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What Is Reflow Tin Plating & What Are its Benefits?

by Cooper Plating

"Reflow tin plating", does that name ring a bell? Unless youre an electrochemist or working in the metallurgy industry, the only word that will sound familiar is the "plating" part of the designation. If that is the case, dont worry, you are not alone. In this presentation, we will explain in detail what this method is all about as well as the particularities that make it such an important and effective plating solution.

In short, reflow tin plating is a subgenre of continuous strip plating. This consists of an electrodeposit process that is both economical and efficient. Strips of components (such as wires or metal sheets) are coated with a thin tin layer before they are cut into parts.

The whole process begins with the mounting of the strips on the reel-to-reel plating lines. Once loaded on the dereeling station, the components go through a series of baths which serve to plate the desired parts.

Lead Free
We all know that lead is a very toxic substance. Increased levels of this metal in the blood can cause serious health issues (kidney failure, memory loss, and abdominal pain). The molecules can interfere with the normal functioning of almost all of our vital processes. As a result, the food industry chooses lead free materials to pack their products in. Reflowed tin makes for a perfect alternative as, unlike solder plating, it is 100% devoid of the dangerous heavy metal.

One of the most important characteristics of reflow tin plating is its exceptional solderability which is on par with the noblest of metals such as gold or palladium. Contrary to poor candidates like steel or aluminum (that pose problems of corrosion and the creation of oxides), reflow tin plating allows for easy dissolution. That is what makes it such a great candidate for companies in the electronics industry.

No Whiskers
A problem encountered by electronics manufacturers is the appearance of metallic whiskers when creating circuit boards and components. These whiskers, which are strands of metal that develop beyond the metallic surface, can be responsible for a series of problems as they break and induce electrical shortings as well as arcing. With reflow tin plating, the mechanical stress that is thought to cause whiskers is reduced, ensuring that no whiskers ever grow.

On top of being corrosion resistant and showing a structure free of any porosity, reflowed tin plating offers great ductility. This allows any metal that has been plated with reflowed tin to be shaped into any form without risk or damage to the prime layer. For electronic components, an added benefit resides in the fact that reflowed tin coated parts will demonstrate an improved insertion force.

In the world of plating, few other processes offer as many benefits as reflowed tin. Not only will it provide you with an economical way to improve the solderability or corrosion resistance of your products, it will also eliminate any risk of whiskers or toxicity.

Any questions that remain unanswered? Contact us via our website at: http://www.cooperplating.com/services/metal -plating.html