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Plating on Molybdenum

Molybdenum, or “Moly”, is a silver-grey refractory metal, that is periodically used as both a substrate and surface deposit in the metal finishing industry. Being a refractory metal, Molybdenum is naturally occurring, incredibly strong, and resistant to many chemical processes and changes. However, the most notable quality of Molybdenum may be its thermal conductivity. Molybdenum is a better conductor of heat than any alloy or form of iron or steel.  While incredibly useful and unique, refractory metals like Molybdenum can be a unique challenge electroplate and passivate. 

Molybdenum may have its complications, but its unique chemical and physical properties make it a highly sought after metal across a multitude of manufacturing and engineering industries. Moly has an incredibly high melting point 2623° C (4753.4° F), only topped by 5 other metals on the period table. On top of its great thermal capabilities, Molybdenum is also incredibly strong, electrically conductive, and resistant to oxidation and corrosion. 

Pairing Molybdenum with the correct surface finish can result in long lasting, durable, and aesthetically pleasing components. 

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Plating on Refractory Metals

Refractory metals are a small group of strong metals that have melting points beyond 2000 °C and are chemically inert. These qualities make refractory metals like Molybdenum a useful substrate in a variety of industries. However, unlike light and common metals such as aluminum, copper, and nickel, refractory metals present a more unique challenge during their plating processes.

The biggest difference between plating onto refractory metals versus plating onto common metals is that the aqueous solution (chemical bath) used in the typical electroplating process is ineffective when trying to adhere ions to the surface of a refractory substrate. Other processes, like fused-salt electrolysis, have to be done in order to properly plate directly onto a pure refractory metal such as Molybdenum, or Niobium. 

Refractory metals, but especially Molybdenum, are often alloyed with other metals such as iron, nickel, and copper. This simultaneously improves the chemical and physical properties of the original light metals, while making it easier to plate/coat the surface of a refractory metal. 

Common Industry Applications for Molybdenum Substrates

While all refractory metals are unique and present their own set of physical and chemical properties, Molybdenum may present the most sought after and useful set of qualities. An extremely high melting point and great thermal conductivity make Molybdenum and Molybdenum alloys (like CuMoCu) commonly used substrates in thermal applications. Some common industry applications of Molybdenum include:

  • Heat sinks
  • Spray nozzles
  • Furnace components
  • Core Wire
  • And many more!

For more information about plating on Molybdenum and other metal finishes, including Military Specs, AMS Specs and ASTM Specs, visit AOTCO Military Plating Specs page. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Benefits of Plating on Molybdenum
While there may be initial challenges when plating onto Molybdenum substrates, the combination of a successful surface finish with the already-present strength of a refractory metal like Molybdenum results in a component that is incredibly durable, resistant to extreme temperatures, and can resist high levels of corrosion. Some of the most notable benefits of plating molybdenum substrates are:
  • Increased Resistance to Corrosion / Oxidation
  • Increased Thermal Resistance 
  • Increased Strength with Minimal Change to Weight
  • Aesthetically Pleasing Finish
  • Reduce Component Maintenance
Common Industry Applications for Molybdenum Substrates
While all refractory metals are unique and present their own set of physical and chemical properties, Molybdenum may present the most sought after and useful set of qualities. An extremely high melting point and great thermal conductivity make Molybdenum and Molybdenum alloys (like CuMoCu) commonly used substrates in thermal applications. Some common industry applications of Molybdenum include:
  • Heat sinks
  • Spray nozzles
  • Furnace components
  • Core Wire
  • And many more!
For more information about plating on Molybdenum and other metal finishes, including Military Specs, AMS Specs and ASTM Specs, visit AOTCO Military Plating Specs page.
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