Metal Finishing: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Metal finishing is a process that involves altering the surface of a manufactured product to achieve a particular property. This process is usually done by coating the item’s surface. This coating can be in the form of powder coating, electrowinning, or buff polishing.

Powder Coating

Using powder to coat your metalwork is no small feat and a lot of faffs. For starters, there are the materials, the adhesives, and the process. This includes the application of the powder itself and the curing and drying of the powder itself. This is a complex process requiring a lot of attention to detail.

In addition, several metal finishing companies are out there, and some homework will reveal which ones are the best in their respective fields. New Finishing Equipment Milwaukee WI, and a stellar reputation should be considered when choosing a metal finishing company.


Using electroplating for metal finishing is an effective way to increase the tensile strength and resistance to environmental conditions of a part. This process also adds wear and heat resistance to the region. It has been used in several industries for many years.

Many types of metals can be plated, including nickel, zinc, chrome, tin, cobalt, copper, and gold. Each metal has qualities that make it a good candidate for electroplating. Some of the more common combinations include zinc-nickel and tin-cobalt.

Manufacturers often use various surface preparation techniques to prepare their parts for plating. The process is also used to apply metal layers to surfaces. Some manufacturers will also use acid baths to remove surface imperfections.

Buff Polishing

Using a buff polishing wheel to finish metal is a common way to create a glossy, smooth surface. This procedure can be carried out manually or with specialized tools.

There are several types of buffs available for metal finishing. They range in diameter from two to six inches. The material used in the buffing wheel also affects how the metal is polished. Some are made of sisal, a slender, stiff fiber with proven abrading characteristics. These buffs are not usually used in jewelry making but are helpful for flat surfaces and sharp edges.

There are also special fiber buffs that are coated with unique abrasive materials. These buffs are available in medium and coarse grades to give a brushed finish to metals.


Generally speaking, electrowinning is the process of applying a current across an electrode to plate metallic ions onto the other electrode. The objective of the process is to create a pure metal deposit.

This process is often combined with ion exchange, which concentrates the metals. The recovered metals can then be recycled or sold as scrap.

The basic electrowinning unit consists of a tank, pump, anodes, and cathodes. The cathodes usually are flat stainless steel plates. These plates are coated with a layer of precious metal oxides to ensure the plating process is successful.

The cathodes have different strengths and properties. They are made to MIL-P spec.

Rhodium Plating

Rhodium is an inert metal that does not react adversely with chemicals. Adding a shiny white rhodium coating to your jewelry can give it a brighter, more sparkling look. It is also a great way to increase the durability of jewelry.

Most jewelers can apply a fresh layer of rhodium to jewelry. However, if you have a piece worn frequently, it may need to be replaced. The plating process takes about 90 minutes.

Rhodium is a chemically inert metal that is used to provide protection to sliding electrical contacts. It also helps prevent fine scratches and blemishes. This material is also known for its low electrical resistance.

Silver Plating

Plating silver on metal can give it a bright or matte finish. It depends on the material used as the base material.

A silver plating solution can be applied to many metals, including nickel, silver, titanium, and gold. This electrolyte solution, which has silver ions dissolved, is used in the procedure. This specialized electrolyte is then applied to the base substance. On most hard base metals, this is applicable.

For engraved numbers, silver plating can be used to create a unique background. Additionally, it can make worn or dull metal components look better. To stop tarnishing, use silver saver paper.