Frequently Asked Questions

Zinc Plating Questions
What is zinc's advantage over other materials?
Zinc plating provides a soft, ductile, functional, and even decorative corrosion-resistant finish that protects steel products from red corrosion by sacrificing itself to the steel and corroding before the base metal can. No material can match zinc for coverage or value.
What is the difference between zinc barrel electroplating and zinc rack electroplating?
Zinc barrel electroplating is ideal for plating fasteners and small-to-mid-size stampings. The barrel electroplating process involves tumbling the steel parts along with appropriately-sized glass beads and a zinc powder bath and applying electrical current inside a rotating barrel. During the tumbling process, the glass beads collide with the steel parts and the contact, in concert with the electrical current, in effect pounds the zinc powder onto the surface of the parts. In contrast, zinc rack electroplating is ideal for plating large, complex or delicate parts. The rack electroplating plating process involves “fixturing,” or hanging, the steel parts on racks that are lowered into a variety of vats containing a liquid zinc plating bath that has been infused with electrical current. For each part, the rack is selected based on its ability to fit a maximum quantity of the parts in a minimum amount of space while maximizing the plating coverage and minimizing any contact among the parts. At Plateco, both zinc barrel electroplating and zinc rack electroplating can achieve zinc coating thickness ranging between .0001 and .001, with most parts requiring .0002 to .0003 of zinc coating.
What is the largest-sized part Plateco can electroplate?
Plateco can rack plate a part as large as 14′ 5″ in length.
What is zinc mechanical galvanizing?
Zinc mechanical galvanizing is ideal for parts requiring thicker coatings. Mechanical galvanizing involves the use of barrels but not electroplating. While electroplating utilizes computerized automation, mechanical galvanizing requires the skills of line operators to control the concentration, temperature and time exposure of the plating chemicals, the speed and angle of the barrel, and many other process variables.
Why is cleaning crucial for effective zinc plating?
When steel parts are manufactured, the heat treating, welding and brazing processes can dehydrate and bake oil and flux onto the surface of the parts. And if a part is covered in oil and flux, the zinc is simply not going to adhere to the part properly during the plating process. For these reasons, Plateco subjects all parts to up to 7 cleaning stations using a series of alkaline cleaners and an acid pickle to remove oil, flux, scale, and light rust prior to applying the zinc coating.
Why is it important to coat zinc with passivate?
In almost all cases involving zinc barrel or rack electroplating, the zinc is coated with an ultra-thin passivate film that sacrifices itself to, and hence protects, the zinc much the way the zinc protects the base metal. The amount of passivate covering a part is only about 1/20th the amount of zinc covering that part, which means the passivate film is so thin that it can’t be machine measured.
What kinds of substrate can Plateco plate with zinc?
How do I determine what level of zinc coating thickness is needed for my parts?
The thickness of your zinc coating is a function of the conditions the part will be exposed to. Such conditions may include frequent exposure to moisture, cleaners, and saline solutions, as well as likely damage due to denting, scratching or abrasive wear. Plateco’s plating perfectionists can help you determine the appropriate zinc thickness.
What zinc plating finishes at Plateco are REACH compliant?
What passivate colors can be used to coat the zinc plating?
Plateco is the only zinc plating company that offers nine plating colors: black, clear, green, olive drab, blue, red, orange, purple and yellow.
Can these passivate colors be used on outdoor applications?
Is passivate used with zinc mechanical galvanizing?
Chromate is not used with zinc mechanical galvanizing, as the zinc coating is so thick that passivate is not needed to protect it.
Do Plateco's processes comply with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (a/k/a Conflict Minerals)?
What causes voids, brown spots or non-coated areas around welds, and how can they be prevented?
What are the temperature limitations for electroplated parts and products?
Is Plateco RoHS compliant?
Yes. In particular, we strictly comply with the government mandate that Hexavalent Chromium must be less than 0.01% of the substance by weight at raw homogeneous materials level of Cadmium and Hexavalent chromium.
Why would we need a platecoat/sealer?
Platecoat/Sealer protects metal components against degradation due to moisture, salt spray, oxidation or exposure to a variety of environmental or industrial chemicals. Platecoat/sealer allows for added lifetime of metals.
What is passivating?
Passivation is the process of chemically treating stainless steel to remove free irons from the surface. Plateco passivates in accordance with ATM A967.
When is baking required, and what's so special about Plateco's approach to baking?
Some plated products require baking to counter hydrogen ions that can creep into micro-cracks and make the product brittle over time. Plateco uses a special hydrogen embrittlement relief oven that gets all parts in the oven up to the right temperature (375-450° F) within 4 hours. Most competitors use less sophisticated ovens that after 24 hours still can only heat the outside of the mass of parts.
Why is Plateco's reject rate so much lower than other platers'?
There are a number of reasons for Plateco’s incomparably low reject rate. The key reasons are: an unwavering focus on zinc plating; state-of-the-art technology, much of which has been developed at Plateco; an unmatched combination of automatic and human monitors designed to immediately identify and correct any deviations from targeted parameters in the plating process; an unmatched focus on cleaning, which ensures exceptional adhesion of the zinc to the steel parts; and, most important, a team of knowledgeable, talented, dedicated and passionate artisans that has no peer in the zinc plating industry.
General Questions
How long as your company been in business?
Plateco has been in business for over 43 years. (We were founded in 1974.)
What is Plateco's safety policy?
We care deeply for the health and welfare of our employees, which is why safety is a huge priority at Plateco. All factory employees are required to keep their work area clean daily and to always wear their Personal Protective Equipment. Our factory is also equipped with an extensive system of monitors that automatically issue alerts whenever any aspect of our operations is not functioning properly.
What is Plateco's environmental policy?
Environmental responsibility is a crucial priority at Plateco. We love our city and state and we are committed to keeping our environment as clean and safe as possible for our employees, families and neighbors. To that end, when we treat and release 100,000 gallons of water into the Reedsburg municipal water supply each night, that treated water is actually purer than it was when we brought it into our facility that morning.
What are Plateco's terms and conditions?
1%10 Net 30
How large a geographic area does Plateco serve?
Plateco serves customers within a radius of 250 miles from Reedsburg, Wisconsin (i.e., throughout Wisconsin, northern Illinois, eastern Iowa, and eastern Minnesota).
What is Plateco's policy on providing estimates?
Once our “Request an Estimate” form has been submitted to us, we will provide a well-researched estimate within 24 hours. Because of the detailed analysis that goes into the estimate, it is extremely unlikely that the price will have to change after the estimate has been accepted and the plating process has begun.
What is Plateco's policy on delivery?
Once a customer’s parts arrive on our loading dock, we commit to shipping them within 4 working days. If we should fail to meet that commitment, the price of the parts will be reduced by 5% for each day they are late.
Why is Plateco able to consistently meet its delivery timetables?
The key is the rigorous planning performed by our Engineering Planning team and their close communication with the line operators. The minute a customer sends us a new part, our engineers begin an analysis that takes literally hundreds of factors into account in order to come up with the manufacturing game plan. This culminates in a detailed work order that is shared with the line operators so they know precisely what process will be used to plate the part. This “do it right the first time” approach is designed to eliminate the possibility of errors, which virtually eliminates the possibility of missing a delivery commitment.
Does Plateco guarantee its work?
Absolutely: there will be no charge for any parts that fail to achieve the agreed-to plating specifications. This is why we say to all customers: On spec. On time. Or it’s on us.

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