Plating, electroplating, surface coating, and metal finishing are all terms which are used to describe the process of depositing a layer of metal onto a metal object or component. Plating gold provides a number of improvements to the original component and is suitable for use in traditional manufacturing processes, as well as new technologies.
What is a plating gold service?
Companies involved in the surface coating and metal finishing industry carry out a variety of processes to coat metal (the substrate) with another metal to improve the substrate’s performance. Companies offering an industrial gold plating service will provide overall and selectively plated coatings on gold using a number of metals.
How is it achieved?
Plating gold is achieved through a process called electroplating. This process involves placing the substrate (electrode) into a chemical bath (an electrolytic solution containing atoms of the metal to be deposited on the substrate) along with another electrode. An electrical current is then passed between the two electrodes through the electrolytic solution. As a result, a chemical reaction takes place, freeing the atoms of the metal and they are deposited on the substrate in a thin layer. The longer the current is passed through the solution between the two electrodes, the thicker the layer deposited.
There are three different electroplated finishes, and which one is used depends on the properties of the product to be plated. They are:
- Continuous reel to reel strip plating. A cost-effective and efficient process, reel to reel strip plating can be used for selective plating of the substrate. It is suitable for plating strips of already engineered products as well a raw material before they are made into components.
- Barrel plating. A low-cost and efficient method of plating gold, producing a high quality finish, this process is mostly used to plate small and durable parts. The plating is carried out by placing the components inside a barrel. It is then submerged into an electrolyte solution with the electrical contact made through electrodes within the barrel. Once submerged, the barrel is slowly turned to achieve an even and overall deposit on the surface of the substrate. This process is not suitable for delicate components due to the tumbling action. Using this method means that a high volume of products can be plated at the same time.
- Rack plating. Although this process is not as low-cost as reel-to-reel strip plating or barrel plating, it is perfect for plating fragile or large products. For this process, the product is suspended on a rack using metal hooks or bands and then placed into the electrolyte solution. The hooks or bands provide the electrical contact for the plating to take place. Rack plating is suitable for selectively plating products and gives a high quality finish to the substrate.
Surface coating companies which offer plating gold services will consider the product’s size, shape, quantity, and finish required before they will advise customers on the most appropriate process for their needs.
Apart from gold, what other metals can be used?
Superior electrical conductivity, resistance to corrosion and durability are just some of the reasons why gold is used for plating. There are, however, many more metals that can be used in the process, all which have their own useful properties. Choices of metals for use in plating include silver, chrome, nickel, copper, and tin.
Frost Electroplating are the UK’s largest independent suppliers of high quality plating gold services and other surface coating processes. We work closely with customers from sectors such as aerospace, defence, electronics and automotive sectors and are committed to developing new processes and high performance coatings which helps meet a wide range of technical requirements.
To discover more about plating gold services, and other surface coating processes, please browse our website.