Metal finishing can be a very important part of manufacturing a product. It is most often used to protect, improve the performance of, or enhance the appearance of a product.
What is metal finishing used for?
Metal finishing is specifically used to provide:
– Increased surface thickness/hardness
– Enhanced appearance
– Increased strength and durability
– Improved adhesion
– Improved electrical conductivity or resistance
– Increased torque tolerance
Metal finishing processes
The most common form of metal finishing is electroplating. This process involves passing an electric current through a ‘bath’ – a solution containing both the metal substrate and dissolved ions of the metal that is being used as the coating.
The base metals that are most commonly used in electroplating are tin, copper, zinc, and nickel.
Nickel composites are an increasingly popular option when it comes to metal finishing. Nickel is a strong, lustrous metal that provides excellent protection against corrosion. There are numerous experts in the field of nickel composites who will be able to discuss your individual needs. Several other metals can be used in electroplating, as can a number of metal alloys.
What to consider when choosing a metal finishing process
When deciding which metal finishing process is best for you, there are several factors to take into consideration.
The material that your substrate is made from can determine the types of finish that can be used. If the substrate conducts electricity, you will be able to achieve a metallic finish via electroplating. If it does not, electroless plating maybe needed prior to electroplating.
Possibly the most important factor for many businesses is cost. It is important to evaluate both long-term and short-term costs. Some processes may need more upfront investment but may be faster or give higher quality.
It is important to determine what you want to achieve from the process. Is it to protect the product from corrosion, improve its appearance, boost electrical conductivity, or something else?
Another consideration is time. Product cycle times can vary considerably, so it is important to know how long you can allocate to the finishing process. This will subsequently help hone in on the best options.
Finally, it is important to ensure that whatever option you choose meets any relevant standards/guidelines.