During the process of electroplating, very fine layers of metal are bonded to the surface of another metal at the molecular level. The process involves creating an electrolytic cell, which uses electricity to move molecules.

Electroplating has many uses, and these uses can be functional, decorative or corrosion-related. Many industries use the process, including the automotive sector, in which the chrome-plating of steel automobile parts is common.

MaterialPlate typeApplicationsSubtypes
Aluminum, Brass Stainless Steel, SteelTin, Nickel, Electroless NickelElectrical connections, jewelry, radiation shieldsGalvanizing, nickel plating, tin plating, passivation

Design Considerations

  • Tolerances should account for plating thickness, and the part’s ability to fit into a larger assembly should be factored into all critical dimensions and tolerances.
  • Electroplating involves the use of current. This means the overall geometry of the part will influence the current distribution across its surface, sometimes unevenly. However, there are some advanced plating processes that can prevent excessive plating buildup on bends, threads and sharp corners.
  • Plating materials should be chosen based on the desired characteristics of the final part: corrosion resistance, strength, etc.
cnc machining surface finish - electroplating

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