The Challenge Before Us
This paper is a re-publication of the 3rd William Blum Lecture, presented at the 48th AES Annual Convention in Los Angeles, California, on June 19, 1961. Dr. Charles Faust discussed the challenges to the surface finishing industry in the wake of the massive growth in technology in the mid-20th century.
Dr. Charles L. Faust
Recipient of the 1960 William Blum AES Scientific Achievement Award
Originally published as
Annual Technical Proceedings of the American Electroplater’s Society, 48, 17-23 (1961).
Editor’s Note: This paper is a re-publication of the 3rd William Blum Lecture, presented at the 48th AES Annual Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 19, 1961. A printable PDF version is available by clicking HERE.
To be chosen for an award by one's associates who have similar interests is an especially moving honor. I feel that a person standing in this spot as I am today has been given a "poetic license." To the poet, this means to coin new words to express his thought regardless of the pedantics of language. To me, this means to express a challenge regardless of habitual thinking and established practice, with the sole hope of being constructive.
Thoughts of subjects on which I might talk reminded me that my activities always have been connected with searching for new processes and products; and with encouraging industry to use new techniques and new concepts.
You, the members of the AES, have been most helpful in providing encouragement and follow up. I am most grateful for that. Throughout the half-century history of the AES, you have increased the knowledge of how to electroplate for exceptionally good protection and decorative beauty. And, you know ways to do this with good reproducibility in large and small lots of parts in daily production.
Research has given us a clearer understanding of which are the important details of electroplating processes as to influence on properties and performance of plates; has shown that surface cleanliness and preparation of the basis metal influence properties of the plate; and has improved the durability of electroplated articles because of better understanding of how electroplates protect.
Therefore, you may well ask, "What is the challenge before us?" On the one hand, it is to provide the means for fullest use of the knowledge now available to us for applying high quality electroplates. On the other hand, more meaningful ways are needed for specifying quality. To do this we can start with what we have now.
I had planned to show changes in finishing and plating specifications, as they have been evolved through research. I soon discovered that to do so would put me in the position of criticizing, which I have no intention to do. Nevertheless, our problem is revealed by reviewing specifications. Plating of zinc die castings will serve for illustration.
The most recent specification (1958) for copper, nickel and chromium plating points out, "The conditions of exposure and use of plated zinc are so varied that it is not possible to predict the average life of articles plated in accordance with Type FZ, Type KZ or Type QZ, or to predetermine which type of plating should be specified for a given article. Such a selection must be based on the experience of the manufacturers and users."
Thicknesses are given for the three types of plates, as based on tests and experience with buffed Watts nickel, which is seldom used for decorative-protective finishing now. We are informed that, "If the conditions are altered, different thicknesses may be required to give equivalent performance." Natural questions arise, "What specific guidance is disclosed?" and "What performance is expected?"
The specification states that average life cannot be predicted, and points out that continuity of coatings is an important characteristic. The manufacturer and customer shall agree on a period in salt spray without showing corrosion on significant surfaces. This is the implied measure of continuity.
Then a footnote adds that different salt spray cabinets operated in accordance with specifications number (which is given) failed to give reproducible results on replicate panels. Even so, there are instructions for preparing samples for this noninformative salt spray. So, what real, clear-cut guidance is given?
I am mindful of the great effort in time donated by industry representatives to prepare the recommendations and specifications. They have labored long and well. And, their efforts have done much to lead from chaos to order.
This order has provided for quality improvement as shown by recent publications. And, electroplates can be applied to give the outstanding protection demanded by industry.
This is illustrated by data taken from the AES Proceedings and Plating magazine issues of the past two years, as charted in Figs. 1 to 4. Figure 1 shows the extent of protection to be expected if any of three plating schemes would be used on zinc die castings. Clearly, the properties of the nickel plate and the preparation of the zinc die castings are critical factors.
If a rating of 9 is the cutoff point for acceptability, only one of the products will be acceptable and it will be in only the mildest of the three exposure sites. Further reading and/or study is needed if different performance is required. This will show that the character of the nickel and of the chromium plates is very important in setting protective quality.
From published information, Figs. 2 and 3 can be plotted to show the benefit from providing certain properties in plates as well as from having adequate thickness.
According to Fig. 2, a duplex nickel would be selected as the best of the three types of nickel plate. According to Fig. 3, a decision can be made as to thickness of the duplex nickel. Other data can be taken from the literature to show, as in Fig. 4, that a choice exists as to which chromium plate should be used over the selected duplex nickel.
Information can be dug out of the literature for similar charts to assist in deciding on which plating systems to choose for a given need.