What Is Pickling of Stainless Steel?

Though passivation can improve the corrosion resistance of stainless steel parts, manufacturing leaves behind many imperfections that passivation does not eliminate. The process does not, for example, remove heat tint or oxide scale created by welding and heat treating. In the past, this has been addressed by a supplementary chemical treatment known as “pickling.”

How Stainless Steel Pickling Works

Pickling is a pre-passivation process of treating stainless steel parts with an acid solution, typically hydrochloric or sulfuric acid, which can remove oxide scale and heat tint while dissolving steel flecks embedded in the part. But pickling is a very imprecise process, with many drawbacks, including strict EPA regulations around its use. It is also very difficult to create consistent results as the acid solution degrades with age and the amount of surface material removed can vary greatly.

Electropolishing Alternative

Over the years, electropolishing has emerged as a preferred alternative and a one-stop method for removing surface imperfections, removing a microscopically precise layer of surface material and leaving parts stronger, ultraclean, and resistant to both corrosion and pathogens. Unlike pickling, electropolishing is effective at improving the finish on a wide variety of metals, alloys and specialty alloys.
Electropolishing Before & After

Electropolishing Before & After

Contact us to learn more about electropolishing

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.

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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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Electropolishing Blog

Electropolishing for More Durable and Corrosion Resistant Metal Fasteners

Electropolishing provides an ultrasmooth, ultraclean surface, and improves corrosion resistance for metal fasteners.

Learn Which Metal Finishing Process Is Right for Your Critical Metal Parts

Read Able Electropolishing’s guide on passivation, pickling, and electropolishing to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of each for your metal parts. 

Take Able's Electropolishing 101 Quiz to Test Your Metal Finishing Knowledge

Put your electropolishing knowledge to the test with our new Electropolishing 101 quiz!

Across industries, electropolishing is the go-to metal finishing method for parts with no room for error. From aerospace to medical manufacturing, engineers rely on electropolishing to eliminate surface defects and create a hygienic, passive and ultra-smooth finish with improved fit, function and durability.

Electropolishing: Precise Material Removal for Critical Metal Parts

Electropolishing works by removing a microscopically precise layer of material from the surface of metal parts.