Latest Trends in Electropolishing

by Shamsul
Electro Polishing
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Latest Trends in Electropolishing – Scholarly Presentation

Updated on 7th Sep. 2023

Fundamentals of Electropolishing

You can define electropolishing as a reverse plating procedure that has the characteristic of removing the outer surface of metal instead of depositing that metal on the surface. In order to achieve this, the part of the metal charged positively and submerged into a chemical bath (Wang et al., 2002). After this, the chemical is applied to activate the procedure. The electric current in coordination with the electrolyte pulls ions of metal off from the surface of that part leaving a shiny and smooth surface (Datta and Landolt, 2000). Like a snake shedding its skin, the defects over the surface are stripped out, revealing a new surface.


Applications of Electropolishing

According to (Landolt, Chauvyinger, 2003), electropolishing is applied in the following ways:

Improved resistance towards corrosion: Electropolishing improves corrosion resistance by removing imperfections from the surface that serve as initiation sites.

Deburring: Electropolishing eliminates performance-inhibiting surface burrs even from intricate and delicate parts.

Fatigue life improvement: Electropolishing removes micro-cracks as well as other defects on the surface over metal parts like twisting, flexing and bending springs before they can even compromise over performance.

Reducing discoloration: Electropolishing gives metals a bright and clean finish that lasts longer and helps metal parts retain a new-like appearance.

Microfinishing: Removing oxides, chemicals, scale as well as surface irregularities. Moreover, Electropolishing improves the performance of parts and is the best solution for even those parts that cannot be treated by mechanical polishing or vibratory finishing.


How Electropolishing Makes Parts Last Longer?

Since electropolishing removes all the imperfections from the metal part s surface, it makes them last longer. A very common imperfection is burred which are miniature pieces of displaced surface material that can either snag or break (Mohan et al., 2001). Other imperfections may include inclusions and retaining moisture where bacteria can grow. The fact is that uneven and rough surfaces, including those that cannot be seen without a standard microscope, tend to hinder electrical connectivity. Microscopic cracks are initiative sites from where parts can crack, bend or break prematurely. Electropolishing tends to remove imperfections, making parts work better and last longer (Chatterjee, 2019).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electropolishing

A wide range of materials is being used on a daily basis. Most of the metals possess their own utilities and properties. It is important that users understand these utilities and properties. The method of preserving metal, particularly steel, is referred to as Electropolishing. The electrochemical process fines the uneven surface of metals and gives them natural shine and finishes (Rokosz, 2015).


Advantages of Electropolishing

  1. It removes the scratch and other abrasive marks over the metal’s surface.
  2. It brings a natural finish and shines to the metal.
  3. Electropolishing improves the smoothness level of the metal, reducing the coefficient of friction over the surface. It helps increase the metal’s life because it lasts longer than usual.
  4. The electropolishing process makes the metal corrosion-free.
  5. It removes the brittleness present in the metal.

Disadvantages of Electropolishing

  1. The process of electropolishing makes use of chemicals that can impose a long-lasting impact on the finished metal.
  2. To a certain extent, the roughness over the metal surface remains persistent and 100% smoothness is difficult to achieve.
  3. The cost of the electropolishing procedure is somewhat higher and the process also consumes a good amount of time.



Applications of Electropolishing

Electropolishing is a very versatile treatment that benefits individuals, companies, and organizations operating in different industries. With a diverse range of applications, electropolishing is a process to develop products of superior quality which would not be the same without the metal finishing process (Bohinc et al., 2016). Some industries which benefit from the process of electropolishing include:

Consumer Goods:

In this industry, electropolishing is applied to improve the quality, longevity, and durability of many commonly used consumer goods. Examples of consumer goods include furniture, light fittings, and cookware. Nowadays, people are accessing products that are made from stainless steel alloys. It can be treated to improve hygiene levels, facilitating maintenance and easy cleaning. As well as increased resistance to wear and tear (Swain, 2010).

Medical And Dental Instruments:

Electropolishing is a single-use treatment used for producing hygienic, clean and biocompatible medical and dental instruments. Many times, this is also in use for precision utensils. This process is an alternative to passivation for creating pristine and polished surfaces that are also resistant to bacterial growth. Electropolishing plays an important role in the medical and dental industries and is commonly used to produce needles and scalpels (Rokicki et al., 2015).

Car Parts And Accessories:

Removing debris from the outermost surface of metal parts and accessories and delivers several benefits to consumers and manufacturers. Electropolishing will enhance the life of the automobile and HGV parts along with reducing the risk of corrosion (Kim et al., 2016).

Aircraft Metal Parts:

Aerospace metal parts and electropolishing go side by side since electropolishing is capable of deburring metal parts. It also provides the smoothest finishing and maximum precision. The electropolishing technique is applicable to produce aircraft metal parts for the aerospace and defense industries. It makes the part resistant and streamlined to friction and corrosion. This technique of metal finishing also reduces the risk of fatigue resulting in the prolonged life of parts that are in use even in the most stressed environment (Lochy et al., 2018).

