Electroplating

Electroplated metal

We now offer Zinc electroplating /  electrogalvanising of metals. This service is a great addition to our metal cleaning, acid dipping services , and electro-polishing of stainless steel.

Electroplating is the process of plating one metal onto another using hydrolysis. It is used to modify the surface of a metal item. 

The electroplating process involves submerging your metal part in an electrolyte solution. The donor metal is connected as the anode (positively charged), while the receiving metal is the cathode (negatively charged).

A direct current is supplied to the anode, oxidizing the atoms and dissolving them into the solution. The dissolved ions are reduced at the cathode, forming a plating on the surface.

Types of Metal Plating Finishes

The following types of electroplating finishes are suited to different metals and each has its own benefits. We break down the pros and cons of each option below, although we currently only offer Zinc plating.

Zinc Plating Finish

Zinc is the most widely used plating finish and is often referred to as galvanisation. It is the best metal plating and provides a corrosion-resistant coating that has an attractive silvery-grey finish.

Due to zinc being more reactive than other metals, it corrodes first. However, this layer is slow to corrode and is considered ‘sacrificial’ as it protects the metal beneath.

Following our chemical cleaning process, your part receives a thin protective layer of aluminium. The zinc layer is then applied before passivation of the surface to ensure excellent rust protection of your metal part. Let us know if you have a preferred colour as specific sealers can produce a blue, yellow, black, or olive colour finish.

Zinc plating can be performed on mild steel, copper alloys, and zinc alloys. The benefit of zinc plating is that it is long-lasting and cannot be peeled off. Once plated, the zinc is integrated atomically with the metal surface. The surface when exposed to the atmosphere becomes zinc oxide, and over extended periods becomes zinc carbonate, maintaining the protective coating.

Metal coated nuts and bolts
Brass fittings

Brass Plating Finish

Primarily a decorative finish, brass is usually plated on top of a bright metal coating like nickel. The brass has a bright gold appearance and is applied thinly as not to mask the bright surface of the underlying metal.

Brass is an alloy made up of 40% zinc and 60% copper. It is typically applied as a plating to mild steel, aluminium, copper alloys, zinc alloys, and stainless steel. The metal once plated requires a specialised lacquer to prevent tarnishing and careful cleaning to prevent damage.

Cadmium Plating Finish

Cadmium provides excellent corrosion resistance and is most commonly used as a plating for metals destined for marine environments. The silvery blueish-grey metal is toxic to work with and is only used when required for engineering applications or in restoration. Once added as plating, the soft metal is no longer harmful and typically appears in non-decorative finishes.

Cadmium is typically applied as a plating to mild steel, aluminium, copper alloys, and zinc alloys. If you don’t specifically require cadmium plating, we recommend the more modern specialized zinc post-plating treatments for a similar result.

Chrome Plating Finish

The process of chrome plating takes two steps and leaves the surface with a silver mirror finish. The metal first receives a bright nickel coating before the chrome layer is applied. The resulting coating is scratch-resistant and long-lasting, although it may discolour from heat or exposure to strong chemicals.

Chrome plating is suitable for mild steel, aluminium, copper alloys, zinc alloys, and stainless steel.

Copper Plating Finish

Copper plating is favoured for specific applications and decorative plating. The bright metal has a great appearance when applied in a relatively thick finish. It improves the conductivity, corrosion resistance, and antibacterial properties of the applied material.

Copper plating can be used for restoration work. A sequence of plating and polishing can be used to repair surfaces for a high-quality finish. A specialised clear lacquer is added to the decorative finish to prevent tarnishing of the red-orange metallic lustre.

Copper plating is typically applied to mild steel, aluminium, copper alloys, zinc alloys, and stainless steel.

Steel metal
Nickel-Plating-Finish

Nickel Plating Finish

Nickel is used as a base in many instances of decorative electroplating. The metal is favoured for its ability to smooth out imperfections in the underlying metal. The hard metal when applied as a finish is typically referred to as bright nickel. It can be applied to mild steel, aluminium, copper alloys, zinc alloys, and stainless steel.

Nickel is the primary plating applied to metals receiving a chrome finish. The thick layer of bright nickel measures between 8 to 20 microns while the chrome layer is about 0.5 microns. Once plated your metal may tarnish over time.

Alternatively, electroless and dull nickel plating offers improved resistance to corrosion with a less mirror-like appearance. Nickel plating can provide a lustrous, metallic, silver coating with a gold tinge. In addition, you can combine a semi-bright and bright nickel plating for an increase in corrosion resistance and levelling of the resulting surface.

Tin Plating Finish

Tin plating provides a silvery-white appearance and is used to prevent corrosion. This plating finish is great for steel containers and machine parts used in the food industry. The tin bonds readily to iron and is suitable for plating mild steel, copper alloys, lead, and brass.

Things to Know Before Electro-Plating

We hope to save you effort, time, and money while delivering a reliable electroplating service. The following things should be considered before the task of electroplating can begin.

Cleaning

Items you intend to electroplate should be cleaned first to remove oil, caked-on grease, pickling, and any rust. Cleaning will ensure any residual substances left behind from sandblasting are removed. We would provide you with this service.

Tin plated cutlery
Aluminum parts electroplated

Polishing

Polishing is best performed before electroplating any metal items that require a high-quality finish. The consistency of your plating is reliant on the level of polishing achieved beforehand. It is important to consider the hard to reach places that may potentially show inconsistencies.

Aluminium

As mentioned above, there are certain metals suitable for electroplating aluminium. These coatings should, however, be tested in a sample to ensure the best outcome. Specialized cleaning sequences alongside a primary layer of plating can help attain the right appearance.

Call us for Electroplating

Contact us or visit our factory in Montague Gardens, Cape Town for a quote. We’ll give you a clean deal.

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