Etched metals often require plating services after the etching process. Applications where corrosion-resistance is critical often rely on these services to ensure component longevity.
The plating process—also known as electroplating—centers around a process known as electrodeposition. Plating can be complex but is often essential to the production of reliable parts. Electrodeposition uses an electric current to dissolve and smooth out burrs and other malformations on the surface of a product.
What is the Plating Process?
Two different varieties of plating see frequent use in the metals industry: rack and barrel coating. Both barrel and rack plating are compatible with an array of metal finishes. Electroplating is also suitable for use with a variety of precious metals, such as:
Plating work is essential to the fabrication process for optical and laser manufacturing applications.
Barrel plating occurs inside of a polypropylene barrel with bars running through the center to conduct electrical currents. This barrel is rotated with a part inside of it, causing the part to tumble through an electrolytic solution. This results in a uniform finish on the workpiece.
Barrel plating features a number of unique benefits, including:
- Ideal for projects with large quantities of small and durable parts
- Uniquely shaped/sized components
- Minimal labor requirements
- More affordable compared to rack plating
In most cases, the process is utilized to enhance aesthetic appeal and/or increase corrosion resistance.
In rack plating, parts are attached to metal racks and remain stationary as they’re immersed in a plating solution. This is ideal for less durable parts that may not be able to withstand the tumbling associated with barrel plating.
Rack plating presents its own benefits in comparison to barrel plating. Some of these include:
- More efficient for intricate shapes and contours
- Produces a superior finish to barrel plating
- Can handle delicate parts and components
The military, automotive, and medical industries often rely on this style of plating for important parts and components.
Why E-Fab for Your Plating?
At E-Fab, we possess the tools, knowledge, and experience to create industry-leading plated components and parts. We perform most work in-house, but we do have an extensive network of service providers should our customers have special requests beyond our internal capabilities.
The following table displays a full list of our plating capabilities and services: