Episode7:Cars and motorcycles

Cars and motorcycles are the most familiar means for getting around in modern society. Plating technology is also used on many of the mechanical parts used on those cars and motorcycles. Plating is one of the essential technologies for these vehicles.

Plating on vehicles

A vital role even on hidden parts!

There is a lot of plating used in the production of cars and motorcycles. Of course, this includes a lot of plating that is visible, such as that on the exterior parts and the interior parts. However, plating is also required on mechanical components and other parts that are not normally visible and this plating often plays a very important role.

To introduce some specific examples, the exterior parts that are produced using plating include emblems, front grilles, door handles and aluminum wheels. The interior parts that are plated include the instrument panel and also parts that are touched by hand, such as the shift knob. The mechanical parts that use plating include engine related parts and also gear wheels and shafts.

Let’s have a look at these exterior parts, internal parts and mechanical parts. Where is the plating used on them and what role does it play?

The role of plating on vehicles

Plating is useful in the production and transmission of motive power

The functions of the plating used on mechanical parts include functions such as surface hardness, wear resistance, lubricity and smoothness.

The surface hardness and wear resistance functions are used to increase the surface strength of parts. The lubricity and smoothness functions are used so that the engine cylinders and gears can be moved smoothly for the efficient transmission of power.

The plating used on the surface of gearwheels is introduced in this video as a representative example of this.

Plating that is both seen and touched

On the exterior and interior parts, some plating is used for a beautiful appearance and high quality feel. This includes plating on the emblems, front grille and instrument panel. Plating is also used for a good feeling when touched, such as on the door handles and switches. On many of these parts, the normal method for the plating is “plastic plating” on a plastic resin.

One obvious reason why plating on a plastic resin is used so commonly for vehicles is because it is relatively easy to process. However, another reason is that it is possible to produce parts that are lighter than parts made wholly of metal. I have spoken of this before. This feature means that the weight of the vehicle can be reduced, which leads to improved fuel efficiency. Another reason is that the antibacterial effect of metal is used on the parts that are touched by hand.

In this way, both functionality and a good appearance are realized by the use of plating on vehicles on the parts that are visible and on the parts that are touched.

Corrosion is a great enemy of brakes

Plating is also performed on the disc brakes that are used on cars and motorcycles.

In disc brake equipment, there is a disc shape on the wheel and the disc is squeezed from both sides by brake pads to reduce the speed of the vehicle. It is extremely important that the discs used in these brakes do not corrode (rust).

If a disc corrodes (rusts), its strength is reduced and its profile may distort. (In other words, the disc may be damaged or destroyed.) If this happens, then the disc can no longer fulfill its original purpose (i.e. braking). It is absolutely essential that this is avoided. In addition to this, any rust that occurs on the surface of the disc will make the surface rough. This rust may damage the brake pads, which may affect the ability of the brakes to slow the vehicle. When the brakes are used, the rust on the disc surface is removed by the brake pads and does not appear to be a problem. However, the ability of the damaged brake pads does not recover, so it is a major risk factor. Even if the rust has disappeared, the effects of it remain.

Plating technology plays an extremely important role in the safety of the vehicle by preventing the corrosion of the discs.

The power of electricity is also essential for vehicles

In recent years, we have seen the start of the spread of “hybrid cars” that combine an engine and a motor and “electric cars” that are powered entirely by electricity. Electrical control is also becoming essential for automobiles. Various specialist equipment is required to use a large capacity battery and control a high output motor. Plating technology is also used on the equipment in these electric control systems.

Power Control Units (PCU)

The equipment that controls the electrical power from the battery in electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles is called a power control unit. Among other equipment, this unit contains parts to control the voltage and parts to convert a direct current to an alternating current. These parts handle large amounts of electricity, so heat is generated. Durability against heat is therefore essential for this equipment.

Plating is a technology that can ensure that the performance of the equipment is exhibited in these conditions and it is used on parts such as the connecting parts and the circuit boards inside the unit.

Car navigation systems

A car navigation system is becoming an essential device for the cars of today. These systems contain many printed circuit boards and electronic devices, so plating technology is of course used on them. Furthermore, plastic plating may be used on the buttons and knobs and overall these are examples of devices that use a lot of plating.

Control boards

Cars and motorcycles include electronic control devices for various types of control. These control devices contain printed circuit boards and many electronic components, so naturally a lot of plating technology is used in their production. On vehicles, the parts are used in a harsh environment that includes vibration and high temperatures. It is therefore a requirement that the parts have durability under these conditions, so plating that supports this is used.

Plating model introduction (Mechanical parts)

When plating is performed on mechanical parts, the pre-treatment is very important. A process is necessary to remove any oil or residue (shavings) from the cutting of the metal.

Various types of plating are performed on mechanical parts to fit various different applications. Of these different types, chrome plating is used in a wide range of applications due to its characteristic hardness, low friction and wear resistance. This chrome plating is used in all areas related to mechanical parts.

In addition to chrome plating, there may also be tin plating used for its flexibility and nickel plating used as a composite (dispersion) plating matrix.

Furthermore, depending on the type of the plating, there may also be nickel plating used for surface preparation.

Vehicles are a department store of plating!?

As I have introduced here, a large amount of plating is used on vehicles such as cars and motorcycles. This includes plating on mechanical parts and electrical parts and also plating on decorative parts. In one sense, all aspects of “plating” are gathered together on vehicles.

The next time you ride a car or motorcycle, you will no doubt find a lot of plating, even in just the parts that you can see. I would be very happy if you could then also remember from the contents of this episode that even more plating is used on the parts that you do not see!