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What You Should Know about Copper Plating

Archeological digs have revealed that copper was part of the earliest civilizations. It has been used for a variety of purposes throughout time, ranging from jewelry to sculptures to work tools to cutlery.

What to Know about Copper Plating

(Pixabay / sferrario1968)

Copper is believed to be among the first metals discovered and used by men, and it’s no wonder that humans took a shine to the element. Copper is malleable and soft and flexible yet durable. These qualities make copper an extremely accessible and useful material for many applications.

Copper for Electroplating

Today, copper is widely used in electroplating, which entails using electricity to apply a very thin layer of copper onto another metal or plastic surface. Copper electroplating is a method used widely in industries, mainly to protect other metals from corrosion. It is frequently used as an under-layer for further electroplating because of its smooth and uniform coverage. Copper electroplating is also used to prior to soldering, especially in the electronics and aerospace industries.

The discovery of copper in electroplating has helped industries advance in their day-to-day operations. It’s hard to imagine a world without copper-plated machines or objects.

Let’s take a look at some of the various applications of copper plating:

  • Because copper is such a great conductor, it works well in conjunction with Radio Frequency Interference and Electro-Magnetic Interference.
  • Copper is often used as an underlay for silver or nickel plating applications because it helps them bond better than they would otherwise.
  • Copper is used in the medical field because it is very resistant to bacteria.
  • Copper is used to smooth out surface imperfections and facilitate a desirable finish in aluminum wheels.
  • Copper electroplating can breathe new life into worn-out pots and pans.
  • Today, coins are made of steel with an added layer of copper because it is easier and cheaper to plate steel than to make solid copper coins.
  • Lastly, of course, copper can improve the appearance of metal and plastic items.

Copper Reacts to Other Minerals

Copper is a very appropriate element for electroplating in many applications, but there are also limitations on its use because of some specific properties of the metal. Copper, being an active metal, cannot be used for direct plating with iron without an initial application of a nickel base coat. When the base coat dries, the copper coating is added, which makes the metal stronger and prepares it for a variety of uses.

Additionally, the use of cyanide solution in conjunction with the copper solution may be necessary to ensure maximum adhesiveness. However, cyanide, being highly toxic, requires a significant amount of caution during the plating process. Copper is also naturally dull in color, which means that it requires additional steps to create that signature bright finish.

The Different Applications of Electroplating

Electroplating is the process of coating a surface with a thin layer of metal. The negatively charged object to be plated is submerged into a solution of positively charged metal ions. Plating results when the positively charged ions meet the negatively charged object, and they become neutral. Since the ions are no longer charged, they settle down in a very thin coat on the object being plated.

Different Applications of Electroplating

Electroplating is an extra step that helps extend the life of an object or accessory. It coats the object to protect it from dust or exposure to the elements, but there are so many more reasons to electroplate different items. Here are just a few of them:

  • Prevent corrosion - Electroplating is one way to ward off corrosion, especially when the metals being plated are naturally corrosive. Covering the corrosive metal with a thin layer of non-corrosive metal will prevent corrosion of the surface. One example of this is when cheaper metal jewelry is coated in 10k gold, keeping it from turning green after being worn for an extended period of time.
  • Improve the aesthetics - Electroplating is commonly used in jewelry where cheaper metals are coated with gold and other high-value metals to make them look pristine and expensive.
  • Increase electrical conductivity - Gold and silver are good conductors of electricity, but they are too pricey too fill electronics with. Integrated circuits in computers and other electronic devices are made of cheaper metals that do not conduct electricity effectively. To improve their conductivity, the parts are coated with a thin layer of gold or silver.
  • Commercial application - Various car parts are made of non-smooth metals. These parts are plated with a thin coat of chromium, or other shiny metal, in order to make them look smooth and polished. When buffed, this plating gives off a high shine that is appealing to car fans.
  • Protect against radiation - Many metals do not have inherent protection from radiation, abrasion, and other natural occurrences. To make up for this, these metals are coated with a thin layer of protected metal as additional defense against these natural phenomena. The extra coating protects the metals inside and prevents damage.
  • Reduce friction - Some metals are prone to too much friction when they come in contact with each other. To reduce the amount of resistance, a thin layer of a different metal is added to one or both of the parts. The coating acts as a buffer and prevents metals from rubbing against one another. This is essential in machine work or factories where metals are widely used in production.

