Liquid Cleaner Preference

During my more than 30 years in the metal finishing industry, a slow and quiet revolution has taken place. Early in my career many finishers would ask, “Why should I pay for water?” when we discussed liquid cleaners. Now when I talk to most metal finishing shops, they tell me they have a preference for liquid cleaners. Why the new preference over the powder equivalents? My clients and prospects give me many reasons: It could be for safety, for control, for ease of handling and sometimes for the simple choice of a longer bath life. User Safety and Other Preferences Worker safety has always … [Read more...]

Bury the Dog Bone

There has been a push in the plating industry to electroplate a given metal at a faster pace to ramp up production rates.  Unless you are willing to construct enormous plating lines, the only way to speed up plating production is to plate faster. Plating faster means plating at higher amps per square foot (asf). Seems to be a simple a simple task, but there are obstacles that need to be considered. One issue, and probably the most significant is the “dog bone effect”.  When plating occurs at higher ASF and plating times are compressed, larger amounts of metal are deposited in the high … [Read more...]

What is Clean? Part II

In Part I, we discussed “What is clean?” and the harmful effects of unclean. In Part II, we will describe a simple suggestion to determine cleanliness that does not require or demand (as in the case of cleanliness specifications dictated by some processes) expensive laboratory equipment, clean rooms, etc. Pay Attention to the Water Break Free Surface Generally, the first and simplest sign we look for in a “clean” surface is a “water break free” part emerging from the rinse steps after the soak and electrocleaner. A water break free surface should have a coating of water, adhering across the … [Read more...]

What Is Clean? Part I

One of the most common phrases I hear from metal finishing managers when referring to their pretreatment cycle and working with them in choosing a cleaner for their process is, “We need the part to be clean.” But what is clean? How do you define clean? Can parts be too clean?  From parts washing between assembly steps at large automotive manufacturers, to clean assembly rooms, to parts involved in paint and plating pretreatment, the word “clean” takes on several definitions and concepts. In this two-part article we will describe: Our definition of "clean" to meet the gambit of finishing … [Read more...]

The Basics of Phosphate Conversion Coatings

The phosphate process is the treatment of a metal surface that produces a reasonably hard, electrically non-conducting surface coating of insoluble phosphate that adheres to the underlying metal. It is used to enhance corrosion resistance, lubricity or as a foundation for subsequent coatings or paint. Zinc and manganese phosphates are also used to help break in parts subject to wear and to prevent galling. Zinc phosphate is often used with sodium stearate for lubrication in forging processes. It may be applied to a variety of substrates. Main Types of Phosphates The main types of phosphates … [Read more...]

Routine Maintenance in the Finishing Shop

Years ago on there was a television ad for a car repair shop that encouraged people to change their oil and brakes as well as maintain their fluids in the car. The tagline was simple: “Pay me now or pay me later.” Unfortunately in a metal finishing shop the same statement is true. Equipment maintenance in a metal finishing shop is often considered nothing more than an inconvenient hassle at the bottom of every plant manager’s "To-Do" list. However, with a little bit of proper care and some attention to planning, equipment can operate for longer periods of time without failure and dreaded … [Read more...]

Choosing the Right Bright Nickel Process

Bright Nickel plating has been used in nearly every area of manufacturing. Whether it is plumbing, automotive, food service, military, machine and equipment components, or fasteners bright nickel provides an aesthetic finish with good corrosion resistance.  Bright nickel electroplating processes may be in coil / sheet lines, reel to reel, barrel or rack processes.  For this discussion we will consider the rack and barrel processes.  Bright nickel typically serves as a bright finish to provide a cosmetically pleasing finish over steel, brass, or copper. Usually it is a decorative under layer … [Read more...]

Phosphating at Low Temperatures for Ferrous Metals

Phosphating at ambient temperature and at high temperature both have weaknesses.  Room temperature phosphating produces large amounts of sediment and slime, shows poor wear and corrosion resistance, and can produce fungus.  Phosphating at high temperatures (145-160 degrees F) will result in high energy consumption, as well as greater chemical consumption. Phosphating processes at lower temperatures (110-120 degrees F) has shown the strengths in producing a fast coating forming rate, low energy consumption, manageable sludge beds, and good corrosion resistance. Iron phosphate conversion … [Read more...]