An Overview of Metal Finishing Methods for Metal Plating

The numerous benefits of plating metal parts for the automotive industry and other industries inevitably leads to many methods of performing metal plating.  Professionals adopt different metal plating methods based on their metal products and needs. Some of these methods include:



Electroplating is a process used when the metal used for plating is placed in an electrolyte solution with the item to be plated. Plating metal, when submerged in an electrolyte solution, sheds a little when electricity is passed through it. These small metal pieces flow in the solution and cover the desired item to be plated. Hence, the piece or part is electroplated.

Electroplating is the most known and most used plating method on various metals because it not only strengthens the metallic substance but also prevents deterioration and discoloration.

DeKalb Metal solely uses electroplating on automotive parts for the automotive industry through zinc plating, zinc iron plating, and zinc nickel plating. Other companies and industries use electroplating for commercial purposes for metal decorations, metal machinery parts, and appliance parts.

Electroless Plating 

Electroless plating is the answer when you do not want electricity to pass through the metal item being coated as the metal could rust from oxidation. Instead, chemicals are used in the electrolytic solution to cause the metal plating to release atoms.

These metal atoms then target and adhere to the metal needing to be coated. This electroless plating method is also used mainly in automotive plating, but only to a small degree as the durability of the coating in this process is less than the electroplating method.

Immersion Plating

The immersion plating method is slower that other plating methods and can only be used on metals that are chemically inert noble metals. When placed in an electrolyte solution a noble metal will shed some ions which then are pulled toward the metal needing to be plated. This method reduces corrosion and increases a metal’s hardness and conductivity. However, results are not as long-lasting as other plating methods.

Plasma Spray Coating

Plasma spray coating is good for metals that need corrosion protection from coating metals that can withstand high temperatures. In a plasma flame, the plating metal is heated to a high temperature. As soon as the metal melts, the plasma coating is quickly sprayed onto the metal piece to be coated and then promptly cooled.

However, there are chances that the conductivity of the metal plated may change which is why this method is only used in specific instances.

Other takeaways 

No metal is the same which is why choosing the right metal for a part, choosing the type of metal plating you require, and deciding the metal to be used for coating purposes along with the look you want to achieve is important. Some metals simply work better with a particular method.

For example, the zinc plating we do in Indiana for automotive parts may not be suitable for plating on copper or aluminium. The next time you want to prevent your parts from deteriorating or rusting, consider asking about zinc-iron plating as it is approximately the same cost and offers additional corrosion protection.


Our metal plating experts at DeKalb Metal Finishing are ready to discuss your next commercial zinc plating, zinc nickel plating, or zinc iron plating needs. Give us a call today.

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