Food And Beverage:

Electropolishing provides preventative measures within the food and beverage industry. In the preparation of food and drinks, hygiene is very crucial. The metal treatment is widely applicable for removing contaminants and residues that can present a danger to human health (Tian et al., 2008).

Household And Electrical Items:

Most appliances, machines, and gadgets are taking power from electricity. Electropolishing can provide various benefits in the development of the fabrication of these electrical goods. This procedure improves the conductivity performance of products by removing imperfections that hampers productivity through the generation of resistance (ASME, 2005).

Electro Polishing

Quality Control on Electropolishing

The degree to which the quality control of electropolishing is evaluated is the determination of the consistency and fine quality of the finish. Several electropolishing shops employ a minimum number of control or no controls at all. Where there is a lack of quality control, the quality is unpredictable and inconsistent. There are certain areas that are functions of technology whereas; others may fall within the aspect of electropolishing (Arnold et al, 2004).

It is very important that apply proper electrolytes. Precisely maintain temperature along with regular monitoring as well. Critical factors within the chemistry are the particular gravity which is an indication of water content. As well as a major determinant of hydroscopic electrolytes, metals content, and acid concentration. A supply of ripple-free and clean DC power should be available for driving the process along with adequately sized cables and connectors to cathodes and anodes. Moreover, the DC voltage needs the application at the appropriate voltage and the current density (ASTM, 2001).

For most products, mirror-like luster is a major aim. On the other side, it may involve additional technical and functional benefits of electropolishing where no possibility through mechanical processes. Since there is no mechanical disturbance of the service in the process of metal removal, the electropolished surface possesses the true grain structure and properties of the bulk metal (Hammond et al., 2012).

On the other side, the mechanical polishing process leaves a layer of disturbed structure. Mechanically fitted surfaces will not include reported properties that are for bulk metal irrespective of the thickness of the disturbed surface of a mechanical process that is employed (Hubbard-HalInc.Inc 2019).


Recent Developments in Electropolishing

Surface finishing and metal polishing are very important for determining the durability against corrosion and the longer life of metal parts. Nonetheless, the clients and the polishing company must remain to maintain the relationship occasionally. It is between the quality of the metal surface’s finish and its capability to resist corrosion and rust (Han and Feng, 2019).

Although, previously it was very customary to polish metal parts that were in use as external architectural features. Now, various studies have been conducted and proven that quality electropolishing not only enhances the appearance of metal parts and their surfaces but also helps in increasing their durability. For example, in an industry where that uses stainless steel, electropolishing is its integral component (Hensel, 2000).


Electropolishing Latest Trend:

When metal parts undergo basic polishing, there are corrugations over the surface of the metal at the end of the process. Such grooves can potentially house several chloride ions which help remove at passivation, resulting in rusting and corrosion within a very short duration. Industries where hygiene and appearance are inferior. This situation can bring in huge financial losses. So, it requires replacing metal at frequent levels. It can be said that resistant metal surfaces which have been treated with mechanical or any other type of old-fashioned polishing are not an effective solution for making the metal rust and corrosion-proof (Zuzel and Wójcik, 2012).

Experts try to update the metal polishing standards regularly updated. The time when technological advancement allows it. As well as when the conventional methods of polishing fail to deliver the desired results. For example, the basic polishing of metal has been performed in different industries since the 1980s. It was mostly applicable in the interior designing sector. The furniture industries use this technique to bring in a high-gloss look to give a luxurious appearance. Although, it was discovered very soon that the shiny gloss alone is not enough way to protect the surface from corroding or wearing down (Datta and Landolt, 2000).

New and improved ways to polish the surface of metals are usually derived from the current methods. It is part of continuously striving for better results (Landolt, Chauvy and Zinger, 2003).

Although the application has spread over many industries, they usually fall within four categories which are:


With its proper application, electropolishing dissolves metal from the edges in a more rapid way than that of flat surfaces. The current density of this process is similar to the plating. As electropolishing is in practice for removing surface metal, it helps in reducing or removing burrs. Additionally, parts with critical final dimensions that require deburring should accommodate metal removal. A good electropolisher will provide appropriate AQL data which will show dimensions that are within tolerance and that there is a good handle over process parameters (Wang et al., 2002).


As current density serves to be an advantage over edges and burrs. You can also use similar physic over flat surfaces when you try to remove metal from the surface. The removal takes place at higher points over the surface and less at lower points. Developments within medical, hydraulic, automotive, and other components requiring smooth surfaces benefit from the smoothing aspect of electropolishing (Christophersen et al., 2003).

Corrosion Resistance

Several industries have moved on from harsh chemical environments for their stainless components. There are some stainless alloys that are tuned due to environments. Where corrosion is high, the metal usually requires either meeting or exceeding corrosion standards for field use. Those engineers who are willing to improve corrosion resistance. Their field test standards provide or salt spray/fog tests per ASTM B-117. Vendors of electropolishing should be able to extend assistance in determining corrosion test parameters for particular industries (Lee and Lai, 2003).

Controlling the Size

Experienced electropolishing practitioners have the potential to save plenty of parts from the scrap bin. If a part is oversized, it will be fabricated from a thicker material than was specified or grow in dimension from the heating process (Kao and Hocheng, 2003).


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