Electroplating 101

A Small Introduction to Plating and Coating

Tin plating

Tin is a silver-colored, ductile metal whose major application is to impart solderability to otherwise unsolderable base metals. Tin has generally good covering characteristics over a wide range of shapes. Tin and its salts are reported to be non-toxic and non-carcinogenic and are approved for food. container and food contact applications.

Tin plating - soft, ductile finish

Tin does not tarnish easily and can serve as a low cost decorative finish, although care must be exercised in subsequent part handling as tin is a soft, ductile finish that can scratch or mar easily. Alloying tin with lead to reduce it’s melting point for soldering and to prevent "whiskering". See specific descriptions below for details on each of the various tin systems.

Tin plating - corrosions protection & conductivity

Tin is a good electrical conductor and has historically been utilized for its combined corrosion protection and conductivity in aerospace avionics radio frequency applications.

Tin plating - Bright Acid Tin per Mil-T-10727

Tin plating is primarily used to facilitate solderability to base metals that have poor solderability. Tin offers a ductile, bright finish which can serve as a low cost decorative finish.

Bright acid tin’s ductility will help prevent galling of base metals in friction contact applications.

Tin applies well to most base metals; will act as a stop-off barrier in nitriding high strength steels; has a bright appearance; and provides some corrosion resistance.

Tin plating - corrosion properties

For indoor environments, tin provides anti-corrosion properties to copper and copper alloys, and ferrous metals. Note that tin is not an optimal choice for corrosion protection where outdoor environments are expected. Tin should be not less than 99.5% pure except where alloyed for special purposes.

Tin plating -Alkaline Tin per Mil-T-10727, Type 1

Tin provides excellent solderability and corrosion resistance with a .02% bismuth content to stabilize the structure of the metal deposit and stop "whiskering" in extreme temperatures. Finish is dull in appearance, very soft and is easily marrable.

60/40 & 90/10 Tin Lead per Mil-P-81728A

The codeposition of lead with the tin reduces the risk of whisker growth. Metal filaments, or whiskers, sometimes grow spontaneously from the surface of electrodeposited metals such as tin, cadmium, and zinc within a period that may vary from weeks or months to years. These whiskers are about 0.0001 inch (2.5 µm) in diameter, can grow up to 3/8 inch (10 mm) long and can have a current carrying capacity of as much as 10 mA.

Tin plating - melting points

Tin is also alloyed with lead reduce the melting point of tin. This provides flexibility in selecting soldering temperatures that will not impart too much thermal energy to delicate assemblies.

60/40 melting point range is 361°- 374°F

90/10 melting point range is 450°- 464°F

Taken from ProPlate.com

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Mike Reeder

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Delta Specialty Coatings LLC
5738 Heiser Street
Houston, TX 77087

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Houston, TX 77287-7460