Successful Plating of Tube & Pipe Products

When plating steel pipe and tubes, a common question among fabricators is whether to:  Plate before forming? -or- Form before plating?

There are several factors to consider when deciding what’s best for your parts.


Plating Straight Tubes

Parts with bends less than 90 degrees may be suitable for forming after plating.


What are the Benefits of Plating Straight Tubes?

  • More effective cleaning process - cleaning solution can easily reach and drain from both the i.d. and o.d.
  • Less risk for air pockets - Bends can cause air pockets which prevent cleaning and plating solution from reaching all surfaces. Extra care must be taken to ensure a quality finish.
  • Cost-Effective - Parts can be plated easier and more efficiently reaching both i.d. and o.d. with standard plating methods, resulting in a lower cost to customers.
  • Lower Shipping Cost - Straight parts can be packed more densely resulting in lower shipping charges.


What are the Considerations for Forming after Plating?

Plating first offers many benefits but may not be a fit for every application. Consider the following before choosing to plate first.

  • Bending can damage the plating, especially on hard bends near 90 degrees and parts with smaller diameters.
  • Forming after plating may compromise the effectiveness of the finish in the bend area.
  • Pipes or tubes requiring brazed fittings are subjected to intense heat which can cause early onset of I.D. rust formation.


What are the Key Factors for a High-Quality Zinc Finish on Tubing?

Choosing a plater that understands the process required to meet the specifications of your part is critical for a successful finish.  Good communication between Plater and Fabricator can be key to preventing many potential problems.

  • Choose the correct plating partner
  • Know whether to plate straight or formed
  • Avoid adhesion failure
  • Choose an effective coating
  • Store plated products correctly
  • Good communication between Plater and Fabricator.


For more information on electroplating tube and pipe products view our article featured in The Tube and Pipe Journal.

Pipe & Journal Magazine