Electroplating adds beauty, resistance, and durability to metals and is used in countless applications in today’s world.

DIY Guide for Gold Plating at Home

Gold plating is the process of adding a thin layer of gold onto the surface of another type of metal. Gold plating is done to make jewelry that is made of inferior metal look like gold.

DIY Guide for Gold Plating at Home

(Pixabay / firemystery)

Gold plating can be done at home because it is a simple technique if you have the proper tools and knowledge. The first step is to purchase a complete gold plating kit. It usually includes a liquid gold solution, a source of electricity, and a plating wand that links to the electricity source. This wand is essential for bonding the gold. You can choose the type of gold-plating solution to use: 14-karat, 18-karat, or 24-karat.

Prepare the Surface

First, you will need to clean the surface of the metal to be plated and remove all the dirt and oil particles. The surface to be plated can be stripped, polished, sandblasted, or tumbled in order to get rid of all of the dirt. This cleaning can be accomplished by using solvents, abrasive materials, or by acid etching. You must prepare the surface properly, or you could contaminate the tank or risk having an incomplete or poor adherence.

Clean Thoroughly

After preparing the surface to be plated, it must be cleaned, usually using electrocleaning, steaming, or ultrasonic cleaning. This is just a second round of deep cleaning that makes sure no oil or dirt remains. Steam cleaning is a good way of cleaning jewelry pieces with intricate crannies.

Rinse to Remove Cleaners

The piece of jewelry to be gold plated must be rinsed with water to remove any residue of the cleaning agents that were used.

Adhere the Strike Layer

A strike layer (also known as a flash layer) is a very thin layer of nickel-plating that is adhered to the original metal piece. The nickel layer will improve the bond between the underlying surface and the gold. It also prevents contaminants from spoiling the gold plating tank, and it stops metals from mixing and possibly reacting negatively.

Second Rinse

The piece of jewelry needs to be thoroughly washed with water again to remove any residue of the cleaners.

Apply the Base Coat

This step adds layers of metals such as silver, nickel, and copper. In the final step, gold is deposited on top of the surface.

Final Coat

The piece of jewelry is submerged into the plating solution to attract the gold ions or any final metal that will show on the surface of the jewelry. Different metals require different temperatures and voltages.

The jewelry pieces to be plated are hung from a cathode bar. This is a fancy name for a rod with a negative electric charge running through it. Next, they are submerged in the tank of gold-plating solution. which is positively charged. The negatively charged pieces of jewelry will attract the gold ions that are positively charged, getting plated in the process.

Final Rinse

Finally, the plated jewelry is rinsed in water and hung to dry, making sure that the different pieces do not touch each other.

Gold plating is an exciting pursuit that combines both science and art. Once people start, they often find that they become addicted to this rewarding habit.

Tips to Keep Gold Plated Jewelry from Tarnishing

Solid gold jewelry is a luxury available to few due to its high cost. Luckily, if you love the look of gold, but your budget prevents you from splurging, there is a good alternative: gold plating. It is relatively inexpensive, and it is difficult to tell the difference between the two when the gold plating is properly cared for.

Keep Gold Plated Jewelry from Tarnishing

(Pixabay / MAKY_OREL)

If you are using gold plated jewelry, you need to give it a little bit of extra care to keep the luster and brightness. Those few extra minutes will make sure that your gold plated jewelry looks real all the time.

You can take care of your gold plated jewelry by doing the following:

