There are many reasons to plate a product. A client may want to improve the appearance of anything that may be plastic or metal. Sometimes plating helps the product function better since the metal adds a stronger material and is resistant to corrosion. Industries ranging from automotive to aerospace to medical utilize metal coating capabilities. There are two ways to plate a part: electroplating and physical vapor deposition (PVD). Both are useful for different applications. But is one process better? To answer this, it’s important to note the similarities and differences between the two.
Electroplating has been the go-to process for plating products since its invention in 1805. It was then that Italian chemist Luigi Brugnatelli figured out how to apply a layer of gold to silver plates. Since its inception, electroplating technology has come leaps and bounds. Now, the process is done as an electrochemical process rather than using dangerous mercury to strip the metal. During the modern electroplating process, the product to be plated is put into a tank of solution and using an electrical source, the negative cathode is attached to the product and the positive anode is attached to the material that will coat the product. Electricity is then used to reduce the dissolved metal into a thin metal coating.
Electroplating is primarily used to fill in abrasion damage or corrosion. Adding a thin layer of metal will help the cosmetic look of a product and strengthen it with thicker metal layers. Electroplating is used to apply chromium to car parts, wheel rims, and appliances, and to make jewelry more valuable by plating it with more expensive metals.
Physical vapor deposition (PVD) is a somewhat newer plating process, entering the industry in the 1970s, and has been improved upon since. The method uses vacuum deposition rather than an electrochemical process, which is safer for the environment. There are three different types of PVD plating: sputtering, thermal evaporation, and arc vapor deposition. During the PVD procedure, the metal material is vaporized in a vacuum which is then applied to the product. This process produces brilliant coating finishes that are resistant to scratches and corrosion. PVD coating is better to produce thin metallic films such as thin solar panels, thin film utilized for packaging, and to coat smaller, more specialized tools.
PVD plating is used in the aerospace industry, the medical and dental space, for automotive parts, and to coat firearms, jewelry, and more.
So Which is Better?
Many in the industry lean toward PVD coating when it comes to metal coatings. The physical vapor deposition process is safer for the environment since there is no chemical waste. PVD coatings are usually lighter in weight and deposit more evenly. PVD coating is also resistant to tarnish and oxidization. However, PVD will not necessarily protect the underlying substrate from corrosion if the substrate is corrosive in nature (i.e. – steel is usually chrome plated prior to PVD). The biggest difference between PVD and electroplate is that PVD allows for more variety in colors, as PVD can be produced in a spectrum of high demand colors including golds, silvers, blues, purples, bronzes, and blacks. Where electroplating provides corrosion protection and shine, PVD provides metallic colors that are as durable as the underlying surface. So where can you find PVD coating in Oregon?
Bend Plating | PVD Coating in Oregon
Our team at Bend Plating is skilled in both electroplating and PVD coating in Oregon. Whatever you need plated, whether it is a small personal item or a larger project, we are here to help with your metal finishing needs. Contact us to talk about your plating project today.
Hello! My name is Jordan and I wanted to inquire about a project I’m looking to have done in the near future. I just was lucky enough to acquire a very limited edition custom keyboard and was interested in having a decorative coating applied. I would like it to be either a rainbow/chameleon color or a vibrant purple. The keyboard casing is made of aluminum and is being sent to me soon. What kind of cost are we looking at and what is your turn around time? Thank you!