This article will provide readers with a comprehensive guide on how the door handle finish is form. The technical information here also applies to other hardware in the industries.
What Is Electroplating Technique? Why Does It Matter To Door Handle Finish?
Electroplating technique is a popular metal finishing process that is widely used in different industries. These include but not limited to automotive, electronics, medical and aerospace. In the hardware industry, electroplating has been heavily use to complete door handle finish. Manufacturers predominantly use this technique to change the physical properties of the door handles. This might involve improving the wear resistance of the door hardware, or to provide it with better corrosion protection. Other benefits of electroplating technique include increasing the thickness of a surface or to give it an appealing appearance.
Electroplating has other names, such as electrode-coating or e-coating. It is the process in which metal is deposited on top of the surface of an object called the substrate. Although electroplating might sound like a fancy technology, it originated in the early 18th century. There are 4 major components involved in the electroplating process. They are anode, cathode, the solution, and the power source. The anode is the metal that will be deposited to form the plating while the cathode is the substrate that needs to be plated. The electrolytic solution is where the electrodeposition reaction takes place. Finally, the power source completes the circuit and generates a current that circulates the system. The electric current oxidizes the anode metal allowing its atoms to dissolve into the solution. These metal atoms in turn deposit onto the substrate to form a thin layer of metal.
Mostly used metals in electroplating industries are copper, zinc, tin, nickel, gold, silver, and palladium. Each of them has different characteristics and advantages. Sometimes, factories combine different metals to provide added value to the final electroplated product. Each metal or combination of metals provide a unique appearance to door handle finish.
Benefits of Electroplating Process To Door Handle Finish.
Door handles or door levers that have electroplating finishes have a range of notable benefits including the following:
Electroplating Finish As a Protective Barrier
Electroplating creates a protective barrier that safeguards the actual handles against harsh surrounding conditions. In the case of door handles, the electroplating layers offer a protecting barrier that prevents the handles against corrosion caused by the humid environment. This is critically important, as the door handles will last longer especially in regions with high moisture.
It Improves Hardness of Door Handle Finish
Electroplating improves the hardness of the door handle finish, which in turn enhances the handle’s strength and durability. As a result, the handles with enhanced electroplated coating are now less vulnerable to external damage, such as stress or rough usage. On that account, handles with premium finish will have an extended lifespan and maintain their original appearance a lot longer compared to ones without a good cover.
It Enhances The Appearance
Electroplating process enhances the appearance of the handles. In fact, in most cases, the electroplating process defines the door handles by giving it a unique look and feel. For example, a door handle plated with a precious metal will carry a luxurious and attractive appearance whereas a black or gunmetal handle brings about minimal style and suits modern living space.
Electroplating vs Powder Coating
Like electroplating, powder coating is an industrial process that applies metal finish coating on metal equipment. In this process, electrostatic activity applies dry powder to the metal surface of the object-under-coat using. Next, the process involves heat to cure the powder, turning it into a smooth coat. Being first introduced in North America in the 1960s, powder coating technique has since become very popular and recognized for providing high-quality finishes.
However, unlike electroplating, powder coating does not have good coating control. This means that it might not be easy to achieve precise thickness or to control how thick a coating gets. The disadvantage makes powder coating less favorable to provide finishes for high-end door handles and other hardware. Moreover, cross-contamination in the powder coating process makes it hard to get the colors right. This sometimes makes the finish colors slightly different from what was intended, making the process low efficient.
Powder coating and electroplating are the two most common methods for creating door handle finish. Both have their own pros and cons. In powder coating, door handles are basically covered with a durable type of paint whose thickness is not feasible to control. Meanwhile, electroplating has far greater advantages, including better wear resistance, stronger corrosion protection, superior hardness, and a more durable finish that can prevent key scratches. This makes electroplating an easy choice for high-end door handles.
Some Common Electroplating Finishes
Several metals are used for the process of electroplating. Some of the most common and known methods are Gold, Platinum, Rhodium, Nickel, Copper, Tin or Alloys made using a combination of the above.
Gold Electroplating Handles
The fluctuating market of Gold will be a hindrance if electroplating in Gold is the option. However, Gold provides the metal with high corrosion, conductivity, wear resistance, and aesthetic appeal. In industrial use, it offers immense benefits. Other than metals, Gold is also used for electroplating polymers.
The platinum finish is done mainly on jewellery items. However, we can also coat metals like titanium, stainless steel anodes, and niobium. This finish is significantly less likely to cause an allergic reaction, and it does not oxidize quickly, meaning it will have a longer life.
Zinc – Nickel and Nickel Finish
The Zinc-Nickel duo plays its role in preventing atmospheric corrosion of aircraft parts and other components. The decay can impact steel, magnesium, aluminum, and titanium components, weakening their structural integrity. On the other hand, the most common element used in the electroplating process is Nickel. It also works to enhance the wear and resistance of corrosion. Additionally, it coats alloys to increase their electrical conductivity and hardness, providing them with a foreseeable future.
Right after Nickel, Copper takes the podium as the second most popular material for electroplating. It is an exceptional conductor of electricity as people use it as an undercoat for durable metals. Copper also smooths the surface when the base has imperfections. Lastly, if you want your base to have a proper and dine finish, copper might be the perfect option for you!
