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[October, 14, 2013] Are you ready for autumn? With school back in session, and the recent devastating heavy rains and flooding behind us, your staff of certified CNC machinists is hard at work down at our Longmont CNC machine shop. Some of this work is devoted to updating and educating our customers and readers about the latest in precision machining technology, shop news, or our services via our machine shop blog. As the leaves outside begin to turn, they take on a finish that is both fashionable and functional at the same time. By the same token, the many parts we so meticulously manufacture with our high speed milling machines are functional, but in the end, deserve some dressing up of their own. Our CNC mills and CNC lathes shoulder most of the milling and turning burden, and therefore garner the most attention. This month however, we want you to learn more about an often overlooked service performed by Advanced Precision Machining; that of plating, and in particular, electroplating.
Once precision machine components come out of a CNC milling machine, a few of you may think that is the end of the production process. But for many parts, plating is in fact, the last crucial step in delivering a high-quality machined part. As a Colorado contract machine shop, our work cannot be delivered, and no money is exchanged, until plating services are completed. In general, plating is one of many metal-finishing processes, and a great option depending on what that part will have to endure over its working life. Plating is used to produce a desired property onto a machined part such as abrasion and wear resistance, corrosion protection, lubricity, or simple aesthetic enhancement. Another application uses plating to build up thickness on undersized parts. When CNC machine parts are plated, a layer of metal such as tin, nickel, copper, zinc, gold or silver is adhered to its surface so tightly that it actually becomes part of that surface. This is most often performed with the addition of electric current, and is known as electroplating.
The electroplating process used in a custom machine shop involves immersing a part in a water bath consisting of a chemical solution made up of the desired plating metal, such as copper sulfate. This solution holds in it the electrically charged metal ions critical to the reaction. When electrical current is introduced into the solution, the part being plated acts as a cathode, and it attracts the metal ions onto it. This is known as the process of electrodeposition, and it produces the desired thin layer of metal onto the finished part. Our precision machine shop offers many variations on this technique including anodizing, chromating, passivating, and nickel plating. As a finishing treatment, electroplating is a crucial step in adding further function to CNC precision parts, but like the leaves of fall, your parts can take on a finish that is both functional and fashionable at the same time! Leave it to our CNC machinists to see your job through in its entirety. Contact us today, and learn more about the Advanced Precision Machining difference.
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Gerry Dillon is a co-founder, current owner and certified CNC machinist at Advanced Precision Machining (APM), a full-service machine shop located in Longmont, Colorado. Before making his home in the United States in 2000, Gerry was born and raised on the emerald isle of Ireland and took an interest in milling and machining from an early age, ranking #1 in the Irish National Apprenticeship Program. In 2005, he partnered with his friend and colleague, Kirk Tuesburg, currently APM’s machine shop manager, together launching what’s grown into a leading Colorado machine shop. Gerry brings over 30 years of machining experience to the shop floor, and is certified in all aspects of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing.