Have you seen the price of gold lately? It’s literally off the charts - smashing record highs. This comes at a time when cost reduction is on everyone’s mind. Good news. Selective loose piece plating could help cut costs if your screw machine parts qualify.
With selective plating, the gold is precisely deposited only where it is absolutely needed. Here’s how the process works in a nutshell:
- Parts are barrel plated with Cu flash, Ni plate, and Au flash
- Screw machine parts are then loaded in cartridges. (This is unlike reel to reel which we discussed in our last blog, where components remain attached.)
- The parts are then transported and selectively plated with heavy gold only in the designated areas. The specialty machinery used is extremely accurate and provides consistency across the entire run.
Due to the skyrocketing price of gold, the biggest benefit of loose piece plating is material cost savings. Hands down. The gold savings could be as much as 70%! Of course, this depends on the part, its geometry and thickness requirements. Want some more good news? Many parts, such as electronic connectors, are already prime candidates since heavy gold is only needed on the contact end, pin or socket.
Cost savings isn’t the only perk. In addition, the potential for a brittle solder joint at the solder cup end is decreased with only a gold flash. This means higher quality, longer lasting parts, and happier customers. Further, the overall process is well automated, allowing for high volume jobs.
So, is there a catch? Tooling is required. Though, due to the steep material cost savings, tooling fees are typically recouped quickly. Also, not all parts can be plated using the selective loose piece plating process. In order to qualify, there must be a shoulder to hold them when being plated. Components must also be large enough, with adequate plating surface areas to offset the additional processing.
If a part meets these requirements, and doesn’t need heavy gold plating overall, selective loose piece plating should be strongly evaluated. It could certainly help increase profits by saving money. Just don’t go blowing the savings on a fancy gold watch.