I’ve always been impressed with the German term “Oberflachentechnik'' which is used by most German firms in our anodizing, plating and metal finishing industry. It just sounds cool! So recently I went digging into what the term means and its obvious connection to our industry.
Basically, it comprises the technologies for changing the properties of surfaces. The surface of component parts can be optimized for a specific requirement or combination of properties listed below.
- Increased corrosion resistance
- Improved abrasion or wear resistance
- Lower coefficient of friction
- Reduced light reflection (i.e., emissivity)
- Ability to be soldered, brazed or welded
- Greater or reduced electrical conductivity
- Better surface for adherence of paint or adhesive bonding
I’m always flabbergasted when asked what Anoplate does?
How do I simply explain what anodizing or plating is in understandable terms. I think Oberflachentechnik unlocks the perfect answer. We are truly Surface Engineers imparting physical properties on the surface that the underlying bulk material doesn’t possess.
Have you ever tried to solder two pieces of steel to one another? Tin-lead plate them and it’s easily accomplished. Gold has tremendous electrical properties but the cost of making connector pins out of pure gold is inconceivable.
Connector manufacturers make the pins out of more rigid copper or nickel alloy and then plate them with millionths of an inch of gold.
Can you imagine what steel lawn furniture would look like after weathering even a single summer outdoors? Phosphate it and powder coat it and it will last decades.
Anodizing can turn soft aluminum into nearly diamond-hard aluminum oxide and then can be colored to nearly any color in the rainbow.
More complicated yet, a designer desires some surfaces electrically non-conductive but areas around connector holes conductive. With some varying degrees of masking we can re-engineer the surface to be both conductive and non-conductive.
I’m still impressed…. Oberflachentechnik is a pretty cool term and it helps explain exactly what this crazy profession is all about. It’s truly surface engineering and it’s what Anoplate has been practicing for better than 60 years.