Clever Fixturing Methods to Achieve a Flawless E-Coat

Kliar e-coating is a great way to protect your jewelry with a transparent protective coat, or an easy way to add a splash of color. Read this article for quick and easy tricks that give you professional results.

Last edited: 10/28/2019

The MIDAS system for Kliar e-coating is a great way to protect your jewelry with a transparent protective coat, or an easy way to add a splash of color. Since the e-coating solution is very tacky after application, handling wire is necessary to allow you to move your pieces from one solution to another without having to touch them. Touching your pieces in any stage of the process can leave fingerprints and soil behind, which will affect the coating. The handling wire will leave a small scar or mark where it comes in contact with the piece.

Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce the scarring or the size of the mark left, making it virtually invisible to your customers. Fixturing your pieces is very simple in most cases, but based on your pieces you may have to come up with your own clever way to make it work for you. Two tips to keep in mind are:

  • Minimize the contact point between the handling wire and your work
  • Avoid letting pieces come into contact with one another
A ring and a bracelet on a handling wire
Using a handling wire works well for e-coating rings, bangles and cuffs.

In the examples above, I started by bending a heavy-gauge wire into a U shape. Then I bent the edges outward and filed them into a sharp taper. The point at the end of the taper is the only part that is going to come into contact with the inside of the ring, so the sharper the point, the smaller the scar that will be left behind. By pinching the U shape together and releasing, the metal will harden, creating tension which will spring the fixture into place and hold the ring steady. To reuse these fixtures after the e-coating process, you will need to re-file or buff the tips clean to expose the metal underneath. You must have metal-to-metal contact (free of cured e-coating) where the alligator clip holds the handling wire and where the handling wire comes into contact with the jewelry piece.

Handling wire with a twist
Add a little twist for more tension.

In these fixtures I simply twisted the wire around a ring mandrel to create tension which will hold the wire inside of the ring. Again, you will want to file or cut a sharp point at the ends of the handling wires where they will touch the jewelry piece. These can be made for both small and large pieces, and can be reusable as well.

A bead chain on an e-coating fixture made from wire
This method works great every time for long chains.

Due to their length, necklaces and chains can be a little trickier. It is important to always avoid letting your piece touch the bottom of the e-coating beaker, the anode, and other pieces while in the solution and in the oven. To create the fixture above, make a heavy-gauge armature from which you will wrap a much thinner wire. Here, I used 30-gauge wire to wrap around a 14-gauge base. The thinner wire is perfect for chains since you really want to minimize the scar on the tiny links. If you hang the thinner wire far enough from the main circle armature, you can cut the necklace free and use the base over and over again.

A welded e-coating fixture holding multiple discs
Fixturing multiple pieces.

This fixture was welded together quickly and easily using an Orion Pulse Arc Welder. Multiple hangers make it simple to coat many pieces at one time.

When preparing your pieces for e-coating, how you connect your pieces to handling wires can range from a simple single wire to more complex welded structures. You may design your fixture to hold one piece at a time or to hold several. You can design it for a one-time use, or for it to be used over and over again; it’s up to your production needs. However simple or complex your design, if you follow the basic principles, your work will come out beautifully.

Multiple fixtured pieces in an oven-7
Multiple fixtured pieces in the oven, ready to cure.