Methods and Applications for Selective Plating

Methods and Applications for Selective Plating

To a layman, selective plating might sound like something you do when choosing food at a buffet, but in fact, it is a process used in industrial manufacturing. Basically, it’s a process that allows you to plate part of a piece with a metal while not plating the rest of it. Why would you want to do this? The main reason is often cost, as it’s cheaper on a large part to plate the functional area rather than the whole part. There are several ways to do this and there are some specific applications where it is particularly useful, and luckily ProPlate is here to help you to pick the method that’s right for your specific application.

Methods of Plating Selectively

For high volume plating operations, the old fashioned reel to reel method of selective plating is still quite effective. Parts are masked by a continuous strip of rubber which covers the parts that should not be plated. The advantage of this process is that it can move very fast and plate high volumes of pieces. The disadvantages are that it is difficult to change over and set up between runs and there is not a lot of flexibility in plating specification. There are add-ons that can make the process a bit more flexible, but that drives up production cost considerably.

For other, smaller runs of plating, a variety of different methods can be used, but they usually start with masking the part that shouldn’t be plated with a non-conductive material. That masking material can even be liquid applied to the part before plating. From there, the parts are often placed in a plating bath, often in rack plating style, and then the masking material can be removed after the plating is complete.

ProPlate can perform these processes with precision and has state of the art masking materials. Another method is to use a brush arm to place plating material on an object, a process that requires little or no masking.

Metals Used

Selective plating can be done with a variety of metals, but two of the most common are gold and nickel. Other plating materials can include, silver, tin, rhodium, copper, and palladium. Materials being plated can vary as well, with stainless steel and aluminum being among the most popular.


Selective plating is a good process for a number of industrial and manufacturing applications. In an industrial setting, it is a great way of restoring worn surfaces, such as when dealing with a worn bearing and shaft housing. The worn parts of a metal shaft can be reconditioned through plating and the rest of the shaft can be left alone, thus saving money.

For smaller parts, something like a surgical implement may need plated edges and a stainless steel shaft. Electrical components may need plated tips to improve conductivity while other parts of the same component need to remain non-conductive. In all of these cases, plating selectively is the answer.

Selective gold plating on a steel part

Methods and Applications for Selective Plating

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