platingCleaning - In order for plating to properly adhere, the substrate must be completely free of all foreign materials, such as oil, buffing compounds, finger prints, and soap films. At Paul’s the process begins in an ultrasonic cleaner tank containing a special hot buffered cleaner. This process removes virtually all the foreign materials, including buffing compounds, even down in threaded mounting holes. The part is then transferred to the scrub tank where it is meticulously hand washed to be certain that it is completely clean.

After a thorough water rinse, the item is then racked or wired to a copper hook. It is the rack, or the hook & wire, that will allow the electrolization of the piece in the various plating tanks. The cleaning is continued at this point with a dip in a dilute acid & water bath, to ensure the removal of any soap residue, as well as to activate the molecular surface of the part. This dip is followed by a clean water rinse, and the item is now ready for its base coat in the copper strike tank.

The copper strike covers down in recesses where other plating baths will not reach. The copper layer’s function is for adhesion so that the subsequent nickel plating or acid copper plating, which have an acidic base, will not react with the substrate, creating the potential for lack of adhesion (peeling).

Upon completion of the strike and accompanying rinses, a layer of acid copper is plated. This is a soft, ductile, thick layer of copper used to resurface the part, to prepare it for further work in the polishing department. If further work is not required, the copper struck item goes to the nickel solution where a heavy layer of bright nickel is applied. The nickel is the main corrosion resistant or protective layer applied to the item. It is also the layer that provides the decorative "bright" effect to the item.

The last step in the triple plate process is the chrome plate. This is a thin, translucent layer of a hard, weather resistant metal. The chrome’s main purpose is to prevent the tarnishing "dulling" of the bright nickel. After rinsing, the chromed object is ready for final inspection.

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