What is Electroplating?
Electroplating is basically the process of plating a metal onto the other by hydrolysis mostly to prevent corrosion of metal or for decorative purposes. The process uses an electric current to reduce dissolved metal cations to develop a lean coherent metal coating on the electrode. Electroplating is often applied in the electrical oxidation of anions on a solid substrate like the formation of silver chloride on 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 the process can also be used to build thickness or make objects by electro forming.
The Anode and Cathode
In electroplating practice, the current is usually introduced from an external source and the anode is the positive electrode and cathode is a negative electrode. The cathode is the electrode where the electrochemical reduction reaction occurs. The anode is that where the electrochemical oxidation reaction occurs.
The electroplating process uses an anode and a cathode. In electroplating, the metal dissolved from the anode can be plated onto the cathode. The anode is provided with direct current, oxidizing and dissolving its metal atoms in the electrolyte solution. At the cathode, the dissolved metal ions are decreased and the metal is placed on the product.
How does Electroplating Work?
To understand the concept further, let’s take an example of a gold coating. In this instance, a layer of gold is to be electrodeposited on metallic jewellery to enhance its appearance.
Usually, 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 are kept 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.
However, there are major factors that influence the last plating. These 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
Talking about the uses of electroplating, apart from enhancing the appearance of the substrate it is used in various other purposes as well. The major application is to optimize a material’s resistance towards corrosion. The plated layer often serves as a sacrificial coating which reveals that it dissolves before the base substance. Some of the other common applications of electroplating involve:
- Improving wear resistance.
- Improving the thickness of the metal surface.
- Enhancing the electrical conductivity like plating a copper layer on an electrical component.
- Minimizing Friction.
- Improving surface uniformity.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
What is electroplating?
Electroplating is the process of aligning another metal onto a metal. This is accomplished using an electroplating apparatus that includes a brine solution, a battery, wires, and alligator clips that hold carbon rods attached to the metal to be electroplated and the metal to be layered.
What factors affect electroplating?
This process is influenced by a variety of factors. Some of these factors include the electrodes’ surface area, temperature, the type of metal and electrolyte used, and the magnitude of the applied current. The factors that influence the electroplating process will be investigated in this essay.
Where is electroplating used?
Electroplating is widely used in industry and the decorative arts to improve object surface qualities such as abrasion and corrosion resistance, lubricity, reflectivity, electrical conductivity, and appearance.
What is the main principle of electroplating?
Electroplating is the method of depositing one metal over another in the presence of a metal salt (in aqueous solution). The water molecule is released as the final product in this process. As a consequence, electroplating is based on the theory of hydrolysis.
What acid is used for electroplating?
In the electroplating and metal finishing industries, methanesulphonic acid is used. Methanesulphonic acid has increasingly replaced fluoroboric acid as the chosen electrolyte for the electrodeposition of tin and tin-lead solder on electronic devices over the last ten years.
To know more about operations involved in electroplating process along with its applications in different fields, you can download BYJU’S – The Learning App.