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topic 1236

Basics of Barrel and Reel-to-reel Plating


Q. Could you direct me to any Internet resources that would help me gain a basic understanding of the plating processes used for electrical connectors. Specifically, I'd like to learn more about barrel plating and reel-to-reel plating. I've found a great deal of information, but none of it explains the basic processes in any detail.



John Wolf
Technical Communications


A. Hi John. In reel-to-reel plating the parts are fed to the plating machine as a continuous strip. The strip may be just a plain strip of steel similar to the steel banding material you've seen on pallets and such. If you picture a roll of "caps" for a cap gun, the plating can be applied in dots like the black powder, or stripes, or whatever, or the strip can be plated all over.

More likely, the strip is at least partially prepunched and preformed, rather than plain. But after plating there will be at least one final shearing operation to separate the parts. This will leave edges unplated, which may or may not be a problem.

For barrel plating, we have just the introduction you're looking for at

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

Jig Plating Vs Continous ( Reel to Reel) Plating

July 1, 2016

Q. Dear Concerned,

We are trying to check cost comparison between jig plating vs. continuous plating, for small parts (1-2.5 mm thick), mainly Silver on Copper.

Just wanted to check what are the cost parameters in either of the processes so that we can judge the better way to go.

Arun Balraj
- Bangalore,India

July 2016

A. Hi Arun. I am confident that if you can plate satisfactory parts continuously (if the unplated cut off edges are not a problem) you will be better off in every way.

In reel-to-reel plating you are holding the parts in exact orientation and thus have control over everything. Once they are chopped up and handled in bulk in plating barrels, everything is random: nesting, shading, parts caught in barrel holes, etc.

The third alternative, bandolier plating, would restore control over the exact orientation of parts, but can be a very large development cost, and probably significantly higher maintenance costs.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

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