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topic 9737

Cadmium Plating Touch-up

A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2018


Q. Is there an easy method of touching up scratches/abrasions to electrical connectors that have an olive drab cadmium plating? The connectors are connected to cables, so they will require touch-up with a brush if possible.

Mike Kvam
electronics - Ronan, Montana, USA


A. Hello Mike,

Brush electroplating has long been used to repair cadmium plating that has been worn or scratched off the surface of a metal component. Brush electroplating is a selective, portable process that will allow the operator to deposit metals such as cadmium directly on a damaged area.

The only problem that may arise is with the chromate coating. While olive drab chromate coatings can be applied to the cadmium plated area, the color of the newly chromated area may not be a perfect match with the existing coating color. The new deposit will meet functionality requirements but may fall a bit short on the cosmetic end if an exact match is required.

Chris Helwig
- Valencia, California, USA


Q. I am looking for a touch up for Cad plating, I currently have connectors plated Cadmium per AMS QQ-P-416 [link by ed. to spec at Defense Logistics Agency,] Type II Class 3, during our production process, the Cad is sometimes removed and needs to be touched up. I have tried a Alodine 1132 pen, and it will not adhere to the Cadmium surface, is there any other solution?

Howard Ingersoll
OEM of Connectors - Georgetown, Texas


A. Try Sifco SPS 5070 LHE Cadmium Brush Plating solution.

Frank Dunleavy
Aerospace - Dublin, Ireland

Cadmium brush plating -- Is it allowed on Mil Spec Cad plating?

July 23, 2009

My name is Shmuel Yankelewitz, and our company ran into a very unique problem recently. We built a Printed Circuit Board for a Military Prime. The board has 4 Military connectors with Cad plating and chromium seal. The plating got corroded (white powder that was analyzed and found to be Cadmium Oxide, When the dust settled we saw specks of bare metal 0.060" dia in a few areas of the connectors and we thought that brush plating can save this very expensive boards. Replacing the connectors is an option with questionable yield. If there is a Mil Spec that allows touch up of Cad plating we can present that to our customer as a better repair option, so after this long background here is my question:

Is Cadmium Brush Plate touch up allowed on Mil Spec. plated parts? If yes, can you tell me what Mil Spec document invokes this plating repair method.

Shmuel Yankelewitz
Customer - Norristown, Pennsylvania USA

July 27, 2009

A. The first thing to do is check that your military customer will allow the touch up of the cadmium. If the answer is yes then you can call up MIL-STD-865.

Brian Terry
Aerospace - Yeovil, Somerset, UK

July 27, 2009

A. I have done it and it is absolutely no fun. The texture of the plate is different, so it shows and the chromate will be a different color, so it really shows up.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

September 20, 2018

Q. We have s0me cadmium plated 1200 MPa screws which are of longer length. We want to cut them as per required length and use them. If we go for re-plating then there is a increase in risk of hydrogen embrittlement. if we go for paint, the DFT will be high and the nut may jam. What is the protective coating to be given to the cut face to have similar life as Cadmium plating.

mukesh agrawal
- Hyderabad, Telangana, India

September 2018

A. Hi Mukesh. We don't know the application, the spec, or why cadmium plated fasteners are being used ... but you almost surely cannot apply some different type of plating to the cut face without risk of galvanic corrosion, although you could perhaps paint the face without being involved in the threaded area.

If you cannot find fasteners of the right length, the best thing would probably be to send them out for stripping, re-plating, re-baking, and re-chromating though. But for a non-critical application, just leaving the cut face bare might suffice (the cadmium plating will offer some degree of galvanic protection.)

If you read between the lines of Howard I's inquiry and Frank D's reply, you will understand that attempting to chromate bare steel doesn't work. Good luck.


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

September 24, 2018

Q. Thank you for your prompt reply. As you have mentioned, I have already read about SIFCO Cadmium LHE - 5070 Touchup Travel Kit. But the quantity of fasteners are huge and this touch up procedure is laborious. Moreover, i forgot to mention that Cd8 plating is given for corrosion protection of low alloy steel fastener material and also for galvanic corrosion protection of mating Aluminum alloy component. how about using the touch up pens. Please comment.

mukesh agrawal
- Hyderabad, Telangana, India

September 2018

A. Hi Mukesh. I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding you or you are continuing to misunderstand Howard & Frank and I: the Alodine pens are for touching up the chromate conversion coating on cadmium plating. You cannot gainfully apply Alodine/chromate to the bare steel of a cut edge.

If the quantity is huge, then it is probably very practical to strip and replate them.


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

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