In finishing, the various technologies fall into specifically defined categories based on their method. Three common classifications are:
- Plating: Electroless and Electroplating
- Chemical conversion
- Electrochemical conversion processes
The fabrication business often considers the finishing process to be categorized in two groups; plating and chemical and electrochemical conversion.
However, as is the normal state in life, there are exceptions to this rule. One of the more commonly employed finishing technologies does not fall under the umbrella of any of the above. These are electropolishing services. Although it shares the same technology or tools with electroplating, it is almost the antithesis of the treatment.
Other Distinguishing Characteristics
Electropolishing is different from other finishing techniques in a number of ways. It
- Is a micro process – focusing on specific aspects
- Does not compete with such finishing processes as grinding, polishing or buffing
- Can be employed with other finishing processes to produce a truly finished piece of work
- Is not limited, in most cases by either size or shape. Pieces to be electro polished can be as small as a hollow medical instrument (a needle) to as large as a 15,000-gallon vessel
These are also provide some of the rationale behind choosing electropolishing services over other finishing or polishing methods.
Basic Facts about Electropolishing
Electropolishing requires skill and the right equipment. The process entails attention is paid to specific details. Fabricators are aware of the following facts concerning the process:
- Preparation: While some parts may be electro polished without pre- preparation, many require a thorough cleaning or pretreatment to remove any grime, grease, dirt or scale
- Post Process: Fabricators must wash the parts to remove the electropolishing solution
- Cathodes: Components of a simple shape will use general-purpose cathodes; more complex parts usually need purpose-built cathodes and other special fixtures
- Equipment: The solutions employed in the process are highly acidic and corrosive. This requires the equipment be resistant to these characteristics. It also means the safety of employees be paramount when handling or using such material. The same applies to the build-up of gas. Improper care can result in an explosion
Overall, the process can last up to 20 minutes, although shorter and longer times are often required.
Electropolishing Services: A Micro Finishing Process
Electropolishing can be performed, theoretically on any metal. A micro polishing process it is both a stand-alone and complementary method. Utilizing a variety of solutions to produce the desired results, it can produce a component that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. If nothing else, electropolishing services are a controlled removal of metal from the surface of a component resulting in the production of a part that will function with great precision and durability for an industry.