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Electroplating- Process Spotlight

Electroplating- Process Spotlight

Electroplating is a process in which metal ions in a solution are moved by an electric field to coat and electrode. Also called “electrodeposition” the process uses electrical current to reduce cations (an ion with fewer electrons than protons, giving it a positive charge) of a desire material from a solution and coat a conductive substrate (the material or substance that is being coated) with a thin layer of the material, such as a metal.

Electroplating changes the chemical, physical and mechanical properties of a metal part. An example of a chemical change is when nickel plating improves corrosion resistance. An example of a physical change is a change on the outward appearance, such as color or brightness. An example of a mechanical change is a change in tensile strength (the maximum stress that a material can withstand while being stretched or pulled) or to increase the hardness of the surface.

The ProcessElectroplating does all of this by depositing a layer of material to bestow the desired property to a surface that lacks the desired property.

Both the cathode (the part) and the anode (the material used for coating) are immersed in a solution called an electrolyte containing one or more dissolved metal salts as well as other ions that permit the flow of electricity. A power supply supplies a direct current to the anode, oxidizing the metal atoms that comprise it and allowing them to dissolve in the solution. At the cathode, the dissolved metal ions in the electrolyte solution are reduced at the interface between the solution and the cathode, such that they “plate out” onto the cathode. The rate at which the anode is dissolved is equal to the rate at which the cathode is plated, vis-à-vis the current flowing through the circuit. In this manner, the ions in the electrolyte bath are continuously replenished by the anode.

History

Modern electrochemistry was invented by Italian chemist Luigi V. Brugnatelli in 1805. Commercial electroplating of nickel, brass, tin and zinc were developed by the 1850s. Electroplating baths and equipment were scaled up to accommodate the plating of numerous large scale objects and for specific manufacturing and engineering applications. Hohman Plating has been matching the right coating to the evolving demands of a multitude of industries since 1918.

Benefits of Electroplating:

  • Abrasion and wear resistance
  • Corrosion protectionMetal buildup
  • LubricityAesthetics of the part
  • Strength
  • Preserve longevity

 




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