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Electroplating is the process of depositing a metallic coating upon a negatively charged electrode by the passage of an electric current. The purpose of electroplating is to obtain a metallic coating having different properties or dimensions than those of the basis metal. For example, a harder, brighter or more corrosion resistant metallic coating may be deposited over the basis metal.

The requirements are: A source of direct current, a container holding a plating solution in which is dissolved a salt of the metal to be plated, a positive electrode, (anode) and a suitably prepared object to be plated as the negative electrode (cathode).

The Plating Metals

Most electroplating coatings fall into one of the following three categories:

Sacrificial coatings - used primarily for protection of the basis metal, usually iron and steel (sometimes call anodic coatings, meaning that electrochemically they are anodic to the substrate). Sacrificial denotes that the coatings "sacrifice" themselves in the act of protecting the basis metal.

Zinc is primarily used for this purpose. Cadmium to a limited extent.

Decorative protective coatings - used primarily for adding attractive appearance to some protective qualities.

Gold, silver, copper, nickel and chromium are commonly used

Engineering coatings - a rather miscellaneous group whose members are used for specific properties imparted to the surface, such as solderability, wear resistance, reflectivity, conductivity, and many others. They are sometimes called functional coatings, though it would seem that protection is also a "function".

‘Hard chrome’ (a thick deposit of chrome), tin (solderability), gold and silver (conductivity) and nickel.

It is common to use copper and or nickel as base deposits for other plated metals to improve adhesion and other properties. The plated article is often further protected against wear or corrosion by being chemically treated (passivated) or lacquered.

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