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"Alkaline Zinc Plating Q&A's, Problems & Solutions"

Current question:

June 23, 2021


We are glad that we found you in the website forum finishing.com.
Our small company is doing non-cyanide alkaline zinc rack electroplating. We use mostly Coventya chemicals. We started to experience some kind of pixel like coating from one of our baths. The electrolyte is new. Around 1 month of use and it's not used that much. We don't have this kind of problem on our other bath, with older electrolyte > a year.

I'm attaching some photos to help you visualize the problem better.

38877-12c   38877-12b   38877-12a

Do you have any idea what could cause this issue? We had also powder-like material stuck to our coating in one of our other baths. Some of which could be washed off and some not.

Thanks in advance, wish you all the best!

Boyan Dabovic

simultaneous June 24, 2021

A. Hi Boyan,
I saw parts pictures, but I would like to see two different kind of parts run same procedure. If one part comes out ok and other part a problem that means something wrong in parts themselves.
If both parts have same problem, over etch in your process or unbalanced chemistry.

popat patel
Popatbhai B. Patel
electroplating consultant - Roseville, Michigan

June 24, 2021

A. Unless it is leaded steel, it is blatantly a cleaning problem. If it is leaded steel you need to use fluoboric acid instead of HCl or sulfuric.

robert probert

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

July 19, 2021

Q. Hi sir Hello
Alkaline zinc rack plating: after yellow passivation white patches observed on top of job (jig position area & part holes area) after plating and bright dipping nothing known, but after yellow passivation only that pbm observed. Tell me a way to solve this problem ...

Conc -6.3%; Fe-21.08 ppm; zinc-6.2 gm; pH-2.2

Thank you sir...

S. Logu parthi
Production chemist - India, tamil nadu, India

July 2021

A. Hi S. Logu,
The info you provided is very helpful, but it may not be enough. A photo would help, plus, what does a Hull Cell panel show? Does the same whiteness show up on the LCD or HCD end of the Hull Cell panel? Thanks.

Luck & Regards,

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

Previous closely related Q&A's, oldest first:


Q. I have problems with alkaline zinc plating because the performance of it's product(plated) is not bright, and yellow stains. About the clear coat/top coat's hardness is less, or easy to be broken and the colour is yellowish/yellow stain. Do you have any advise for me about it? Maybe the properly timed oven, or kind of clear coat, and chemicals/treatment used in plating? Thank you very much.


plating - Indonesia


A. Dear Ms. Anggraeni,

Have you checked with "Hull cell" the performance of the solution whether is it okay or not?

Your problem can be the additive system or lack of control of the additive and has other contamination like water hardness, do you use Demineralized water for the plating solution and might be rinsing before entering plating bath?

You did not tell properly what kind of Chromating that you are using now, either Hex-Blue or Trivalent Blue.
In my opinion, Trivalent Blue is more sensitive to be yellowish blue and non uniform for Alkaline Non-cyanide Zinc (I presumed) that has Iron contamination inside the solution.

Try to treat the solution by using Zinc dust treatment and consult with your local supplier.

Good luck.

Best regards,

Tony L. Chandra
- Jakarta, Indonesia


A. Dear Anggraeni,
You have not given any details about your process and other details about what kind of items you plate.
Kindly give details:

Process used: Alkaline Zinc, Cyanide or non cyanide:
Vat or Barrel plating:
Bath capacity:
Work being plated:
Metallurgy of the product plated :
amperage per sq. ft. applied:
Plating time:
Details of addition of all additives:
Details/intervals of regular maintenance carried out:
Details of regular treatment carried out:
Do you analyse your bath:
From your letter I think your bath is not properly treated or maintained. The additives and the constituents are imbalanced. Please give clear details to get clear suggestions.

t k mohan
T.K. Mohan
plating process supplier - Mumbai, India

Blue chromates work well, but green chromates turns blackish

March 26, 2012


ELECTROPLATING - Kolkata, West Bengal, INDIA

November 22, 2012

A. Hexavalent olive green passivation is dark green with blackish shade, which is okay. If you still want green, then change pH to higher side this will work.

Ramchandra Talwande
- India

Groove/gouge line caused by plating

July 14, 2013

Q. Deep like marks up to 4 micron observed on the non-cyanide alkaline Zn electroplated steel article. The article is a case hardened and tempered 16MnCr5 steel processed through sheet metal stamping route.
Plating is done by Rack method and there are no such marks observed on the article before plating. Hexavalent Cr passivation is done on the article.
Plating thickness is evidenced over the line mark and there is no discoloration observed.

marks on the non-cyanide alkaline Zn electroplated steel

Request the experts in guide me how this kind of deep mark is possible?

