-- The Home Page of the Finishing Industry

on this site
current topics
The world's most popular metal finishing site, and striving to be the internet's friendliest corner

topic 9527

Starting a small plating business

A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2019



RODEL M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]


A. Hi, Rodel. We have many on-line articles here that may be a start for you, including our: "Introduction to 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 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 -- but we suggest that, if possible, working for a summer in a plating shop first is 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

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.

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 put 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

December 13, 2010

A. From experience, I decided to start a chroming company without having any experience in the field, and it ended up costing a lot more than I knew to get all the equipment. It takes a lot of practice too. I now finally have my company completely up and running and have an advantage over most companies because I have a spray-on chrome machine that can chrome ANY surface! It used to be that you could only chrome conductive (metal) surfaces. With this new technology you can now have a shiny chrome finish to any surface including plastic, wood, vinyl, etc.

Trevor Stewart
- Phoenix, Arizona

December 13, 2010

thumbs up signHi Trevor.

Shiny spray-on "chrome-look" paint is a more practical starting point for hobbyists than electroplating, and it avoids much of the environmental liability. But it is important for readers to realize that what you are talking about is just paint, it's not chrome plating.

It is not true that real chrome plating can't be done on plastic. Just look at automobile grills. All of them are genuine chrome electroplated plastic; no OEM to my knowledge ever uses "chrome-look" paint. But chrome electroplating on plastic is a complex and extremely expensive process of more than a dozen steps: etch, activate, accelerate, electroless nickel plate, copper plate, semi-bright nickel plate, bright nickel plate, and chrome plate, as a minimum, with multiple rinses between each listed step. nothing in common but a shiny look. Good luck with your business.


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

How to do Zinc Yellow coating on HR Material

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 asking with 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 advice me 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 your positive response.

Siddha lingam
Entrepreneur - Salem,Tamilnadu & India

June 2016

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. They can also run test parts through the plating laboratory and suggest the other steps in the process.

Digital version

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

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 little 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 enough time out on the floor rather than in the office.


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

Q, A, or Comment on THIS thread SEARCH for Threads about ... My Topic Not Found: Start NEW Thread

Disclaimer: It's not possible to diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations may be deliberately harmful.

  If you need a product/service, please check these Directories:

JobshopsCapital Equip. & Install'nChemicals & Consumables Consult'g, Train'g, SoftwareEnvironmental ComplianceTesting Svcs. & Devices

©1995-2019, Inc., Pine Beach, NJ   -   About   -  Privacy Policy
How Google uses data when you visit this site.