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:

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Zinc
  • Tin
  • Copper
  • Nickel

Plating work is essential to the fabrication process for optical and laser manufacturing applications.

Barrel Plating

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:

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • 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.

Rack Plating

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:

TypeSpecificationApplication
Brown/Black Oxide No Specification for this process. Manufacturer’s datasheet is available.Surface finish for copper often used to enhance the copper surface for bonding two or more copper plates together. Also useful for corrosion protection.
Chemical Passivation of Stainless SteelASTM A-967, E-Fab process is Nitric 2. Other requirements offered by E-Fab vendors.Used to remove free iron and other metal contaminates from the part surface.
Electroless Copper DepositionNo specification for this process. Manufacturer’s datasheet is available.Used to add a conductive layer to non-conductive surfaces or materials.
Electroless Nickel AMS 2404 Vendor-applied coatingUse as a wear-resistant surface also as a corrosion protective surface coating. Also used to improve solderability.
Electroless Nickel AMS 2424 Vendor-applied coating Corrosion and oxidation protective coating.
Immersion Tin for Copper Mil-T-81955 Coating is used to improve solderability or as a corrosion protectant. Shelf life is short for solderability.
Electroplated Copper Mil –C-14550
SAE AMS 2418
E-Fab process and vendor-applied coating
Sometimes used as a final surface finish, not recommended as copper tarnishes quickly. Also used as a sub-surface coating before the final finish or to enhance the conductive coating of non-conductive material.
ENIG (Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold)IPC – 4552
Vendor-applied coating.
Used as a final surface finish for printed circuit boards.
Gold ElectroplateMil-G-45204 ASTM B-488-95 Vendor-applied coatingUsed for its excellent solderability, corrosion resistance, and bondability,
Nickel Electroplate QQ-N-290 Vendor-applied coatingPrimarily used as an undercoat prior to gold electroplate. Also used as a final surface finish and corrosion protectant.
Tin Electroplated Coating Mil-T-10727 ASTM B-545-97 Primarily used as a solderable final surface finish. Often used as a corrosion-resistant protective coating.
Silver Electroplate. Mil-T-10727
ASTM B-545-97
Primarily used as a solderable final surface finish. Often used as a corrosion-resistant protective coating.
Silver Electroplate QQ-S-365 ASTM B700 Used for its excellent solderability, electrical characteristics, and bondability.
Tin-Lead Electroplated Coating ASTM B-579-73
SAE-ASM-P-81728
Used as a final surface finish for solderability and corrosion protective coating.
Sulfuric Anodize Mil –A- 8625
Vendor-applied coating
Anodic coating for aluminum.

We stand out as industry leaders thanks to our eagerness to think outside of the box and help our clients navigate even the toughest jobs. If you’re interested in learning more about what a partnership with E-Fab may look like for your organization, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.