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topic 9527

Starting a small plating business

A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2020



RODEL M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]


A. Hi, Rodel. We have several on-line articles here that may be a start for you, including our: "Understanding Chrome Plating", and "Electroplating: How It Works", "Barrel Plating", and "Plating Shops for the New Millennium".

There are a number of good introductory texts listed on our Books Page. One that is both good and very inexpensive is the Garden State Branch AESF "Practical Electroplating" book. Another that can usually be picked inexpensively, because it's an annual, is the Metal Finishing Guidebook.

In the USA all electroplating businesses are "Categorically Regulated". This means all of the waste, even hose water, must be permitted and is considered hazardous even if it's pure enough to drink -- and you are legally responsible for it f-o-r-e-v-e-r, no matter how much you pay to dispose of it. For that reason we urge a thorough investigation before you buy any chemicals ...

People tend to not believe that the U.S. government holds them responsible forever for wastes after they have have paid for proper disposal. But what happened is the nation became saddled with huge clean-up costs (super fund sites) because people had their wastes disposed of by companies that turned out to be fly-by-nights. The government's solution was simple, if draconian: the generator of the waste is responsible for it forever regardless of who they paid to get rid of it or how much, or how long ago.

To open an electroplating business, if you have not even set foot in a plating shop, is a huge leap. We encourage you to pursue your dreams, the industry needs new blood! -- but we suggest that working for a year or two, or for goodness sake at least a summer, in a plating shop first is just simple common sense. Good luck!

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

July 25, 2012

A. Not to mention all the legal battles with local governments and approvals. Very costly. The plating facility is the easy part.

steve kaczor
been a manager for a big plating company - phoenix, Arizona, usa

To minimize your searching efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we've combined some threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition or failures of chronological order.


Q. I restore cars in my spare time and want to start a chroming business as a full time job. I have the money but not the supplies or the equipment even a building isn't a problem! Can you help?

Joseph A [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
want to get started - Rockymount, Virginia,


A. Hi Joseph. Our "Understanding Chrome Plating" should give you a quick start.

Anything can be done; and you can certainly go into the chrome plating business! But there's a lot to it: it's costly, ties you up in incredible environmental red tape from a dozen angles for the rest of your life (electroplating was EPA's very first categorically regulated industry), and takes at least a couple of years of learning. I've been in the plating industry over 40 years and am a neophyte in a lot of areas.

There are a few directions you could follow. If possible, try to get a summer job or a little longer in a chrome plating shop; you'll be in the perfect place on the learning curve. If that's impossible, under some auspice or other, at least get in to visit several shops, join the American Electroplaters & Surface Finishers Society, and attend the meetings & conferences, and read the journal each month; take a week-long plating course through AESF or Kushner Electroplating School; buy or borrow several plating books and read them cover to cover; subscribe to the industry magazines.

You may already know something about chrome plating; but if you don't, and you try to open a chrome plating shop, and have never even been in one, you start with zero knowledge of absolutely everything. How would you price your product, what medical surveillance would you request for your employees, what emergency procedures would you set up to handle a fire, where would you send your polisher for training, what would you do if a chromic acid tank sprung a leak? How would you clean the floor? What would you adjust if the parts are pitted, or rusting, or whitewashed, or burnt at the corners, or yellowish in the recesses, or if the plating peels off? What records would you keep of your exhaust ventilation system?

Questions like this can be fired off 10 a minute for the next week, and each takes hours to answer. So my advice to aspiring chrome shop owners always remains to really try to get a job in a plating shop for a little while. Good luck; we hope you'll join us!

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


Q. I am trying to start up a chrome plating business of my own and I was wondering if anyone knew the first step I would need to take. I am interested in electroless nickel and chrome, and electroplating nickel and chrome. If anyone has any information on this I would be very appreciative if they would let me know.

Shawn B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
chrome plating rims and bumpers - Spartanburg , South Carolina , USA


A. We have a Chrome Plating Tutorial or-line here, Shawn, but frankly the best first step is to work in a chrome plating shop for a while if at all possible. You might read a few books from our "must have" list, subscribe to a couple of journals to supplement that book knowledge with news of current events, join the AESF (, and take a training course in plating from AESF or Kushner Electroplating School. Then see letter 19726. Good luck!

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


A. If you were smart you would open a pizza place; if I could go back 15 years and do it again that's what I'd do. If you are hell bent on doing this: before you do anything check your state, city, local and federal laws then check everything else like waste water stuff etc. One thing to know: once you do this every government faction will be in your face and pocket and all personal assets will be at stake even if you are a corporation; you will also be subject to being put in jail if you screw up. Get the BEST lawyer you can find that knows EPA law and to do it the right way it will cost you in the neighborhood of 2,000.000.00. That pizza place is starting to look real good right about now isn't it. It's all cash and if somebody doesn't like your pizza you won't get locked up for it. Good Luck. I wish someone would of told me this 15 years ago.

