Plating v coating: the differences

Newly manufactured metal, often referred to as bare metal, lacks any natural atmospheric or corrosion protection, and is vulnerable to the effects of environmental conditions and wear. Occasionally, metal products will be treated with a light coating of oil. However, this only protects them while in shipment or stored in atmospherically controlled conditions.
To achieve true protection from the hazards that the metal product will become exposed to once in use, it must be plated or coated. These two methods work in a similar way, providing the metal product with protection from corrosion, wear and embrittlement, but they are very different processes.

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Plating, often referred to as electroplating, is a process by which a metallic finish is adhered to the surface of the metal product through electro-deposition. This fuses the metal deposits to the existing product.

There are various methods in which plating can be achieved, though the most common is using zinc with a clear chromate plating. This method delivers good protection from corrosion, is a controllable process and delivers a cosmetically pleasing appearance.


Coating, or electroless nickel coating, entails dipping the metal product into a chemical bath, from which excess material is removed by spinning it at high speeds. Coating can deliver a thicker layer of corrosion protection than is possible with plating and ensure an even distribution of nickel across the entirety of the metal product.

Specialist providers such as offer a variety of different coating options based on the need and budget of the client and the intended use of the manufactured product.

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In conclusion, both plating and coating are appropriate choices for protecting bare metal from damage, extending its lifetime and presenting an aesthetically pleasing finish. To determine which is most suitable for your intended purposes, you should consult with a surface treatment expert.

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