Srinivasan Rajagopalan
- Bangalore

July 17, 2013

A. Hi Srinivasan. I certainly don't claim to have seen everything, and I cheerfully welcome a contrary opinion . . .
But having never seen a problem like that resulting from a plating operation, I tend to disbelieve the evidence that the mark was not there before plating. I suppose it's possible that parts were racked in such a fashion that an interrupted contact could cause a bipolar effect that dissolved the component along this line . . . but again I have to doubt it.
Can you tell us anything about frequency, whether the line runs the same direction each time, etc.?

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

July 23, 2013

Q. Thank you for the feedback. The frequency of defect is 3 to 10 percent in every batch. The direction of loading is always in the same way. Find attached the jigging photograph.


Request your feedback.

Srinivasan Rajagopalan
- Bangalore

Brown spots develop in storage

June 12, 2013

Q. Zinc plating with surface discoloration after storing for a period of time. Hi, I am Peter, a plating chemical supplier. Recently my customer faced a big problem. He plated iron parts with non-cyanide alkaline zinc + iridescent passivation (no sealer). The parts originally show iridescent color after plating but would discolor and show brown spot when stored for a period of time (about 2~4 weeks). Not all of the parts discolor, but only a small portion of the parts. And it would happen randomly and continuously perplex him. He has plated the parts for 4 years and discolored in the last three months. Anyone have same experience and know what happened? Thank you!

surface discoloration on zinc plating

Peter Liao
Chemical supplier - Hsinchu, Taiwan

July 12, 2013

Q. Hi,
My site also facing the same problem too.

Jeremy Tan
- Klang, Malaysia

July 15, 2013

A. Hello Peter and Jeremy,

Please give some information:

Passivation (Chromate conversion coating): Hex chrome or trivalent chrome?

Bath: Jeremy, you have the same problem with an alkaline or acid zinc bath?

Thickness: Is it uniform? Is it above 5 microns? Are there scratches or chipping of the surface?

Storage conditions: Is it humid? The parts could be exposed to fogs or sprays?

Well, this is all I recall as important now. If you can give some more information, we may be able to help you both! Regards and good luck!

Daniel Montañés
- Cañuelas, Buenos Aires, Argentina

July 17, 2013

Q. Hey Daniel,
Mine is alkaline zinc bath, trivalent yellow, thickness is 8-15 micron. Discoloration happens after 2-3 weeks later. After analysis chromiting bath: Fe 27 ppm, Zn 12-15 g/l and pH 1.6 -1.8! (new chromiting bath 3 months). Thanks.

Jeremy Tan
- Klang, Malaysia

July 24, 2013

A. Hi Jeremy,

Jeremy, the trivalent chromating bath generally works from 0 to 8-10 g/l zinc concentration. 15 g/l is very high, and the chromate must be very thin in this condition. I would suggest you to change, at least partially, the chromating bath.

Then, if this effect (discoloration) has always been there, I would see if the storage is done in humid conditions, if there could be some spray or fogs in the storage room or near the packaging, if the parts are exposed to light...

So, I hope we can help you too! Regards,

Daniel Montañés
- Cañuelas, Buenos Aires, Argentina

August 5, 2013

Q. Trivalent iridescent chromate, zinc<9g/L
thickness : 5-15µm
storage condition: 25-33 degree, sometimes raining, but it has stored in same condition for 4 years.
I analyzed the part with EDS and found higher carbon and oxygen in the surface compared to normal part.
I also found they used water with unstable pH and flow out resin fragment randomly. This water is also used to make up passivation solution.
I have asked them to stop using the water recently.
Do you have any suggestions for this situation?
Thank you!

Peter liao
Chemical supplier - Hsinchu,Taiwan

August 8, 2013

A. Hello Peter,

First, if the storage hasn't changed, it isn't the cause... But you should keep the parts away from the rain!

On the EDS result, if has some more oxygen and carbon I cannot say that it is different, they are elements present in dust and in sample preparation could be some variations that could increase the carbon and oxygen proportion. If you have iron content, then you should worry!

I didn't understand the water situation, with the flow and resin. Could you explain what you mean? pH in the chromate process is very important, you should maintain the pH value in ± 0.5 points from optimum pH value for a good corrosion resistance, and trivalent chromates need a good quality water for preparation. If you define your process with more detail we could help you more!

