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Plating Q&A: Saving Money on Additives

Where can I find affordable additives?
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Q. The additives that we use in our plating operations are expensive. Where can I find less expensive additives for our plating baths?

A. I have been asked this question many times over the years. I personally do not believe in “home-brew” plating additives. Before you spend a lot of time trying to get around purchasing brighteners and other additives from your vendor, consider the following:

  • Is the plating bath performing the way you want it to?
  • Is the plating bath easy to control?
  • Do you get the sales and technical support required to maintain the bath and your production?

If the answer to these three questions is yes, I believe the cost of the additives is justified. If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you might consider a new vendor.

On the other hand, how many dollars will you really save by using a less expensive additive? Usually the time and effort involved in finding a new vendor is greater than the savings you will receive. As far as using a “home-brew” as a replacement for an additive, who is going to help you when you have problems with the plating bath? Many of the plating bath additives available today are materials that have been developed specifically for a given bath. While many of them are trade secrets some of them are patented. So unless you are planning to get into the commercial development of additives, I doubt this will be a significant item in the cost of your plating

Originally published in the November 2015 issue.

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