Electropolishing is an electrochemical process in which contaminants, imperfections, and burrs are removed from the exterior of a metal part or component. This process is also known as electrochemical polishing or electrolytic polishing; also, electropolishing is often called “reverse plating,” since many industry professionals describe it as the opposite of the electroplating process.
Electropolishing is accomplished by immersing a metal part into an electrolyte bath, where it is charged with an anode (positive voltage). The electric current passes from the anode to the cathode (negative voltage), and during that time the surface of the part becomes oxidized. As more ions are drawn from its surface, the part gradually becomes cleaner and more polished than before.
The process of electropolishing offers several notable advantages to metal components:
- Enhanced durability and corrosion resistance
- Reduced part adhesion
- Structurally improved surface
- Removes impurities
- Easier cleaning and maintenance
- Aesthetic polished appearance
Additionally, electropolishing is also known for its versatility; this process can be used on metal components with virtually any complex shape and intricate features. Electropolishing also can be used to improve the service life of components by removing heat affected zones (HAZ), and recasting layers, micro-cracks, and rounding edges.
Electropolishing is widely recognized as a critical step in the finishing of medical implants and other devices that must be free of contaminants of any kind. Laserage has successfully engineered the multifaceted electropolishing process to meet the most stringent requirements of numerous medical companies.
At Laserage, our team has developed and validated a number of proprietary processes for electropolishing Nitinol, titanium, stainless steel, cobalt-chromium alloys and magnesium.
Electropolishing can be performed per your requirements or one of the ASTM standard methods—including ASTM B 912-02 and E1558—as appropriate and specified on your purchase order.
Standard specification for passivation of stainless steels using electropolishing. Original photo magnifications range from 50x to 200x.