Plating equipment and anodizing equipment applies a finish to a product to increase its durability or to resist corrosion. Plating equipment is used mainly with metal surfaces, but specialized techniques can be used to plate nonconductive materials. Anodizing equipment provides a harder, more corrosion resistant layer. For example, with aluminum anodizing equipment, the application of an electric current converts a thin, incoherent aluminum oxide film into a denser, more coherent alumina trihydrate layer. These anodized layers can then be dyed to produce surfaces with different colors.
Some plating and anodizing equipment is used in the manufacture of computers, mobile phones, and electronic devices. Other systems are designed for general-purpose surface treatment applications. Plating and anodizing equipment that applies nickel plating or chrome plating is used in the automotive industry, usually on steel car parts. Gold plating equipment is used in the production of jewelry. Plating polishing equipment is then used to impart a shiny finish to completed products. Plating equipment and anodizing equipment is used to perform several basic types of plating and anodizing processes. Barrel plating is performed inside a rotating, perforated barrel to plate small objects without producing sharp edges. Rack plating attaches the substrate to a copper rack for deposition in an electrolyte solution. Strip plating subjects a metal to multiple process stations or solution tanks, where the strip of metal is plated at different levels. Plating and anodizing equipment can be further categorized into chrome plating equipment, gold plating equipment, and zinc plating equipment. Chrome plating equipment applies a chrome coating to products such as light fixtures and hand tools. Gold plating equipment applies a layer of gold and is used mainly for decorative purposes. Zinc plating equipment is similar to chrome plating equipment and gold plating equipment; however, unlike chrome or gold, zinc is used to improve a metal’s corrosion resistance.
Technologies for plating equipment and anodizing equipment include electroplating, electroless plating, electrophoretic coating, phosphating, metal spraying, and vacuum metallization. Electroplating equipment places the substrate in a container of metallic salt solution and passes an electric current through the container. Electroless plating equipment uses a water-based reducing agent without an external electrical source. Electrophoretic coating equipment is similar to electroplating equipment, but applies a coating made from an organic resin instead of metallic ions. Metal spraying equipment is used with high-tensile workpieces that cannot be electroplated because of hydrogen embrittlement. Vacuum metallization equipment is designed to minimize heat transfer and thermal short-circuiting in multi-layer applications. Temperature range, agitation, filtration, ventilation, and automated controls are important considerations when selecting plating and anodizing equipment.