Good luck!

Daniel Montañés
- Cauelas, Buenos Aires, Argentina

August 19, 2013

Q. Hi Daniel

Thank you for your concern.I have checked the EDS of the discolored parts again and found no difference compared to normal parts. I use tap water now and still found discoloration happened randomly. The tap water pH around 6.5-7.5, current conductivity<10us/cm, TOC<2 59205ppm iC

Peter Liao
Chemical supplier - Hsinchu, Taiwan

August 21, 2013

A. Hi Peter,

Do you control the pH in your chromate conversion bath? It is very important to maintain this value stabilized. The nominal value (in standard chromates, you should ask your vendor in this case) is 2,0. Please check this up! If the chromate has 2 steps, check both steps have controlled pH.

I haven't understood the resin situation yet, what did you mean with "flow out resin fragment randomly"? The chromate has a resin part?

Good luck!

Daniel Montañés
- Cañuelas, Buenos Aires, Argentina

August 28, 2013

Q. Hi,Daniel

Thank you! I have checked the pH and this was fine. My customer's pure water system contains resin and follow out. But now they have fixed it. Will discoloration come from zinc solution? I have tried every possible parameter after zinc solution tank and now I focus on zinc solution. My customer has tried other supplier's water purifier (to reduce Ca,Mg) and said it seems it can reduce discoloration. But the plating line has regularly added the conditioner (reduce Ca,Mg) already. I think this should not be the course, What do you think? Thank you!

Peter Liao
Chemical supplier - Hsinchu, Taiwan

August 29, 2013

A. Hello Peter!

Ca and Mg are a problem in some chromate formulations and are a problem in zinc electroplating bath always. For alkaline baths you have some conditioners that improve bath performance with the presence of Ca and Mg by getting them out the way, but you should try to avoid to replenish your bath volume with this "hard" water.

You should try preparing your chromate with another water (not hard, maybe demineralised) and see if you have some change in your process. If this improves your result of "discolored" parts, you have some problem there. If there is no change, then you have some problem elsewhere...

Hope you can solve this issue! Keep us informed and maybe we together can sort it out :)


Daniel Montañés
- Cañuelas, Buenos Aires, Argentina

September 6, 2013

Q. Hi Daniel:

Recently,my customer find a way to detect the discoloration in two days and no more have to wait for two weeks.They put plated parts into high temp/moisture oven and enhance the aging. So, we found the discoloration always happens on Monday. They will maintain the plating line on sunday. The maintenance include change rinse water and wash the tank. Beside,the zinc solution also be pending during maintenance. Will the pending cause any organic crack or metal be absorbed on anode? I think it would be something wrong during the maintenance or pending zinc solution. Please give me some suggestions.Thank you!

Peter Liao
Chemical supplier - Hsinchu, Taiwan

September 10, 2013

A. Hi Peter,

That the zinc plating solution is still and not working during maintenance is not a problem. Is this what you refer as "pending"?

If they always do maintenance on Sunday and you have problems with the parts plated on Monday, there must be a connection between the maintenance routine or the Monday startup and this. I can't tell what could be wrong in this, but if you know what is the routine for maintenance, startup and normal work, the differences between them are possible causes...

Hope you can solve this! If you do, please share what you found with the community :)


Daniel Montañés
- Cañuelas, Buenos Aires, Argentina

September 18, 2013

Q. Dear Sir,

We have alkaline zinc plating tank, and we use the HNO3 for yellow dip approx 2-3 ml/ liter , and also we use the H2SO4 for color maintaining. Now it's improved.

We are facing a problem in cleaning now; we are doing pretreatment (cleaning) process in HCl , but component shine is not coming, so please give us the cheap and good suggestion so that we can get shining on component.


Sanjeev Yadav
- Delhi INDIA

September 27, 2013

A. Hello Sanjeev,

That your parts shine, or your parts brightness, could depend on how you clean your parts or how you plate your parts... If you have a cleaning problem, you should see if you are loading fully degreased parts, that your HCl is in correct concentration, if you use or not a wetting agent (if you don't, you should, I think it is very helpful, and cheap), if you use or not an electrolytic degreaser...

If you answer most of these questions with "yes", then you must tell us more about your process in order to help you. If not, you should see if you can make that happen.

We (at least I) can't say anything else to help you if you don't specify more what is the defect, what are you doing, and in which conditions.

Hope this helps! Best regards,

Daniel Montañés
- Cañuelas, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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