Rack or Barrel Plating: Which is Best for My Project?

Simply put, electroplating is the process of bonding one form of metal or compound alloy to another base metal in order to provide enhanced conductivity or protection; and while there are several types of electroplating, the rack and barrel methods are the most common.

But how do you know if rack or barrel plating is the best option for your project?

Rack Plating

Rack or Barrel Plating

During rack plating, parts are attached to… you guessed it… racks which are dipped into a plating solution and exposed to an electrical current. In general, rack plating is implemented in situations where large, fragile, or complex objects need to be finished. Due to their shape, these parts are not suited for the rough-and-tumble motion of the barrel plating method.

It is important to note that rack plating may come with a higher price tag because it is more labor intensive. In addition, due to variable currents in the plating solution, uniformity of the plating layer is harder to achieve. Because of these attributes in the rack plating process, it is important to take into consideration whether or not the object you are plating is worth the additional effort.

Barrel Plating

In contrast to rack plating, the barrel plating method involves the use of an industrial container to turn large workloads. This vessel, or “barrel,” is submerged in a variety of different chemical baths. This causes ions in the electroplating solution to attach themselves to the surface of objects in the workload.

Rack or Barrel Plating

Typically, barrel plating is best used for projects with large workloads containing small and durable parts. This is because they are all tumbled in the same container for the entirety of the plating process. For this reason, barrel plating is typically less labor intensive and can generate higher levels of efficiency. In addition, the cascading motion of the barrel plating method also tends to produce a more even coating upon the substrate.

Keep in mind, barrel plating is not for fragile objects due the large amount of objects moving about in a condensed container. These types of projects are much better suited for rack plating when possible.

Got more questions? We’ve got answers…

If you are still unsure whether rack or barrel plating is best for you, give us a call at (314)-776-0542. We will be happy to provide you with advice from our metal plating professionals.