Electroplating Services

Electroplating Services | American Plating Company

About Electroplating

Whether you call it electroplating, plating, metal finishing, commercial coating or something else, all these terms are interchangeable and synonymous with the process of bonding one form of metal or compound alloy (brass) to another base metal.  That is exactly what we do here at American Plating Company, and here is how it works:

Electroplating works when submerging one or more pieces of metal into a solution that has ions of another metal-type dissolving in it. An electric current runs through both the plating project and the plating solution. The resulting electric charge causes ions of the plating solution to adhere to the open surface areas of the metal piece.  Depending on the desired plate thickness, a piece may stay in a bath of electrically charged solution for anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes.

Electroplating has two methods: barrel method or  rack method.  As a result, both methods utilize an electrical current to bond the metals, but they serve very different purposes.  Barrel plating primarily works best when working with small parts in high quantity.  As a result,  all of the parts are being put into a “barrel” for dipping the parts into the plating bath.  Rotating the barrel which causes its contents to churn, allowing the plating to gather at all open surface areas with metallic ions.

Rack plating is most useful when working with an individual or oddly shaped item.  This method involves fastening an individual object to a rack (or a hook), which is then dipped by hand into the plating bath.  Because of the fragile nature of most antiques and medical instruments, this is often the preferred method of plating.

Is There Any Alternative to Electroplating?

Yes, there is an alternative to electroplating.  In addition to electroplating we are proud to offer the option of electroless nickel plating (EN).  Unlike electroplating, EN does not require any electrical power or any complex filtration.  Some of the advantages that EN provides are: an even coating of nickel on both the convex and concave sides of an object, increased control over plating thickness, and a variety of different finishes (matte, semi-bright and bright).

Electroplating Benefits and the Services We Offer

Plating offers a wide variety of benefits.  One of the most obvious benefits to plating is the gift of new life.  At American Plating Company, we take antiques and plate them with gold, silver, copper, brass, or nickel and make them look as new as the day they were first made.  Plating also increases the longevity of tools and equipment.  For instance, plating steel helps to slow the oxidation process.  Oxidation and rust occurs naturally over time, but plating can add years to the lifespan of machinery, electrical equipment, and surgical tools. At American Plating Company we offer a variety of electroplating services including:

Gold

Gold is a noble metals, meaning it is resistant to corrosion and oxidation in most environments. It is the most non-reactive of all metals. Gold never reacts with oxygen, making this material resistant to rust or tarnishing. However, gold is expensive. If a thin gold coating is not perfectly applied, even the smallest holes will cause corrosion to occur. Gold is also an excellent conductor of electricity.

Silver

Silver is also very close to a noble metal, however, sulfur may cause pitting and deterioration on the metal’s surface. It is also the most electrically conductive of all metals and is often used to coat semiconductors and other electrical devices. Like gold, silver is costly, making the metal less economical for many projects.

Copper

Copper is a good electrical conductor. It therefore offers excellent electrical conductivity to electrical components. As a result the electrical and electronics industries love copper. In addition, because copper is a soft metal, it is an advantageous metal to use for metal objects that need some slight flexibility.

Tin & Nickel

Tin and nickel are not noble metals; however, they are still very resistant to corrosion. These metals are passive metals and obtain their resistance to corrosion from a thin oxide film on the surface of the metal. The film inhibits corrosion and protects from further deterioration. However, it is important to note that both tin and nickel may be vulnerable to open pores on the plating depending on the density of the layering.

Electroless Nickel

Electroless Nickel is another excellent way to protect metals from corrosion. As a result of no electric current, electroless nickel distributes evenly on the surface and lacks the pours. In addition, because electroless nickel contains phosphorus, the coating is even more resistant to corrosion.

Brass

Using brass on our residential plating services for decorative purposes adds a beautiful touch. However, it also serves a few industrial functions as well (see tab on brass plating for more information).

You can also find additional information on metal plating and finishing here.

If you are unsure of what method is best for your project, simply pick up the phone and call us at (314) 776-0542 or send us an email on our contact us page.