Electroplating - At a Glance

Electro plating is used on metal surfaces via two main routes. In this article, we will explore the main methods of application.

Brush Plating

iPhone being gold plated via a brush plating probe with swabbing wrapped around the tip

The brush plating method consists of effectively ‘painting’ your plating solution over an item using a plating probe that has been prepared with a swab, working on just one bit of the surface at a time.

Brush plating is the quickest method to set up, but plating can take longer, and care is needed to avoid imperfections in the plated surface. It is best to experiment with a few practice pieces before starting an important project.

Tank Plating

Gold plated iPhone in the process of electroplating via a plating tank

Tank plating is another popular method of electroplating. This method consists of  submerging the entire metal item to be plated in an appropriately sized tank that has been prepared with metal anodes (sheets) and your chosen plating solution. The entire item is plated simultaneously as you lower the item into the solution, usually on a copper wire. Since there is no handling of the item, items come out more evenly plated in thickness and a flawless finish is easier to achieve.

To achieve a good tank plate, you must begin by working out the item surface area of your item but there are many online plating calculators which can be employed to make this task easier.

Pen Plating

Two pence coin half copper, half gold plated via a pen plating probe with nib attached

You may have heard of pen plating- this is a form of brush plating, only it works on a smaller scale. With this method, a plating probe is primed with a plating nib and this is used to ‘paint’ over the item much the same as when brush plating. Pen plating is popularly used for intricate and finely detailed items as the plating nib offers more control than using a swab.

Our 10A SmartAmp Plating Machine can do all of these processes and features in many of our electroplating kits.

Further reading

Check out our article The Great Plate Debate for more details on brush plating and tank plating.

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