What is a Micron and Why They Are Misleading in Plating

Before we talk about plating distribution, let’s first understand what a micron is.

A micron is a unit of length equal to one millionth of a meter; a micrometer.  In the plating world, this results in a very thin layer of plating.  Most plating specs call for 5 microns, 8 microns, or 12 microns as the minimum plating thickness.

The reason a micron can be a misleading unit of measure is because plating does not deposit uniformly over the surface of the part.  Even when a part is perfectly flat, there are high current and low current density areas.  On parts with nuanced geometry, plating thickness can be even more variable.  This can lead to situations where the minimum plating thickness is achieved while at the same time causing issues in high current density areas.

Our experts at DeKalb Metal were recently consulted by a leading US car manufacturer about plating an electronic vehicle component. They wanted to know if plating thickness could be reduced due to assembly issues with excess plating on the bolts. DeKalb Metal experts quickly underwent tests and measurements on the part and were able to show the company how plating was distributed across the surface of the part and prove that the plating thickness on the bolts could not be reduced without falling below the minimum plating requirement on the base plate.

Micron Thickness Tests

As a result of our testing and studies, the auto company was able to work with their engineers and solve the problem another way.  This is just one of many examples of how DeKalb Metal works with the automotive industry leaders to test and develop solutions that produce quality results in all stages of auto part development.

Having a plating problem with your parts? Contact our zinc, zinc nickel, and zinc iron plating experts at DeKalb Metal. We specifically specialize in electroless plating, rubber to metal bonding capabilities, and, of course, we lead in testing for quality and consistency and meeting automaker specifications.

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