Why The Military And Aerospace Industries Rely On Metal Plating

A large part of the advances over the last few decades in the aerospace and military industries is due to new materials and manufacturing techniques. These new technologies have allowed engineers and scientists to develop lightweight components that function with higher efficiency than anything developed in the past. One of the key technologies is metal plating. This process deposits certain metallic elements or alloys on the surface of a component changing the intrinsic properties of the item. Metal plating is used extensively in aerospace and defense for a number of reasons.


The modern process of electroplating is one of the reasons that metal plating has become such an integral part of the aerospace and military industries. Electroplating allows a part made from a specific substrate to be bathed in charged acid or cyanide. This process causes the movement of ions that eventually creates a solid coating of whatever metal is in the liquid bath. This has made it possible to use special polymers, ceramic compounds and other new materials in very hostile environments.

Increase Durability

One of the main reasons for metal plating is increased durability. The extra layer of metal provides improved structural strength. Nickel coatings also help to fight corrosion by removing any small areas and imperfections in the surface of a part that could accumulate moisture and start the oxidation process. Increased durability is especially important when designing military parts that must survive rugged conditions without losing any effectiveness.


Both nickel and cadmium coatings increase the lubricating properties of a part. This is essential when create high-performance engine and mechanical components for aircraft. High lubricity means that there is reduced friction between parts that must come into contact during operation. This extends the life of components while also lowering the chance of galling or binding that could cause a critical failure.



Cadmium helps to change the surface properties of a material in order to increase the bonding capacity of a plated component. Bonding is the ability of a material to accept and retain some type of industrial coating such as paint or an adhesive. Metal plating has made it possible to use lightweight materials for the exterior skin of an aircraft and to construct internal frames that have high levels of tensile strength along with flexibility under stress.

Lower Friction

Cadmium, nickel and combination coatings reduce the amount of friction created when an object or particle moves across the surface of a plated item. The properties of the metal as well as the incredibly smooth surface created through both electroplating and electroless plating reduces friction at a granular level. This has been used to create parts that have exceptional aerodynamic properties without compromising strength.

No Sizing Needed

Cadmium and even some nickel plating makes designing and fabricating precision parts for military and aerospace systems much easier. The metals are so thin once attached to the surface that there is no need to size parts downwards in order to accommodate the plating. Cadmium also has some malleability making it a good choice for critical parts such as threaded connections that must resist vibrations and other hostile conditions during service.

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Conor Eaton is an aerospace engineer in Toronto using different platings. He goes to Cooper Plating Inc. for all of his necessary supplies and he always been pleased with their friendly customer service and up-to-date stock.