Electroplating quality control is a critical factor in operations and success in the process of electroplating precious and semi-precious metal finishes. In medical electroplating, these quality control measures are all the more important due to the product’s final use. Anything that goes into the body must be stringently tested and approved before being put into a doctor’s hands. For this reason, ProPlate® is ISO 13485:2016 Certified, meaning we are certified to process parts used in modern medicine.
Maintaining precious metal and non-precious metal chemistries at ProPlate® is essential to ensure excellent quality for the final product. The precious metal chemistries at ProPlate® include Gold, Palladium, Rhodium, and Platinum. First, the controls on the chemistry used in the plating process must be tested and managed every day to ensure that the plating bath is operating at its highest standard. The plating baths are regularly filtered and carbon polished. The chemistry manager regularly takes samples to ensure that the makeup is always in alignment with the TDS (technical data sheet). Our rinse tanks are also flowing, meaning that they have a constant supply of clean water going through them to ensure clean parts for every step, including the final clean.
Incoming Inspection and Process Controls
Upon arrival at ProPlate®, our customer’s parts undergo a pre-inspection. The quality department’s responsibility is to ensure any defects or contaminants are found and communicated with the customer. Any blemishes or flaws in the base material are documented and shown to the customer before processing. Our controlled processes at ProPlate® are regulated and checked daily depending on many things. These specifically include base material, plating layers, and risk factors. We work with process development engineers to ensure that challenging jobs are done correctly and that the process is implemented and regulated. The plating technician is responsible for following our controlled processes and not deviating without customer approval.
Final Quality Control Inspection
Types of inspections
- Visual– Visually inspect all significant surfaces of the part at 10X magnification. This ensures that plating is smooth, adherent, and uniform in appearance. The presence of the following shall indicate a failure: blisters, pits, nodules, cracks, excessive edge build-up, voids, non-uniform appearance, and physical damage.
- Adhesion– Many tests for adhesion can be used when final inspecting a part. These can include tape adhesion tests, bend adhesion, crimp test, cut test, and bake test. The types of adhesion tests will depend on the customer’s requirements.
- Thickness– The desired plating thickness of the customer shall be read and documented using the x-ray fluorescence (XRF)
- Solderability– All default solderability testing will be done to ASTM B678. Standard Test Method for Solderability of Metallic-Coated Products or MIL-STD-202 Method 208 Solderability.
- Porosity– A porosity test might be administered upon the customer’s request. This ensures the metal finish does not have microscopic pores, whereas the base material would be exposed. The tests used are a Copper sulfate test (ASTM A967) or a Steam age test.
- Microhardness– Microhardness testing is done per the ADC Hardening Spec 4-06197-0000.
- Tarnish Resistance– Follow the steps of QQ-S-365 or any other instructions required by the customer. Additionally, the Tarniban protection will allow the plating to withstand ammonium sulfide solution for five minutes.