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Copper and Copper Alloy Plating

Copper plating is used to transform, restore, and protect materials. This type of plating is widely used in manufacturing due to its adaptability, conductive properties, and anti-galling uses. We offer a quality copper electroplating service, giving manufacturers and other customers peace of mind that their materials and components will perform to rigorous industry standards.

Read on to discover everything you need to know about copper and copper alloy plating.

What is Copper Plating?

Copper plating is a form of electroplating. Electroplating is a process which involves covering a material, also known as a ‘substrate’, with a coat of metal. This is done so that the substrate either has a new metallic look or is given new properties such as being electrically conductive, resistant to corrosion, or less abrasive.

At MP Eastern, we have perfected our copper electroplating process over the last 50 years giving customers the exact thickness and properties they desire for their components. We use a complex solution of metallic salts in which we immerse the substrate. When we pass an electrical current through the solution, particles of copper or copper alloy then flow to the substrate, coating it evenly. This process is safe, producing precision results for use in almost any industry imaginable.

What is Copper Alloy Plating?

We offer a leading copper alloy plating service for customers across the UK and beyond. An alloy is essentially a mix of metals to produce a specific look or property. Copper alloys are catered specifically to customer needs. Our innovative and exclusive Piotec plating system uses a copper/tin alloy which is a cutting-edge option for customers looking to reduce stainless steel galling. Piotec covers stainless steel components in a beautiful copper alloy which is conductive and flexible. We also offer Clear-Plate, a patented and trademarked process we developed exclusively for our partners Hunting Energy and used all over the world in oil & gas pipelines.

The Benefits of Copper Plating

Copper electroplating offers a wide variety of advantages to other forms of metal coating. Our copper plating processes provide significant advantages. These include:

  • Malleability: Copper is a soft metal and so is a fantastic option for components which require some flexibility, as well as substrates which are irregularly shaped. The reason for this is that copper has a high level of malleability. This means that, while bestowing other useful properties to a substrate, copper remains flexible when necessary without losing its adhesion or cracking.
  • Conductivity: Copper is widely used to cover components which need to conduct an electrical charge. It can even provide conductivity to materials such as plastic which otherwise would not be able to conduct electricity.
  • Cost Effective: There are only so many metals which work well for their conductive properties, but many of them are prohibitively expensive. Alternatives such as gold, silver, and platinum are much rarer metals and so cost more. Copper has similar conductive properties to those metals, but because it is more readily available, it is more affordable.
  • Adhesive Properties: When applied through our electroplating processes, copper has extremely reliable and strong adhesion. It creates a smooth coating which remains tightly bonded to a wide range of substrates whether even or uneven. Copper plating creates lasting coverage you can rely on.
  • Corrosion Resistance: Copper provides good corrosive protection from harsh or chemical environments. However, copper alloys provide an extra level of protection. One of the reasons copper alloys are often used is that when copper is mixed with another metal such as tin, which is resistant to water corrosion, or nickel, which has better acidic resistance, its protective properties increase.
  • Antibacterial: Copper and copper alloys have natural antimicrobial properties. It is so powerful against bacteria and other microbes that it is now being used in healthcare scenarios where objects are coated in a thin copper film to restrict the spread of disease.

Decorative Copper Plating

Copper plating is an excellent option for industrial use, but it is also used for decorative purposes. When a smooth coating of copper is applied to a substrate, it appears bright and beautiful. This can be used to rejuvenate an older item, restoring it to its former glory, or to add a copper or copper alloy finish to a different material such as plastic or a less aesthetically pleasing metal. A popular option is to use copper as an undercoat for decorative nickel or chromate coatings, which produces an eye catching finish.

Why Use Copper as an Undercoat?

Our premium copper plating process is an excellent choice as an undercoat. It works brilliantly as an intermediate coat which can then be covered with a subsequent material. Nickel can work as a great undercoat as well, but copper is both inexpensive and, due to its flexibility, is a great way to avoid crack propagation in components which need to bend or move. A more rigid metal coating can then be placed on top of the copper for heavier duty use.

Copper for Anti-Galling

When two materials slide against each other, especially under a lot of force, galling takes place. This is a type of abrasive wearing where one surface pulls material away from the other. Galling causes long term damage to components, contamination through flaking metals, and slipping of components which can cause catastrophic failure. It is an extremely common problem and is present in most situations where metals slide against each other while in contact.

Copper and copper alloy plating can resolve this issue.

We specialise in using copper plating for anti-galling, especially premium connections for oil country tubular goods (OCTG). We provide one of the world’s leading anti-galling treatments, which creates a smooth surface and increases lubricity, therefore minimising wear and tear.

Large manufacturers such as JFE Steel, Tenaris, Hunting, and Vallourec use our anti-galling services to protect their components against galling. Anti-galling is an essential part of component protection in every manufacturing industry, and MP Eastern applies the same precision, reliability, and expertise to orders large or small.

What To Do Next

When ordering copper plating, we recommend that customers specify to national, international, or defence standards. We pride ourselves on meeting each customer’s specifications, providing the best UK copper plating service on the market.

For best results, we recommend including the following information:

  • Specification reference
  • Base material composition and condition
  • Significant surfaces and areas where measurements of coating thickness are to be made.
  • Any areas that must not be used as contact points for jigging/wiring
  • Any special inspection requirements
  • Any special packing requirements

We offer a wide range of international specifications such as ASTM–B734 and AMS 2418 as part of our extensive copper plating standards database.

For more information, please contact MP Eastern today, and our technicians will be happy to answer any of your queries regarding copper plating, copper alloy plating, or any of the other plating services we provide.