We all know that metal stamping is one of the most sought-after manufacturing industries today. But along with stamping, there is a method called metal plating; It is the process of coating and protecting metals and other materials by layering a thin metal over another parent metal.
When stamped parts work with suitable plating materials, they generate more income value and fewer maintenance costs. Not only will it attract clients, but it will also make an impression on our previous ones. This article will walk you through different features of metal plating, such as its benefits, role in cost efficiency, process, and more.
The Importance of Plating
Plating is used for several reasons. Some plating is merely for decoration, while for some, it is a lot more functional. Plating can protect against corrosion, improve solderability, harden the component or part, increase strength against wear and tear, reduce friction, alter conductivity, and shield against radiation, amongst many other uses.
So, can you imagine what metal plating can do with basic raw materials and stamped parts? It can add more value, excellent worth, longer lifespan, and so on. Plating can aesthetically transform stamped parts and quality-wise outputs wherein both clients and manufacturers will benefit.
Cost-Efficient Design of Metal Stampings
Metal plating plays a vital role in designing cost-efficient stamped parts. While metal stamping requires plating to maximize the materials’ performance, plating does its job in ensuring the quality of components for high corrosion resistance and conductivity through different metals. It makes the appearance and durability of stamped parts last longer- resulting in minimal waste and cost reduction in producing stamped parts.
Materials Used for Plating
The benefits of metals used for plating vary depending on particular applications of stamped parts and specifications. Numerous metals are highly corrosion-resistant, electric conductivity, and yet budget-friendly at the same time. We have outlined for you the most common materials for stamped parts in the list below.
Gold has its aesthetic appeal for plating with color ranges from yellow to orange and bright to a matte finish. It has excellent resistance to corrosion and solderability. Mainly, stamped parts for electronic applications like connectors and circuit boards apply gold plating due to their excellent electric conductivity.
Silver is less expensive than gold, making it an alternative to it. It may not be as corrosive-resistant as gold, but it has higher electrical conductivity. While it is helpful for electronic stamped parts, silver is also known for being toxic to bacteria and microorganisms- making it useful as a plating material for communication and medical equipment application.
Generally known as a low-cost metal, copper is significant for electronic parts because of its electrical conductivity and heat resistance. Due to its color, it shows an excellent appearance for decoration purposes. For applications that need adhesion between layers of metal, copper is an ideal material.
Tin is most applicable in iron and steel metals in preventing rust and making it safe for food handling and storage applications because of its non-toxic element. Stamped parts covered with tin are subject to stamping, bending, and forming for being soft and malleable without fracturing the tin layer.
As a plating material, zinc is highly corrosion resistant and is applicable for galvanized coating- the process of applying zinc coating to protect steel and iron from rusting. This material is inexpensive and is commendable for hardware stamped parts.
It is a type of platinum that is tarnish-and-scratch resistant, making it valuable for jewelry production. It appears to be shiny, white, and attractive. However, rhodium plating wears away eventually over some time, thus making it susceptible to discoloration and frequent touch-ups. You can use rhodium as a base for metals such as silver, platinum, and copper.
Cadmium is a substitute for zinc plating. It is hugely used in stamped parts of automotive and aerospace manufacturers. Due to its smooth protective coating, cadmium is ideal for parts that frequently need to be removed and installed. Moreover, it has great wear resistance in a marine environment, either fresh or saltwater.
Nickel is one of the most used plating materials. It is resistant to atmospheric oxidation and is used where magnetic materials are needed. It can enhance soft metal’s wear resistance, resulting in longer service life. It is recommended as a base plating layer for more adhesion between layers of metals.
Different Types of Metal Plating Used for Stamped Parts
There are three (3) plating techniques appropriate for stamped parts according to our desired end product. These are worth knowing to prevent undesirable results and foresee our product’s success- in producing quality stamped parts.
In pre-plating, all the raw materials are treated or plated before the stamping process. It is more cost-efficient than post-plating because you will plate one large piece, save up materials, and reduce labor costs here. The only downside may come after the stamping process, as unplated sides or edges will need a further operation.
When plating is only required in one portion of the part or different areas of the same part needing two types of plating, it is best to use the spot plating technique. Some parts of metal may need plating, but only on selective areas. Spot plating usually applies where the precious metal is necessary for electrical conductivity, such as terminal tips.
On the contrary, post-plating occurs after the stamping process in creating a smooth, seamless finish visible to the naked eye. This plating is more expensive than pre-plating due to its complicated handling of parts while plating that can cause dimensional issues. However, if we need complete coverage, this is our only option.
The Metal Plating Process
Selecting the best metal process depends on the materials, type of stamped metal, and environmental operation. The plating process involves the enhancement of metal’s qualities and properties that every manufacturer should know. Below is the list of five (5) metal plating processes for you.
This method is excellent for coating complex and delicate parts, specially designed strips. It is ideal for minimizing material waste and for the overall plating of stamped metals. In addition, you can use this method for spot plating and micro-plating of precious metals.
All stamped metals are placed in a rotating barrel in barrel plating and submerge in an electrolytic plating solution. This solution will coat and burnish stamped metals of small and durable parts in a large production volume. This process is not only for wear-and-corrosion resistance but for aesthetic purposes as well.
On the other hand, rack plating involves stamped parts mounted in an unmovable rack. This method is used for more complex geometries and intricate pieces. Commonly used plating method, rack plating can produce exceptional quality parts necessary for medical devices, electronic items, and automotive parts.
Zinc-Nickel Electroplating is one of the best manufacturing corrosion-resistant, durable, and polished stamped metal parts for a longer service time. It is commendable for various metals like steel, brass, copper, iron, and more. This plating process can produce silver and blue colored metal but is not limited to these two.
It is a conversion coating from the aluminum component surface to chromate through a chemical reaction. This process is generally for aluminum parts needing high corrosion resistance and coating of electric conductivity applications. With good provision, it is a good base for the adhesion of components such as painting.
Metal Stamped Parts Suitable for Metal Plating
For some reason, not every metal stamped part is fit for metal plating. Some things are fine without coverings but not stamped parts of most industries, such as automotive, electrical, and molding manufacturers that require metal plating.
- Automotive parts such as brackets and brakes
- Electronic items like connectors
- Component of insert moldings/thermoplastic materials
- Lead frames
Investing in materials that will last longer, be durable, and be rust-free items is essential in securing our money’s worth. By knowing and applying the importance of metal plating with metal stamped parts, manufacturers and industries can enhance outputs for end users.
Nevertheless, there are specific processes that we need to consider in plating- the design, the materials used, the types of metal plating, and the technique appropriate for each application. With all of these combined, we can indeed provide high-quality metal-plated stamped parts.
For more information about metal stamping, you can check out Gold Precision as your reliable metal stamping manufacturer. Visit our page now, and you’ll see.
Thanks for explaining the different aspects of metal plating. I loved learning that zinc is a corrosion-resistant material for plating. I’d suggest finding a plating service that has experience with zinc.