Overcome electropolishing finishing woes with a solid plan and clean chemistry

We all want our products to shine over the competition’s.  But, are you having trouble getting the best surface finish on your stainless steel equipment?  There are plenty of factors that can contribute to – or even prevent – finished surfaces from achieving the best possible finish or shine.

When parts processed in February, then the next order in July and a final order in November, it’s not unusual that their consistency and finish will noticeably vary. So, why do they look different?

Variables that contribute to consistency or uniformity while electropolishing include, amps, process time, fixture, position and electropolishing solution.  For instance:

  • If amps are too low, the parts will have a dull or uneven finish; too many amps will cause micro pitting – also known as “orange peel” or ”frosting”.
    electropolishing process
  • Process times vary depending on the size of the part, its thickness, and the configuration or shape of the part.
  • While securing the part to the fixture in the same way every time seems like a simple matter, wear on the fixture itself can cause the current to arc, leaving a burn mark. Even something as simple as insufficient current flowing through the part will leave dull areas or a bullseye pattern in the center of the part.
    burn mark
  • The layout of the fixture and the angle at which the part is positioned in the electropolishing solution can cause gassing. When gas bubbles form during the electropolishing process and run along the part, this prevents the electrolytic solution from making contact with the surface, creating an area of weakness that will not receive the full electropolishing process.
    electropolishing gas bubble
  • Electropolishing solution can vary within an acceptable range. The interaction of the solution with the amps, process time and fixture can cause finish variation if not tightly controlled.

With this many variables, how can you ensure your parts will look great every time?  This is where a process control plan is critical to consistent results. When the amps, time, and fixture information are recorded, this helps ensure the same finish on every part, every time.

A second crucial area is the electropolishing solution. The solution must be examined by a chemist regularly and throughout the process. This ensures the solution remains within the ranges that are required to achieve the desired results.

When process control plans and proper chemistry are combined by an expert service provider, your products will shine above the competition with the desired finish every time.

Allegheny Surface Technology is your trusted provider of high-performance, ASTM and BPE compliant electropolishing, pickling, mechanical polishing, and passivation services. Specializing in both in-house and on-site stainless steel surface refinishing/refurbishment services, AST assures both the quality and reliability of our services through multi-step Quality Assurance and inspection protocols.