When you think of electropolishing and the automotive industry, your first thought may be the shiny exterior parts like a bright, shiny grill or the eye-catching rims. Electropolishing provides a bright smooth finish to stainless steel parts, making them sparkle in the sun and easier to clean due to their smooth, polished surface. Any rust and corrosion will be held at bay longer than for those parts without electropolishing. Even deeper inside the vehicle, many automotive parts are electropolished that one may never see. Why? Electropolishing improves performance and the longevity of the parts.
Electropolishing provides a wide range of benefits:
- Improves operational life.
- Removes fissures and cracks from the surface, eliminates initiation sites where corrosion takes place, eliminates surface anomalies (parts designed to bend, twist, and flex will last longer). Electropolishing removes embedded contaminants, and produces a surface highly-resistant to extraneous attack.
- Creates an ultraclean surface.
- The entire electropolishing process produces parts free from surface contaminants such as shop dirt or iron particles from cutting tools transferred to the surface of the stainless steel parts during fabrication. With the standard material removal of .0005 inch from the surface of the part, the process is effective in reducing the coefficient of friction, a significant point in part performance.
- Removes microburrs.
- Microburrs left from manufacturing processes create multiple problems for automotive manufacturers. Microburrs are detrimental to the operations of transmissions, fuel lines, and brake lines. It is critical that all burrs and flecks of metal are removed in components used in these systems prior to assembly to avoid potentially serious malfunctions while driving. In addition, burrs left on stamped or machined parts can affect the designed fit and function of those parts and lead to premature failure. Electropolishing is a natural deburring process. Burrs and ridges are smoothed more aggressively than flat areas.
- Improves microfinish.
- Electropolishing smooths by dissolving metal ions from high points on surfaces. Surface roughness may be reduced by up to 50% and 0.0005 in. per surface (.001 in. total from thickness or diameter) be removed.
- Enhances corrosion resistance.
- Corrosion resistance is crucial when designing automotive parts. Specifying electropolishing for stainless-steel parts enhances their chromium-rich passive surfaces and builds up their resistance to corrosion.
- Brings oversized parts into tolerance.
- In the auto parts industry, fit and function are imperative. Due to cost and lead-time for special sized material, it may be necessary to purchase standard stock items. If so, the material may be thicker than needed, especially when dealing with high tolerance stampings or blankings. But, if you order materials that are slightly thicker, electropolishing can shrink the finished parts to the proper size. In addition, electropolishing may be able to salvage parts that have been machined oversized or have grown during heat-treating.
- Leaves a bright, decorative finish.
- Although much of the focus for electropolishing is to improve fit and function, the decorative finish it creates is an added benefit. The shiny, chrome-like appearance created by electropolishing creates a uniform surface finish that will not crack or peel under normal conditions unlike parts that are plated or coated. For a bright, smooth, uniform finish on stainless steel parts, electropolishing is the best option.