Plating describes surface-covering where a
metalis deposited on a conductive surface. Plating has been done for hundreds of years, but it is also critical for modern technology. Plating is used to decorate objects, for corrosion inhibition, to improve solderability, to harden, to improve wearability, to reduce friction, to improve paint adhesion, to alter conductivity, for radiation shielding, and for other purposes. Jewelrytypically uses plating to give a silveror goldfinish. Thin-film depositionhas plated objects as small as an atom, therefore some plating is nanotechnology.
There are several plating methods, and many variations. In one method, a solid surface is covered with a metal sheet, and then heat and pressure are applied to fuse them (a version of this is
Sheffield plate). Other plating techniques include vapor depositionunder vacuumand sputter deposition. Recently, plating often refers to using liquids. Metallizingrefers to coating metal on non-metallic objects.
In electroplating, an ionic metal is supplied with
electronsto form a non-ionic coating on a . A common system involves a chemical solution with the ionic form of the metal, an anode(positively charged) which may consist of the metal being plated (a solubleanode) or an insolubleanode (usually carbon, platinum, titanium, lead, or steel), and finally, a cathode(negatively charged) where electrons are supplied to produce a film of non-ionic metal.
Electroless plating, also known as chemical or auto-
catalyticplating, is a non- galvanictype of plating method that involves several simultaneous reactions in an aqueous solution, which occur without the use of external electrical power. The reaction is accomplished when hydrogenis released by a reducing agent, normally sodiumhypophosphite, and oxidized thus producing a negative charge on the surface of the part. The most common electroless plating method is electroless nickel plating.
Gold platingis a method of depositing a thin layer of goldon the surface of other metal, most often copperor silver.
Gold plating is often used in electronics, to provide a
corrosion-resistant electrically conductive layer on copper, typically in electrical connectors and printed circuit boards. With direct gold-on-copper plating, the copper atoms have the tendency to diffuse through the gold layer, causing tarnishing of its surface and formation of an oxide/sulfide layer. A layer of a suitable barrier metal, usually nickel, has therefore to be deposited on the copper substrate, forming a copper-nickel-gold sandwich.
Metals may also be coated with gold for ornamental purposes, using a number of different processes usually referred to as
For less demanding applications in electronics,
silveris often used as a cheaper replacement for gold. Care should be used for parts exposed to high humidityenvironments. When the silver layer is porous or contains cracks, the underlying copper undergoes rapid galvanic corrosion, flaking off the bell end crust the plating and exposing the copper itself; a process known as red plague.
Historically, silver plate was used to provide a cheaper version of items that might otherwise be made of silver, including
cutleryand candlesticks. The earliest kind was Old Sheffield Plate, but in the 19th century new methods of production (including electroplating) were introduced: see Sheffield Plate.
Another method that can be used to apply a thin layer of silver to several objects, such as glass, is the
Tollen's Testmethod, which usually is prepared as follows. Using this method the final reaction can occur by placing Tollen's Reagentin a glass and then adding Glucose/Dextrose and shaking the bottle to perform the reaction.
AgNO3 + KOH -> AgOH + KNO3
AgOH + 2NH3 -> [Ag(NH3)2] 1+ + [OH] 1- (Note: See
[Ag(NH3)2] 1+ + [OH] 1- +
Aldehyde(Usually Glucose/Dextrose) -> Ag + 2NH3 + H2O
Rhodium plating is occasionally used on white gold, silver or copper and its alloys. A barrier layer of nickel is usually deposited on silver first, though in this case it is not to prevent migration of silver through rhodium, but to prevent contamination of the rhodium bath with silver and copper, which slightly dissolve in the
sulfuric acid, usually present in the bath composition.
Chrome plating is a finishing treatment utilizing the electrolytic deposition of
chromium. The most common form of chrome plating is the thin, decorative "bright chrome", which is typically a 10- mlayer over an underlying nickelplate. When plating on iron or steel, an underlying plating of copper allows the nickel to adhere. The pores (tiny holes) in the nickel and chromium layers also promote corrosion resistance. Bright chrome imparts a mirror-like finish to items such as metal furniture frames and automotive trim. Thicker deposits, up to 1000µm, are called "hard chrome" and are used in industrial equipment to reduce frictionand wear.
The traditional solution used for industrial hard chrome plating is made up of about 250 g/l of Cr03 and about 2.5 g/l of S04-. In solution, the chrome exists as chromic acid, known as hexavalent chromium. A high current is used, in part to stabilize a thin layer of chromium(+2) at the surface of the plated work. Acid chrome has poor throwing power, fine details or holes are further away and receive less current resulting in poor plating.
Zinccoatings prevent oxidationof the protected metal by forming a barrier and by acting as a sacrificial anodeif this barrier is damaged. Zinc oxideis a fine white dust that (in contrast to iron oxide) does not cause a breakdown of the substrate's surface integrity as it is formed. Indeed the zinc oxide, if undisturbed, can act as a barrier to further oxidation, in a way similar to the protection afforded to aluminumand stainless steels by their oxidelayers.
tin-plating process is used extensively to protect both ferrousand nonferroussurfaces. Tin is a useful metal for the food processingindustry since it is non-toxic, ductile and corrosion resistant. The excellent ductilityof tin allows a tin coated base metal sheet to be formed into a variety of shapes without damage to the surface tin layer. It provides sacrificial protection for copper, nickeland other non-ferrous metals, but not for steel.
Tin is also widely used in the
electronicsindustry because of its ability to protect the base metal from oxidation thus preserving its solderability. In electronic applications, leadmay be added to prevent the growth of metallic "whiskers" in compression stressed deposits, which would otherwise cause electrical shorting
In some cases, it is desirable to co-deposit two or more metals resulting in an electroplated alloy deposit. Depending on the alloy system, an electroplated alloy may be solid solution strengthened or precipitation hardened by
heat treatmentto improve the plating's physical and chemical properties. Nickel-Cobalt is a common electroplated alloy.
Metal matrix compositeplating can be manufactured when a substrate is plated in a bath containing a suspension of ceramic particles. Careful selection of the size and composition of the particles can fine-tune the deposit for wear resistance, high temperature performance, or mechanical strength. Tungsten Carbide, Silicon carbide, Chromium carbide, and Aluminum Oxide (alumina) are commonly used in composite electroplating.
Cadmiumplating is under scrutiny because of the environmental toxicity of the cadmium metal. However, cadmium plating is still widely unreplaced in some applications such as aerospace fasteners and it remains in military and aviation specs. [Cad plating letters-to-the-editor from http://www.finishing.com/136/09.shtml] Cadmium plating (or "cad plating") has technical advantages such as excellent corrosion resistance even at relatively low thickness and in salt atmospheres, can be dyed to many colors and clear, has good lubricity and solderability, and works well either as a final finish or as a paint base. [Cadmium plating fact sheet from the Erie Plating Company, available http://erieplating.com/cadmium-plating (used with their permission).]
Organic Solderability Preservativeplating.
[http://electrochem.cwru.edu/ed/encycl/art-e01-electroplat.htm Electrochemistry Encyclopedia]
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