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topic 626

Cost control for plating processes


Has anyone quantified the costs per 1000 ft2 of the various stages for different plating processes? We are looking to determine what does it actually cost to plate a part, how much does each stage in the process contribute to the actual cost, and where are the critical areas to control cost. Are there any formulas that can be used?

D.M. Zinman


For every rule, there are a dozen exceptions. a 10 sq in part may cost numerous times more to plate than one with hundreds of square inches because of the configuration or alloy. Things like local environmental restrictions can cause major costs variations. Quality of help probably is more important than cost of help. What is the cost of reworking a reject vs doing it right the first time. If plating were cheap and easy, everyone would be doing it, instead of companies farming it out and platers going out of business at a rate far greater than new ones entering the market. Unless you have a quality problem or damage or a time constraint, you probably are better off paying the cost of your current plater or finding a cheaper suitable one.

Quality plating costs a lot more than it looks. Hundreds of people complain about cost because they have a "well, you just dip it" mentality. Get a lot more specific and I will give you some crude estimates. Also include why you are curious please..

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


Good points, James.

Many plating shops have a lot to learn about the cost of quality though smiley.

After 35 years of visiting plating shops, I can usually tell roughly how profitable they are from a 5-minute look at the way process control is done and how customer work is handled. No matter how much a plating shop thinks that rework costs them, it costs even more than that. If they have a lot of rejects and rework they are in trouble. If they are generally 'sloppy' rather than under tight control, they are not making money.

Some shops I visit change their plating supplier almost every month, looking for lower cost of materials. Each of those shops is in serious trouble but they think they will solve the problem and start getting profitable if only they can get their hourly wages and cost per gallon of makeup chemicals down. It's sad because it isn't true! Going 'upscale' is the only way to profitability; going 'downscale' is a mirage and simply doesn't work.


Sorry, I don't have direct answers for you D.M. -- although labor is the largest cost for all platers with the possible exception of precious metal platers. The problem, as Jim alludes to, is that it's very tough to figure out how much labor should be involved in treating so many square feet. The better answer seems to be to price things part number by part number to date. I'd like to think that there will be formulas for assigning costs sometime soon, but I don't think they exist today. Good luck.

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

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