Any machined part taken directly off of a mill or lathe will have distinctive scratches or marks due to the milling or turning processes. While a rough surface may be acceptable for functional prototypes or parts hidden from sight, most components require a surface finish to complete their manufacturing. Not only does the right finish make the part more aesthetically pleasing, but it also improves the quality of the part with essential protection. At Plethora, we have a high level of expertise with surface finishes for metal parts and can help you choose the best finish for your precision components.
Treating a metal component with a surface finish will improve the life and performance of the part by protecting it in several ways:
Surface finishes on metal will also reduce friction, improving the work and wear and thermal and electrical conductivity. At Plethora, our engineers understand which surface treatments will work best for your parts’ functional requirements and can help you choose between the various finishes.
Designers select surface finishes to improve a product or component, and the best treatment depends on the component’s function and the materials involved. Here are some of the surface finishes available from Plethora for you to choose from:
From parts used in aerospace to consumer electronics, anodizing creates a corrosion-resistant finish that is both durable and aesthetic. Used chiefly for aluminum, anodizing involves an electrochemical process that molecularly bonds the anodic film to the substrate. Anodizing offers a range of colors and gloss finishes that won’t wear off, and a cost-effective finish available in the following configurations:
Alodine coatings use chrome phosphorus technology to create a surface chemical reaction on aluminum. In this process, a finishing technician will dip aluminum alloy parts into liquefied chrome phosphorus, where the resulting chemical reaction creates a protective film. Most aluminum alloys used for aviation parts involve alodine finishing to isolate, preserve and improve components, and ensure their conductivity.
Though most industrial surface finishes for metal come in liquid form, powder coatings offer an alternative, thicker coating. Powder coating allows more accessible additions of pigments, level agents, flow modifiers, curatives, and other additives that create visual appeal in addition to protecting the part. Machine shops apply the powder using an electrostatic spray deposition process which creates chemical reactions that bind the coatings to the component’s surface.
Passivation uses a chemical process that treats the metal component by submerging it into a citric or nitric solution to remove particles such as iron that are susceptible to corrosion. The remaining elements of the alloy form an oxide layer when exposed to the air, creating a protective shield that prevents rust without changing the part’s physical appearance. Materials that use this metal finishing method include:
In an electrochemical metal finishing process, electropolishing removes a thin layer from a part, typically made from stainless steel or comparable alloys, leaving a clean, shiny, and smooth finish. Machinists also refer to the process as anodic, electrochemical, or electrolytic polishing. It involves polishing and deburring fragile components or those with complex shapes. Like passivation, it uses similar chemical and non-mechanical processes, though electropolishing uses electrical current.
Typically used to apply a uniform matte texture, blasting forces abrasive material at high speed against the surface. Also called bead blasting, it results in a clean, smooth texture, especially on soft metals.
A cold working blasting technique called shot peening helps improve a part’s resistance to fatigue, corrosion, and cracking. Another cold working blasting method, burnishing, also helps components resist metal fatigue.
Also referred to as electroplating, machinists use this process to apply a coating of a variety of different metals:
With the choice of plastic materials for your prototype part, Plethora will begin work on it right away. Your project will go through the following processes to ensure that the part we return to you adheres to the highest levels of quality:
Our online tools allow you to easily upload your part’s CAD model and specify the necessary materials and quantities. From there, our system will evaluate the part for manufacturing and report its findings back to you within seconds.
The online ordering and evaluation system will forward its data into our factory’s systems for part manufacturing. Our machinists will select from Plethora’s wide array of continuous 5-axis, 5-axis-indexed, and 3-axis mills, or lathes that support live tooling—to fabricate your part expertly.
Our QC teams work together with machinists to ensure that each part we build complies with documented quality standards. We are an ISO-9001 registered machine shop, and this quality culture extends throughout our company.
International Traffic in Arms Regulations has registered Plethora. Instituting the ITAR regulations requirements ensures the security of the hardware and data we work with for our military and defense industry clients.