Plating on Plastic: Defect Troubleshooting

Skip plate on a chrome plated plastic component
Skip plate on a chrome plated plastic component

While there are many factors that can cause and contribute to functional and cosmetic imperfections on plated plastic components, defects caused during the plating process can be the most difficult to identify root causes, and the most difficult to rectify. We’ve compiled a list of some potential causes of common plating issues that can be used for troubleshooting.

Issue

Potential Causes

Skip plate

Rack with coating issues

Airborne iron or chrome

White stain

High organic concentration in nickel tanks

Excess of Brighteners in nickel tanks

Brightener incompatibility due to change in process

Not electrolyzing the bath after a make-up or an oxidizing treatment

Pre-treatment deficiency

High voltage in the nickel activator

Chloride presence in chrome tanks

Roughness

Inadequate filtration

High pH in nickel tanks

Presence of organic contaminants in nickel tanks

Solids in suspension/solution

High boric acid in combination with low temperature in nickel tanks

Inadequate agitation in nickel tanks

Pre-treatment deficiency

High current density in nickel tanks

Presence of Fe, Al, or Ca in nickel tanks

Excess brighteners in nickel tanks

Punctured anode bags

Racks with plated contacts or with coating problems

Nickel show

High temperature in chrome tanks

High sulfate (Low Cr/SO4 ratio) in chrome tanks

Low fluoride in chrome tanks

High Cr3+ in chrome tanks

Metallic contamination in chrome tanks

Passive nickel

Passive anodes in chrome tanks

Low current density in chrome tanks

Rack design

High cathode area in chrome tanks

Oxidized contacts or loose bussing contacts

Low anodic area

Blister or Peeling

Low boric acid in nickel tanks

Presence of Cr6+ in nickel tanks

Pre-treatment or rinse deficiency

Presence of organic contaminants in nickel tanks

Passivation of the anterior layer

Intermittent contact, current interruption

Porosity in the base material causing solution retention

Inadequate neutralization prior to nickel bath

Excess brighteners in nickel tanks

Low leveler in nickel tanks

Dry down

Insufficient agitation on rinses after the etch tanks

Insufficient agitation on the neutralizer tank

Chrome burn

Low chromic acid concentration in chrome tanks

Low temperature in chrome tanks

Low fluoride in chrome tanks

Low sulfate concentration (High Cr/SO4 ratio) in chrome tanks

High current density in chrome tanks

Small distance between anode and cathode in chrome tanks

Wrong disposition of parts in the rack

Rack design

Incorrect anode distribution in chrome tanks

Incorrect anode length in chrome tanks

Passive nickel

Copper burn

High current density in copper tanks

Nickel burn

Low Ni in nickel tanks

Low temperature in nickel tanks

Presence of organic contaminants in nickel tanks

High pH in nickel tanks

Presence of phosphates or nitrates in nickel tanks

Agitation failure in nickel tanks

High current density in nickel tanks

Insufficient anode area nickel tanks

Overplate

Low temperature in the accelerator tank

Low agitation in the accelerator tank

Low concentration of hydrochloric acid in the accelerator tank

Low concentration of accelerator additive in the accelerator tank

Find out how Electro Chemical Finishing can meet your chrome plating needs by giving us a call today.