The electroplating industry is essential to many manufacturing operations. Electroplated coatings and related finishes are classified into three categories according to their main function, although these categories do overlap.

Plated finishes may be used to

1. Improve the appearance of the part
2. Impart a protective surface on the part
3. Modify the chemical or physical properties of the part’s surface

Without electroplating and surface finishing, our modern standard of living would be difficult to maintain. Surface finishing plays a primary role in the electronics, communications, and aviation/aerospace industries.

These industries drive product miniaturization and demand increased product reliability. Present-day surface coatings are applied to parts in a manner that meets the designers’ requirements while using chemical solutions that are environmentally friendly in both production processes and waste treatment.

Of the numerous elements in the periodic system, only about 16 are available as electroplated finishes. Of course, the number of coating processes increases when you include all of the alloy formulations.

Electroplating is adaptable, because it is used on tiny semiconductor parts as well as large industrial components. When to use a single-layer coating or a multilayer composite is based on expert opinion and experience with the coatings and how they perform.

Electroplate coatings are not adaptable to all substrates, although most materials can be electroplated if proper preplating procedures are used. If a part is to be electroplated, some restraints on the design of the product may be imposed so that a satisfactory coating will result.

Electroplated coatings are subject to rigid specifications. Control documents are provided by ASTM International as well as other associations, government bodies, and by the internationally recognized International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

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