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"Average cost of zinc plating"

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May 5, 2022

Q. I am looking for Per LB cost of ELECTRODEPOSITED ZINC F01 & CLEAR ZINC PLATING Finishing to Carbon steel.

Siddhesh Mahajan
Employee - Pune

May 2022

A. Hi Siddhesh. Sorry, I don't know what "F01" means ... whose spec is it and what is the plating thickness? If you will describe the type of parts, and if we assume they are standard commodity hardware that can be barrel plated, sometimes when times are super-competitive, you may be able to get a price per pound -- but I doubt that shops will post it; they haven't yet in 18 years, but I guess we'll see :-)

Luck & Regards,

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

Closely related Q&A's, oldest first:


Q. What is the average or market price of zinc plating per square inch per certain measure of thickness. Thank you for your assistance. (This information will be used for Zinc plating market research project for West Virginia University's College of Business and Economics)

Joshua DeFelice
college - Morgantown, West Virginia, US


A. You have not even scratched the surface. What parent metal? What surface finish? What quantity? What shape? What size? What plater liability? What thickness? What chromate? What certifications - Mil Spec, GM, Boeing, Pratt and Whitney or Joe's junk yard? The location in a state will have a huge bearing, not to mention in which state. You cannot buy plating like a bag of carrots, which will also vary in price by over 100% in a given year in most locations.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


A. Hi Joshua. Unfortunately, James is right. It also depends on whether the parts are barrel plated or rack plated. And wire goods like refrigerator racks may cost as much to plate as if they were solid sheets, despite their surface area being maybe 10 percent that of a solid sheet.

A barrel plater may occasionally, in a time of price war, give you a price "by the pound" to plate steel stampings even though everyone including him knows it's a stupid way to price. But try $.50 a pound for a medium size stamping if a wild guess will suit.

The truth is, a plater looks at his plating line, estimates the cost per hour to run it, figures out how many of your parts he can run in an hour, and starts from there. And he'll use whatever additional "cost center data" he may possess to make an adjustment for extra or lower loading/unloading cost, less zinc consumed for wire goods or more if a complicated shapes requires higher average thickness to reach a minimum thickness spec, etc. But it is almost impossible to give a generic price per square foot.

I've seen estimating books of all sorts, but have never seen one for plating. The only sure things about the cost of zinc plating are that it is less expensive than any other metal, and you can get it cheaper and crummier from China :-)

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


Q. OK...my last request for price information was so vague, that individuals responded that they needed more information. So, I am responding with more information...

I am looking for the COST of plating (zinc phosphate, hardcoat anodizing, and electroless nickel ion vapor deposition) for a research project in plating for my university.

Here are the specs for some hypothetical pieces my professor gave me:

Qty: 600
Component: Warhead Casing 7" X 6"
Type of Plating: Electroless Nickel Ion Vapor Deposition
Specifications: MIL
Blasting/Shot Peen: AMS & MIL
Baking: Yes
Testing: Thickness, Adhesion, Hardness, Embrittlement Relief, and Corrosion

Qty: 28500
Component: Missile Nose (no size given)
Type of Plating: Phosphate, Blue Topcoat
Specifications: TT, FED
Testing: Plating Thickness, salt spray, paint adhesion at proj. head level

Qty: 72500
Component: Missile Core (no size given)
Type of Plating: Zinc Phosphate
Specifications: ASTM, TT
Testing: Plating Thickness, Salt Spray

OK...this is the information my professor gave me...I must admit, I really don't understand most of it.

Joshua DeFelice [returning]
Student - Morgantown, West Virginia, US


A. OK, This request does not include zinc plating. Because all of this is to MIL Spec, which requires significant extra testing and paperwork, the price is going to vary considerably from year to year. Probably your best bet is to send out some really nice mail to purchasing depts at companies that actually buy the products that you mention (on missiles) and in large quantities. You probably will not be able to quote or attribute the prices to their company. Martin-Marrietta comes to mind-- Orlando I think. Look under Lockheed as they merged a couple of years ago. You can get the exact information under the Freedom of Information Act, FOUA, but the request has to be extremely precise and is quite time consuming.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

"Phosphating of Metals"
by Werner Rausch
from Abe Books

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"Electroless Plating"
by Mallory & Hajdu
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"A User's Guide to Vacuum Technology"
by John F. O'Hanlon
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A. Hi again Joshua. I still can't give a plating cost estimate, but I can probably help you a little bit with the problem of "don't understand most of it"

On the first item, "electroless nickel" means electroless nickel plating; this is an autocatalytic plating process (the reducing agent is in the solution, rather than requiring electricity to reduce the nickel ions to nickel atoms. Ion vapor deposition is a vacuum/PVD (physical vapor deposition) process used to deposit aluminum plating onto an object rather than nickel -- so I think there's a typo or misunderstanding there, unless s/he means the component is partially electroless nickel plated and partially coated by ion vapor deposition. MIL means a military spec covering the electroless nickel plating and/or the ion vapor deposition. You can get these free at https://quicksearch.dla.mil/. AMS means Aerospace Material Specifications published by the Society of Automotive Engineers (these are not free). It is normal for aerospace components to test some portion of them for the thickness of deposit, the adhesion of the plating to the substrate, the hardness of the plating, that the plating has not hydrogen embrittled the substrate, and with an accelerated corrosion test like ASTM B117 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] .

