Zinc plating, the process of electroplating a zinc metal layer over steel, prevents the oxidation of the protected underlying metal by creating a barrier and acting as a sacrificial anode if this barrier undergoes damage. Some common industries that use zinc-plated parts include the hardware and automotive industries. Following are some details about zinc plating and the advantages it offers:
Advantages of Zinc Plating
Some major benefits that zinc plating offers include:
- Excellent ductility and adhesion
- Excellent protection against steel corrosion
- Low-stress deposits
- Good receptivity for chromate conversion coating
- Suitable for rack or barrel plating
- Temperature tolerance is as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which helps reduce cooling costs
- Does not undergo hydrogen embrittlement
- Contains no complexers or chelating agents
- Provide a bright, smooth surface
Cleaning the Surface before Zinc Plating
One of the most important requirements for successful zinc plating is cleaning the components you intend to plate properly. You can accomplish this by using a degreaser, solvent, or even scrubbing the area with caustic soda.
After cleaning the area, you need to apply a “pickle,” such as a diluted solution of hydrochloric acid. However, keep in mind that hydrochloric acid is extremely corrosive, so it is important to take every precaution to protect yourself during the process. After soaking the components for four minutes, you should rinse them with water and avoid touching them again until you have completed the plating process.
More Protection with Zinc Plating
If you want to achieve double protection with your zinc-plating solution, it is a good idea to use a combination of zinc electroplating and passivation, which you can use to protect most types of steel, including castings. Passivation, or conversion coatings, can help improve the life of the plated component, as it provides extended corrosion resistance in harsh environmental conditions. You can also add a sealant to your metal, which can improve performance further and extend the range of available finishes.
There are many variables to consider when attempting to choose the type of zinc plating that is best for your application. Not only must you know the purpose of the component you are plating, but it is also important to understand the types of corrosive elements from which the metal requires protection. Finally, you must decide what type of finish you want to use and the extent of your budget. Regardless of your needs, however, zinc plating is both an excellent and cost-effective way to protect your metal components.