and sometimes none at all), and often requires less plating solution. Brush plating is a good choice for items that can’t be bath plated, including oversized items or components that can’t be disconnected for plating. Brush electroplating can also be used for electro-polishing and to correct dimensional errors made in machining.
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Brush Plating Steps
Brush plating involves three main steps.
- Preparing the surface. Start by polishing. Brush plating may not be able to fill in scratches, so make sure that you remove those by hand or machine polishing. After that, clean the surface to remove any debris or residue. Finally, you may need to activate your surface if it has developed an oxide layer. Oxidation most commonly accumulates on stainless steel or nickel-containing alloys.
- Plating. Estimate the surface area of your work and acquire the appropriate amount of plating solution. Then, use electricity from your rectifier to start plating. The rectifier’s two leads will be connected to the plating tool and the part to be plated respectively. When the tool touches the part, the circuit will be completed. The operator can control the voltage, polarity, and amperage. Brush plating requires constant motion. You can keep the tool steady and move the part or vice versa (or a combination of the two). Keep in mind that if you are plating onto chrome, you will need to strip the surface first; otherwise, the plating materials will not adhere.
- Finishing. Seal your project with a sealing solution.
Your plating solutions will depend on your project. For example, if you want a hard, durable finish, your solutions will differ from those that are needed for a pliable finish. Deposits can be applied faster through brush plating than tank plating. The quality of brush plating is often equal or superior to bath plating, as long as the operator is experienced. In addition, brush plating allows you to control thickness on specific areas.
Bath plating has its place, but for a fast, portable solution with a high degree of flexibility, consider brush plating. For more information about brush plating systems for selective plating, anodizing and electro-polishing, contact Gold Plating Services.