Electroplating is a common process. In manufacturing, it increases or improves the inherent qualities of the specific metal or other materials. It also finds favor because by plating certain base metals with more expensive but highly desirable ones, the manufacturer can reduce the overall cost of producing various components. Plating steel, stainless steel or iron is common. Coatings can consist of such precious metals as silver or gold, but the coverings or plating may also be of a more base metal. One of these is zinc plating.
Why Use Zinc?
With many options available, fabricators, finishers, and manufacturers often choose zinc. They do so to achieve certain goals. Primary among this is protection. Zinc provides an anti-corrosion coating over the substrate surface. In fact, it is a “sacrificial coating.” This means the weather or other elements will erode the zinc coating before the actual surface of the substrate metal. This gives the component or another item a longevity it would lack without the zinc plating.
In order for the coating to be effective, finishers have to look at various factors that will affect the zinc electroplating process. Cleaning is essential before applying zinc. In addition, the finishers must look at such factors as:
* Quality of the substrate surface
* Intended environment of the finished component
* The metal forming the substrate
* The need to produce an aesthetically pleasing and/or a functional surface
With these factors well understood, the plater will be able to decide what zinc thickness the substrate will require as well as what post-plate treatment. The result will be able to address the demands of the application.
Applications for Zinc Plating
Zinc plating is commonly applied for small fasteners such as screws. The process is also used for
* Crank handles
* Dry cell batteries
* Light switch plates
Overall, those who rely on zinc, regard it as a cost-effective way of providing corrosion protection to their components.