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"Ways to minimize defects in electroplating"

A discussion started in 2004 but continuing through 2020


Q. I am presently working in an electroplating company but I don't have any background about the processes involved in electroplating. One of the processes that I handle is plating plastic (ABS) materials with copper-nickel-chrome. In the copper plating, the material is subject to electroless copper plating after which it undergoes nickel plating then to chrome plating. In the process of nickel plating, the material undergoes ELECTRODEGREASING. My question now is, what are the advantages of electrodegreasing prior to nickel plating? At what temperature shall the material be dipped in the electrodegreasing solution? What would be the required dipping time of the material? What happens to the material if dipping time elapses? Actually when the material has been finally chrome plated, it is noted upon inspection that defects on the material like pitting, cloudiness, white marks and scratches have formed. What could be the causes of these defects? What counteractive measure is necessary to avoid/minimize these defects?

Thank you in advance!

Jharlen Diano
process in-charge - Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines


A. Hi, the correct process for an ABS line is do electroless nickel then activate it in 10% sulphuric acid then go for acid copper, finally nickel and chrome, I don't why this electrodegreasing is been introduced in between?

praveen kumar
Praveen Kumar
    plating process supplier
Mumbai, India



A. Plating on plastics is probably the most difficult plating. It surely requires more baths and rinses than any other sequence. Thus, it has a number of things that can go wrong. You will not solve them through internet forum. Consult with an expert. My first choice would be the vendor of your chemicals or the person that built the line.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico


A. Hi,
Usually, in plating industries, if you have the thicker copper base material, they will go for microetch in order to have better bonding in between copper and next metal-plating layer. But for a base material which non-metal or starting material with electroless copper, usually they will go for electrodegreasing. Here they will apply for the bipolar techniques where small amount of copper being removed in order to roughen the surface.
For the parameters setting, it would be better if you consult with the chemical vendor because only them know what is the optimum range to be applied.


Hazrul [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
leadframe plating - Selangor, Malaysia

How to avoid defects occurring in electroplating

December 2, 2019

Q. I am Saran studying Mechanical Engineering. I am going to internship in electroplating company. There are so many products comes under defects. So my question is how to avoid defects occurring in plating.

Saran Vaitheeswaran
Student - Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

December 2019

affil. link
"Trouble in Your Tank: Handbook for Solving Plating Problems"
by Larry Durney
from Abe Books

A. Hi Saran. The trite answer to your question is to do proper mechanical preparation, proper chemical pretreatment, proper electroplating, proper post-treatment, proper rinsing between each stage, and proper drying.

But the fact that there are thousands of threads just on this one site, just on the subject of plating defects, tells you that you can't get a useable answer to such a broad question in a forum response -- it's rather like asking how to cure the problem of disease or automobile accidents :-)

But there are books on the subject, plus if you give us the specifics of a particular defect, the readers will try to help you through it. Good luck!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

December 6, 2019

A. Hello Saran,

A good idea would be to go to a good company with wide experience in the field who consistently produce defect free work without variation over millions of parts.

best wishes

Khozem Vahaanwala
Khozem Vahaanwala
Saify Ind
supporting advertiser 
Bengaluru, India

Saify Ind

December 4, 2019

Q. Specific defects like uncoverage, contact issue, airlock, jig mark these defects are occurring on the parts like ball rod and socket.

Saran Vaitheeswaran [returning]
- Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

December 2019

A. Hi Saran. Please name one part, one type of plating, one defect, and list the process steps. Also please tell us what plating text books are in your company's library. I will be happy to try to guide you on that subject, and I'm sure our other readers will as well.

'Undercoverage' is too vague for any useful comment yet. But when you cite the problems 'contact issues' AND 'airlocks' AND 'jig marks' it almost surely involves either poor design or poor maintenance of the plating racks. So you might start with inspection of the general condition of the plating racks, along with a study of the historical data related to these defects and the rack repair history & schedule, to try to ascertain whether it is a design issue or a maintenance issue. Still, try to spend more time watching the plating line than analyzing it in your office :-)
Good luck!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

sidebar2 December 12, 2019

thumbs up sign Ted, You are very generous while helping people & this is to appreciate you for the same.
My salute to your patience.

Avinash Vidhate
Gordon Electrocoat pvt ltd. - NASHIK, Maharashtra,INDIA

December 2019

Thanks for the kind words, Avinash ... but honestly I sort of stumbled into one of the world's best jobs, so mostly I'm just trying to not blow this gig :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 7, 2020

A. Saran, your question is very vague, but one golden rule in all electroplating is cleanliness. You must ensure that your components area as clean as possible before you start trying to plate them. You must also ensure that all your electroplating solutions and pretreatments are working to the manufacturer's specification. You must also ensure that your equipment is working properly -- this includes your rectifiers, agitation systems and filtration. For instance, "undercoverage" (I presume you mean the coating is too thin) can be caused by too low pH, low Nickel content in the bath, anode polarisation (resulting in poor dissolution and solution depletion of nickel ions), faulty rectifier, etc., etc. Pitting can be caused by too low pH, lack of surfactant, poor agitation etc. I suggest you speak to your chemical supply house and possibly ask them to provide a training course. Alternatively, contact the Institute of Materials Finishing in the UK - they provide distance learning courses in electroplating.

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK

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