Plating is the process of applying a uniform coating of protective material on a surface to add protection of various sorts. It was originally based on the use of nickel, but advances have found the ability to plate with many metals. While it can be accomplished both with and without the use of electricity, the process of electroless coating allows items to be more evenly coated with a variety of chemicals that offer a variety of benefits, including:
- Corrosion protection/corrosion resistance
- Abrasion resistance
- Wear resistance
- Electromagnetic shielding
- Chemical resistivity
- Attractive metal finishing.
Discovered almost 200 years ago, the process remained of little interest until military applications made it valuable to the war effort in the 1940s. It was so valuable that the exact process remained classified by the government until 1963. In the fifty some years since, engineers have found methods to use a variety of metals in the process and ways to improve significantly on the precision of its various applications. It is widely used in the aerospace industry for parts such as compressor blades, landing gear, and propellers. It is used in a wide variety of other industries from chemicals, electronics, automotive, oil refineries and lines, and defense manufacturers. It has found application in consumer goods items from utensils to food service equipment, bathroom fixtures and even jewelry.
For manufacturing companies, the product design that includes plating requires the most careful of planning. Establishing the performance requirements, life span, and costing for each item determines the precise details of the plating processes used. Experts in the process and its applications provide the most up to date information on technologies. Companies such as CJI Process Systems offer fully automatic electroless nickel plating systems and back them with more than a 100 years of combined engineering experience. They provide expertise in perfecting the design—beginning with a thorough inventory of all the elements required, analyzing the intended use, environment, lifespan, placement and other important details in coordination with clients and, if needed, their chemical suppliers, to learn everything about specific concerns, issues and priorities.