A commercial plating company is one that plates many different parts, in various volumes, for its customers. There are many production factors to consider when handling a particular job including equipment, tooling, chemistry, temperature, and more. One key aspect, not always discussed between buyer and supplier, is load size. This is simply the quantity of parts that can be plated in one lot. The goal is to determine the optimal size that allows the process to remain efficient, without sacrificing the outcome. This is particularly critical when plating components for aerospace, medical and automotive applications. For these jobs, meeting the required spec is non-negotiable. Utilizing optimal load sizes is not always possible, but when it can be achieved, benefits are realized for both customer and plater.
Ideal load sizes are decided by considering the plating unit size, part geometry, surface area, and bath efficiency. Using the previously established parameters and actually plating parts would confirm the proper load size and help establish history and repeatability. Designating specific equipment for plating is also helpful.
When parts are received in non-optimum load sizes, it takes some time to decide just how the parts will be plated. Key questions include:
- What size unit will be needed?
- Will media or filler shot be necessary, especially for small load sizes?
Most times the geometry and size of the media are quite different than the parts. This presents challenges with reaching consistent thicknesses across the part and across the run. The best plating results are achieved when plating a homogeneous lot of parts.
The benefits to both the customer and the electroplater are significant. Once achieved, a proven documented and repeatable process is set up. Customers love consistency. In the case of precious metals, gold, silver, palladium, metal usage is proven, resulting in accurate pricing, and ensuring profitability. An established process also helps move parts through the shop quicker, which is a great benefit for customers.
Buyers want quality products on time. Informing customers of optimum lot sizes, and their ability to send orders divisible by those quantities, provides for the best possible plating results at a competitive price because the plater is using the most efficient process.
Are you benefiting from cost savings and improved lead times with optimal lot sizes for your plating jobs? Contact us today to find out.