Companies operating in the surface engineering industry have a raft of legislation to navigate to enable them to carry out their day-to-day activities. Operators carrying out cadmium plating face a wide-range of issues in respect of complying with the latest environmental and health and safety regulations.

Plating for industrial applications has been carried out for over a century. However, it is now used widely for component parts in modern technology. With a robust and versatile coating, cadmium plating has many applications in various fields of industry such as aerospace, defence, electronics and automotive. It is also employed in offshore projects due to its suitability for use in the harsh salt-water environments.

Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Regulations

Although suitable for many applications, some of the substances used in cadmium plating are very toxic and its use in the UK is governed by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) regulations. Fumes, which are hazardous to health, can be produced during welding or heating components plated with cadmium. Companies are obligated to provide operatives with the correct respiratory equipment, and suitable ventilation is also essential. Because of its toxicity, gold is often used as an alternative to cadmium because it shares many of the same properties.

Putting environmental concerns aside, cadmium plating has many technical advantages, including:

· Excellent corrosion resistance

· Resistant to mould and bacteria growth

· Low electrical resistance and exceptional conductivity

· Favourable galvanic compatibility with aluminium

· Natural lubricity giving good anti-galling and low-friction properties

· Superior solderability

· Acts as a good bonding surface for adhesives

· Works well as a paint base

· Can be used on many substrates such as steel, iron, copper, brass and aluminium

The Surface Engineering Association (SEA) is a trade association helping companies understand the environmental regulations affecting the industry. It understands the many areas of legislation which have an impact on the day-to-day activities of its members.

To find out more about the use of cadmium plating, the IPPC regulations or would like to know how to become an SEA member, please browse our website, or contact