  • Remove gold plated jewelry before swimming or exercising – Your sweat creates a chemical reaction to gold plated jewelry just like perfume, chlorine, and nail polish. Make sure to remove your jewelry before swimming or exercising so your jewelry will not become tarnished or blemished.
  • Put on gold plated jewelry after cosmetics have been absorbed – Wait a minute or two to put on your jewelry so you can be sure that your cream or liquid makeup has dried completely. Personal care products such as lotion or cosmetics can blemish your jewelry if they come in contact with it while wet.
  • Do not spray perfume on gold plated jewelry – If you use perfume or cologne on a regular basis, spray it on your body before you put on your gold plated jewelry. Perfume and other sprays may contaminate the metal of the jewelry, making it looked blemished or stained.
  • Clean your gold plated jewelry To clean your gold plated jewelry, mix a few drops of mild dishwashing detergent with warm water. Rinse your gold plated jewelry in the solution and allow it to air dry.
  • Buff gold plated jewelry with a microfiber cloth After washing and drying your gold plated jewelry, buff it with a soft microfiber cloth. Over time, oil can make the gold flake off, but buffing can help minimize oils.
  • Keep gold plated jewelry in a plastic bag When not using your gold plated jewelry, put it in a plastic bag, remove the excess air by squeezing it, and seal it. The lack of oxygen in the bag will help keep the gold plated jewelry bright and shiny. Put only one piece of jewelry per plastic bag to avoid scratching.

Wearing high-quality gold plated jewelry is almost as good as wearing the real thing. Its luster and shine can dress up any ensemble, and its price tag is unbeatable. You can invest in several sets of gold plated jewelry for only a fraction of the price of one piece of solid gold jewelry. To keep your gold plated jewelry bright and unblemished, remember to follow the simple steps outlined above. Keep gold plated jewelry in a cool, dry place, away from humidity to maintain its brightness and shine. By doing this, you can have beautiful, vibrant jewelry for years to come.

 

Gold plated pieces of jewelry are a great alternative for real gold jewels. Aside from its affordability, it also comes in a variety of styles and designs. If you are worried that it may wear off. Follow these simple steps such as removing your gold plated jewel before swimming or exercising, put on after cosmetics are absorbed, do not spray while wearing it, clean it regularly, polish it with a microfiber cloth and keep them in a plastic bag.

6 Ways to Keep Gold Plated Jewelry from Tarnishing [infographic]

Why Electroplate Automobiles?

Metal plating can add a sleek appearance to automobiles, but the benefits extend beyond just aesthetics. Electroplating can also protect cars and trucks from deterioration at the hands of a number of factors. One of the most common forms of automobile corrosion is rust. Rust can nip away at a car’s paint job and even eat into the body of the car to create gaping holes. Automotive corrosion, including rust, can be caused by:

Why Electroplate Automobiles

(Pixabay / girlart39)

  • Sea salt (from coastal areas)
  • De-icing materials
  • Acid rain (rainfall mixed with atmospheric pollution)
  • Bird excrement
  • Dirt
  • Tree sap
  • Dead bugs

The effects of rust can go well beyond the surface level. It can eat away at a vehicle’s brakes, fuel systems, electronics and electrical systems, and more. When rust infiltrates the inner workings of your automobile, it could stop functioning and your safety could be jeopardized. And perhaps most concerning of all, you might not even know it’s happening until it’s too late.

The solution to automotive corrosion is electroplating, which deposits protective metal ions onto a substrate. Common types of automotive plating include:

  • Palladium. Palladium doesn’t react to oxygen, allowing it to stand up to corrosion. Palladium is resistant to heat and not very dense, but it is harder than gold. It is a particularly popular material for catalytic converters because palladium can absorb harmful gases so that they are not released into the environment.
  • Zinc-Nickel. This alloy is popular for its shiny appearance (looks like chrome) and is used for power steering and brake systems as well as under-the-hood parts. It creates a powerful barrier against rust.
  • Gold. Gold plating with automotive plating kits can add bling to hood ornaments, door handles, wheel rims, and more, but it also inhibits corrosion and wear. Gold is used to improve the electrical conductivity of cars’ electronic components. It costs more than other metal plating options but serves many valuable purposes in enhancing and protecting automobiles.

In short, electroplating helps cars wear better, last longer, and look nicer for the long term.

Bingham Canyon Copper Mine

Bingham Canyon copper mine, also known as Kennecott Copper Mine, is the largest man-made excavation in the world. What’s more, it has generated approximately 19 million tons of copper—more copper than any other mine in history.

Bingham Canyon Copper Mine

(Pixabay / JacquieS)

The mine is located in Salt Lake County in Northern Utah. Although it is a familiar fixture in the nearby communities, with throngs of people passing by the mine on a daily basis, its history and operations remain a mystery to many.

