While there are many variations based on the existence of the factors listed above, metal preparation for plating is essentially a three-step process consisting of pre-cleaning, secondary cleaning and surface activation. We’ll now take a closer look at each process phase. Pre-Cleaning Surface preparation for electroplating typically begins with pre-cleaning, which usually entails soaking the substrate in some type of cleaning agent. The soaking loosens and removes the bulk of the foreign material from the surface. The metal part or component is submerged in a tank filled with a hot alkaline cleaning solution, the strength of which is determined by the composition of the materials that must be removed. These cleaners are generally categorized as Light duty: Light duty soak cleaners include materials such as wetting agents, buffering salts, dispersants and inhibitors. Light-duty cleaners normally work well for removing lighter contaminants and soils from steel, aluminum copper and zinc base die castings, without causing etching or tarnishing. Heavy duty: Heavy-duty soak cleaners contain a balanced blend of highly alkaline builders, silicates and sequestering agents. They are used in a wide range of general-purpose cleaning applications involving the removal of contaminants such as fatty oils, grease, drawing compounds, and corrosion preventatives.
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