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Plating Capabilities | Plating Specifications | Considerations| FAQS

Copper Plating Service

Copper is a metallic element with a red-orange color known for its high electrical conductivity, malleability and corrosion resistance. These properties make copper a popular choice for coating components in a wide range of industries — from aerospace and automotive to electronics and telecommunications.

If you're searching for a company that can provide copper coating services that will help your business lower costs, shorten lead times and produce high-quality products to stringent specifications, Sharretts Plating Company can help. At SPC, we provide copper electroplating and other copper plating services to meet your needs.

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For Copper Coating

Plating Capabilities and Methods

We are capable of applying copper coatings of various thicknesses to a range of base materials and product types. Some of the methods we use include:

  • Electroplating: In copper electroplating, a metal substrate is placed in an electrolytic bath and an electric current is used to cause copper ions to adhere to the base material's surface. The result is a thin copper coating on the surface.
  • Barrel plating: This highly efficient type of electroplating allows SPC to copper plate many smaller parts at the same time. To create the best results, SPC designs the majority of barrel plating equipment in-house.
  • Electroless plating: Electroless plating uses a purely chemical process, without an external energy source, to create a metal coating. This method produces coatings that tend to be less porous and more resistant to corrosion, making it ideal for products that will be exposed to challenging conditions.
  • Rack electroplating: Rack electroplating is recommended when plating specifications are complicated and strict testing requirements must be met. We can accommodate prototype volumes as well as mass production.
  • Heavy build plating: Heavy build plating creates a thicker coating than other methods. Heavy build plating typically has a thickness exceeding 0.001 inches. For example, plated ammunition often features 0.020-inch thick heavy build plating.

In addition to metals, SPC can provide copper plating for plastics, ceramics and some hybrid materials.

Copper Plating Specifications

Depending on the industry, you may need your products to meet certain specifications or expectations for quality control. The following specifications apply to copper-plated items:

  • MIL-C-14550A: This specification outlines the adhesion, testing and minimum thickness requirements for copper plating used for different applications in the U.S. military.
  • ASTM B734-97: This specification sets standards for copper electroplating for engineering purposes, such as heat treatment stop-off and surface hardening.

Copper Electroplating Considerations

While copper is a highly effective electroplating solution in many situations, some specific properties of copper introduce certain limitations in its use. Because copper is a highly active metal, it is not ideal for direct plating with iron unless a base coat of nickel is initially applied.

It may also be necessary to use a cyanide solution in conjunction with the copper solution to ensure maximum adhesiveness. Cyanide is highly toxic, so it is important to exercise great caution during the copper plating process. Copper is also relatively dull in color, which means other additives may be needed if a brighter finish is required.

There are many essential steps in the copper electroplating process to ensure a highly functional finished product. Items to consider when placing an order for copper plating include coating requirements, sampling and test proceduresand final rejection, rehearing or certification.

Copper Electroplating on Plastic

Copper electroplating can be done on plastic and other non-metallic surfaces, essentially "metalizing" plastic parts. Copper plating on plastic substrates is often used to make the plastic electrically conductive, which is a primary concern in the electronics industry. Copper plating on plastic can also strengthen the part and produce a shine that makes it more aesthetically appealing, which may be important for some applications.

At SPC, we can use copper electroplating to coat base materials made from:

  • ABS
  • Teflon
  • Polycarbonate
  • Mineral-reinforced nylon
  • And more

Copper Plating FAQs

Find answers to common questions about copper plating.

What Is Copper Electroplating?

Copper electroplating is a coating method that uses a direct electric current to deposit dissolved copper on the surface of an item. 

What Are the Advantages of Electroplating With Copper?

Although electroplating can be used for many different types of metal coatings, copper electroplating comes with several distinct advantages. Copper is an excellent conductor of electricity, so you can use copper electroplating to improve the conductivity of a base material. Copper is also highly malleable, making it ideal for components that bend, and offers good protection against corrosion.

What Is the History of Copper Electroplating?

While the electroplating process has evolved and improved over time, copper electroplating is not new. Rudimentary versions of electroplating were developed in the early 19th century.

What Applications Use Copper Electroplating?

Many industries rely on copper electroplating for their electrical, industrial and heating applications due to the material's conductivity and thermal properties. Copper electroplating can also be used as an undercoat before applying other coatings or as a treatment for surfaces before soldering.

Manufacturers may choose to coat plastic components or products with copper to enhance performance. You can find copper electroplating in semiconductors, printed circuits and more.

Why Choose Sharretts Plating Company?

SPC has more than 80 years of experience providing copper plating services for industrial and commercial customers. We work to meet your industry's demands by using a stringent quality control process from the beginning of a project through delivery. To learn more about how we can meet your requirements for copper plating or to request a quote, contact us today.

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"I would like to thank you for the help you have provided us in developing an electroless nickel plating technique on an unusual substrate. The sample platings you provided show that we should be able to reach our goals. I especially appreciate your willingness to take on an unusual job, with the uncertainties that that entails...We are looking forward to working with you in the future on our plating needs."

– Robert K.