Edward Baracree
- Bedford Park, Illinois, USA



buffing and polishing - Eureka, California, USA


A. As a first step please see our FAQ: Chrome Plating Tutorial, Shane. Please be ready to invest a lot of time in training and learning, reading books, attending seminars, and taking plating and haz-mat courses. It would be much better to land a job as a chrome plater for a couple of years, so that each "uh-oh" and "I didn't know that" would be on someone else's shoulders instead of putting your own home and life savings on the line every day. But if you are industrious and go out of your way to study at every chance, I suppose it might be possible to start your own chrome plating business without any actual experience. Good luck.

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

October 26, 2009

Q. Hello,

I am an investor who is looking to purchase an existing plating shop as a business investment. I would manage the sales, marketing, books of the shop, but not the processes. There is a staff of two dozen who run the shop day-to-day. The existing shop has been in business since the 70's. Do you have any expert advice specific to this industry for someone contemplating jumping into this field?



Dave Stevens
Investor - Modesto, California

October 26, 2009

? Hi, Dave. Is the plating shop in the general area of Modesto? Local situations and regulations can impact such a decision, and suggestions regarding where to go for help and insight are also geography dependent. California, Oregon, and Washington are very tough areas environmentally both due to political leanings and to earthquakes and the need for a pollution incident prevention plan that can survive them :-)


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

October 27, 2009

A. EPA and the state EPA can make owning a plating shop a disaster. If you buy it, you are now responsible for all of the previous owners problems.
Plating shops are going out of business with alarming regularity, so there must be reasons.
Owning a shop with no knowledge of plating puts you at the mercy of the employees. Not a good idea in most businesses.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

November 21, 2010

Q. I want to start small zinc plating business, so please provide the process information.

sanjay sutar
- Pune, Maharashtra, India

November 21, 2010

A. Hi, Sanjay. Presumably you already know a lot about the electroplating business and your question is what is different about zinc plating ...

Although there are entire books covering just the process information for zinc plating, such as Geduld's "Zinc Plating" [link is to product info at Amazon], you probably won't need quite that level of detail. In addition to the previously mentioned resources, see if you can locate a copy of the Electroplating Engineering Handbook.

The first three technical questions to ask yourself is whether you want to offer rack plating services or barrel plating services, whether you want to go for alkaline zinc plating or acid zinc plating, and whether plain zinc plating is sufficient or you wish to offer an alloy plating like zinc-cobalt, zinc-iron, zinc-nickel, or tin-zinc. I think if you try to do a little research towards answering those 3 questions, you will soon have a pretty fair "book knowledge" of the process of zinc plating.

You will find that zinc plating processes are highly proprietary today and the process vendors will be happy to lay out a process sequence for you. It will probably include as a minimum: soak clean, electroclean, acid activate, zinc plate, and trivalent chromate conversion coating. Good luck!


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

Starting a shop to do Zinc Yellow Coating

June 25, 2016 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Dear Sir,

I wish to start plating shop. I am new entrepreneur, manufacturing of Washers with Mild Steel and HR Grades. My supplier is asking for Zinc Yellow coating. So for this I am doing at outsource. For Cost reduction I wish to do myself at my site. I am BE Mechanical Engineer Graduate with having 5 years industrial experience. Kindly advise me how to do this process step-by-step ... procedure from basic cleaning to final process, name of chemicals and its ratio to mix, volts, amps, etc. Please explain in detail sir. Looking forward to your positive response.

Siddha lingam
Entrepreneur - Salem,Tamilnadu & India

June 2016
Digital version
(No longer published, but Elsevier hasn't yet de-commissioned the online version of the Guidebook)
Download it before it disappears.

Sept. 21, 2019:
Sorry, too late :-(
If you didn't download it you'll need a hard copy

A. Hi Siddha. The plating of washers is far more more complicated than the stamping of them, but if you can tell us the exact materials and sizes, and what tumbling or vibratory processes you use, and what the result is in terms of surface finish & freedom or presence of burrs, and what soils, oils and greases might be on the washers, people can probably suggest the first cleaning steps: usually it will be a hot (80 °C) alkaline soak cleaning step followed by hot (80 °C) alkaline electrocleaning. The voltage for the electrocleaning will probably be about 8-10 volts depending on the size of your plating barrels. The amperage for electrocleaning is about 100 ASF (10 ASD), but only a small fraction of the load's surface area is exposed at a given moment in barrel plating so maybe 500-1000 Amps will be consumed while cleaning the contents of a normal production plating barrel designed for washers.

But people don't usually try to make up the process from commodity chemicals, they buy the processes from plating process suppliers who have formulated them to offer the best combination of saponification, wetting, emulsification, de-flocculation, chelating or sequestering, buffering, and inhibition for the specific soils on the specific substrate. They can also run test parts through the plating laboratory and suggest the other steps in the process.

