Industry News

Posted on March 19, 2015

What Is Metal Plating?

Metal plating will involve covering a conductive surface using metal to improve its conductivity, appearance, and durability. This technique is utilized in various industries which include jewelry making, electronics, and manufacturing. This plating process involves three popular techniques: chrome plating, gold plating, and metal electroplating.

To accomplish a metal coating, its surface first must be properly prepped. In regard to electroplating, the surface will be covered in a negative charge then placed into a salt solution. The salt’s positive ions react with its negative ions on the surface, and cause metal to form. Salt will refer to any ionic substance, like copper sulfate or nickel chloride.

Carrying out this type of metal plating process will require numerous steps. Firstly, a tank will be filled with a salt solution. Any solution that has ions will be fine, whether the salt is dissolved in acid or in water. Then, a wire is attached to both its surface and a battery’s negative end or similar source of power. The surface will become the cathode, the electrode which will attract negative ions.

The positive end of a battery is connected by wire to an additional conductive object that will become the anode, or electrode which donates negative ions within the impending reaction. Its surface then is submerged inside the solution, permitting a battery to transfer negatively-charged electrons from its anode to its surface. To accomplish a full metal covering, it’s vital to ensure that the anode offers enough negative ions within the reaction. The quantity of metal which is created from electroplating directly is proportional to the amount of negative ions the anode will give off.

Gold plating includes another helpful type of metal plating. A thin layer of gold will be deposited on the surface. Usually it’s done by electroless plating that may be considered the opposite of electroplating, and done without a source of power. Sodium hypophosphite instead is blended with an aqueous solution, and causes a hydrogen ion to break away. This hydrogen ion then is oxidized permitting for negative ions to collect on the surface then produce gold metal.

A known kind of metal plating within the manufacturing sector includes chrome plating. Hard chrome plating, which implies a generous coating of chrome on a surface, is utilized to strengthen industrial parts like gun bores, cylinder rods, and thread guides. Usually, items which are altered using this type of plating are designed of hardened steel.

For more information on metal plating or finishing and/or other questions please contact a Burton representative at 614-252-9523.