Though there appear to be few differences between powder coating and electroplating, these finishing methods have their distinctions. Comparing and contrasting them is the key to choosing the finish that best serves your application needs.
Through this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare powder coating vs. electroplating to help you gain a better understanding of each.
The application process is perhaps the most significant difference between powder coating and electroplating. Powder coating involves electrostatically applying a free-flowing powder to a substrate and curing it under heat or ultraviolet (UV) light. Though powder coating is a dry process, this substance essentially acts as a durable paint.
Electroplating is a wet process that begins by filling a tank with a positively charged electrolyte. An electric current passes through the electrolyte in which the metal object was placed. The electrolyte then splits, and the atoms are deposited onto the metal’s surface. Unlike powder coating, electroplating does not act as a paint, but rather a metal finish.
Powder coating is significantly more sustainable and environmentally friendly than electroplating. Powder coating is a recyclable, single-coat process that reduces waste material. After spraying powder coatings, you can gather and reuse them. Plus, powder coating is a solvent-free coating method, meaning it does not produce harmful compounds or create air pollution.
Though electroplating is a popular process, it is not necessarily eco-friendly. The electroplating industry is a major contributor to the use of nickel, cadmium, chromium and other metals that are harmful to the environment. However, companies have discovered greener alternatives to electroplating that achieve the same results, such as physical vapor deposition (PVD).
Electroplating and powder coating are both low-cost processes. On the surface, electroplating is the less expensive of the two finishing methods in terms of material and equipment costs. However, powder coating offers long-term cost savings by cutting down on energy, waste disposal, labor, production and regulatory compliance costs.
Powder coating and electroplating are both highly durable processes. Electroplating gives metal additional robust properties like resistance to corrosion, wear, abrasion and friction. It also results in greater hardness and electrical conductivity.
Powder coating is considerably stronger than paint, resulting in a hard, durable finish. These coatings chemically resist alkalinity, prevent fading and chipping and withstand harsh environments.
Coating thickness is easier to regulate with electroplating due to enhanced control over electric voltage levels. Immersing components in liquid also promotes a more even distribution. Electroplating is usually the better option for parts with tight tolerances or hard-to-reach areas.
Powder coating generally has a thicker application, so regulating thickness is more challenging.
Though powder coating and electroplating achieve similar results, they’re best used in different applications. Powder coating is a popular finish in industries ranging from agricultural to automotive to electrical to appliances. It has countless everyday uses, such as:
- Light fixtures.
- Golf clubs.
- Fire hydrants.
Electroplating is a prominent process in oil and gas, telecommunications, aerospace and medical industries. Common applications of electroplating include:
- Kitchen utensils.
- Mobile phones.
- Automotive parts.
- Pots and pans.
- Sink taps.
- Tin cans.
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If you’re looking for top-of-the-line powder coating services, Keystone Koating is your solution. We’ve spent over three decades providing customers with start-to-finish powder coating services. We can handle a large volume of parts in a short period and offer a wide selection of colors and textures and excellent corrosion protection.
Get a quote on our powder coating services today!