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topic 59763

Electrically Conductive Finish on Aluminium / Other Alloys



January 5, 2015

Q. We need to find an appropriate finish, to be applied to stamped aluminium parts, and it has to be electrically conductive, and it cannot corrode - the current will be transmitted by a surface touch and it will be 3-9V DC, up to 7A current, and the finish has to be aesthetically pleasing.

We were thinking of using industrial chrome plating, with the idea that the electrical current will be transmitted through chromium to the aluminium inside and further through the piece. Is this correct thinking? Or the chromium itself will be carrying the current, in which case, the resistance will be too great?

Is there any other finish / or metal alloy itself that will not corrode, that we could use altogether?

Andreja Beric
hobbyist - London


January 2015

A. Hi Andreja. Electroless nickel plating is commonly used for contacts on wireless phones, the ubiquitous charging blocks for low voltage electronic appliances, HDMI cables, etc. I think it will prove to be a much better choice than chrome plating. Best of luck.

Regards,

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


February 11, 2015

Q. Thanks a lot Ted for the advice.
It looks like we are steering that way. Just to add to another question - if we choose plastic as the main material, and have it plated in nickel in electroless plating technique, would that be enough to carry our current (again max 30W) through the surface in principle?
Thanks in advance

Andreja Beric [returning]
- London, England, UK


February 2015

A. Hi Andreja. Your question has moved away from predominantly a finishing question to predominantly an electrical engineering issue that I am less qualified to answer. But if I were you I would continue to think in terms of an aluminum item.

Current, except high frequency current is carried through the body of an item, not on its skin. And proper grades of aluminum are good for about 500 Amps / square inch of cross sectional area. Obviously, if people are touching something that can be carrying up to 7 amps of current, human factors and safety need to be considered. Remember that people's hands can be wet, they may be wearing highly conductive rings, etc. Whatever your proposition is, it may need to be considered by qualified people.

Regards,

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

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