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The Electroplating Process and Applications

Crude metals are prone to experiencing different types of wear and tear if and when they are subjected to environmental exposure. To ensure metals’ safety and protection, manufacturers turn to the electroplating process.

The electroplating process is characterized as an endeavor wherein an electric current is used to affect the metal cations so that the metals get a unique thin protective coating that helps the metal to develop anti-corrosive properties.

Applications of Electroplating

Electroplating has a wide array of applications in real life. This is because so many objects have components or attachments that are electroplated. Right from an automotive vehicle that has many electroplated spare parts (bumpers, door handles, grilles, hubcaps, etc) to electroplated jewelry. Electroplating is part of the routine in many industries including electronics (computers, phones, etc) and aerospace engineering.

Other Uses Include:

Below we have listed out some of the main uses of the electroplating process:

  • Increase wear resistance: The main pivot of the popularity of the electroplating process is that it was invented to help metals inherit anti-corrosion properties. When metals get electroplated they become wear-resistant and their surfaces become hardened, as a result of which if and when metals get exposed to external and internal agents in different environments, the application of electroplating ensures that metals do not succumb to the ill-effects of grinding, friction, plating, etc.
  • Protect against surface abrasions: Abrasion, otherwise known as grinding or friction, is commonplace in industrial settings. The electroplating process is a mainstay method used by industries for its application allows ensuring that metallic surfaces remain abrasion-free. The thin protective coating on metals that get established because of electroplating is what helps the final metal product to become several times more corrosion-resistant than the original.
  • Reduce Friction: The electroplating process is the go-to method because of its ability to endow metals with friction-reduction traits. When a metal undergoes electroplating, it reemerges with altered chemistry and appearance. Electroplated metals have a hard finish and a uniform thickness (because of electroless nickel.) So whether it is stainless steel, steel, iron, copper, aluminum, brass, bronze, nickel, and their alloys, electroplating coatings are the responsible force that is at play for giving them protection against friction.
  • Improve Electrical Conductivity: The electroplating process can be counted on for providing metals will an enhanced ability in the matter of electrical conductivity. It refers to the metal’s tolerance level when it comes in contact with an electrically charged movement. The conductivity of metal can be assessed by its thickness. The thicker the metal, the more electrically friendly it is. As stated before, electroplating gives metals a thin protective layer, and it is the very feature that improves the electrical conductivity of metals.

Types of Electroplating

There are many different types of metals, and each of them has a distinct composition and chemistry. As a result, every electroplating process has a varied set of steps and processes. Under here, we provide brief descriptions of the different types of electroplating processes that are commonly used in different industries and applications.

  • Silver Electroplating: This type of plating is characterized by a procedure when silver is coated onto another metal (also known as a substrate.) The electricity that passes through the electrolyte causes the silver atoms to come apart, and get reformed as a thin layer onto the electrode that is to be plated.
  • Gold Electroplating: Similar to silver electroplating, the gold electroplating method features gold that gets coated onto another metal. Historically, the gold plating method was first used by the Ancient Greeks who would routinely latch gold to other metals by heating them in extreme temperatures, and then sculpting them to form artifacts. In the modern age though, this process got renamed as “gold electroplating.”
  • Copper Electroplating: Copper is at the center of this electroplating procedure. Copper metal (ions) is electrolytically plated onto the surface of another metal. The solution bath is made with Copper sulfate, Sulfuric acid, and Chloride ions.
  • Chromium electroplating: Also known as “chrome plating”, chromium plating is a method that sees a thin layer of chromium getting coated on another metallic object. The after-product produced is addressed as chrome. This type of electroplating is typically used for decorative purposes and is known to maximize corrosion resistance, improve surface hardiness, and assist in cleaning.
  • Zinc Plating: This technique is reserved for treating steel and iron metals in particular. Akin to other electroplating methods, the zinc plating method has zinc getting thinly coated on a metal object. Zinc plating is the preferred go-to solution that manufacturers use to equip iron and steel objects with anti-corrosive and friction-free properties.

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