Barrel Plating

Barrel Plating by SPC

Rely on the extensive plating services offered by Sharretts Plating Company. One of the many beneficial and cost-effective services we offer is barrel electroplating, which is often the method of choice for plating a high volume of smaller parts at one time. Customers needing barrel plating services where plating specifications are complex and the finished product must meet very stringent testing guidelines and industry standards for industrial metal plating.

Just about any typical plating process can be performed in barrels. Copper plating, nickel plating, electroless nickel phosphorous, palladium plating, palladium-nickel, silver plating, tin, tin-lead, tin-zinc, zinc electroplating, zinc-nickel, soft and cobalt hardened gold comprise the SPC plating array.

Barrel Plating Process

The barrel plating process involves placing the items in a barrel-shaped cage that is manufactured from nonconductive material. The cage is then submerged into a tank containing the appropriate chemical solution, while a slow tumbling action is used to commence the plating action. A key factor in the barrel plating process is that the individual pieces establish a bipolar contact with one another, which results in greater plating efficiency. However, it’s important to note that because of the heavy amount of surface contact the pieces have with each other, barrel plating is generally not recommended when engineering or ornamental finishes are required.

Types of Plating Barrels

High, medium, and low efficiency barrels for plating are available, resulting in improved deposit distribution that is used to apply corrosion resistance and high-tech conductive and solderable/bondable functionality. Two common types of plating barrels are horizontal and oblique. Horizontal barrels are the most frequently used, largely because they are capable of handling larger volumes and greater varieties of workloads. The largest type of horizontal barrel, known as a production barrel, has a capacity of up to 17 cubic feet. Portable and miniature horizontal barrels are also available. Oblique barrels feature a more open design and a reduced tumbling action that is better suited for smaller workloads.

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Benefits of Barrel Electroplating

Perhaps the most important and obvious barrel plating advantage is that it enables a large volume of parts to be plated simultaneously, which can result in significant time and cost savings. Other key benefits include:

  • The entire process can be performed in one vessel, including cleaning, rinsing, pickling and sealing, which results in less handling and greater overall efficiency.
  • A wide variety of parts can be processed using the same equipment. As a very general rule of thumb, if a part can fit into the barrel, it is likely capable of being barrel plated.
  • The cascading tumbling action resulting from the barrel rotation, combined with the bipolar contact between the parts usually results in a more uniform finish than other processes, such as rack plating, can provide.
  • Barrel plating systems generally require a lower equipment investment than other plating systems, which can be passed on to the customer in the form of a reduced cost for plating services. Most barrel plating processes can be executed with the standard equipment; there is not typically a need to add special fixtures, part carriers or agitation equipment.

We Build Our Own Barrel Plating Equipment

To save customers money and guarantee predictable results, Sharretts Plating Company designs and builds nearly all of its barrel plating equipment. As a result, we can service small prototype volumes with plating barrels the size of a fist to the largest of production jobs with barrel more than four feet long.

If you require barrel electroplating for your application, be sure to contact us to get set up with our superior plating consulting services. With hundreds of years of combined metal finishing experience, SPC can meet all of your electroplating needs!


"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.