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Plating on Graphite

Electroplating on Graphite For Advanced Manufacturers

Graphite has been helping students and professionals alike put their thoughts on paper since the creation of the modern pencil in 1795. Graphite is incredibly abundant as well, as it is the 3rd most common form of carbon on our planet. However, aside from inhabiting the core of every Dixon Ticonderoga in your middle school pencil pouch, Graphite is commonly used across several manufacturing industries.  

Oftentimes these manufacturers will have their graphite components electroplated in order to improve their functionality. Electroplating graphite can provide the substrate with an array of new qualities that are deemed beneficial in a variety of manufacturing fields. For example, electroplating graphite can increase its resistance to heat, corrosion, abrasion, and also improve its conductive capabilities. 

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What Makes Graphite Unique?

Along with ceramic, glass, and plastic, graphite is one of the non-metallic substrates that we plate at AOTCO. However, the plating-on-graphite process varies greatly from the plating process of other non-metals. Graphite can be plated with traditional electroplating methods, unlike our other non-metallic substrates. This is because graphite is the only non-metallic substance in the world that is also electrically conductive. 

Due to its conductivity, traditional electrolytic plating processes can be applied directly to the graphite substrate’s surface. Non-metals like plastic or glass require base layers or surface preparation to make the surface conductive, Graphite does not need this extra first layer.

Graphite is also commonly used, in powder form, to make the surface of non-metallic substrates conductive. The thin layer of graphite applied to the surface of the substrate allows it to be more adhesive for further surface finishing.

Common Surface Finishes for Graphite Include:

While other non-metallic substrates like glass, ceramics, and plastic require an electroless nickel base layer to make their surface electrically conductive, Graphite can be directly electroplated. This leaves out a lot of extra dimensional build up that other non-metallic substrates have to account for prior to plating. Some of the most common finishes for Graphite substrates are: 

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Zinc
  • Electrolytic Nickel
  • Electroless Nickel
  • And more!

Frequently Asked Questions

Benefits of Plating on Graphite
Graphite is an efficient conductor of electricity, has high thermal resistance, and is fairly flexible. These qualities make graphite a solid non-metal alternative when manufacturing components. Oftentimes, graphite alone is not physically strong enough to operate properly, thus many manufacturers will have their graphite components electroplated. Some of the most notable benefits of electroplated graphite are as follows:
  • Increased Strength
  • Abrasion Resistance
  • Increased Corrosion Resistance
  • Adjustable Electrical Conductivity
  • Increased Thermal Resistance
  • Aesthetically pleasing and smooth finish
  • Can make non-metallic components appear metallic
  • And many more!
Common Industry Applications of Plated Graphite
While most people think of pencil lead when considering the practical uses of graphite, there are actually a multitude of industries that have found use for the pencil-filler. Plated Graphite is often used in automotive components due to its flexibility, strength, and conductivity. Some of the most common industry uses of plated graphite include:
  • Brake Linings
  • Gaskets
  • Clutch Components
  • Nuclear Reactor Components
  • Electric Motor Brushes
  • And many more!
For more information about available metal finishing services, Military Specs, AMS Specs and ASTM Specs, visit AOTCO Military Plating Specs page.
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