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A specialty process offered by RIE, Plating can be applied for either decorative or cosmetic appearance, or for functionality. We will work with you to determine the best plating solution for your parts and application.

Electroplating is the term used for the operation of depositing one metal on another using an external power supply to provide electrical current (electrons) that passes through a solution containing metal ions.

The part to be plated is connected to the cathode (negative terminal) and the metal being plated is connected to the anode (positive terminal), hence the term anode. The actual metal that is deposited on the item to be plated comes from the metal ions in the solution, the electrolyte, not directly from the anode.

The metals that RIE plates are copper, nickel, tin, and zinc.

For example, copper may be applied for its attractive reddish color, or for its electrically conductive properties. Nickel may be used for its appearance, hardness and wear characteristics, or solderabilty. Zinc, and to a lesser extent tin, are used primarily for their functional properties; zinc to provide galvanic corrosion protection to steel, and tin for its conductivity and solderability.

Copper Electroplating (Cu)

Copper electroplating, or copper plating as a coating onto another metal, is a highly refined and effective method many industries rely on. Copper’s excellent thermal and conductive properties make it a particularly useful substance in numerous heating, industrial and electrical applications. Copper coatings are also commonly used in corrosion protection.

The many applications of copper plating include use as an undercoat in situations where enhanced adhesion for additional coatings of other materials is desirable, as it provides smooth and uniform coverage. Copper electroplating can be used as a treatment for the preparation of surfaces for soldering.

When used as a base coat for nickel steel plating, electroplated copper provides superior protection against corrosion in comparison to other materials.

While copper is a highly effective electroplating solution in many situations, some specific properties of copper introduce certain limitations in its use.

RIE Copper Plating Specifications:

– AMS 2418

Copper can be plated to:

– Brass
– Steel
– Stainless Steel
– Copper

Tin Electroplating (SN)

Tin is a cost effective process and is especially good for its conductivity. solderability and protection against corrosion.

Tin is the metal of choice for plating applications in a wide range of industries including:

  • Aerospace
  • Food Service
  • Electronics
  • Telecommunications
  • Jewelry Manufacturing

RIE Tin Plating Specifications:

– MIL-T-10727

Tin can be plated to:

– Aluminum
– Copper
– Steel
– Stainless Steel

Nickel Electroplating (Ni)

Nickel may be used for its appearance, hardness and wear characteristics, or solderability, as well as friction reduction.​

RIE uses nickel plating for a wide variety of consumer, industrial and military applications:

  • Connectors for electronics commonly found inside homes
  • Automobiles and gadgets such as cell phones.
  • A key component of military and industrial hardware products, including firearms and radar wave guides.
  • Material handling and food processing equipment.

RIE Nickel Plating Specifications:

– QQ-N-290
– 9902105

Nickel can be plated to:

– Aluminum
– Copper
– Steel
– Stainless Steel

Electroless Nickel

An alternative to nickel electroplating is another class of plating known as electroless, or autocatalytic, plating.

This is where the metal is reduced from an ionic state to an atomic state by a chemical reaction in the tank without an external power supply.

The electroless nickel that RIE plates is about 6-9% phosphorous, the result of nickel sulfate being reduced to metallic nickel by sodium hypophosphite​.

RIE Electroless Nickel Plating Specifications:

– MIL-C-26074
– AMS 2404

Electroless Nickel can be applied to:

– Aluminum
– Brass
– Copper
– Steel
– Stainless Steel

Zinc Electroplating (Black, Clear, Yellow)

Zinc is used primarily for its functional properties; for example, zinc is used to provide excellent galvanic corrosion protection to steel.  Zinc plating is available in clear, yellow, and black.

Zinc plating is commonly used in the automotive industry as a means of protecting parts such as brake pipes, brake calipers and power steering components.  It is also used in the production of tanks, armored personnel carriers and other heavy military vehicles. Zinc plating can also serve as a protective undercoating prior to painting, as it can promote greater paint adhesion.

RIE Zinc Plating Specifications:

– ASTM-B-633

Nickel can be plated to:

– Brass
– Copper
– Steel