What is Electroplating?
The process of plating a metal onto the other by hydrolysis mostly to prevent corrosion of metal or for decorative purposes is known as the Electroplating process. The process uses a current to reduce dissolved metal cations to develop a lean coherent metal coating on the electrode. Electroplating is also applied in the electrical oxidation of anions on a solid substrate like the formation of silver chloride on a silver wire to form silver chloride electrodes.
Electroplating is majorly applied to modify the surface features of an object (e.g corrosion protection, lubricity, abrasion), but can also be used to build thickness or make objects by electroforming.
Suppose a layer of gold needs to be electrodeposited on a metallic jewellery to enhance its appearance.
The gold plating is connected to the anode (+ve charged electrode) of the circuit and the jewellery is kept at the cathode (-ve charged electrode), Both being immersed in a highly developed electrolytic bat (solution).
At this stage, a DC current is supplied to the anode that oxidizes the gold atoms and dissolves them into the solution.
The dissolved ions of gold are reduced at the cathode and plated on the jewellery.
The major factors that influence the last plating include:
- The voltage level of current.
- The temperature and chemical composition of the bath.
- The current length of time.
- The distance between the cathode and the anode.
Uses of Electroplating
Electroplating is used in various purposes apart from enhancing the appearance of the substrate. The major application is to optimize the piece’s resistance towards corrosion. The plated layer often serves as a sacrificial coating which reveals that it dissolves before the base substance. The other common applications of electroplating involve:
- Improving wear resistance.
- Improving the thickness of metal surface.
- Enhancing the electrical conductivity like plating a copper layer on an electrical component.
- Minimizing Friction.
- Improving surface uniformity.
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