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When you’re researching zinc electroplating, you will eventually encounter the concept of clear zinc plating. There is some confusion about what that term actually means, however. Is the zinc truly clear? Clear zinc plating essentially does mean “colorless” or “transparent” and is essentially a “color” choice which shows the natural metallic color of the zinc coating.
What is Clear Zinc Plating?
Zinc plating in general can be broken into two primary steps. The first step is to add the zinc plating, through the use of electrical current. The second step is to treat the plated metal with a chemical passivate which adds color. These solutions are referred to as chromates (hex chrome) or passivates (tri chrome). To create a clear finish, a clear passivate is used. These passivates leave the metal with a natural color. In other words, the metal will have the silver color of zinc, often also including slight iridescence which can range from blue to yellow to pink.
Other Colors of Zinc Plating
The use of different passivates can provide a wide spectrum of zinc finishes. Colors that can be created with a passivate include black, iridescent/clear, and in some cases yellow and olive drab. Each color has its own appeal to different industries and applications.
Advantages of Clear Zinc Plating
Zinc plating with clear passivation gives all the same advantages of any other zinc plating, particularly the addition of considerable corrosion resistance. It also offers some benefits in terms of strength and abrasion resistance. Overall people often choose clear zinc coating because it is both affordable and effective.
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