Electroplating or electrolytic plating refers to a process in which the ions of a superior metal such as zinc or chrome are deposited over a base metal using an electric current. While the zinc or chromium are basically dissolved into a solution, an electric current runs through the mixture and determines them to adhere to the base material in the form of a coating. Because electrolytic plating will alter the metal’s chemical, physical or mechanical properties, the main role of the process is to impart a certain characteristic of the base material, while ensuring its fundamental nature remains intact.
The advantages of electroplating
As previously mentioned the electroplating is performed to convey a desired characteristic or property to a base metal, including improving its aesthetic qualities, granting it better resistance to wear and tear, enriching its abrasion resistance or making it less susceptible to corrosion, to name a few.
For instance, stainless steel fasteners undergo the electroplating process in order to increase its anti-corrosion resistance. The primary advantages associated with the process include:
- Variety of use – Because the process is fully adaptable, it means it can be applied on a wide range and size of items, from small conductor parts and fastener threads to articles as large as the printing rolls;
- It doesn’t alter the material’s electric properties – The coatings applied via the process are metallic in nature and hence, don’t affect the electric connections of the base materials. In addition to preserving the fundamental nature of the metal, it causes only slight dimension and structural modifications;
- Electroplating extends the lifespan of the components it coats;
- The coating spreads equally and evenly over the surface of the metal, thus providing it an uniform thickness, strength and hardness;
- The junction between the plating and the metal is almost impenetrable, so impurities that might damage it cannot protrude;
The hindrances of electrolytic plating
Despite the fact that electroplating is extremely useful in a variety of industrial applications, it does present some limitations for DIY fans. If you need to utilize electroplated fasteners or other articles, here are the reasons why you should purchase them from a reputable manufacturer:
- It is time consuming – In some cases, the layer covering the metal surface is extremely thin. Therefore, you will either have to settle with the existing coating and reapply it at the first signs of deterioration or attempt to apply additional coatings; either alternative will eat up a lot of your time;
- Grinding is necessary to obtain an even surface – Unlike dipping and spraying that manage to distribute the coating relatively evenly on the surface, the covering obtained from electroplating is typically lumpy and patchy. For the desired smoothness, you have to wait for it to dry and then grind it.
- There’s always a chance it will crack – Because the metals, especially chrome, utilized for this purpose are usually brittle, there’s always a chance it will crack right after it dries. The metal coating could form micro-cracks, which open the door for impurities that will damage the protective layer and base metal in time.
Started my career in the fastener world in 1969 at, Parker Kalon Corp. a NJ based screw manufacturer located in Clifton, NJ working in inventory control, scheduling secondary production and concluding there in purchasing. In 1971 I accepted a sales position at Star Stainless Screw Co., Totowa, NJ working in inside sales and later as an outside salesman, having a successful career at Star I had the desire with a friend to start our own fastener distribution company in 1980 named: Divspec, Kenilworth, NJ. This was a successful adventure but ended in 1985 with me starting Melfast in August 1985 and have stayed competitive and successful to date. Melfast serves the OEM market with approximately 400 accounts nationally.