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Exploring Plating versus Coating

Examples of plated versus coated finishing

Plating and coating are techniques that provide a new exterior finish to a surface. Both will result in a durable and attractive finish when applied properly. Understanding the key differences in how these processes work and where they work best is important when deciding which is right for your needs.

Plating
Electroplating is widely used to improve the surface qualities of objects including resistance to abrasion and corrosion, reflectivity or appearance. It involves the process of applying a metal coating on another piece of metal or other conductive surface. The deposited metal becomes part of the exiting metal forming a durable surface.

In electroplating, electric current is passed through an electrolyte in which a metal object has been placed. The electrolyte splits and deposits a portion of its atoms on the metal object, leaving it electroplated. Metals used include zinc and nickel chrome.

Electroless plating, also referred to as chemical plating, utilizes an industrial chemical process that begins with chemical cleaning that remove oils and any corrosive material,  followed by solvent dip and the addition of anti-oxidation chemicals.  The finished plated component is resistant to corrosion and friction.

Plating is used only on conductive elements. Choose plating for surface qualities such as decorative, corrosion and friction resistance, hardening or radiation shielding, for example. This is applicable to many industries including aerospace, telecommunications, medical and energy companies. Microfinish offers a variety of plating services including nickel chrome plating and electroless nickel plating.

Coating
Coating a surface is performed by electrostatically applying a free-flowing powder to a surface, followed by curing it under heat application. Simply put, coating applies paint to a surface, not metal as seen in the plating process. A coated surface is water and corrosion resistant, and can be tailored to thickness and finish type.

Both aesthetically and functionally, the coating process extends the life of parts and components with finishes that can be matte or shiny. Coating is used in products for the food industry due to its anticontamination properties. Electrical insulation, piping and manufacturing industries also benefit from the coating process.

Do I Need Plating or Coating?
When you need to decide which process is best for your needs, first consider the finished product’s intended use. Microfinish is ready to answer your questions about each process and help you choose which process is right for you. Our experience and dedication to your success are just the beginning. After all, we are here to the finish. Call today at (314) 849-5149.

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