Chrome Plating Alternative Services – Tin/Cobalt

Chrome Plating Alternative Services – Tin/Cobalt

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Advanced Plating Technologies offers innovative tin/cobalt as a chrome plating alternative that provides a similar blue-bright appearance to decorative chrome.  Unlike traditional chrome, tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative is fully RoHS compliant and can be barrel plated.  Significant cost savings can be realized on smaller products over traditional chrome due to the mass loading and unloading afforded by bulk barrel plating.  Savings as high as an order of magnitude (10x) have been realized.  Tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative is also an excellent choice to provide a brilliant chrome-like appearance on products that must meet RoHS compliance (hexavalent chrome free).

Advanced Plating Technologies’ tin/cobalt chrome plati
ng alternative can be deposited over an underplate of bright nickel for a bright-chrome appearance or can be plated over a grained or electroless nickel underplate to achieve a satin-chrome look.  Advanced Plating Technologies has worked with numerous manufactures in various industries to employ our tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative where traditional chrome plating had been used, thereby eliminating hexavalent chrome on their product.

Current industry applications of APT’s tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative include the medical, fastener, hardware, hand tool, appliance and electronics markets.  Specific application examples include appliance hinges and hardware, small hand tool components, decorative fasteners and interior trim pieces such as lock bezels.

Tin Cobalt UpcloseAdvanced Plating Technologies’ tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative has proven to provide up to double the corrosion protection of a similar deposit of traditional hexavalent chrome over an equal nickel underplate.  However, the corrosion protection offered by APT’s tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative is different than that seen by hexavalent chrome in terms of cosmetic attributes from neutral salt spray testing per ASTM B117.  The primary mechanism that a traditional chrome deposit protects a substrate is by forming a dense oxide film on the surface of the chrome metal.  The chrome oxide acts as a passive barrier and is transparent to the human eyes, lacking a visible “tarnish” as is common with other metallic deposits.

Tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative does not protect in the same manner since it is not a chrome deposit.  While the substrate protection of tin/cobalt is equal or superior to that seen from hexavalent chrome, the surface of the deposit can exhibit a slight tarnishing when subjected to accelerated corrosion testing per ASTM B117.  Service conditions of traditional chrome deposits are well defined in ASTM B456, “Electrodeposited Coatings of Copper Plus Nickel Plus Chromium and Nickel Plus Chromium.”  The five service conditions listed are as follows:

Service Condition 5 – Extended Severe Service
Service Condition 4 – Very Severe Service
Service Condition 3 – Severe Service
Service Condition 2 – Moderate Service
Service Condition 1 – Mild Service

Advanced Plating Technologies generally recommends the use of tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative for most SC 1 and SC 2 applications and in some instances SC 3 environments.

APT’s tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative has been proven to outperform traditional chrome plating over an equal nickel underplate as measured by time to substrate corrosion (e.g. red rust on steel).  If a specific corrosion performance is required, the type, thickness and number of underplates used can be engineered to meet your finishing requirement (reference:  What causes metals to oxidize or “rust” in our Plating Topics section).

Tec 3 Cap w and w_o Techni-CromAdvanced Plating Technologies’ tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative is a simultaneous codeposit of approximately 78% tin / 22% cobalt commonly applied over an underplate of bright nickel or electroless nickel.  Since the tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative is a combination of both tin and cobalt, the properties of the coating exhibit similarities of both metals.

Tin/cobalt is not as resilient as chromium in highly abrasive applications.  When tested per ASTM D968, the weight loss of tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative is an average of 0.8mg versus 0.9 mg for that of chromium. This testing shows that tin/cobalt chrome alternative is in an acceptable range of wear for most applications with hardness of approximately 70-80% that of chromium.  This hardness is consistent with that of most electrolytic bright nickel deposits.

GB3_2874The appearance of tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative is a key attribute as it is often used to substitute traditional chrome deposits.  Advanced Plating Technologies employs stringent color quality control measures to develop customer-specific color standards.  Lots processed are quantitatively measured against these standards to verify the color of tin/cobalt chrome alternative deposits.  Spectrophotometer measurements of the plated deposits to the CIE Lab (1976) color space can be provided with each lot processed.

