A: Copper plating is mainly used for plating threads of long pipes that are used in the oil and gas industry. It’s basically used for anti-galling of the threads and also corrosion resistance.
Copper plating is the process of adhering a layer of copper onto the surface of various metals for both functional and aesthetic purposes. Copper is a metal that has a red-orange color and is well-known for its excellent electrical conductivity, corrosion resistance, and malleability. These properties make copper a sensible choice for component coatings among a wide range of industries. Oil and gas, automotive, and telecommunications, to name a few.
Copper can deliver a polished, dull, semi-bright, gloss, or matte finish no matter what industry it’s used for. Another unique feature is that copper also is naturally antibacterial as well as non-magnetic, so it’s well suited for the medical industry as well.
What Does The Copper Plating Process Consist Of?
Copper plating involves the use of electricity in a process we’ve discussed before called electroplating. Just to refresh, electroplating involves using an electric current to adhere a layer of copper to a base metal.
Now, many metals can undergo copper plating, including gold, silver, and aluminum. However, iron-based metals will first need to be plated with nickel, to enable plating with copper.
First, we have to clean the base metal of any debris or flaws to prevent inconsistency in plating thickness. Then, the electroplating process begins by sending an electric current through a reservoir of copper salt electrolyte solution. The electricity flows through and deposits a layer of copper atoms on the base metal we’re using.
What Applications Is Copper Plating Ideal For?
Copper plating is immensely popular as metal finishes go. It’s used in a wide array of applications such as:
- A prep layer for silver- and nickel-plating applications
- In electronics for shielding from electromagnetic interference and radio frequency interference.
- Laboratory and medical equipment with its natural antibacterial traits
- Copper plating of coin currency versus using pure copper
Oil and Gas Industry Usage
Copper plating usage is very common in the oil and gas industry as an anti-galling method for make-and-break operations. Components such as threaded connections, tubular, couplings, alloy drill pipes, and risers are often coated with copper. Copper is also a superior undercoating for other metals that are plated, to boost corrosion resistance in harsh environments.
Electronics Manufacturing Industry
Copper is a metal that naturally occurs uncompounded, and few metals can boast that characteristic. In its unadulterated form, copper is extremely ductile and soft while exhibiting high levels of thermal and electrical conductivity second only to silver. Due to these qualities and low cost, copper plating has been the standard in electronics manufacturing for decades.
Finding A Quality Plating Company Is Key
If you require a plating company in Houston to provide your business with quality copper plating, Guerrero can help you. Our industrial plating services can help your company reduce costs, shrink lead times, and still deliver top-quality products. We plate for any application to stringent ISO and mil-spec standards for many companies.
We are capable of delivering copper coatings of precise thickness specifications on a variety of base materials and components. We are highly skilled and experienced in methods such as:
- Electroplating: When using the electroplating process to coat components with copper, we place the component in an electrolytic solution. We then run a current of electricity through the solution bath causing copper ions to bond with the base material.
- Barrel plating: This is a highly efficient variation of the electroplating process that allows us to do high-volume batches of smaller parts. We adhere to strict quality standards above and beyond industry standards. This way you are ensured to get the absolute best quality.
- Electroless plating: Electroless plating forgoes electricity and uses chemicals to create facilitate copper plating. The coatings produced with this method are less porous and have more corrosion resistance. That makes it ideal for plating products that will be exposed to harsh conditions.
- Rack electroplating: For more complex and demanding applications, rack electroplating is best suited for projects with the tightest specs and requirements. We frequently handle plating for aerospace companies where the slightest incorrect measurement could mean disaster.
- Heavy build plating: Heavy build plating results in much thicker coatings than any other method. Typically to be classified as heavy build, the thickness needs to be more than .0001 inches.
Copper Plating Considerations
While copper is indeed a very effective coating solution for many different applications, it doesn’t come without some limitations. For example, copper is highly active, so it’s not good for plating directly on iron unless a base of nickel is applied first.
Additionally, sometimes you need to use a cyanide solution along with copper to maximize adhesion. Since cyanide is extremely toxic it requires extra care in procedure and presents a safety risk if not properly handled. Copper is also quite dull regarding color, so you may need another additive to give a brighter finish.
There are many other critical steps in the plating process when using copper to ensure a high-quality product. Fortunately, at Guerrero Plating, our technicians have decades of combined experience. We are very familiar with the procedures and precautions needed to turn out products that meet or exceed the most stringent standards.
Plating On Plastic And Other Materials
Copper plating can also be done on components made from plastic as well as other non-metal components. The plating of these non-metal substrates is often used in electronics to make plastics conductive. However, the plating also helps strengthen the component and gives it a more appealing shine than plastic.
Take, for example, Babyliss FX foil shavers. While the casing is aluminum, the protective cap and foil head are plated plastic. Similar to that example, there are many parts in the electronics industry that benefit from copper plating over plastic substrates.
At Guerrero plating we can copper plate base materials other than the metal that include:
- Mineral-reinforced nylon
- Other composite material
Why Choose Guerrero?
We understand you have many options when it comes to plating services in the Houston area. However, we feel that our decades of experience in stringent ISO’s and mil-spec applications sets us apart. Not only that, but we strive to make the process easier for you with complimentary delivery and pickup services.
Contact us today and see how we can make it easier for you to focus on what your business does best.