warehouse prepared for electroplating

A Brief Guide to Understanding the Electroplating Process

Electroplating refers to a process used to bind a layer of one metal over the surface of another one. Electroplating changes the properties of an item’s surface, providing protection, improving its appearance, or very often, both. Besides creating a protective coating for a metal item, manufacturers also might use electroplating to increase its thickness or bulk.

Take a few moments to learn more about the electroplating process, several useful electroplating applications, and where to buy competitively priced and high-quality electroplating materials.

Overview of a Common Electroplating Process

Whether for a decorative or protective purpose, a common electroplating process starts by connecting both the plating metal and the item to a power source and submerging them both in an electrolyte solution. The power source, like a battery, will provide both the positive and negative charge needed for the electroplating process.

This describes how the power source connects to the plating metal and the item that the process will plate:

  • Anode: The anode connects to the plating material to supply a positive charge.
  • Cathode: The cathode connects to the plateable item to supply a negative charge.

With the power source on, the direct current oxidizes the metal atoms, so they dissolve in the solution. In turn, these atoms move towards the negatively charged item to bind to it. Sometimes the process only involves moving the plating metal to the object; however, other times the material also incorporates elements from the electrolyte solution.

Benefits of Electroplating

Manufacturers commonly use electroplating to improve appearance, durability, or both. Just a few common examples include:

  • Commonly found in bolts, nuts, and automotive parts, zinc plating protects iron against corrosion.
  • Gold or silver plating over base metals can provide a budget-friendly way to mimic the appearance of fine jewelry.
  • Chromium often plates plumbing fixtures and car parts to improve both wear and appearance.
  • Used in electrical connectors, nickel plating reduces friction.
  • Palladium plating helps improve the performance of catalytic converters.
  • For electronic components, silver plating improves conductivity.
  • Nickel-copper plating over aerospace parts can increase the thickness, strength, hardness, lubrication, and resistance to heat and chemicals.

Where to Buy High-Quality Electroplating Metals

Here at Belmont Metals in Brooklyn, NY, we have served as a reliable source of electroplating metals for decades. The dozens of industries we serve range from art to aerospace. Varieties of metal forms we offer include powder, ingots, wire, shot, and bar. Our electroplating metals include zinc, tin, cadmium, zinc, copper, and various alloys.

If you know what you need, you’re welcome to visit the Belmont Metals storefront to shop online. For your convenience, you can go directly to our selection of electroplating anodes, including nickel, cadmium, copper, and zinc. You’re also welcome to contact us with your questions or requests for the best solutions to your electroplating application.