Mechanical Plating Alternative
I'm looking for alternatives for Mechanical Plating. We currently have a steel part that for years have been Mechanical Plated to avoid the "hydrogen embrittlement". I have done some mechanical tests on some electroplated components and find no evidence of hydrogen embrittlement. What process can be done to protect a steel electrical component without the H.E. effect?
- Vega Baja, Puerto Rico
Hydrogen embrittlement is a rather complex issue, so take this as a guide towards some things to look for, not as a final answer to your question. But, generally, anything that exposes a high hardness iron component to atomic or nascent hydrogen will introduce embrittlement; that would include both electroplating, cathodic pickling, and exposure to strong acids. However, embrittlement can generally be removed by immediate baking.
If you see no embrittlement issue when electroplating, it may be that you are not using high hardness steel, and that electroplating will be an alternative. However, zinc electroplating is thinner and offers less corrosion protection than mechanical zinc plating. Hot dip galvanizing is thicker and offers more protection.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
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