For the most part, the electroplating process is a simple one – particularly if you have more than seventy years of experience to fall back on like the team at Karas Plating. That said, each technique has several steps that must be followed closely and with great precision. Of all these steps, perhaps the most important is the first one – preparing the substrate.
Why you need a clean start
Electroplating is more than just a coating of metal. The process forms a tight bond between the substrate and the new metal plating. For the bond to be effective, the base metal needs to be thoroughly cleaned of all contaminants. Grease and dirt, flakes of paint and rust, waxes and lubricants – all these things and more can result in an imperfect plating process.
Fortunately, there are several methods we can employ here at Karas Plating to rectify the matter:
Perhaps the most extreme form of cleaning a substrate, stripping involves removing an existing layer of paint or plating. This is often done to repurpose old components, though we have received commissions where the plating work from another company was substandard. Our stripping process restores components to their original condition, ready for a fresh plating process.
Blasting is used less to remove contaminants and more to abrade roughened and pitted surfaces to make them smooth. There are a few techniques that achieve this end – namely shot-blasting, tumble-blasting, and hand-blasting. While the applications differ, their methodology is the same: bombarding the substrate with high-velocity particles to remove burrs, flakes, and other imperfections.
This process uses sound waves to remove surface contaminants from your substrate. The components are lowered into a tank of water which is set to vibrate by an array of transducers on the outside. This creates ultrasonic sound waves oscillating through the liquid at high frequency. This method thoroughly scours any components – however intricate or complicated – completely clean.
Surface grease can be a pain to try and remove manually. We immerse any substrates into a solvent bath to loosen and dissolve grease and oil from its surface. Once it has soaked for long enough, we rinse it off with fresh water. Heavy deposits of grease may require us to repeat the process several times. In extreme circumstances, we may need to employ an acid bath to kick-start the process.