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Archive for the ‘Metal Polishing’ Category

June 22nd, 2013

Restoration of any chrome plated car or motorcycle METAL part requires 3 main steps – Strip, polish, chrome.

Stripping can involve electric or chemical stripping, depending on the substrate material. Each layer of old plating may require a different solution to remove it. Parts that have two different metal types in the substrate – e.g. an alloy section joined to steel – can be problematic as the metal stripping process chemistry needed is different for each metal type.  The stripping process will remove the chrome, nickel and copper layers of plating as well as any rust. Any surface repairs or dent knocking are completed before polishing.

Once stripped, the part needs to be polished, to bring the surface condition up to the required depth of shine for a good plating result.  For some jobs, there will be an intermediary coating of copper plated onto the part, after which it is polished again to give greater surface depth (or to seal up a poor substrate).

The typical plating process is copper plate, then nickel plate (nickel is actually the thickest layer – it provides the strength and corrosion resistance).  The final chrome plating stage is very quick, and provides the bright and distinctive silver-blue tone we know and love, to the metal part.

For plastic chrome parts the process is a whole different ball game (give us a call if you want to know more about that)

The process is very labour intensive and there is alot of chemical science involved.  Some call it a trade, others call it a craft or even a ‘black art’.  No matter what you call this process, to us it’s simply a pleasure to give old parts new life and contribute to some really good Restoration projects!

October 16th, 2011

The Chrome Plating services of A Class Metal Finishers will be on display at next week’s MotorClassica event in Melbourne, Australia from 21-23 October 2011.

Looking forward to meeting Classic motoring enthusiasts from all over Australia as well as International guests.  We will be on hand to discuss not just chrome plating services but also our range of other metal surface finishing treatments such as restoration, repairs, plastic chrome, treatments for die cast parts and a variety of other services for Classic Car and Motorcycle enthusiasts.

See you there!

Greg Wood

Vintage Classic Motorcycle

Lewis Bike - Plating by A Class Metal Finishers

October 30th, 2010

This weekend’s Adelaide Extreme Horsepower show is showcasing many great custom and restoration vehicles.  Among them a unique BMW Drag car said to be worth around $1 million.  Says The Advertiser newspaper, Saturday 30 Oct 2010, the many gold plated parts on this unique car have added much value to it.

A Class Metal Finishers is also present at the show, with a display stand to showcase to visitors some of the quality chrome plating and metal polishing work they can do.  A Class has restored the chrome parts on many of the cars on display at the show and although we can not claim responsibility for the gold on the BMW, certainly have added some precious gold plating to other vehicles.

September 20th, 2010

To get a good finish on any electroplating job  – i.e. a component to be chrome, gold or silver plated -  good preparation, using a variety of Metal Polishing skills, methods or techniques, is essential. Anyone who has ever painted a surface knows that the result is going to be so much better if you pay attention to the preparation.  The same principle applies when you are trying to achieve a good electroplated finish.  If the metal surface has pits, scratches or other imperfections before you start, unless they are polished out they will still be there in the final finish.  That is not to say that the part needs to shine like a diamond before plating, but certainly a good a level of surface preparation and smoothness is required.

Metal polishing is a generic term and includes:

GRINDING – SANDING. Grinding depends on the use of abrasives in any of a number of levels of grit density.  Using hand tools or upright lathes, the surface needs to be worked up to a level that will deliver the quality you are looking for.  The coarser grit sanding belts, compounds or wheels are used to grind out the deeper imperfections.  The metal polisher then uses finer and finer grit densities on the surface until the surface reaches the desired smoothness required.

LINISHING.  This is a form of grinding or sanding wherein an upright lathe – often a large machine of several horsepower – with a fitted sanding belt is used.  Linishing is a highly skilled operation and should only be performed by an operator experienced in the techniques and safety care required.

POLISHING OR BUFFING. In this step, a softer polishing ‘mop’ or wheel is used, in conjunction with a selection of polishing pastes or compounds, to bring up the surface shine.  If NO electroplating is to be done on the item, the polishing or buffing would be the final step in the process of bringing that metal to a nice shine.

