Unveiling the advantages of selective electroplating in electric motors

Posted on 29 Sep 2023 by The Manufacturer

Electric motors are a crucial component in numerous industries, from automotive to manufacturing, and their performance and longevity play a crucial role in the overall efficiency of various systems.

Selective electroplating has emerged as a valuable technique to enhance the functionality and durability of electric motors. Tom DiCillo, Midwest Territory Sales Manager, SIFCO ASC, explores the importance of selective electroplating for electric motors and its advantages to their performance.

Electric motors in industrial settings often run continuously or for extended periods, leading to increased mechanical stress and wear on components. The constant rotation and friction can cause the degradation of internal parts over time. High temperatures and excessive heat can lead to the deterioration of insulation materials, bearing lubricants, and other critical components, reducing efficiency and increasing wear.

Selective electroplating primarily sеrvеs thе purpose of replenishing mеtal in spеcific worn arеas of a componеnt, allowing for the complеtе part to bе salvagеd and rеusеd. This technique involves thе targеtеd dеposition of mеtal onto thе worn sections, effectively restoring the part’s functionality and extending its operational lifespan.

By precisely applying metal only where it is needed, sеlеctivе plating offers a cost-effective and sustainable solution for maintaining and rеfurbishing various industrial componеnts, reducing thе overall environmental impact associated with rеplacеmеnt. This protects the motor’s lifespan, enhances reliability, and ensures consistent performance. Additionally, selective electroplating reduces down-time significantly, еnhancing productivity in industrial processes.

Application with extreme precision

The process is performed with extreme precision. Technicians use specialised equipment and techniques to deposit a specific layer of metal onto only a component’s damaged or worn area. This precision ensures that only the necessary repairs are made, avoiding unnecessary alterations to the rest of the part.

One of the critical advantages of selective electroplating is its ability to maintain the original dimensions and tolerances of the component. Because only the affected area is plated, there is minimal alteration to the overall shape or size of the part. This is crucial in electric motor repair, as deviations from original specifications can negatively impact motor performance and efficiency.

Selective electroplating can be applied to components with intricate or complex geometries that are challenging to reproduce through traditional machining or replacement methods. It allows for precise metal deposition in hard-to-reach areas and is a highly effective repair technique in electric motor maintenance and other industries.

It excels in providing localised, precise, and efficient repairs, thereby conserving materials, reducing costs, and ensuring the repaired components meet or exceed their original specifications. This makes it a valuable tool for prolonging the life and reliability of electric motors in various industrial applications.

Main areas for application

The SIFCO Process focuses on several primary application areas, such as bearing housing, commutators, and rotor journals. End bells, which house the bearings that support the motor shaft, experience fretting corrosion during operation.

The SIFCO Process is used to plate these bores to size with Nickel Deposit. Plating a worn bearing housing can take less than thirty minutes and is a cost-effective alternative to machining the bore oversized and pressing in a pre-machined sleeve or flame spraying and machining to the print dimension.

DC motor and generator slip rings can develop copper oxide films, which reduce electrical conductivity and cause arcing and pitting, especially during locked motor start-up. Corrosive environments can also cause excessive damage and shorten life. Worn or corroded contact areas can be quickly restored to factory-like condition. Copper can be built back to dimension, and a silver conductivity and protective layer can be added during the same plating operation.

Some operators approach selective plating cautiously due to using chemicals labelled as ‘hazardous.’ In reality, though, selective plating is a safe process that requires only standard Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and a common-sense approach to health and safety. The particular application of chemicals minimises waste and disposal requirements, which makes it the preferred choice.

There is also the contribution to environmental sustainability that selective electroplating offers. By targeting specific areas, manufacturers can reduce the use of plating chemicals and materials, minimising waste and the associated environmental impact. Furthermore, selective plating is a permanent repair. The ability to restore and prolong the life of electric motor components through selective electroplating reduces the need for frequent replacements, leading to reduced waste generation and resource consumption.

Empowering operators with specialised training

Education and training in selective electroplating play a big part in the maintenance and longevity of electric motors. With years of experience and expertise, SIFCO ASC has developed a comprehensive training programme tailored to the unique needs of selective electroplating applications.

The training course encompasses theoretical knowledge and practical hands-on experience, ensuring participants understand selective electroplating principles, processes, and best practices. However, selective electroplating, like welding and thermal spray, requires a well-trained operator.

However, this industry is experiencing a skills gap as older operators retire, resulting in losing plating experts. To address this, SIFCO ASC offers a re-education course to train or re-train operators on the proper use and benefits of selective electroplating at facilities that previously used the SIFCO Process but have lost their operators due to retirement or employee turnover.

SIFCO ASC combines application knowledge acquired through global research and development investment, engineering expertise, and practical insights from the company’s service technicians to provide comprehensive training. Whether for those who have previously purchased SIFCO ASC equipment or newcomers to the technology, full training is available to ensure a thorough understanding of the process and achieve successful repairs.

Highly skilled instructors lead the training sessions with advanced teaching methods and state-of-the-art equipment. This enables participants to develop the skills necessary for precision plating in targeted areas. Whether achieving selective plating on complex geometries, repairing critical components, or enhancing product performance, SIFCO ASC’s training programme equips individuals with the proficiency and confidence needed to excel in selective electroplating.

Trusted and recommended repair method

The world relies on electric motors for transportation, infrastructure development, and industrial improvements. Therefore, efficiency is paramount. Selecting the correct maintenance and repair solution can lower costs, enhance performance, and minimise failures.

The SIFCO Process, a trusted and recommended repair method endorsed by the EASA and meeting various industry, military, AMS, and federal specifications, offers superior finishes and many benefits, including quality, durability, cost savings, portability, and time savings.

Find out more about the SIFCO ASC process here.