For any automotive restoration or decorative project, the most important step in the process is preparation. Electroplating is a process that is no exception to this rule. It is very important to make sure you prepare the objects correctly and thoroughly before you begin electroplating them. In fact, the actual electroplating procedure is really the last step in the entire process. Below, we have put together a tutorial on how to properly prepare your metal parts for electroplating.
It is important to note that any flaws that exist in the metal piece before electroplating will still be present after the process is complete. That is why it is crucial to prepare each piece the right way, and the first step to this is to disassemble any piece with multiple parts. There should be absolutely nothing that is bolted together once it is all in separate pieces. Once each piece is separated, they must all be completely free of grease, oil, paint, dirt, and rust. Any leftover substance on the metal pieces can be removed by sanding, sand blasting, and/or using the appropriate solvent solution. It is also important to note that if you want your metal to have a mirror-like shine to it, it should be properly buffed prior to electroplating. Once the part has been disassembled and rid of surface contaminants, it is time to move to the cleaning stage.
First, clean each part with a mild detergent, followed by a wax and grease remover, like the PRE Painting Prep. This will ensure that any residual substance left by blasting, sanding or solvents will be appropriately removed from the surface of the metal. Once a part has been cleaned and dried, clean it again. The cleaner, the better when it comes to preparing parts for electroplating. It is recommended to use a fast etch rust remover solution to chemically clean your parts for 10 minutes before rinsing them off with cold water and placing them directly into an electroplating bath without drying them first.
It is important to place each prepared part into the plating bath right away once they have been properly cleaned. Parts that have been just cleaned are more subject to fast corrosion (flash rusting), so always make sure to place them directly into the bath as soon as they have been rinsed, post-cleaning. Also, it is very important to handle each cleaned part while wearing a pair of clean gloves. If you use your bare hands, you can leave scratches or traces of dirt and oil on the metal surface, which can cause consistency problems during the plating process. So be thorough and clean when you prepare your metal parts for electroplating, and your new plates will come out exactly how you want them to.
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