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Market-share for different coatings and surface modification technologies

A discussion started in 1996 and continuing through 2014.
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Q. Hi all! I am looking for information on the market-share of different surface modification technologies. In particular, what part of the surface modification industry represents the electrodeposited metallic metallic coatings? (In the world, USA-Europe) I guess this information must be published in journals such as Transactions of the IMF, but I still haven't found it there. If you can help me? Thank you,


Pedro Olivas

A. I don't think the information you are seeking will be found to be available for free, Pedro. However, the Surface Finishing Market Research Board (SMFRB), a task force put together by AESF, NAMF, and MFSA^(those three organizations are now NASF) recently conducted a pretty thorough study of the North American market. You can contact NASF to find out the exact scope of the studies and the cost of a copy. Good luck!

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Is there room for another plating shop ?


Q. I have recently retired after 35 years in the plating field and am considering starting a plating business. I would like to obtain information on the US and international markets for various types of plating (what type of plating is needed in which geographic areas?). Thanks in advance for your help.

John Kostura
- Orange, California

A. Hi John.

Yes, some information on this is available in the Surface Finishing Market Research Boards reports available from NASF.

But shipping time & cost are critical in most jobshop plating situations so that the only market important to you is the one immediately proximate. While there may be a couple of high-tech exceptions for aerospace and electronics, it would be hard for a retiree, presumably on a tight budget, to get into the most demanding, quality intensive, shipping-cost-be-damned markets.

Marketing studies can be important to Pfizer or American Home Products where they need to insure that there truly is a billion dollar market for some new product before they develop it and advertise it, but personally I've always considered generalized marketing studies for plating jobshop work to be a little silly. Because, on the one hand, the needs are obviously being met by existing shops already; and on the other hand, the customers are invariably very open to a better source should one become available :-)

Best of luck!

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. John, there's only room for a new plating company if you make room. California is not one of the places most people would consider for a new plating company but what do I know, I live in Maryland! You didn't say what size company you were thinking about or what types of processes you were looking at. With the right resources, knowledge, customer base and experienced staff, anything is possible. I can tell you from experience that starting from scratch has taken us 5 years to establish ourselves in the markets we serve, and to train a competent staff. It's also very difficult to show good numbers the first few years because of the high reinvestment ratio needed to grow the business.

If you decide to move to Maryland let me know ... Have I got a deal for you!

jim conner
Jim Conner
Anoplex - Dallas, Texas USA


Q. I would like to build a new hard chrome plating plant. I am interested in readers' opinions of starting a new plating company.

Stephen C. Ward
- Canada

A. Hi Stephen. Chrome is being targeted due to its toxicity, and it's slowly dying as replacements are being sought and found. Getting into a dying technology, where you will be harassed to death in the meanwhile, won't make for a very pleasant life in my opinion.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

To minimize searching and offer multiple viewpoints, we've combined multiple threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition or failures of chronological order.

Market Research Data on Customers of Finishing Industry


Q. Where can I find detailed market research data on the customers that the finishing service industry serves? For example, customers by category, dollar volumes by type of customer, by region, etc. Thanks in advance

Jim Chang
- Ontario, California

A. Some general market studies of this nature are available in the annual issues of the Surface Finishing Market Research Board Reports available from NAMF or AESF ( at reasonable prices (I think they're something like $100 each). However, really detailed market studies are 5-figure items.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. Ted is right on the ball but a tad off on the numbers:

For the Surface Finishing Market Research Board reports (available at they are $125 each for members of the AESF/NMFRC and I believe one other organization, maybe the NAMF, or $250 for non-members.

Tip, it costs you 125 dollars to sign up for the AESF & NMFRC together, why not do that, order your report, it pays for your membership instantly then and you have a year's worth of value from the two organizations; it's what I did.

Matthew Stiltner
plating company - Toledo, Ohio


Q. What about gross margins? Does anyone know what the typical gross margins are for a surface finisher?


Matthew Klokel
- Irvine, California

A. Unfortunately that's almost funny, Matthew :-)

Plating involves hazardous wastes. When plants were designed poorly and there was no focus on it a few decades ago, waste seeped through the floors and into the ground blow the shop (acids easily eat through concrete floors over the years). When "Silent Spring" hit the best seller list and the EPA was established, the electroplating industry was the nation's very first target (no megacorps, no big campaign donations, so no mercy). Now, and not without cause, the contaminated earth below these shops has been retroactively determined to be hazardous.

So, while there are some surface finishers earning a good living in newer niche markets, there are many very unhappy people in the business who have been losing money for years now, but who can't retire despite age and weariness because closing down will trigger cleanup costs and responsibilities that will cost them their homes and leave them without a dime for their old age. When some of your competition is in a situation where slowly bleeding away their life savings is preferable to closing and becoming homeless in a single swoop, it's very difficult to compete against them :-(

There is no "typical" in this business -- but be sure to look to highly technical, advanced, plating -- not commodity work like zinc plating where you have to compete on price against people who are at once established, experienced and desperate. Don't do it.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Market research / market analysis of electroplating industry


Q. I am trying to find a marketing research report that encompasses the electroplating industry. Do you know where I can find this and if a report exists?

Mike Parsley


Q. Do you know any European associations equivalent to the Surface Finishing Market Research Board (SMFRB) or the NASF?
So far I can only find national organisation in Europe but nothing comparable to the American ones. Thanks for your answer.

P.S.: When was the question posted by Pedro and answered? It would be nice to know this while reading the posts in the forum.

Baptiste gindre
- Göteborg

November 16, 2008

A. Hi, Baptiste. The Institute of Metal Finishing, based in England, is sort of the European equivalent of the USA's NAMF.

Pedro's Q&A was originally from 1996, and we've restored the date. (We sometimes remove dates from old letters so we don't have to choose between leaving them bogged down with obsolete info vs. updating them into an an anachronistic mess. Plus, we don't want people to assume that old threads are dead and start duplicative ones, because this necessitates the readers reviewing numerous very similar threads to find answers and consensus.

Luck & Regards,

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Seeking info about projected electroplating industry growth

September 8, 2008

Q. I am looking to find out some stats on electroplating growth or lack thereof in the US. Does anyone know where I can get this info?

Michael Duffy
Possible owner of plating facility - Cranston, Rhode Island, USA

August 6, 2014

Q. I'm looking to gather information on Electroplating, Plating and Polishing industry SIC 3471. Specifically, I'm looking for a market analysis as to where the industry is heading and what the future looks like. Any information I can gather would be very helpful or if anyone knows of a lead I would greatly appreciate that as well. I'm looking to find reports that are free and recent. Thank you in advance.

J Young
- Los Angeles, California

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