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I'm a noob trying to plate sheet metal

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  • I'm a noob trying to plate sheet metal

    Guys in my old Army unit are getting slightly oversized ID tags that have been cut from sheet metal. They look cheesy so we'd like to know the best route to giving them a chrome(ish) finish. Our initial run would be about 30 but if all goes well we would need to be doing 20-30 pr month.

    Forgive me if this sort of thing is covered all over this board.

    Fidelity and Courage,

  • #2
    I'm assuming the tags aren't stainless steel. If they are, a buffing wheel and stainless steel polish might be all you need.

    If the tags are cold rolled steel, you can easily do this with a Caswell nickel plating kit, either electroplate or electroless. Having a clean surface is the real key. You can soak the item in full strength preheated Simple Green for about 20 minutes and, as long as there is no lacquer etc. on the tag, a rinse in distilled water and you should be ready to plate.

    If the parts are galvanized steel, you'll have to remove the zinc first with a pickle solution of 50:50 hydrochloric acid and water followed by a thorough rinse, then a brushing with a brass bristle brush.

    If the tags are aluminum things get a little tougher because now you have to zincate before you can nickel plate. Caswell sells that too, but now you're almost setting up a laboratory for this. If you're stateside you might find a local plater that would be more than happy to help you out while you wait. I would doubt you want to part with those tags or ship them somewhere.