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Guidelines for Sheet Metal Plating

Plating can protect your parts for years to come while improving aesthetics. Make sure your parts fit within these guidelines to ensure a successful manufacturing and plating process!
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Table of Contents

Pricing/Order Info

Plating will add a $9 minimum to your order with quantity discounts starting when you order more than one of an identical part.

We pride ourselves on our fast processing and shipping times, and we ship standard orders within 2-4 business days of receiving your order. Plating will add 7-10 business days to that lead time, so be sure to plan accordingly when choosing when to place your order.

To get your parts as quickly as possible, we strongly recommend splitting any parts that require plating into their own separate order. This allows us to process and ship the non-plated parts while we are plating your other parts.

Plating Options

Plating provides long-term protection against corrosion and wear, so we choose metals to plate your parts that are known for their rust and corrosion resistance. 

Zinc is highly rust resistant and known to slow the corrosion rate of some materials by up to 30 years. It increases the life expectancy of the metal it coats thanks to its resistance to extreme temperatures. 

At this time, we offer chloride rack zinc electroplating in three different finishes:

  • Black – ASTM-B633 Type II SC2
  • Yellow – ASTM-B633 Type II SC2
  • Clear – ASTM-B633 Type III SC2

Nickel plating has a wide range of applications and provides excellent wear and corrosion resistance. When applied to copper, the material maintains conductivity and benefits from an increased operating temperature range.

Whether you use nickel plating for a clean final look or as an undercoating for further finishing, it can protect your parts while helping them achieve an aesthetic appearance.

We offer bright electrolytic nickel plating in the following finish:

  • Clear – SAE-AMS-QQ-N-290 Grade G

Materials Available

Plating can be applied to almost any substrate metals, though some are better suited for the finishing process than others.

We currently offer Chromoly and all our Mild Steel options for zinc plating.

  • Mild Steel: 0.030”-0.500” (.76mm-12.7mm)
  • Chromoly: 0.050”-0.250” (1.27mm-6.35mm)


We currently offer Copper and all our Mild Steel options for nickel plating.

  • Mild Steel: 0.030”-0.500” (0.76mm-12.7mm)
  • Copper: 0.040″ – 0.250” (1.02mm-6.35mm)

Geometry Requirements

As with our other post-processing operations, parts need to meet certain requirements to achieve a successful plated finish.

All plated parts must be at least 1″ x 3″ for processing. The shortest dimension should be no smaller than 1″, and the whole square area of the part should be no less than 3 inches².

Plated parts can be a maximum of 23” x 23”.

Additionally, your part must include a hole that can be used to hang your part while it’s being plated. This hole must be at least 0.063” (1.6mm), or whatever the minimum hole size is for your chosen material and thickness. 

For example, if your part is 0.250” (6.35mm) thick chromoly, the hole you include for plating must be at least 0.100” (2.54mm) as that is the minimum hole size allowed for 0.250” chromoly. 

You can find the minimum hole size under the Design Considerations section on each material page.

File Setup

If after reading these guidelines you’ve found you need to make some changes to your part design, check out our tutorials for designing and preparing your files in Illustrator, Inkscape, Fusion 360, and SolidWorks.

What To Expect

  • Some imperfections may be visible through the plating
  • Color and finishes may vary from batch to batch
    • Different alloys will have different color results 
  • Machining tabs may be visible through the plating and will need to be removed once you receive the parts
    • We do not offer de-tabbing services at this time
  • The plating can be scratched with aggressive use and bare material will show through
  • Bend lines will be visible through the plating (die protection is not available)
  • Nickel plating will typically add 0.0002″ per side to the surface of your parts
  • Zinc plating will typically add 0.0003″ per side to the surface of your parts


Things to Consider

  • Any processing done after plating can mark-up and affect the plating.
    This includes hand-bending, grinding, and assembly
  • Plating will need to be removed if you intend to weld your plated parts

Pre-flight Checklist

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We proudly use hardware by PEM

Flush Standoff, 4-40, .250" Zinc plus Clear Chromate

Thread Size4-40 x .250″
Hole size in sheet (+0.003/-.0.000).168″
Minimum sheet thickness0.040″
Maximum sheet thickness.125″
Fastener materialSteel
Minimum distance hole C/L to edge0.230″
When determining the distance between two or more fasteners, you can calculate the distance by the formula, C/L to edge + 1/2 the diameter of the second mounting hole..314″
Recommended panel materialSteel/Aluminum
Coating typeZinc
Aluminum material ranges (5052, 6061, 7075)0.040″-0.125″
Steel material ranges (CRS, HRPO, HR)0.048″-0.119″