Electroplating is a process used to coat a conductive part with a thin layer of metallic material (by passing an electric current through a chemical solution) in order to provide a different chemical, physical, and mechanical characteristics to the part which would otherwise be unable to exhibit the characteristic. An example of some properties that can be bestowed upon a part would be such things as abrasion and wear resistance, lubricity, corrosion protection, and esthetic qualities.
Types of materials that can be plated are aluminum, carbon steel, and stainless steel.
For the most part the chemical solutions contain sodium or potassium as the main ingredient. The three different types of solution used are:
The electric current that is used is high amperage, low voltage direct current. The parts to be plated are suspended in the solution on hooks or in plastic barrels and become the cathode in the electrolytic process. The metal that one wishes to apply is suspended along the sides of the plating tank and acts as the anode in the electrolytic process. The anode material dissolves in the solution and the electric current causes that material to be deposited on the cathode (the parts which are to be plated).
Electroplating has a great variety of uses. Some of the major ones are: