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"Cleaning fingerprints off electroplated finishes"

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January 19, 2022

Q. I have two workpieces received from plating; double zincate matte silver plating.

After assembly I can easily remove fingerprints with IPA and lint-free cloth. However, these two workpieces have 1 or 2 fingerprints that absolutely won't smudge. They appear to be within the plating.

Is it probable someone at plating handled them before they were dried?

Or is it possible for fingerprint acids to eventually etch silver?

Steven Car
- Syracuse, New York

February 2, 2022

A. We assume the substrate is aluminum since you mentioned zincate prep. The fingerprints were probably in the aluminum before silver plating and the silver magnified the print. The rackers must use gloves, especially some females every 27 days. If you look at aluminum or brass crosseyed you get a blemish. When I was in Korea in 1953, visited a "plating shop", out front three kids were "cleaning" the lamp parts in sand and a puddle of water, all lamp parts came out with fingerprints.

robert probert
Robert H Probert
Robert H Probert Technical Services
supporting advertiser
Garner, North Carolina

Closely related Q&A's, oldest first:


Q. Our company subcontracts the manufacturing and assembly integration of our product. Our product has both tin "Bright Tin Plate per ASTM B545 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] , Class B (.0002" min.) on a steel sheet substrate conforming to ASTM A1008-01." and zinc "Bright Zinc plate per ASTM B633 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] TYPE III (CLEAR) SC 2.".

During the assembly process the plating gets fingerprints on it. What should we use to clean the tin that won't discolor it or expose it to oxidation? What should we use to clean the zinc that won't discolor it or expose it to oxidation?

Jon Perdue
- San Jose, California, USA


A. Instead of trying to create another process step and more chemical waste, why don't you have your employee's handle the materials wearing gloves? Seems to me that if you prevent the fingerprints from happening in the first place, you would be better off. Just make sure they take them off when they are eating those Cheetos at lunch. Damn things carry cheese powder like all get out.

tom baker
Tom Baker
wastewater treatment specialist - Warminster, Pennsylvania

October 25, 2021

A. Use trichloride ethylene solution mixed it with DM water 200 ml /litre then dip the piece for 2 minutes after wipe off the piece with cloth cleanly fingerprint will disappear.

a. Vasanth karunakaran
Employee - Chennai, India

October 25, 2021

A. Sorry, don't mix with dm water use it as full strength solution.

a. Vasanth karunakaran
Employee - Chennai, India

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