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topic 17286

Best electrically conductive plating for mild steel?


A discussion started in 2002 but continuing through 2019

2002

Q. Is chrome plated mild steel electrically conductive?
What is the best solution for a corrosive resistant, electrically conductive coating for mild steel plates 3/16" thick? Thank You for your help in this matter.

Keith E. Coleman
- Peoria, Illinois, USA


adv.
"Nickel and Chromium Plating"
by Dennis & Such
from Abe Books
or
info on Amazon



adv.
How to Plate, Polish and Chrome
from Abe Books

or

2002

A.
1st Q: Yes.

2nd Q: It depends on what you understand for "best solution" and what type of corrosive environment. Best means longer lasting, cheapest, better conductivity or what? Environment is acid, alkaline, oxidizing, reducing, hot? Solution could go from plating of gold, platinum, palladium, silver, copper, chrome, brass, nickel, zinc, cadmium, a combination of some of them or a total change to a different solid unplated material.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico


2002

A. Yes, it is electrically conductive, Keith. Remember that "chrome plated" usually actually means nickel plated with a flash of chrome plating, though.

You haven't offered enough parameters yet for people to be able to narrow the list down to one recommended type of plating though because almost all platings are corrosion resistant and electrically conductive. Please try to explain the particulars of your situation especially what the component is. Good luck.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


July 24, 2011

Q. Do you mean that when we mention "Chrome plating" there is only less of chrome and maximum of Nickel? What is the percentage of chrome? Is Chrome plating best for steel having 0.1 carbon ?

Davis Oswald
- Bhiwandi, India


adv.
Hobbyist Electroplating DVD
from Abe Books

or

July 24, 2011

A. Hi, Davis. When people say "chrome plating" they most often mean decorative nickel-chrome plating: several heavy layers of nickel plating, followed by a thin flash of chrome plating. The nickel plating might be about 0.001" thick and the chrome about 0.000030" -- so the chrome might be something like 3% of the plating weight, maybe less. But sometimes chrome plating means just chrome. Please see our FAQ, "Introduction to Chrome Plating" for a full understanding..

High quality nickel-chrome plating can be a fine, premium, finish for steel -- as seen on truck bumpers and automobile grills. Nickel-chrome plating is certainly suitable for low carbon steel, but as Guillermo noted, there is no way to name the "best" plating without first deciding what the exact requirements are. He gave a list of electrically conductive, corrosion resistant, potential plating materials -- to which we could add tin, electroless nickel, rhodium, iron, white bronze, and probably a few others. They would not all be in use if one was "better" than the others. What is the component in question and what kind of environment does it see? Thanks.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha



July 21, 2012

Q. I have heard replacement of silver plating with white bronze plating. My concern is how is the electrical conductivity of white bronze compared to silver and can white bronze be used for electrical transmission components, especially high voltage?

KETAN BC
energy - India


A. Hi Ketan. White bronze plating is certainly not a substitute for silver plating for electrical transmission.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


March 2, 2013

Q. Which is the best material having high conductivity used for Mild steel plating??

ANKIT GARACH
- Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India


March 5, 2013

A. Hi Ankit. Gold plating will have the best surface conductivity as it is a precious metal and therefore will not have an oxidation/tarnish layer on it. But asking for the "best" plating without a tight list of parameters is getting a bit silly :-( We wouldn't have dozens or hundreds of choices of platings if one was "better" in all situations.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


March 8, 2013

Q. Is gold plating better than pure copper plating and which is best plating that will be preferable ... by considering all aspects of cost and availability?

ANKIT GARACH [returning]
- Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India


March 2013

A. Hi Ankit. Gold plating is "better" than copper. The tiny low voltage digital signal-carrying connectors on smart phones and electronics are always gold plated; they simply don't work if copper plated.

But gold is 5000X as costly as copper, so how would you like people to consider "all aspects of cost and availability" -- the questions are just getting silly :-)

Such discussions really cannot be continued in the abstract. When you are able to tell us about the size and type of part, the environment it will see, why you want to plate it, and the production volume we can probably help you choose an appropriate plating material. Good luck!

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


March 2, 2015

Q. WHICH IS HAVING BETTER ELECTRICAL RESISTIVITY, COPPER OR MILD STEEL? HOW AND WHY??

SHINUZ SHARAF
AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY - BANGALORE, KARNATAKA, INDIA


March 2015

A. Hi Shinuz. Copper is about 10X as conductive as steel, and resistivity is the inverse of conductivity, so the resistivity of steel is about 10X the resistivity of copper. "Why" is a difficult question which requires a deeper understanding of molecular chemistry than I possess, but the "free electrons" of copper are "more free" to travel and thus conduct current. Good luck.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha



August 5, 2019

Q. Hello. I am wanting to plate some 1020 grade mild steel magnetic pole pieces in an audio component. I want a highly electrically conductive plating on the steel. The environment will not be anything other than exposure to air, and exposure to breath (it is a microphone). I would prefer the plating has very high resistance to tarnishing over time for cosmetic reasons. The higher the electrical conductivity, the better, within the constraints of not tarnishing over time.

Hassan Hodgkinson
Audio product development - Perth, WA, Australia


October 2019

A. Hi Hassan. Gold plating is usually best for the most challenging applications due to its freedom from tarnishing and consequent very low surface resistance ... but it's very expensive, so nickel or tin plating are frequently used in electrical/electronic applications. Nickel-chrome plating may be very good for cosmetics.

Regards,

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

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