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

Electropolishing Before & After

Electropolishing Before & After

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.

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Medical Device Manufacturing

Our tightly controlled quality process and ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 certifications make us the preferred partner for many medical device manufacturers across the globe. 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

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. Surface abnormalities lead to part failure, but with electropolishing, parts become more reliable and long lasting.

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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

Corrosion resistance and microfinish improvement are essential for critical automotive parts, making electropolishing an increasingly beneficial option for automakers. Electropolishing both interior and exterior auto parts ensures they will resist premature failure and function at an optimal level.

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Consumer Appliance

Notable examples of appliance parts we electropolish are 400-series stainless steel alloys used in many consumer appliances. Our metal finishing services help increase corrosion resistance for these parts, and by removing the outermost layer of metal withelectropolishing the durability and longevityof these appliance components is increased.

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Food & Beverage

We have a long history of working with the food and beverage industry. Electropolishing materials for this industry eliminates the buildup of bacterial biofilms, as well as keeping the equipment free of contaminants like Salmonella. When it comes to food and beverage processing equipment, safety and cleanliness are of the upmost importance and electropolishing delivers the level of sanitation required by a number of regulatory agencies.

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Hydraulics & Pneumatics

From robotics to heavy mobile equipment, the uses of electropolishing in the hydraulics and pneumatics industry are many. By helping prevent premature part failure, electropolishing reduces the amount of downtime and increases the life cycle of these components. Proper surface finish and cleanliness is key in this industry, and electropolishing attains the finishour customers require.

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Electronics

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

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