Advanced Precision Machining

Advanced Precision Machining Shop Primer on Electroplating and Surface Finishing Applications

[September 6, 2018] With summer just about to end, the entire staff of certified CNC machinists is hard at work at our Colorado CNC machine shop. While most of our time is dedicated to manufacturing high-quality precision parts combined with the best customer service experience in the business, we do like keeping our customers up to date and educated about the latest in precision machining technology, shop news, and our services via our machine shop blog.

At this time of year, the mountain environment outside of our shop doors takes on a finish that is both fashionable and functional at the same time. The snow is long gone, the water flows, critters flourish, and we wish we had more time to spend enjoying the splendor around us but alas, milling and machining duties call. By the same token, the many parts we so meticulously manufacture on our shop floor 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 summer, however, we want you to learn more about an often overlooked service performed by Advanced Precision Machining; that of electroplating.

Once a precision machined part comes out of a run, that is not necessarily the end of the production process. For many parts, surface finishing is in fact, the last crucial step in delivering a high-quality machined part that meets or exceeds customer expectations. As a contract machine shop, our work cannot be delivered, and no money is exchanged, until surface finishing is completed, and this often involves a plating application. 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 imparts 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 adheres to its surface so tightly that it actually becomes part of that surface. This is most often performed with the addition of electric current; hence the more specific technique 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 mountains outside our door in the summertime, we want your parts to take on a finish that is both functional and fashionable at the same time!

Our Colorado-based CNC machinists want to see your job through to its entirety. Do you have questions? Want to learn more about our electroplating options? APM’s machine shop is available for all of your inquiries. Contact us today, or for additional information or to request a quote, please visit or call 303-776-1910.

Be sure to follow our social media feeds for more shop highlights: on Facebook, on Twitter @APMLongmont, and the Advanced Precision Machining LinkedIn Company Page.

About the Author

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 and a partner began 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.

Copyright © 2021 Advanced Precision Machining, LLC