Why use surface finishing?

Surface finishing processes play a critical role in transforming manufactured parts into finished products. Not only does surface finishing impart a professional aesthetic to products, but it can also improve a product’s durability, chemical resistance, corrosion resistance and hardness. Surface finishing is usually the final step in the production process and can consist of one or multiple processes. At RapidDirect, we work with our customers to find the best surface finishing treatments for a given project.

Vacuum Plating

Materials


Aluminum | Silver | Copper | Other metals | Plastics | Composites | Ceramics | Glass

Vacuum plating, also known as vacuum metalizing, is a process wherein a layer of metal is applied to a substrate of a different material. This technique involves heating the metal coating material in a vacuum chamber until it vaporizes. Because of the lack of pressure in the vacuum chamber, the metal vapor condensates on the substrate, forming a smooth surface layer.

Applications

Reflective coatings, Consumer electronics, Insulation panels


Electrolytic Polishing

Materials


Stainless steel | Most other metals

Electrolytic polishing is an electrochemical process that removes burrs from a metal part resulting in a smoother surface finish. In the process, the manufactured part functions as the anode, while the insoluble metal is the cathode. These two poles are simultaneously immersed in a bath of electrolyte, which triggers a reduction reaction in the cathode, removing fine burrs from the metal surface. The process also results in a brighter surface finish.

Applications

Construction, Food processing, Pharmaceutical Medical


Photo Etching

Materials


Stainless steel | Mild steel | Aluminum | Brass | Nickel | Tin | Copper | Silver | Glass | Ceramics

Photo etching, or photolithography, is a finishing process that uses chemicals to corrode the surface of a part in a highly controlled way. In the process, a chemical etchant is used to create a very fine surface texture, which in turn protects the part’s surface from corrosion.

Applications

Jewelry, Trophies and Nameplates, Luxury Goods


Pad Printing

Materials


All materials that are harder than silicone pads

Pad printing is a finishing process wherein 2D graphics, including text and images, are printed and transferred onto the surface of three dimensional parts. The process, which uses a silicone pad to transfer a graphic onto a substrate, is especially well suited for branding irregularly shaped products. The process is highly scalable.

Applications

Vehicle interiors, Consumer electronics, Sports equipment


Galvanizing

Materials


Steel | Iron

Galvanizing is an industrial surface treatment process that applies a protective zinc coating to a steel or iron part. The zinc layer, which is applied using either a hot-dip galvanizing or electro-galvanizing technique, prevents corrosive materials from damaging the steel or iron substrate.

Applications

Buildings, Bridges, Vehicles, Furniture


Electroplating

Materials


Tin | Chrome | Nickel | Silver | Gold | Rhenium | ABS

In the electroplating finishing process, a metal film is applied to the surface of a substrate using electrolysis. The process prevents metal oxidation and improves wear resistance, electrical conductivity, corrosion resistance, light reflection and surface appearance.

Applications

Transport, Consumer Electronics, Furniture, Jewelry, Silverware


Hydrographics

Materials


Any hard material

Hydrographics, also known as water transfer printing, use water pressure to apply a color pattern from a transfer paper onto the surface of a three dimensional substrate. The process is well suited for precisely applying complex patterns for decoration and product packaging.

Applications

Vehicles, Consumer Electronics, Military, Packaging


Screen Printing

Materials


Paper | Plastic | Metal | Ceramics | Glass

Screen printing is a printing method that uses a mesh screen and squeegee to apply ink to the surface of a substrate in a specific pattern or graphic. The simple process uses a blocking stencil of the desired graphic to ensure that ink is only deposited where necessary. Only one color can be applied at a time, but multiple screens can be used for multicolored prints.

Applications

Clothing and textiles, Posters, Business cards, Signage, Packaging


Anodizing

Materials


Aluminum | Alloys

Colors


Clear | Grey | Black | Red | Blue

Color matching available for additional cost - contact us for more information.

Anodizing is an electrochemical process that produces an oxide film on the surface of aluminum surfaces. Anodization provides excellent corrosion resistance to manufactured parts, improving the hardness and wear-resistance of the surface while dissipating heat. It also provides a high quality surface finish. There are two types of anodization: Type II, which is corrosion resistant; and Type III, which is thicker and adds a wear-resistant layer.

Applications

Consumer products, Electronic products, Aerospace and automotive parts, Radio equipment, Architectural features


Electrophoretic Deposition

Materials


Stainless steel | Aluminum alloys

Electrophoretic deposition (EPD), is a particulate forming process in which a charged particle moves towards its opposite electrode within an electric field (electrophoresis). The technique effectively uses the electric field to move powder particles into a specific arrangement on the electrode surface. It is predominantly used to apply coatings to electrically conductive surfaces.

Applications

Automotive, Construction, Home appliances


Microarc Oxidation

Materials


Aluminum | Tin | Zinc | Zirconium | Magnesium | Niobium

Microarc Oxidation (MAO), also known as plasma electrolytic oxidation (PEO), is an electrochemical finishing process that transforms the surface of the substrate metal into its oxide. The technique coats metal products in a hard, oxide-based ceramic film which provides better durability, electrical insulation, wear resistance and corrosion resistance.

Applications

Aerospace, Maritime


Metal Wire Drawing

Materials


Stainless steel | Aluminum | Nickel | Most metals

Metal wire drawing is a surface finishing process that grinds the surface of a part down to impart an often uniform decorative effect. Metal wire drawing is capable of producing a variety of patterns, including straight line drawing, chaotic drawing, ripple and swirling. The final effect is also known as brushed metal.

Applications

Small appliances, White goods


In-Mold Decoration

Materials


Injection molding plastics

In-mold decoration (IMD) is a surface treatment process in which a film with a printed pattern is placed directly into the metal mold. When the molding resin is injected into the mold, the film bonds with the surface resulting in a product with a patterned surface.

Applications

Home appliances, White goods, Automotive interiors, Consumer electronics


Powder Coating

Materials


Aluminum | Steel | Plastic

Colors


Wide variety of colors

Color matching available for additional cost - contact us for more information.

Powder Coating is a dry spray process in which powdered paint is sprayed directly onto the manufactured part. The sprayed part is then baked in an oven, where the powder forms a durable, wear-resistant and corrosion-resistant layer. A wide variety of color options are available in the powder coating process.

Applications

Automotive manufacturing, Architecture and buildings, White goods