Metal Plating Importance in Aerospace Manufacturing

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Electroplating and electroless plating are an essential aspect to the aerospace metal finishing process and aerospace manufacturing in general. The process of electroplating provides the coating of a metal surface with ions of another metal through the use of electrodeposition. And electroless plating also uses the deposition of metal, but it also incorporates a chemical reaction that applies the coating. This reaction takes the place of electricity, hence the name "electroless."

Benefits of Metal Plating

There are many benefits to the use of metal plating for those in the aerospace industry. Here are some of the more common benefits:

  • Enhances protection from corrosion
  • Improves the overall strength of the metal
  • Better resistance to higher temperatures
  • Longer lifespan
  • Increases electrical conductivity
  • More resistant to oxidation
  • More aesthetically pleasing

Aerospace Metal Plating & Finishing Processes and Applications

There are various processes and applications that fit under the umbrella of aerospace finishing and metal plating. Let's take a closer look at some of these aspects and how they apply to the aerospace industry as a whole.

Plating on Titanium

Titanium is one of the most widely used metals in the aerospace industry. Due to this, it has become necessary to develop the more effective processes for plating on titanium. One of the issues using titanium is the fact that is a very active metal, so it quickly forms an oxide film. This is important to note, because it makes it more difficult for other metals to then form a bond with titanium. There are processes that enable the plating of nickel onto titanium. The use of an underlying nickel coating helps other metals bond with the titanium. Learn more about plating on titanium.

Protection from Corrosion

When it comes to the use of aerospace parts, it is crucial to keep in mind the conditions. Aerospace manufacturers must keep in mind how susceptible these parts may be to atmospheric corrosion, and thus create a product that offers protection from it. When corrosion occurs, it can be devastating. It can penetrate all sorts of metals, including titanium, steel, aluminum and magnesium. And when it does it weakens their overall structural integrity.

One way to protect against corrosion is with the application of a zinc-nickel coating. In a nutshell, this coating is being sacrificed for the greater good and act to absorb all of those corrosive elements before it reaches the metal.

Another popular way to protect against corrosion is the use of cadmium plating. When you use a cadmium coat, it can prevent corrosion of such aspects like the aircraft engines, landing gear, bolts, and other steel or aluminum alloy structural components. One negative of the use of a cadmium coating is the fact that it is dangerous to work with due to its toxicity. So workers are more at risk. Of course, there are regulations in place that restrict the use of cadmium for certain industrial and manufacturing processes.

Pre-Brazing & Brazing

Brazing is a common practice when it comes to aircraft manufacturing. Brazing is simply the joining of two metal surfaces and done so with the application of an alloy of copper and zinc at high temperatures. This process incorporates pre-brazing, too, which ensures that the metal surface is properly wet. By doing so, the entire process is faster and the end result more consistent. The manufacturing of turbine blades, frames, stators, and vanes commonly use pre-brazing.

Harden Metal Surface

Aircraft operate under extreme conditions, so they are very vulnerable to the impact of wear and tear over time. So the application of nickel or a nickel alloy using the process of electrodeposition is important. By applying this alloy, the surface of the metal hardens and improves the overall wear resistance. Also, you get enhanced corrosion protection, too.

Refurbish Aerospace Parts

Many aerospace metal finishing techniques and applications can be used for the refurbishment of aerospace parts. When you use the right process, such as the electrodeposition of a nickel coating, you get great results. And the end result is a refurbished part or component, both on the inside or on the outside of it.


When you anodize an aerospace part, you increase the thickness of the oxide layer on the surface of the metal. Anodizing is a common metal finishing process and offers some nice, general benefits, such as:

  • increasing the resistance to corrosion
  • improving the hardness of the surface
  • lengthening the lifespan of the part
  • enhancing the resistance to wear and tear

Many of these benefits are similar to electroplating. When it comes to general anodizing applications within the aerospace metal finishing process, this aspect offers protective coating for engine parts and other aerospace components, such as the landing gear, actuators, and airframes. There are also different types of anodizing, which effects how the part is utilized.

Wet Blasting

Wet blasting is a common during the aerospace metal finishing process. Wet blasting involves the use of high-pressure compressed air that will propel a combination of abrasive media and liquid onto the surface of a given substrate. The technique of wet blasting is great for a few different surface preparation applications, which includes paint removal, mold cleaning, degreasing and general dirt and debris removal. Learn more about wet blasting...


Passivation is a metal finishing process where iron and iron ores are removed from the surface of stainless-steel substrates used in aerospace manufacturing. The passivation process occurs via chemical dissolution that involves the application of an acid solution in order to remove surface contamination. In general, passivation helps to protect and preserve aircraft parts and components by slowing down the onset of any potential corrosion. So, many view passivation as a combination of cleaning and protection.

Chemical Film

Chemical film involves the application of a metal surface coating that is created via a reaction between the surface of aluminum or aluminum alloys and chemical conversion materials. Various types and classes classify these coatings. And many often use the coating to provide additional corrosion protection. Or to simply promote paint adhesion. Depending on the type of chemical film coating, it can be clear or produce a colored finish, like brown or gold.

Electroless Nickel Plating

Electroless nickel plating is a process that produces a metal coating via various chemical reactions. This plating process provides a more even and uniform coating for hard-to-reach areas on a surface. The various types of nickel alloys used in electroless nickel plating will eventually depend on the result of the manufacturing process. Learn more about electroless nickel plating and its place in the aerospace manufacturing industry.

Contact Sesco Industries Today

Sesco is a trusted supplier and manufacturer of many different aerospace parts and components. Our pledge as an aerospace parts provider is to offer the best parts and components on the market. We understand the ins and outs of the aerospace industry and deliver consistent results. And we ship nationwide. So though we are located in New York, we work with many from around the United States.

Our staff has years of experience in the industry. For more information about all of the aerospace parts we supply, please reach out to us. The number for our office is 718-939-1900. When you call, we can provide you with more information about what it is you want and need. We strive for quality service and will answer any questions or concerns you may have about the parts and services we provide.