You had posted this on topic 97, a thread about where to get training in plating --so hopefully you are taking that step. Meanwhile I would suggest browsing through every chapter of The Metal Finishing Guidebook =>
(if not reading it cover to cover), which will be at least a good first step towards your request for a step-by-step procedure from cleaning to final process. Good luck!


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

February 23, 2018

Q. I am currently working in a company where we need our parts to get plated (zinc clear chromate, zinc black chromate, zinc-nickel chromate, zinc black chromate) rack and barrel. Since I have a potential customer and I know that what would be my sales in a year I would like to start a plating company. I already know about the difficulties and risks about licenses and disposal of hazardous material. What I need is to know how much would it cost me to start a company, how long does it take to get all these licenses, and how much would be my profit margin. Mr Mooney has a lot of experience -- does your company offer consulting services too, or not? Thanks a lot.

reza adibi
- dallas texas

February 2018

A. Hi Reza. Although I was a plating equipment engineer and consultant for decades, just posting the questions on this website now takes all my time and then some anymore. There are consultants who can help you though.

You should probably make contact with one of the major plating chemical suppliers and see if they can spend a couple of hours with you providing a proposed process sequence, testing it in the lab, and possibly getting you in to see a zinc plating shop or two.


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

"How to Win Friends & Influence People"
by Dale Carnegie
from Abe Books
info on Amazon

October 11, 2018

Q. Hey I have started a zinc plating shop and I have few orders but I don't know how to approach people to take orders.

Raksha Manjunath
- Bangalore,Karnataka,India

April 25, 2019

Q. Hi All. I am currently looking to purchase a plating business here in NY. Though I have never done any plating work I have years of experience in metal fab and mechanical finishing. The place I'm looking at has a fully trained staff and what I would be doing is estimating and handling the administrative side of things. I will, though, go on the floor when I'm not busy to learn the physical plating business.

My question is as follows. How steep is the learning curve when it comes to plating and estimating. How long should I ask the old owner to stay on board to help transition the business.

FYI I am a quick learner and I a have years of estimating experience that is unrelated to this biz.

Thanks in advance

Cris Thanos
- yorktown heights, New York, USA

May 7, 2019

A. "How steep is the learning curve when it comes to plating and estimating. How long should I ask the old owner to stay on board to help transition the business."

Tough questions. There are those of us who have been involved in plating for our entire lifetimes, and are still learning.

You will want to insure that your business includes some "old hand" employees who can keep things moving as you learn. That may include the present owner, and maybe a few of the other employees.

How fast you learn is up to you. There are plenty of text books on the subject, but the hands-on experience is invaluable. Read as much as you can, but you'll also want to spend time on the shop floor, getting your hands dirty, and learning from experienced employees the practical aspects.

You might learn a lot in six months; and you'll never learn it all.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

May 2019

A. Hi. I can't improve on Jeffrey's excellent answer. But a steep learning curve is an excellent thing, and it will be steepest & best when you're interested & committed, when there are knowledgable people around you from whom to learn, and when there's new stuff to learn every minute.

You'll never learn everything the old boss knows, but you'll also learn stuff about plating that he doesn't know. Speaking for myself it took me about 3 years in my first job before I felt I was contributing not just my time, but that I had acquired broad enough knowledge to confidently contribute my fair share of insights before others might stumble on them. That might be the question you are asking, and that time frame shortens with each job; based on the experience you related, I'd tend to think that you could reach that point in a plating shop before your first anniversary if you can spend a lot of time out on the floor rather than in the office.

"No good decision was ever made from a swivel chair" -- General George S. Patton


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

Purchasing an existing chrome plating shop

January 6, 2020

Q. I am looking at purchasing an existing chrome refinishing business. The current owner is willing to stay on for 6 months with additional consulting as needed. I am concerned that the equipment may not pass Florida and US environmental laws and need a major upgrade. Is there anything else that requires special "due diligence" for a refinishing shop that I need to look into?

Ed Niklas
- Tampa, Florida, USA

January 2020

A. Hi Ed. The equipment being able to meet current & future laws is one thing, but possible extant contamination of the property is another. Are you completely confident that the shop floor is impervious and always has been?


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

January 7, 2020

Q. Thanks for the prompt reply. I'm not sure about the floor. It appeared to be commercial concrete. I will check on it further.

BTW, FDEP reported that the last inspection was in 2014 and there were no violations found.

Ed Niklas [returning]
- Tampa, Florida USA

January 2020

A. Hi again. I am not an expert on this subject, but I believe that when contemplating purchasing a property where regulated chemicals were used and where there is thus a significant possibility of property contamination, an environmental audit is often done.


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

January 8, 2020

thumbs up sign Good point on the Environmental Audit!

Ed Niklas [returning]
- Tampa, Florida USA

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