A plating machine conveys items through a series of chemical and electrical processes to coat the surfaces of those items with a thin layer of metal. These machines are typically built by a company that specializes in designing and building modular plating machines from individual industrial grade components. A typical large tank plating machine includes plating barrels, integrated rectifiers, boilers and chillers. Filters, ultrasonics, zinc generators, water conditioners, waste treatment systems and a ventilated exhaust system are also basic parts of a plating machine. Different plating processes use many different caustic plating chemicals, potassium cyanide, carbonates, phosphates and various acids.
Rectifiers, or power supplies, are sources of electricity and are one of the key components in a plating machine. In order for a plating machine to function, it requires a certain kind of electrical current. The rectifier takes the industry standard 117 volt alternating current (AC) electricity and coverts it to direct current (DC) power. For each type of plating process, different types of chemicals are used and each requires a different voltage or amperage level.
Adjusting electrical current and power levels is essential to the plating process. A plating machine that does many different types of plating of variously sized items needs to have an adjustable voltage or amperage capability. While some plating processes require a high voltage electrical current, most plating is done at the lower amperages. Some rectifiers require a fine tuning device that allows easier control and adjustment in the lower amperages that are necessary for some plating processes like electroforming.
A hoist is a critical component of the overall plating process. It moves large pieces of material or racks of smaller items to be plated through all the processes and tanks in the plating process. The hoist is a precision piece of equipment, controlled by a computer, and rolls on urethane treaded wheels on a track mounted over the entire length of the plating machine. Other critical components are the integrated rectifiers that change and maintain various electrical amperages throughout the entire plating process. The larger plating machines are typically designed for manufacturers that require a amount of specific plating to be completed quickly.