What is involved in setting up a zinc and clear plating line?
My name is Stuart Lemon and I work for a company in Hamilton, Scotland. we do a lot of Zinc and Clear plating and I was going to start a project on how much it would cost to set up a plating line in house and what health and safety issues are involved I am new to this and would appreciate any help anyone can give me
A. You've got a major research project ahead of you; you won't get a complete answer here. Check out the "must have" section of this site's homepage, buy a couple of books (I suggest "Electroplating Engineering Handbook" [link is to product info at Amazon] and Modern Electroplating).
I would also like to know what "clear electroplating" is.
- Tallahassee, Florida
A. Thanks for the book references, James. I'm pretty sure it's just a semantics question, and that Stuart is referring to zinc plating followed by a clear chromate.
Stuart: the process starts by deciding what parts you want to plate to what specs, what process chemistries you will use for the plating line, what production rate you must achieve, and whether the items will be rack plated or barrel plated.
The process cycle can vary, but is often: Soak Clean, Rinse, Electroclean, Double Rinse, Acid Activate, Double Rinse, Zinc Plate, Triple Rinse, Clear Chromate, Double Rinse, Seal, Double Rinse, Dry -- or something close enough to that that you can estimate costs and production times.
I'm not sure of the particulars in Scotland, but usually you need to have exhaust ventilation and scrubbing on the cleaning tanks, acid dip, and plating tanks; plus a wastewater treatment system to handle the effluent; and secondary containment to deal with accidents. You probably need to get permits from the environmental regulators, and to comply with general industry standards for safety. You'll usually want a wet lab and a dry lab so you can monitor how you are doing.
An experienced consultant, early on, is usually a good investment as soon as your interest gets serious. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
February 12, 2017
Q. I own a powder coating company and have been asked by several customers about plating, anodizing and chroming. Evidently, there is an immediate need to zinc plating in my area.
I have done a brief amount of due diligence and it appears that EPA regulations and some counties can be very strict about letting an operation like this be set up.
Where is the best place to go for reference on government regs and reputable vendors for plating equipment?
- Denton, Texas
A. Hi Patrick. Most plating equipment vendors who have been around for a while are reputable. You will need to find a distributor to buy your plating chemicals from, and they will probably represent at least one equipment vendor. We can't print brand suggestions because it turns the pages into a spam fest and race to the bottom; few can resist the allure of free advertising.
Regarding the regs, if you can find a copy of the "NAMF Management Manual", it's probably good reading. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"
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