VIBRATORY POLISHING.  This type of polishing is less reliant on skills and labour and involves placing the parts for polishing into a drum or vessel which contains polishing ‘media’ – usually small stone-like pieces of varying grittiness.  The job and media are tumbled or shaken in the vessel, causing vibration to disperse through the media, slowly grinding and polishing the surface.  The vibratory process is generally only used for higher volumes of similar parts that require similar treatment.  Vibratory polishing is not usually thought of as a good method for achieving very high quality or mirror-like finishes.

Other preparation is also important before plating a metal item.  Processes such as cleaning and chemical or electric stripping may also be required and, of course, also need to be managed well if a good quality plating outcome is desired.  Please consult A Class if you require any further information about metal polishing and other electroplating pre-treatments.

A Class Metal Finishers provide electroplating, metal polishing and other surface treatment or coating services to manufacturers, restorers and the general public.

July 26th, 2010

Electropolishing is and “Electrolytic” process (like in “electroplating”).  How it works is almost the reverse of electroplating. The job is placed in an “electrolyte” solution and anodically charged with electric current.  The effect is that  burrs and scratches, belt lines or other imperfections in the stainless steel surface metal are removed, smoothed or refined.  In some cases other metal materials can be electro-polished, depending on the process set up. Electropolishing can be a more cost effective option than using manual labour to polish the parts.

The electrolyte is a liquid solution containing various mineral acids.  Depending on the purpose, the contents of the electrolyte may contain varying amounts of chromic acid, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid and/or several others.  Thus, the solution should be handled with care and safety precautions and processing of parts only performed by trained or qualified personnel.

For more information or to obtain a quotation for Electropolishing of your stainless steel components contact A Class Metal Finishers.

March 4th, 2010

Manufacturers are continually challenged with ‘make or buy’ decisions. Elements of the make or buy decision include: maximising margin, minimising risk, core business focus, supporting and sustaining the process, process reliability and control, nature of technology (e.g. disruptive vs core)

Electroplating is an example of a process sometimes considered more appropriate to hold in-house. However the trend in recent years is toward outsourcing of this process. Why?

Consider these points:

Outsourcing lets everyone focus on what they’re best at.

Metal finishing is most often just a small part of the final product. Outsourcing any plating or finishing required enables the manufacturer to focus on their own areas of expertise (e.g. designing and making the product), without unnecessary distraction from ‘non core’ activities. Your metal finishing service provider has chosen that field as their core business, therefore they are better positioned to develop and control surface finishing processes, skills and knowledge whilst managing complexity and improving the quality.

Increasing Environmental Awareness has most serious manufacturers seeking to reduce impacts. Outsourcing is an opportunity to score ‘green points’ through elimination of hazardous processes. At the industry level, the servicing of a number of manufacturers by a single electroplating service provider, enables economy of scale to kick in – a real plus for the overall impact on our environment. Of course outsourcing also enables the manufacturer to diminish the risks associated with managing hazardous processes from both environmental and employee safety perspectives.

Activity in Skills Development for Electroplaters and Polishers at the broad industry level has severely diminished in the last 10 or so years. Is it feasible for a manufacturer, whose core business might be product development, design or production, to be burdened with responsibility to develop and manage skills/knowledge in a specialised field like electroplating?

There are obviously many more elements to the make or buy decision. Ultimately the ‘right’ decision will be the one that best supports the manufacturer’s endeavour to “deliver a product of the required specification and quality to its customer at the right price”.

Copyright © 2009, ACLASS Metal Finishers Pty Ltd. 6 Waddikee Rd, Lonsdale, South Australia, 5160. Telephone (+ 61 8 8384 4331) Email: acmf@aclassmetal.com.au
Specializing in Copper Nickel & Chrome Plating, Gold Plating, Silver Plating, Tin Plating, Electroless Nickel, Plating on Plastic (ABS) and Metal Polishing