Plating Business

Ask an Expert From: Products Finishing, ,

Posted on: 8/1/2003

Question: I do not know very much about plating but would like to set up and operate a plating shop.

Question:

I do not know very much about plating but would like to set up and operate a plating shop. I am particularly interested in restoring automotive parts. I would appreciate your comments on this idea! J. M.

Answer:

I receive at least one e-mail per month on the subject. My initial response is that I don’t think it is a great idea. Anodizing or powder coating or are probably better ideas. Why do I say this? The metal finishing industry, particularly the electroplating portion of the industry, is shrinking and is rapidly moving to other parts of the world. A large portion of electroplating is now done “off-shore” and it is anticipated that this percentage will increase over the next few years. The primary reason for this is that the process can be performed at much lower costs elsewhere. Offshore platers have much lower labor and environmental costs compared to domestic plating operations.

It is true that certain segments of the industry are profitable. Automotive restoration work is one of these. However, a shop of this type involves chromium plating, which is one process that is environmentally nasty and probably is one of the most difficult processes to get approved.

You mention that you do not have very much experience in electroplating. The first thing you must do is to get some experience in the industry by working in a plating shop and learning a little about the “nuts and bolts” of the industry. This will give you some idea about the electroplating processes used in the industry. You will also learn something about the economics of the industry. At this point you should be in a better position to decide whether you want to go ahead with your business idea.


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