The electroplated surface of a product must be smooth and uniform in various applications to ensure appropriate operation. Imperfections on the surface of a connection, especially in the telecommunications industry, can cause electrical resistance and poor performance.

Modern electroplating techniques enable high-quality final items to be produced. However, a variety of factors might still cause flaws in the final output. Porosity is one of the most common forms of flaw in electroplated goods.

What is Porosity in Electroplating?

Porosity refers to the presence of tiny flaws in the metal coating of an electroplated object. Small holes that develop with coating thicknesses of less than 1.25 microns are known as these flaws. The pores can reach the foundation material or, if one is present, stop at an underplate. Many types of metal coatings can be affected by porosity, but gold may be particularly vulnerable. 

Although you can’t detect porosity on a product’s surface with the naked eye, you can see the pores with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The maximum number of holes that can exist on a product’s surface is debatable, although pores are thought to make a greater effect in hostile conditions. 

An electroplated surface of a product must typically be smooth and uniform in order to execute its job effectively. Any flaws in the metal coating or exposed regions on an electroplated surface can cause a variety of problems, ranging from poor performance to permanent product damage. For example, in the telecommunications sector, an uneven or porous connection surface can cause electrical resistance and poor performance.

A simple remedy, such as plating masking products, can sometimes help fix a problem. Other times, problems are more difficult to solve. Porosity is one of the most prevalent defects affecting metal-plated goods, despite the fact that contemporary metal plating methods create high-quality final components. 

electroplating

electroplating

Causes of Porosity in Electroplating

Porosity can be caused by a number of issues that arise before, during, and after electroplating. Porosity can be caused by a variety of factors, including: 

  • Defects in the substrate surface that already exist
  • Processes of stamping and shaping that aren’t up to par
  • Coating thickness is insufficient
  • Following electroplating, there is a risk of damage

Understanding how metals are deposited on a substrate during electroplating is essential since porosity is related to coating thickness. The metal coating clings to the substrate’s surface at numerous locations when the base material is immersed in an electroplating solution. As the thickness of the plating rises, it spreads out from those points to coat the whole surface of the item. As a result, thin coatings may fail to completely cover the surface or cause porosity.

Porosity refers to tiny pores that might appear in a product’s electroplated metal covering. If these microscopic holes reach the base metal, or if one exists, the underplate, the metal becomes exposed and vulnerable to harm. The most significant effect of porosity on a product is corrosion.

Corrosion creep occurs when corrosive substances flow through the perforations and pollute the underlying material. Corrosion in porous metal plating can be accelerated by certain conditions and the use of harsh chemicals such as chlorine and sulphur. Corrosion can also be a concern with bigger holes, which can be prevented by employing metal masking tapes or other metal masking materials.

Porosity can also affect a product’s performance owing to insufficient coating thickness, which reduces the metal coating’s overall strength and ductility. If you want to apply a metal coating to create conductivity, for example, porosity may result in lower conductivity and undesirable consequences.

How does porosity affect products? 

The effect of porosity on an electroplated product is determined by its intended use and whether or not it has an underplate. Corrosion and corrosion creep, which occur when pores extend down to the base metal and enable corrosion products to pass through and contaminate the surface, are the most serious issues produced by porosity in electroplating. Corrosion creeps in porous plated goods can be accelerated by harsh application conditions and the presence of chlorine and sulphur.

Pores can impact other properties of a finished product, like strength and ductility, in addition to producing corrosion.

How to prevent porosity in products? 

There are 2 methods to keep porosity from reducing your product’s longevity and usage and limiting its negative effects:

  1. Before applying metal plating, make sure the substrate surface is smooth. Pore development can be avoided by decreasing roughness and eliminating defects from the base metal that might contribute to increased porosity. This may be accomplished by properly polishing the surface before electroplating.
  2. Putting down an underplate. While underplating will not prevent porosity, it will aid in the prevention of corrosion creep. Corrosion products cannot escape damaging the metal-plated surface if pores stop at the underplate rather than reaching the base metal.

There are additional plating masking materials available that are suited for various electroplating procedures and may be used to protect the base metal surface from corrosion. Larger holes are covered by pull through plugs from strong chemicals and contaminants.

Smart Microns has been a pioneer in the electroplating industry since 1998, specialising in precious metal platings for the electrical and electronics sectors, such as silver and gold. For over 22 years, Smart Microns has been studying and producing microns. Smart Microns’ parent company, Smart Creations, is based in Chennai, India, and was one of the first in the South Indian market to offer the new concept of electroplating and Electrophoretic lacquer, also known as ED lacquers. Micron electroplating services from Smart Microns offer over 7 metals in a variety of textured finishes.