Keeping Controls Under Control

Feb 15, 2021

Keeping Controls Under Control
There are many different elements that need to work in tandem for quality zinc plating: time, temperature, pH, concentration, sequence, agitation, and contamination. With the many different steps involved with zinc plating, many one of these elements not being in control can result in rejects. A quality plating facility must understand the complexity of zinc plating and that control over all of these elements is necessary to provide a quality product that performs, and the Plateco Lab Department has many controls and monitors to ensure we do have this control.

There are many plating related issues that an uncontrolled zinc plating system can lead to. Each aspect of the plating process is linked to the next, and all of the steps combined result in the final product; proper cleaning and surface preparation free of contaminants lead to superior zinc adhesion; superior zinc adhesion then leads to appropriate passivate adhesion and a shiny and smooth part appearance. If even one portion of this process is not within parameters, this could prove disastrous for your parts, leading to longer lead times and a higher reject rate due to the following:

  • Poor zinc adhesion
  • Underplated parts
  • Discolored areas due to unclean substrate
  • Lack of zinc coverage
  • Over plated parts
  • Dull and poor appearance
  • Burning
  • Etching (eating away at the base material)
  • Failure in the field
  • And more
Keeping Controls Under Control
We here at Plateco understand the importance of keeping meticulous controls on all aspects of our plating process. We have dedicated an entire lab department to monitoring and ensuring that the temperature, pH, and various chemicals are within specific Plateco parameters. The Plateco Lab Department is composed of three key individuals whose entire responsibility is to take samples of our various plating baths each day and to test these samples. Below are just a few of the specifics of our lab department’s measuring and the reasoning behind it:

pH Probes – The level of pH in a tank is vital to all aspects of plating. For example, if pH is too low in the passivate bath, this could strip away portions of the zinc and plating would not meet spec.

Temperature Probes – Each tank is kept within specific temperature parameters. An example of the temperature being too high is that in an acid bath, this could eat away at the base material of product. If the temperature is too low, though, the product does not clean and zinc does not adhere.

Titration Sets – These measure the concentration of various chemicals in our plating baths.

Measure for Tank Contaminants – As the surface preparation of product is just as important as the plating, our acids, soaps, descales, and electro-cleans are monitored daily for contaminants from previous plating and changed regularly. This ensures that future plating is not marred be previous cleaning.

Salt Spray Tests – On a monthly basis, the Plateco Lab Department, processes a salt spray panel on each of our production lines in each of our passivates. We then conduct a salt spray tests to ensure that our processes and your parts are continuously meeting specification.

Tank Depletion – As racks or barrels go through each tank, some material is used. If this is not carefully monitored and re-stocked, then racks at the end of the day will not have the same quality as the beginning of the day.

These are just a few of the controls that the Plateco Lab Department monitors on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. We call ourselves Plating Perfectionists and we take that title very seriously by controlling every aspect of our process. By ensuring the quality of our processes, we ensure the quality of your parts.

You should demand that your plater meticulously monitor the make-up, time, and temperature, of their plating baths, and hold them accountable. Even if we are not your plater, you should hold your zinc plater to the same high standards that we at Plateco hold ourselves. According to Plateco Quality Supervisor Cody Powell – “Control means Accountability, and Accountability means Quality.”