Conitinuous Learning in the Plating Industry

With more than 20 years in the plating industry I was surprised by how many insights and new pieces of information I picked up at the recent CEF course sponsored by Asterion in Indianapolis, IN. Here are just two of the applications regarding fixtures  which were new to me.  As I have talked with  other industry “old timers” this was new information for them as well.

I thought I’d share them and encourage you to attend the next CEF course sponsored by Asterion next year, you just might learn something to save your shop thousands of dollars.

Barrel design:  Traditionally it has been taught that the barrel should rotate with a portion of the barrel emerging from the solution on each rotation.  A majority of the barrel platers I visit, have designed their barrel process with 10-15% of the barrel is visible above solution at all times.

Unfortunately, this design allows for the possibility to generate carbonates and foam. However, Frank Atlmayer and Herb Tilton mention in the instructional guide for the course that, in 1979 the AESF conducted a research project discovering barrels which are partially immersed in the solution require more energy and produce a wider range of deposit thicknesses.  The findings from the study showed partially immersed barrels require 17% more voltage, 25% more energy, and about 8-10% less efficient than totally immersed plating barrels.

As your barrels wear down, try to replace one redesigned to fully immerse beneath solution, you may see that the new design will plate at lower voltage, produce a more uniform thickness on the parts, produce less foam and fewer carbonates.

Rack design: It is common to rig a system with Cu wire and existing racks to make the process work at many job shops because building a rack for each new opportunity is not financially feasible.  However, as new specifications are written, metal prices increase and labor costs increase the need to explore getting racks built or making the rigged system more efficient is becoming more common.

Typically the parts are positioned so they are spatially and symmetrically arranged, being careful of shadowing and robbing current from part to part.  In the instructional guide Altmayer refers to formulations created by an old, now extinct, rack company.  These formulations are created by mathematical calculations, specific part design and plating processes in mind.  They eliminate  a large portion of the “guestimating” I typically encounter from rigged rack systems.  It is important to note this is a good starting point, trial and error will still be incorporated into the final design, but this will provide a much better starting point than just visually guestimating how many parts will fit into your particular system.

For help running this calculation please give us a call and let us walk you through the math.

Probably the single biggest thing I learned from 4 days of CEF training was simple. Even with 20 years of experience, the greatest mistake I could make was assuming I had nothing left to learn. I hope next year’s course helps more of our clients walk away with the knowledge to work differently and hopefully more profitably in their shops.