Difference Between Plating and Coating

What’s the Difference Between Plating and Coating?

To the uninitiated, it might seem that there’s little difference between plating and coating. After all, both processes provide a second “skin” – a new exterior finish. Both methods leave an attractive and durable finish when performed properly. However, those “in the know” are aware of the differences between the two processes, which lead to far different results.


The Process of Electroplating

The word “electroplating” goes a long way in describing the process by which it’s performed: Electric current is passed through an electrolyte in which a metal object has been placed. The electrolyte splits, depositing some of its atoms on the metal object – leaving it electroplated. If gold-plating is in order, for example, then the electrolyte must be gold-based. ProPlate® provides precision plating in a variety of metals, such as gold, silver, nickel, copper and more.

Why is Electroplating Performed?

Electroplating adds properties to metal which make it desirable throughout a wide range of industries. For example, ProPlate® performs metal plating services for customers in aerospace and defense, telecommunications, medical and dental, and oil and gas industries – and that’s only a sampling. Electroplating is the preferred method for these customers because it provides wear resistance, protection from corrosion, resistance to friction and abrasion, hardness, electrical conductivity…all properties these industries demand from the components they use.

How is Coating Performed?

Coating differs from electroplating in that it’s performed by electrostatically applying a free-flowing powder to a surface, then curing it under heat. Like plating, coating is applied to metal surfaces for protective purposes. But unlike electroplated surfaces, powder coated surfaces are essentially covered in paint – not metal.

The Benefits of Coating

Coating leaves a finish that’s stronger than paint, which makes it desirable in applications where a hard finish is required. If you look around your home, you’re sure to find examples of the coating process – for instance, on your stove or refrigerator. That finish was applied via powder coating. But strong though it may be, you won’t find the many benefits of electroplating in a component that was merely powder coated.

It’s clear that both electroplating and coating have their benefits – the deciding factor between the two processes being the intended use of the finished product. The more critical the component is in a hi-tech industry, the more likely it is that metal plating services are in order.

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