For the second item, phosphatizing is a process usually employed before painting, to improve the durability of the finish in a number of ways. I don't know what is meant by 'blue topcoat' ... perhaps blue paint. I don't know what 'TT' means; FED means a federal specification (usually very similar to a MIL spec). Salt spray refers to the previously mentioned ASTM B117 test.

For the third item, zinc phosphate is one of the common phosphating processes (the other two most common being iron phosphating and manganese phosphating). It is sometimes used without subsequent painting, and it sounds like that is what is wanted here.


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

To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)

Costing in a plating operation

May 22, 2008

Q. What are the cost drivers of a plating operation. In other words, when trying to determine the cost of a part, or for a quoting opportunity, how do you determine or estimate how much material, electricity and other inputs are "used" by a part.

Bill Rafferty
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin

May 21, 2008

A. Hi, Bill. I have seen construction cost estimate "fake books" for a number of trades but I have never seen anything like this published for plating. I'm certainly not claiming that plating is special and it can't be done, but I am saying that the industry is small and specialized, and I don't think you'll find what you're looking for. But please explain your own situation and people may be able to give at least a hint or two. Good luck.


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

May 23, 2008 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread



Raghwendra GARG


NAMF Management Manual

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May 24, 2008

A. To All,

Back in the dark ages of 1960 the NAMF published a management manual for members. It includes a section on costs and pricing. This is the only publication I have seen specifically for the plating industry.

As with any other industry, cost factors include direct and indirect costs i.e. overhead, waste treatment, disposal, safety compliance, misc. regulatory compliance, chemical costs, metal costs, amortization of equipment, profit, labor, maintenance, insurance, etc.

Obviously, detailed costing is too involved to be covered in this sort of forum. That's how some consultants make their livings.

Gene Packman
process supplier - Great Neck, New York

May 25, 2008

A. Mr. Garg,

In order to define the costs in a plating operation you should know the area you will cover, the thickness of the material you are covering with, with these two data you can figure the volume of material you are spending to cover the parts. Using Faraday's Law of Electrolysis and understanding the efficiency of your process deposition you can get the amount of energy required to deposit the plating and the time you will require to do so.
Knowing the carry over of the chemicals caused by transferring the parts from tank to tank you will figure out the amount chemicals you are removing from the tanks, as well the quantity of chemicals you will treat in your waste water treatment operation.


Guillermo Castorena
Plating Jobshop - San Luis Potosi, Mexico

May 28, 2008

A. Hello,

also should be considered the following points.

- Time of preparing a rack (racking and unracking) according to labor costs/hr.
- Energy costs (heating, cooling, DI-Water preparation, electricity)
- Rack costs (Isolation of rack, material of rack etc)
- Cost per A-hr for additives which are in use
- Administrative costs (preparing of PO, invoices etc)
- Service-to-house costs (delivering, picking up part etc)
- Maintenance costs, material costs which are in use
- Packaging costs, special treatment of parts
- Insurances (transport, equipment etc)

Hope a little overview.


Dominik Michalek
- Mexico City, Mexico

February 7, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. We are a plating shop and we have not been able to figure out how to cost our jobs, especially materials. Can anyone point us in the right direction?

Thank you,

Ginelle Bakre
- Houston, Texas, USA

February 27, 2015

Q. What will be the cost of zinc plating for the following specifications: yellow passivation, 14 micron layer thickness, trivalent (ROHS compliant), for a unit sheet of 1 m X 1 m X 6 mm?

Thanks a lot!

Aditya Goel
Shiv nadar university - Gurgaon,haryana and India

February 2015

A. Hi Aditya. Hopefully a local plating shop will offer you a quote or an estimate. I've never seen a cost estimate book that includes plating services for the reasons that James explains. Further, some shops might have tanks of about 1-1/2 m deep x 2-1/2 m wide to well suit your part size, and others may have tanks where your parts just won't fit without a lot of wasted space, so they're poorly utilized. But zinc plating is the least expensive type of plating. The thickness of the plating will vary over the part (thickest at edges), but if you are referring to a minimum thickness, your thickness is about 2-3x the thickness of the cheapest "commodity" plating -- but is certainly not rigorous or unusual. I can't even venture a cost guess but maybe someone can. Good luck.


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

Ed. note: Other interesting threads on cost estimating for plating include topic 42981 and topic 55790

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