Every fastener has a place in the world of construction and industry because machinery and structures are changing all the time. As new ideas come to fruition, sometimes new fasteners are needed as well. That’s how you can end up with so many options!
From polycarbonate screws that are great when used with electrical components to ABS screws that can be found in laboratories across the world, plastic fasteners are surprisingly effective in a wide variety of applications. Even fasteners that are coated with plastic, like Halar® ECTFE coated fasteners, can be found in waste disposal processes and in the construction of exhaust ducts. But, what about the opposite—metal coated fasteners, aka metal plated fasteners?
Metal Plated Fasteners
These kinds of fasteners exist too, and just like any other fastener in the E&T Fasteners product line, they are best when used in the right projects.
But before getting into the types of coated fasteners, it helps to know exactly what a plated fastener is.
What is plating?
Coatings are referred to as plating when metal is involved. Plating occurs when a metal is deposited on a conductive surface. In order for the process to be executed effectively, the plating material must be coated on another metal.
Plating is nothing new. It has been around for hundreds of years, and it’s not just used on screws. You can find plating on decorative objects, jewelry, and plating is even used in nanotechnology.
Many materials are used in the plating process, but those materials depend on the final product. For example, gold and silver plating are common in the jewelry industry, but they aren’t good metal choices for fasteners.
Instead, fasteners most often utilize heavy-duty plating materials that offer a wide variety of benefits.
This is a popular option because it is relatively inexpensive. When steel is plated with zinc, it provides the fastener with moderate corrosion resistance by preventing the oxidation of the metal underneath.
These types of fasteners are most effective when used indoors or outdoors in dry conditions. They come in a few different hues, making them a good choice for decorative projects as well.
If corrosion resistance is a must because the fasteners will be subjected to the elements, consider zinc-nickel plated fasteners. This type of fastener is five times more corrosion resistant than a fastener that is coated with zinc alone.
Hot-dipped galvanized steel
Another option, if corrosion resistance is extremely important to your project, is hot-dipped galvanized steel. This type of fastener has a thicker zinc coating than regular zinc-plated steel, making it even more corrosion resistant. The plated material is quite thick on this type of fastener. It requires galvanized nuts and washers in order to be installed properly.
It also has a fairly unique look compared to many other fasteners. Instead of having a shiny metal surface, hot-dipped galvanized steel usually features a rough, dull grey finish.
Chrome plated steel
If you’re looking for a shiny finish on your fasteners, you may want to consider chrome plated steel. It’s the most eye-catching of the coated fastener options. It also happens to offer moderate corrosion resistance.
The process of chrome plated steel is more complex than other plating techniques. In order for the chromium to adhere to the steel, an underlying nickel plate is needed. A plating of copper may also be needed in order to get the nickel to adhere. Unfortunately, when both nickel and chromium are used, the corrosion resistance of the fastener is reduced. That’s because there are tiny holes in both the nickel and chromium layers. The tradeoff is that this kind of plating can be very useful in preventing the trouble that comes along with thermal expansion.
Cadmium plated steel
You will still be able to find cadmium plated steel fasteners, but they will soon be phased out of the market because cadmium plating is environmentally toxic. However, it offers an impressive list of advantages as compared to other plating types that include:
- Excellent corrosion resistance, even at low thicknesses and when exposed to salt
- Cadmium is soft and malleable
- It is compatible with aluminum
- Torqueing of plated threads is an option
- It can be dyed in many colors
- Cadmium has good lubricity
- It can be soldered easily
Today, cadmium is most often used in aerospace, aviation, and in the military. Other industries will consider other options before resorting to cadmium.
Why choose a metal plated fastener?
You may be wondering why you would want to choose a plated fastener to begin with. Why not choose a solid fastener in one of the various coatings?
The first reason is that steel itself is relatively corrosion resistant. When paired with a coating, it becomes even more corrosion resistant. Steel is also extremely strong and stiff, which can make any project stronger.
One of the most convincing reasons to choose a plated steel fastener is cost. Steel is extremely affordable. Many of the materials used in plating are not. Steel plated fasteners are a more economical choice.
As your fastener experts, we can help you find the right fastener for your next project. Contact us today and we’d love to tell you more about the benefits of coated fasteners, as well as which ones you should consider for your next project.