Here’s all you need to know about brush plating, the alternative to traditional electroplating.
Brush plating (also known as selective plating) is a portable method of electroplating. It is used to apply anodized coatings and electroplated deposits in localized areas of a part without the use of an immersion tank.
Application and advantages
Brush plating is primarily used for enhancing surfaces on OEM components, permanent repairs and salvaging worn or mis-machined parts. Because this method of electroplating is portable, it can be used anywhere in the shop or out on field, whereas traditional tank electroplating uses a bath or container to deposit the coating. Because of this benefit, this process is used across a wide range of industries, including aerospace, oil and gas, marine, petrochemical and more.
The Benefits of Brush Plating
There are many benefits to this method of surface plating including:
- Corrosion protection
- Improved wear resistance
- Improved solderability or brazing characteristics
- Decreased electrical contact resistance
- Galling prevention
- Serving as bearing surfaces
- Reduced downtime as machines don’t need to be taken apart
The brush plating process
The selective plating process can be broken down into 4 steps.
Step 1: Masking
The first step of the selective plating process is masking the part and then a series of base material-specific preparatory steps are conducted to ensure an adherent deposit.
Step 2: Adding Power
The next step is adding the power needed. A portable power pack, known as a rectifier, provides the direct current required for plating, anodizing and electropolishing. One of the rectifier leads is connected to the plating tool and the other is connected to the part being finished.
The direct current supplied by the power pack is used in a circuit that’s completed when the plating tool is touching the work surface. The operator has the ability to control and monitor the voltage, amperage and ampere hours for a given job. They can also change the polarity as required.
Step 3: Final setup
The penultimate step in this method of this selective plating process is making sure everything is ready for plating.
Brush plating requires movement between the plating tool and the part. This can be accomplished by moving the plating tool over the part, by moving the part and keeping the plating tool stationary, or by moving both.
Dedicated electrodes are used for each operation in the process to electrochemically prepare the part and then to plate the final deposit. The electrodes are covered with an absorbent material saturated with a solution and then applied to the part.
Step 4: Plating the deposit
The last step in the process is the plating of the metal deposit to the desired thickness. As the method is portable, this can be done wherever it’s convenient to you.
When to consider selective plating
There are a few things to consider when you are brush plating, including:
- An accurately controlled thickness on the localized area of the part is required.
- Tank electroplating is not an option ( this may be because the part is too large for the tank, masking for tank plating is too complex, etc.)
- The part cannot be moved.
- Processes such as welding and thermal sprays are not acceptable.
The SIFCO Brush Plating Process®
Originally conceived and developed by George IXCI in Paris, France in 1938, the technique has been engineered and enhanced by continuous research and development at SIFCO Applied Surface Concepts. The SIFCO Process® equipment is portable, enabling technicians to plate parts in place without disassembly, saving companies money and minimizing downtime.
With over 50 years experience, we’re the experts when it comes to selective electroplating. Speak to one of the SIFCO ASC team about brush plating in your facility, visit www.sifcoasc.com.