You’ve been pondering this metal coating design for days, but now it's time to plan your production strategy.
You might not realize it, but masking is just as applicable to electroplated applications as it is to painting in manufacturing. Depending on the project, masking could be a step in your production process.
Having worked on multiple masking projects, Strouse understands that every masking design has its own design and manufacturability considerations.
To help you understand how electroplating tape works in masking applications, let’s go over the potential uses with some examples.
What is Electroplating?
Electroplating is the process of using electricity to coat a surface, or substrate, in metal. The substrate acts as the cathode while the metal is the anode, so sending a direct electric current through them via an electrolytic solution causes positive ions from the metal to be deposited.
As a result of electroplating, a surface can:
- Gain corrosion resistance
- Resist dulling and friction
- Increase the tensile strength and surface hardness
- Defend against radiation
The coating doesn’t fall off naturally but might wear off over time over months or years.
Common metals for electroplating include copper, chromium, zinc, nickel, tin, gold, and silver. Different electroplating methods, such as barrel, rack, or line electroplating will suit certain production styles and surface sizes.
What is Electroplating Tape Used For?
Electroplating tape is used to mask certain areas of a surface to prevent total metal coverage during electroplating. This might be done to cover features, create designs, block blind holes, or seal containers from water intrusion.
Many industries utilize electroplating to increase the strength and hardness of their products. Masking tape covers areas where it doesn’t make sense to fully coat the object in metal.
Aerospace applications use electroplating to increase heat or rust resistance and reduce the friction between components. Masking helps guarantee a precise and intentional metal coating application.
On the other hand, automotive applications use masking tape to shield zones of parts electroplated for aesthetics. Consumer goods are also sometimes electroplated for appearance and cost, often done by coating plastic with cheaper metals.
The best electroplating tapes must withstand electric charges and hold up in electrolytic solution baths without peeling. Product suppliers like 3M offer a range of electroplating tapes based on common project requirements.
For example, certain electroplating tapes will need to conform to irregular surfaces, which requires higher flexibility. Others require stronger adhesives to withstand turbulent electroplating processes.
When choosing an electroplating tape, remember that the shape of your design, the intended production process, and the product application will all affect your final material selection. Before ordering a material, consider discussing your design manufacturability with a flexible material converter.
Does Custom Masking Suit My Project?
While some projects can be handled using rolls of tape, others require higher precision.
Although pre cut tape, like die cut tape, comes with a higher initial price, it can save you considerable money down the line when it comes to reducing application time and material waste.
If you’re interested in the consistency and long-term benefits of using custom tape for your project, contact a flexible material converter to discuss your project design.
Are you looking for further information on masking? You can continue reading about the different types of masking solutions.