Plating is a type of surface finish that is applied to a machined part. It involves the application of a thin coating of a dissimilar metal being applied to the surface of a machined part, in order to change the surface properties of the finished part. Plating is especially appropriate for use with repetition engineering due to the minimal effect on machined part dimensions, resulting in a finished part with high dimensional stability. There are various reasons plating may be used for the surface finish for particular applications, ranging from improving aesthetics and corrosion resistance, reducing surface friction, to altering conductivity, as well as various other reasons. The effects of plating depend on the coating material used in the plating process.
There are numerous methods which can be used to bond the coating material to the finished part from older methods such as applying heat and pressure to a thin sheet of metal wrapped around a part, to the more modern methods such as electroplating, where an electric current is used to electrically bond the particles of the coating material to the base material.
Plating is particularly suitable for use with parts manufactured by repetition engineering due to the minimal effect on machined part dimensions, resulting in a finished part with high dimensional stability. Dimensional stability is a key consideration in most applications which utilise repetition engineering, and because plating results in such a thin coating of the added material, the dimensions of parts with plating surface finish remain essentially unchanged from those of the machined part.