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topic 5422

Electro-Polish Defects


Hi. My name is Jacqueline Tong. I was reading an earlier message, letter 4795, and I have the same problem. We electropolish stainless steel 316L implant plates, and occasionally we get straight scratches or water stains-like marks on the surfaces. The problem seems to show up at random.

I am trying gather information on all possible causes:

Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Jacqueline Tong
- Canada



I'm not able to help with the above problem, but I have a similar issue. We are electropolishing 316L Stainless steel. Occasionally we find a 'dry grey' contamination on the surface of the steel. It seems to be a mixture of phosphates and sulphates. Just wondering if anyone else has experienced this problem. If so, how can it be fixed?

Ivan Mooney
- Ireland


To Jacqueline Tong and Ivan Mooney:

Electropolishing defects can be caused by a wide variety of problems in the substrate, the preparatory processes, and in the electropolishing procedures. It is generally not possible to pinpoint the cause of any specific complaint by remote control. For a thorough analysis of the problem and proposed solutions, contact our company through the Suppliers Directory on this web site.


Ed Bayha
Metal Coating Process Corporation - Charlotte, North Carolina


Jacqueline, Ivan,

Most of the "must have" texts have pretty good treatment of electropolishing of stainless steel. The Electroplating Engineering Handbook perhaps being the most thorough. The AESF has an excellent illustrated lecture (slides & text) on electropolishing.

If you can send along some photos of the problems you are encountering you can probably get some better targeted responses. For example, one evidence of gas streaking is the path of the disturbance or "streak" compared to the way the part is racked. One evidence of contaminants would be their location relevant to the machining operations. One evidence of waxy residues would be a water break before electropolishing. Poor rinsing could leave grey salts on the work.

It can be very difficult to troubleshoot a process even when on-site, so I most certainly agree to a good extent with Ed Bayha that it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to troubleshoot an electropolishing problem by remote control. His implication that you need a certain level of experience and training before you can troubleshoot effectively is a very good point too.

But on the other hand, the same thing can be said about every single one of the metal finishing processes we discuss here. And after many years of such discussions, and receipt of thousands of letters of thanks, we are not certainly not about to to concede that posting trouble-shooting questions here is a futility :-)

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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