Passivation Service

Passivation Overview

Passivation is a chemical cleaning process that is designed to remove free iron and other ferrous contaminants from the surface of stainless steel parts. By removing the contamination from machining, stamping, etc., you are helping restore the material to the original mill condition and corrosion specifications.

Passivation is ideal for many grades of stainless steel that have adequate levels of chromium and nickel, can help increase the longevity of many types of metal parts, and can also enhance their brightness.

Able Electropolishing has offered passivation since our founding in 1954 and we offer both citric and nitric passivation options. Note: parts that are electropolished are also passivated as part of the process, with the added benefit of being able to remove microscopic cracks, burrs and other imperfections. Many wanting passivation benefit much more from electropolishing while meeting passivation requirements.

Electropolishing vs. Passivation Guide

Electropolishing vs. Passivation vs. Pickling Guide
Download the Guide

How the Passivation Process Works

Passivation is a chemical process designed to increase the corrosion resistance of stainless steel parts.

During the passivation process, parts are placed in a basket and submerged in a nitric or citric acid bath. Depending on the stainless steel alloy, the acid concentration, temperature and time are set to effectively remove free iron and other foreign materials on the part’s surface introduced during machining, stamping, and other processes. The passivation leaves the part clean and more corrosion resistant but does not change the aesthetics of the part.

Is Passivation the Right Process?

  • Several popular grades of stainless steel should not be passivated due to low levels of chromium and nickel; when passivated, you run the risk of flash attack occurring which weakens the base material and does irreparable damage to the part
  • Welded or brazed parts are not recommended for passivation; the process is not capable of removing the scale and discoloration in the heat-affected zone
  • As an alternative to passivation, your part may be better suited for our proprietary Brite Passivation process, which involves a light electropolish and is a superior process to passivation for improving corrosion resistance
  • Please contact our sales department at sales@ableep.com with questions on which process is best for your application

Side-by-Side Comparison

Point of Comparison

  • Removes Surface Contaminants
  • Typically Includes Precleaning/Degreasing
  • Effective for Sizing
  • Microscopic Precision
  • Consistent, Uniform Results
  • Improves Fatigue Life
  • Improves Corrosion Resistance
  • Deburrs Metal Surface
  • Removes Microcracks
  • Removes Heat Tint
  • Removes Oxide Scale
  • Improves Microfinish
  • Cleans Welds Effectively
  • Passivates Part

Electropolishing

Passivation

Pickling

Point of Comparison
Removes Surface Contaminants
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Typically Includes Precleaning/Degreasing
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Effective for Sizing
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Microscopic Precision
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Consistent, Uniform Results
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Improves Fatigue Life
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Improves Corrosion Resistance
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Deburrs Metal Surface
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Removes Microcracks
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Removes Heat Tint
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Removes Oxide Scale
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Improves Microfinish
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Cleans Welds Effectively
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling
Point of Comparison
Passivates Part
Electropolishing
Passivation
Pickling

Your Passivation & Metal Finishing Partner

If improved corrosion resistance is the ultimate goal, passivation is an efficient process that parts can undergo, but passivation alone is not always effective at removing surface contaminants, and frequently requires an additional pre-cleaning step. However, electropolishing can remove all traces of surface and embedded contaminants in one operation.

Passivation is also only ideal for certain grades of stainless steel to remove free iron and other contaminants, but it isn’t recommended for some stainless steel grades that have insufficient levels of nickel and chromium. Welded or brazed parts are also incapable of undergoing the passivation process.

You can speak with an expert at Able Electropolishing to determine if your parts are ideal for passivation or other processes such as electropolishing. You may also find that your parts require more thorough microfinishing than passivation can provide.

A Commitment to the Environment

Over the years, Able has been through the evolution of environmental compliance, waste minimization, recycling and water conservation. This outstanding job has earned Able a Certificate of Commendation from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

Waste Treatment Tank Inspection

Contact us to learn more about passivation

Learn About the Electropolishing Difference


Electropolishing 101 Webinar

Electropolishing 101
Lunch & Learn Webinar

Learn everything you need to know about electropolishing as part of a private, interactive webinar. Let us know your availability and your part issues and our electropolishing experts can get you on our schedule. Lunch will be provided!

Schedule Your Private Webinar
Try Electropolishing for Free: Sample Request

Try Electropolishing for Free:
Sample Request

Send us your parts/prototypes and we’ll electropolish them for free – we’ll even pay for the shipping! Samples are processed in 24-48 hours.

Request a Sample

Medical Device Manufacturing

Medical Device Manufacturing

From implantable devices to surgical instruments, electropolishing is a single-process treatment that results in biocompatible, safe and ultra clean parts.

Learn More  

Aerospace

Aerospace

We offer aerospace vendors and original equipment manufacturers our signature metal finishing services to increase fatigue-resistance for their metal parts, rendering them capable of withstanding the stress and corrosion that comes with long-term use.

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Pharmaceutical

Pharmaceutical

Our strict adherence to industry standards ensures that pharmaceutical components are electropolished in accordance with ASTM B912 and ASME BPE specifications. These products are clean and smooth, corrosion resistant and contaminant free.

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Automotive

Automotive

Corrosion resistance and microfinish improvement are essential for critical automotive parts, making electropolishing an increasingly beneficial option for automakers.

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Consumer Appliance

Consumer Appliance

Our metal finishing services help increase corrosion resistance for these parts, and by removing the outermost layer of metal withelectropolishing the durability and longevity of these appliance components is increased.

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Food & Beverage

Food & Beverage

Electropolishing materials for this industry eliminates the buildup of bacterial biofilms, as well as keeping the equipment free of contaminants like Salmonella. Electropolishing delivers the level of sanitation required by a number of regulatory agencies.

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Hydraulics & Pneumatics

Hydraulics & Pneumatics

From robotics to mobile equipment, the uses of electropolishing in the hydraulics and pneumatics industry are many. By helping prevent premature part failure, electropolishing reduces downtime and increases the life cycle of these components.

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Electronics

Electronics

Improving conductivity and performance is just one benefit electropolishing offers for electronics parts. The surface finish is improved by as much as 50%, removing imperfections from the material without material removal.

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High-Quality Passivation for Medical Parts

Passivation is an essential finishing process enhancing the durability and efficacy of metal parts in industries with no room for error, such as medical device manufacturing. Critical to ensuring that medical devices perform reliably over time, passivation uses a specialized…