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Plating on Kovar

When two connected materials have different rates of expansion, this can cause an immense amount of pressure to form at the areas of connection. This pressure can cause cracking, poor functionality, and even complete operational failure. These contrasting rates of expansion make certain types of glasses and plastics harder to manufacture with certain types of metals. Kovar is the exception.

Kovar is a nickel cobalt alloy that has a very similar thermal coefficient to many types of hard glass and ceramics. This makes Kovar go to pairing when manufacturing devices with glass, such as X-ray tubes, power tubes, diodes, and microwave tubes.

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Common Kovar Finishes Include:

Despite being a superalloy, chemically engineered to outperform the strongest of standard alloys, Kovar components can benefit greatly from a proper surface finish. Depending on the finish, Kovar can gain a wide range of new physical and chemical qualities. Some common finishes for Kovar substrates include:

  • Gold
  • Nickel (underplate)
  • Nickel
  • And more!

Benefits of Plating Kovar

Superalloys alone possess great strength and chemical resistance; however, they are not perfect. Like any other metal alloy, Kovar is susceptible to corrosion from exposure to certain environments. This is where choosing the appropriate surface finish is crucial. Some benefits of plating on Kovar include:

  • Increased Corrosion Resistance 
  • Reduce Component Maintenance 
  • Provides a smooth, long-lasting, Aesthetically Pleasing Finish
  • Increases Physical Strength and Abrasion Resistance
  • And many more!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Superalloys?
Kovar is an incredibly unique material, that belongs to a family of man-made compositions called “Superalloys.” Like the name says, Superalloys are a sub-group of alloys that are designed to be incredibly strong, along with possessing an abundance of other desirable physical and chemical properties. Superalloys are typically nickel-based, but cobalt (like Kovar) and iron-based superalloys also exist. 

In the case of Kovar, this superalloy was designed to have a similar thermal expansion as borosilicate glass. Having near identical rates of thermal expansion eliminates several possible complications during the manufacturing process, making Kovar a common superalloy pairing when manufacturing glass and glass components.
Why Plate Superalloys?

You may be thinking, “if these alloys were engineered to be chemically and physically stronger than normal alloys, why should I plate my superalloy components?” And while the first half of that statement is true, superalloys are much stronger than their non-super counter parts, they are still susceptible to corrosion, wear, and abrasion damage.

Finding the right surface finish or electroplating solution for your superalloy substrates and components is essential to improving their functionality. Luckily AOTCO has 50 years of experience and a dedicated team of platers and engineers ready to find your superalloy surface finishing solution.

Common Industry Applications for Kovar Substrates
Designed to have the exact same or similar thermal expansion as most manufacturing glasses, Kovar finds most of its use paired with glass components. Some of the most common industry uses for the Kovar superalloy include: 
  • X-ray tubes
  • Diodes 
  • Microwave Tubes
  • Power Tubes
  • Glass-to-Metal Seals
  • Feedthroughs
  • Electrical Contacts 
  • And many more!
For more information about plating on Kovar and other metal finishes, including Military Specs, AMS Specs and ASTM Specs, visit AOTCO Military Plating Specs page.

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Learn more about the specifications AOTCO offers, including NADCAP-accredited and RoHS-compliant ones.
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We're Happy to Help.