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Electroplating is a method of coating the surface of a metal or nonmetal object with a layer of another metal using electrochemical means to exploit distinct parameters and properties of the material. Electroplating can unite suitable properties of specific metals with different substrates.
The process of electroplating helps in the improvement of properties, appearance, and parts of the electroplated object. Before now, the electroplating method involved using metals on another metal. But, the world is advancing, and the new technology involves improving nonmetals with the same process.
Electroplating combines properties, including abrasion, electrical conductivity, strength, appearance, resistance, and corrosion. Also, the purpose of electroplating is to enhance the property of an electroplated material, whether plastic, wooden, or metal. Read further to explore current electroplating improvement.
What Are the Components of an Electroplate?
Electroplates have different components that support the process of electroplating. They include the following:
- Cathode: They are negatively-charged electrodes of electrochemical cells. Since reduction occurs here, the cathode holds the substrate material for the plating process.
- Anode: They are positively-charged electrodes of an electrochemical circuit. The anode holds the metal for the plating process.
- Plating Solutions: They are metal-finishing products that function as a catalyst to increase current flow into the device or circuit. A plating solution contains sulfates of copper and a few more sulfuric metals.
- Power Source: They add the flow of electricity to a cell. They are also responsible for introducing current into a device when they connect to an anode.
What Are the Types of Electroplating Processes?
There are various types of electroplating methods that you can use when coating a metal or nonmetal material. These include:
Rack Plating Process
The rack plating process involves the substrate remaining in a specific area. This process might not permit freedom or movement like the barrel plating process, as it depends on utilizing metal racks.
Engineers attach metal racks to the substrates using wires, spring fingers, or screws. The outcome of rack plating is that the electroplated material remains unmovable when immersed in the molten substance or electrolyte.
Barrel Plating Process
Barrel plating is a method that involves the rotation of the property inside the barrel. The substrates tumble and facilitate an equivalent layering of the electroplated material. Engineers utilize this electroplating method to achieve more advanced corrosion resistance and enhance the appearance of a metallic property.
Reel to Reel Plating
Reel to reel plating process is both practical and less expensive. It is a specialized method of plating that permits the removal of metals on underlying layers. Engineers use reel-to-reel plating methods for plaiting manufactured materials or designed products.
What Substrates Are Appropriate for Electroplating?
Engineers do not use just any metals they come in contact with. The electroplating process uses one metal or a combination of a few metals. The following are common materials that are suitable for electroplating:
- Zinc: They have high wear and tear resistance; therefore, engineers can combine nickel and zinc alloyed during electroplating to improve mental resistance to corrosive elements in the atmosphere.
- Palladium: They are corrosion resistant; engineers use them to improve metal hardness.
- Copper: Copper enhances the adhesion of substrate layers. Engineers achieve this by increasing copper substrate, resistance to conductivity, and heat.
- Tin: They are affordable and environmentally friendly substrates resist contact wear and tear. Tin plating is also the most malleable when in use.
- Silver: Silver plating is a finishing product with high malleability and ductility. It appears pleasant and resists corrosion. You can use silver to improve thermal and electrical conductivity.
- Gold: Gold plating has to be the most precious metal with an excellent aesthetic appeal. It permeates substrates with tarnishes, high conductivity, wear, and corrosion resistance when in use.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Electroplating?
Advantages of Electroplating
1. Electroplating Offers Protection to Substrate Material
Electroplating helps in protecting a material or an object from tarnishing, wearing away, or corroding. It also improves the conductivity of an object, thereby presenting itself as heat and shock resistance.
2. Electroplating Minimizes Friction
Electroplated materials have reduced friction on other metals when they come in contact. Therefore, electroplating minimizes heat generation and scraping. What’s more? Reduced friction translates to reduced wear and tear.
3. Electroplating Maximizes Adhesion
Some object surfaces have electroplated surfaces that play the role of adhesives or glue to hold the object firmly at its base. This might be an intermediate coating, but it helps improve the material’s hardness.
Disadvantages of Electroplating
1. Electroplating Can Cause Atmospheric Pollution
If you carry out the electroplating process inaccurately, you might disturb the environment, as some substrates can produce damaging waste into the air. However, you can apply appropriate waste management techniques to avoid pollution.
2. Electroplating Is Expensive to Set Up
Setting up the electroplating process demands high costs as you must purchase expensive materials, including chemicals, metals, and other equipment required to complete the tasks.
3. Electroplating Is Time-Consuming
When electroplating, metal sublimation can take much time to complete as it occurs naturally and slowly. If the object you are electroplating has multiple layers, it takes more time.
Which Areas Can You Apply Electroplating?
Application of electroplating cuts across several industries as follows:
1. Aerospace Industry
Components of aircraft are usually subject to quantitative variation in temporal measures. Therefore, electroplating helps in maximizing the longevity of an aerospace craft. It also improves the metal at its base from contact wear and tear and corrosion resistance.
2. Dental and Medical Industry
Dental and medical apparatus, such as implants, forceps, screws, plates, and replacement joints, are all electroplated objects. Their surfaces also resist corrosion.
3. Automotive Industry
Electroplating goes well in accomplishing aesthetic finish in the automotive industries. Engineers use electroplating metals like nickel and chrome to improve the appearance of motorcycle and car components.
4. Jewelry Industry
The jewelry industry has the most electroplating application as producers use electroplating methods to enhance the durability and appearance of jewelry, such as pendants, rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
If you want your products to have more enhancement features, the electroplating process can be the answer. A trustworthy Metal company can help you apply premium finishes to your material, just the way you want it, using high-texture standards.