Secrets Manufacturers Will not Tell you - Substandard Plating

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One of my acquaintances is a phone repair technician.  After repairing myriad phones, he found that many phone issues are from defected connectors.  He also found that most of defected connectors were poor plating which constant caused transmission issue.  Thus, he realized that for electronic devices, electroplating of connectors is influential.

Electroplating is primarily used to improve the surface properties of a device (e.g. abrasion and wear resistance, corrosion protection, lubricity, aesthetics,qualities, etc.).  Electroplating issues come from ignorant manufacturers.  Some of them would skip plating processes due to lacking of specific knowledge. As a result, plating quality is substandard and products life are shortened.

Photo courtesy: www.effectrode.com Retrieved Jan 8, 2016 from http://www.effectrode.com/jack-plugs-gold-brass-cheap/

According to statistics, 60% of substandard plating results from poor pre-treatment.  Pre-treatments are cleaning, rinsing, drying, and acid cleaning & etching which aim to trim the surface of the work piece, removing grease and rust.   The purpose of pre-treatment is to clean the surface. Activating, improving plating efficiency and enhance the coating adhesion.  Well pre treatments can greatly reduce the defect rate.

Many ignorant companies , however, would reduce or skip pre-treatments, which increases defect rate and interferes coating adhesion.  Coating layers would fade easily and leave product surface to expose which leads to product tarnish and corrode.

The photo is for reference only.  After being used for a while, pits and oxides appear on product.  

Photo courtesy: http://www.researchmfg.com/ Retrieved Jan 8, 2016 from http://www.researchmfg.com/2012/12/gold-plating-charger/

In addition to skipping pre-treatments, some companies reduce the process of electroplating.  Generally, genuine companies would plate copper as an undercoat, then plate other metal layers.  Some companies, however, would only plate one layer to cut cost.  Some companies reduce the plating time as well, which aims to craft thinner coating layer to save material. 

Normal thickness of coating layer is 15~50u gold and 50~100u nickel which is for increasing electric conductivity and abrasion resistance, while thinner coating reduces the conductivity and abrasion resistance.  

Besides skipping procedure, they are also unaware of monitoring water.  Water is another key factor in plating.  Impurities in unprocessed water will heavily influence plating quality, making the coating hard to adhere to the surface.  That may lead to incomplete plating which will easily leave product surface to corrode and oxidize.   

Fortunately, not all companies are unconscionable.  Some factories in Taiwan had clear consciences and adequate knowledge.  They neither sacrifice product quality nor join the price war.  What they focus on is improving their products and let products build the reputation.  Some companies already improve their skill to craft product for military use.  For example, some made in Taiwan products can withstand salt water test for 480 hrs and have 20 years of life at least.

The plating quality can be examined without any equipment. Here are two simple approaches.  One is to rub connector with your hand or face.  Good plating is smooth and delicate.  It would not scratch your skin.  Poor plating, on the other hand, would scratch your skin because of the rough surface.  The other approach is to examine with your eyes.  Good plating is shiny and glimmering.  It would appear darker because of glisten.  Poor plating would appear lighter because of no gloss.

Next time when you search for devices, don’t forget to examine electroplating and overall quality.  It’s not wise to waste your money on substandard products for lower price.














You may find genuine plating products at Zugo Electric Mall. www.zugonow.com

Zugo Electric Mall is gathering by top manufacturers, providing you the True and Reliable products only.


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