Some Other Techniques
If we are talking about door handles and doorknobs, in particular, electroplating is one of the best ways to approach the job. However, several other ways provide an attractive appeal to these handles. Some of these techniques include:
Electroless or Autocatalytic Plating is a process that does not need any external electric power. This method revolves around a chemical reaction that induces a reduction in the metal atom. Laymen terms? A solution of metal particles or ions mixed with reducing agent converted into metal solid when meets catalyzing metal triggering the final reaction, after which a strong layer of plating metal coats the metal. Electroless plating is a cost-effective method compared to the door handle electroplating finish but is slower and much more challenging to control as it cannot create thick plates of coats.
As the name suggests, this process involves the immersion of one metal on another. Immersion plating uses a metal ion solution, and the more noble metals are coated on the surface of other metals. The natural pull of ions from a stable and noble metal is used to displace metal ions from the surface of the less noble metal using a weak layer of metal ions of nobler metal, results in high-end finishing of doorknobs. Gold, silver, and platinum are considered as nobler metals and are chemically inert.
Lastly, spray painting your door handles. Though this process is simple but effective, for how long will it last? This DIY looks and feels as incredible and easy as it sounds. However, maintenance is required as it wears off much faster than other techniques of finishing the door handles. The plus point is that it can be done in any metallic color and is cheaper than other techniques. Choosing a high-quality spray paint that adheres well to metals is your way to find a glossy and durable finish.
The Best Way to Go
For hundreds of years, electroplating is used for metals and objects to provide them with desired properties of a specific metal. It also helps the users to get their desired outlook of a particular metal. There can be several different reasons why choosing this method is above all. It can be for aesthetic appeal to the item it is done on, strength, reduced friction, improved corrosion and resistance, durability, and to change the conductivity of knobs.
The most significant advantage of using electroplates on doorknobs is the flexibility of the job done. It is mobile and can be done anywhere, from a fully functional workshop to the onsite location of the job. Shipment and transportation of heavy components are of no use in the brush electroplating services. This much faster technique than traditional electroplating proves beneficial to both the consumer and the seller for swiftly servicing, repairing, and refurbishing the doorknobs.
How to know if a door handle finish is good or bad?
It is essential to know that electroplating quality determines the oxidation resistance of doorknobs. A good quality offers class, beauty, and feel of the handles. But how can you, a consumer, know if the electroplating finish of a door handle is of superior quality or not? We will guide you through it:
Judge The Door Handle Finish by Its Cover
We have been told forever not to judge a book by its cover, but our motto is not the same when evaluating if a finish of a doorknob is good or bad. We must judge this book by its cover, and thus we check for spots. The oxidized holes, uneven color, burnt marks, and pores tell you if the finish is worth it or not. If all these mentioned elements are part of a door handle, the electroplating job is inadequate.
Use Your Hands To Feel The Door Handle Finish
Right after you examine how it looks, feel it. Touching the surface of these knobs with bare hands will let you know about the quality of the job done on it. If it is wavy and has sores, burrs, or particles, the finish is terrible. It is mandatory for door handles to be smooth even before the finish for promising results. Smoothness before attaching a layer of electroplates comes from polishing the knobs. If a polishing job is an inferior one, the result will be the same. Moreover, poor polishing and electroplating jobs will also result in early corrosion, falling off the layer quickly, rusting, etc. If found in your electroplated finish, any mentioned elements will probably tell you not to purchase the door handles.
On the contrary, if the door knobs you are choosing have chrome treatment, pressing it with your fingers and judging it right afterward will help you decide. If fingerprint spreads quickly and it does not adhere to dirt, the decision is in your favor to buy it as this quality of electroplating is good.
Furthermore, breathing on the handle also helps. Good electroplating quality will result in quick and even fading of vapors right after breathing in on it. Lastly, many people overlook a straightforward test while checking the finish of their doorknobs. Electroplating often ignores the corner position of doorknobs; paying particular attention to these areas is your way to go during the testing process.
Surface Treatment Tests Involved in Door Handle Finish
Salt Spray Test
Stronger oxidation resistance happens if the salt’s spray time is longer. Electroplating quality directly depends on its temperature and the number of layers of electroplated elements. Both these things require proper judgment and instruments to test them. A salt spray test instrument might not be handy or portable, but it comes in handy when it is needed the most.
This most common and easy method that tests the finish of electroplating requires the element to be put in the test equipment and evaluate the corrosion resistance by creating a simulated environment of salt spray. This test tells about the durability of the handle or any other product that needs a corrosion test. It is a time taking process, but the longer time gives better results. Test standards are divided into different segments, usually two days (48 hours), three days (72 hours), four days, etc. Remember, longer is better.
Now, this is a tricky one to get your grasp on. It is dipping the product to be tested with a 500-gram weight with gauze wrapped on it in a 95% medical solution of alcohol and wiping it 50 times back and forth for a speed of 2 (back and forth per second). Wiping should be done within a length of 60 millimeters of the product. A qualified product will never fade after this process.
It is repeating this test twice, and being successful means that the product has a long life of service. This also means that the outcome (doorknobs) is less likely to have white spots or rust.
To wrap it up
I hope this article helped you to judge the door handle electroplating finish better. Making a house a home for you is what we project to achieve, and it all starts with the way things look when you reach your front door. Grab that handle and open the doors towards happiness, success, and glory. (metaphors can be true too, right?)