The CIE Lab (CIE L*a*b) is the most complete color space specified by the International Commission on Illumination.  It describes all colors visible to the human eye and plots them in a three dimensional graph where the L-axis represents light-to-dark, the A-axis represents the green-to-red shades and the B-axis provides the blue-to-yellow colors.  Advanced Plating Technologies pioneered the use of this technology in gold plating and currently utilizes the equipment and methods to maintain tight color control over all alloy deposits including tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative.

42LabTin/cobalt chrome plating alternative is a relatively new technology which has recently found growing application with the advent of RoHS compliance and general environmental regulations/concerns about traditional chrome plating.  Due to this fact there are presently no ASTM, MIL or SAE/AMS specifications which address tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative.

A number of major manufacturers in various industries have adopted company specific tin/cobalt specifications.  Advanced Plating Technologies has been able to meet all of these specifications to date and can provide certifications to such company specifications if required.  If needed, APT’s certified finishing engineers can pair with engineering and design teams to help identify key attributes and develop a specification that meets the desired functionality of a product design.

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Advanced Plating Technologies provides expertise in tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative to fulfill even the most demandingapplications. From prototyping and PPAP qualification to full production processing – it is APT’s dedicated effort to exceed your expectations.  The following points highlight why Advanced Plating Technologies is a leader in tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative services:

  • Consistent Color Control:  Tin/cobalt deposits must be controlled to maintain a consistent color from order to order.  Advanced Plating Technologies utilizes stringent, quantitative measures to certify the color consistency with each order to the CIE L*a*b color space.  APT has taken over several existing tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative accounts from job shops that were not able to provide consistent color control.
  • Diversity of substrates:  Advanced Plating Technologies provides tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative on nearly any metallic substrate such as copper & copper alloys including beryllium, chromium and tellurium coppers, hardened and alloyed steels, stainless steels, Inconels, Hastalloys, Monels, ductile & cast iron and metalized plastics.
  • Delicate and Difficult Geometries:  Advanced Plating Technologies offers tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative on delicate parts employing specialty oscillating, rock-and-roll, compartmentalized, vibratory and minimum part movement barrel technologies as well as custom-engineered rack fixturing when required to ensure even the most delicate parts are handled properly.
  • RoHS and REACH Compliance:  APT is at the forefront of environmental compliance and can certify tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative as needed to the current RoHS, ELV and REACH regulations.  Tin/cobalt is an outstanding alternative to chrome plating to achieve the same bright-blue appearance of chrome and maintain full compliance with RoHS requirements.
  • Competitive Pricing:  The ability to barrel plate tin/cobalt plating offers the potential for dramatic cost savings on smaller parts which must otherwise be rack plated in traditional chrome.  Finish selection of chrome alternatives such as tin/cobalt can help manufacturers gain a strategic advantage in today’s competitive marketplace.
  • Reliable Lead Times:  With inventories leaner than ever, consistent turn-around is a fundamental company core value to ensure the service our customers need in tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative.
  • Value Added:  Advanced Plating Technologies prides itself in meeting customer’s needs.  Whether it’s custom engineering packaging, vacuum or nitrogen sealed packaging to enhance storage, Kanban inventory management, light subassembly or multiple finishing combinations – APT will work with you to ensure we meet your finishing needs.
  • GB3_2877Extensive in House Analytical and Quality Lab Services:  SPC is employed in all wet-lab work surrounding our tin/cobalt chrome plating alternative to ensure baths are analyzed and adjusted at optimum frequencies to maintain operation between critical upper and lower control points.  Our quality lab employs the latest in x-ray, coulometric and spectrophotometer technologies to inspect your parts and will work to your requirements to provide testing as needed.  Our quality lab can certify salt spray performance to ASTM B117 and adhesion to ASTM B571.  Mounted cross sections are available as required.