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Differences between Metal Plating and Powder Coating

November 3, 2017

Comparative coating technologies can be tough for the uninitiated to master. What if the novice coating technician is wading through metal plating and powder coating procedures? Admittedly, if a thesaurus is called in, plating and coating work seem interchangeable. However, from a strictly functional viewpoint, major differences abound. They exist in the processing method, the applied coating material, and the end results. Metal versus polymer, which coating method takes the lead?

Taking the Lead with Powder Coating Tech

Processing differences kick this debate into high gear. In the powder coating cubicle, it's an electrostatic charge that attracts the specially formulated particles to an awaiting workpiece. Those charged particles are then heated and cured in an oven. Simply put, the charged particle coating liquifies, then it hardens into an impenetrable shell. As it hardens, it exhibits the material characteristics that were locked inside the powder, so the workpiece could now be glowing with a glossy chrome sheen or sparkling with some cleverly incorporated texture.

Metal Plating Differences

The method employed when this principle is adopted branches sharply away from the powder coating process. First of all, this is an electrical deposition technique. In that respect, both processes share a common approach. After that, though, everything changes. Electroplating principles use chemical baths to soak the workpiece. Immersed in that fluid, an electrical current runs through the part, which then causes the metal-based electrolyte to undergo a galvanic displacement reaction. Depending on the metal suspended in that electrolytic compound, different metals can be deposited.

Weighing the Process Discrepancies

Well, powder coating is environmentally safe, that's the first point we should mention. Metal plating techniques use metal-based fluids, some of which contain toxic solvents and acids. Chrome electroplating, for instance, opts for a chromic acid pool. That's a lot of acid to dispose of after the procedure is finished. Additionally, these industrial baths require expensive concoctions, yet the deposited layer of metal only provides a decorative finish, plus a measure of corrosion resistance. Powder coated products are affordable, they're produced in an environmentally friendly equipment setup, and there's no waste left over after the project is concluded.

There's a place for metal plating technology. The technique imbues metal parts with a fine finish, one that's corrosion resistant and imbued with controlled material characteristics, including solderability. Furthermore, certain establishments use the technique to add value to smaller workpieces. Gold-plated items are made in this manner. Still, besides utilizing an electrical power supply, there are some big differences to consider. Use the powder coating method if an eco-friendly process, a mechanically stronger finish, and an affordable treatment method are important to project constraints.

GP Industries Pty Ltd

Head Office

1 Regal Court,
Vermont South VIC 3133

Phone: (03) 9802 1355

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Email: gp_ind@bigpond.com


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Bayswater North VIC 3153

Phone: (03) 9761 7676

Fax: (03) 9761 7671

Email: gpfactory@bigpond.com

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