Monday, July 20, 2015

Step Up to the Plate: Why Plating is Such a Popular Trend

Plating, a manufacturing process that coats a substrate with a thin layer of metal, has become an increasingly popular trend in the metal industry due to its various benefits. The plating process changes the physical, mechanical and chemical properties of a metallic device to help strengthen the plated component. 

The primary purpose of plating is to extend a metal’s lifetime by protecting it from the elements of nature that could lead to to corrosion. Ultimately, without plating, a metal device could fail due to its affliction from natural elements.

There are multiple plating techniques, including electro-plating and electro-less plating. One can gather that electro-plating requires an electric current in its process, whereas electro-less plating does not.

During electro-plating, a current is applied to the component, resulting in a shift of the chemical composition, which provides a firm and resistant coating to the surface. Electro-plating sometimes requires multiple applications depending on desired thickness of the coat, and must be carefully conducted in clean conditions.

Electro-less plating is a simpler autocatalytic chemical process, in which the component is treated with chemicals to remove oils and other corrosive elements and is then activated with a proprietary solution.

Regardless of the technique used, the benefits of plating are abundant. They include:
  • Forming a protective barrier
  • Enhancing resistance to corrosion over time
  • Creating appearance and decorative appeal
  • Increasing magnetism and superior solderability
  • Enhancing strength
  • Conducting electricity
  • Promoting adhesion
  • Reducing friction
  • Altering conductivity
  • Enhancing paint adhesion
  • Absorbing excess hydrogen
  • Resisting heat
  • Preventing tarnishing
Although many people imagine using chrome when they think of metal plating, there are additional metals that can be used, such as bronze, tin, copper, gold and silver. The plating process is ideal for industry professionals because of its incredible versatility and wealth of benefits.