Everything surround consists of metals; some have less in quantity, while others contain large quantity in them. The computers or mobile phones we are using right now are manufactured with several kinds of metals ranging from expensive ones to the cheapest ones. Picturing the world without metals is difficult. Some metals are considered far more attractive and valuable than others; gold and silver are the oldest examples of one. As they are very expansive, every individual can’t afford to buy them. Electroplating is used to put a thin layer of gold and silver on the cheaper metal, and the final product is available at an affordable cost.
Electroplating is a process in which a coating of metal is added to a conductor with the help of electric current. The process used in electroplating is electrodeposition.
Let’s see the daily life examples of electroplating
1. Used in Aesthetics
Though gold and silver are one of the most expensive metals and every middle-class man can’t afford to buy jewelry on every new occasion. So, electroplating is an alternative as well as a cost-effective method to purchase jewelry. Jewelry is often plated with a thin layer of precious metal to make it more lustrous and attractive to potential buyers.
2. Used as Protective Barriers
The long life of steel and iron is only due to electroplating. They are plated with other metals like nickel or chromium; those prevent them from corrosion. Hence, electroplating act as protective barriers on the metals. It covers the surface of the metal and prevents them from varying atmospheric conditions. Plated parts last longer and can hold extreme conditions.
3. Used to Prevent Friction
Nickle plating is done on a metal surface to reduce the friction in materials like electric conductors. It reduces the chances of early wear and tear of the metal.
4. Used in Conduction of Electricity
Gold and silver are the good conductors of electricity, but they are costly. So, metals are plated with silver and gold to increase their conductivity and decrease cost. Cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices all use electroplating techniques in their circuits. Interestingly, the medals to be awarded in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympic games, are to be manufactured from extracted metals from mobile phones and other recycled waste items.
5. Used to Prevent Tarnishing
Many household items including, silverware retain their attractiveness and hold their value for a period of time. Electroplating protects against premature tarnishing and also decrease the likelihood of scratching.
6. Used in Increasing Thickness
Electroplating is used to improves overall quality and longevity of the substrate. for instance, palladium plating is done over other metals, which increase the thickness as well as durability of the metal. It is also used to make the brittle metal hard and strong.
7. Used to Protect from Radiations
Electroplating helps the metal to prevent from radiations by plating the desired characteristics on the metal those lack that property. Gold’s reflective properties make it ideal for use in components such as semiconductor parts, including reflector rings and reflector arrays. Gold reflects higher amounts of UV radiation below 0.35 µm than other metals do. It also reflects infrared radiation with wavelengths above 0.7 µm, which helps to keep electronics cool. These reflective properties have made gold plating an integral part of spacecraft and satellite design.
8. Used in Commercial applications
Electroplating is used in various commercial appliances. Nickle is used in decorative plating items, in cars and machinery parts. Chromium is also used in rims of wheels and zinc is also plated on various machinery parts.
9. Provide Smoothness
Every metal item, for example, utensils, we purchase very smooth and lustrous in appearance. Copper plating is done to provide extra smoothness to the metal surface. It provides uniform surface finishing to the metal surface.
10. Used in Aerospace and Aviation
Have you ever wonder how astronauts travel to space where there is a high level of solar heat. Gold plating is done on astronaut’s helmet to protect it from dangerous effect from solar radiation. Also, many satellites carry gold coated mylar sheet to protect them from solar heat.