Here’s some background information on the sprawling, high-yield mine.

What’s in a name? The mine draws its name from two brothers, Sanford and Thomas Bingham. These Mormon pioneers grazed their cattle in Bingham Canyon and discovered copper ore there. They reported their findings to their spiritual leader, Brigham Young, who advised the brothers to focus on the most important task at hand—establishing settlements in the area. As a result, they did not pursue minerals in the canyon. It wasn’t until 15 years later that others began to extract ore from the area.

Just call it Kennecott. Most people refer to the Bingham Canyon mine as “Kennecott,” owing to its management company. While the mine is owned by a British-Australian multinational corporation, Rio Tinto Group, it is managed through Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation.

Over 100 years old. The Bingham Canyon Open-Pit Copper Mine has been in production since 1906. It has been named a National Historical Landmark.

Mighty big. The mine is .6 miles deep and 2.5 miles wide. It covers nearly 2,000 acres. The mine is so big that it can be seen by the naked eye from an orbiting space shuttle.

An army of workers. The mine employees around 2,000 workers.

Major copper producer. As of 2010, Kennecott copper was considered the second biggest producer of copper in the U.S., supplying the country with up to 18 percent of its copper. The value of the resources that have come out of the mine exceeds the Comstock Lode, California gold rush, and Klondike yield values combined.

Ups and downs. The mine has seen some rocky years. In 1985, Kennecott halted open-pit mining operations. The mine changed hands a couple of times over the next several years, ending up as an asset of the Rio Tinto Group. Rio Tinto helped revive the mine, adding a sophisticated network of conveyor belts and pipelines for moving ore and waste, and modernizing the mill and smelter. This increased efficiency and helped the mine become profitable once again.

The Magna smelter. Once the ore comes out of the mine, it has to be treated, and the magic happens in the nearby township of Magna, Utah. Mills grind the ore to powder. The particles are filtered through a process known as “froth flotation,” which yields copper along with lesser amounts of silver, gold, platinum, molybdenum, and a few other materials. The resulting slurry is then sent to the smelter for further filtering and purifying.

Other elements. Note that even though the mine is best known for its copper, other yields are sometimes more valuable. For example, the demand for molybdenum, which is commonly used in military armor, aircraft components, and electrical contacts, spiked in 2005 and became more valuable than the copper output for the year.

For all of your copper plating needs, check out our copper plating kits and solutions.

Gold and Its High-Value History

There are many precious metals out there, but few are more well-loved than gold. Gold has been valued above other metals throughout history. There’s no one reason, but rather a combination of factors. These include:

Gold and Its High-Value History

(Pixabay / skeeze)

  • Low supply. Gold is tough to find and extract. Only about 2,000 tons of gold are currently churned out each year. (Other metals such as steel are produced at a rate of over 10,000 tons per hour.)
  • Unique qualities. Gold is an outstanding conductor of electricity. It is also very malleable and ductile, meaning that it can be pounded into razor-thin sheets and stretched into long, thin wires.
  • Beauty. Plain and simple, gold looks good to the human eye.

In today’s global economy, gold has shown over and over that it can hold its value, but that isn’t unique to modern times. Gold rose to the top of the precious metal ladder in antiquity and has not yet lost its mojo.

Here’s a look at what we know about gold in ancient times:

Paleolithic times. Traces of gold have been found in Paleolithic-era caves dating back to roughly 40,000 B.C.

Ancient Egypt. The Paleolithic finding didn’t shed light on the interactions between man and the metal, but Egyptian artifacts do. We can see from these artifacts that pharaohs and temple priests had a high regard for gold, using it for everything from decorative household items to the capstones of the Pyramids of Giza. Egyptians also used gold as the basis for their currency exchange ratio, which defined the worth of one gold piece as being equal to 2.5 parts silver.

Ancient Turkey. The Kingdom of Lydia in Western Turkey was the first ancient civilization to use gold for currency.

Ancient Greece. Ancient Greeks also adopted gold as a form of currency. Immortal gods and demigods were often portrayed with vast stores of gold, cementing the precious metal as a status symbol in Greek society.

Bible civilizations. The people of the Bible clearly found gold, as shown in Genesis 2. Verses 10 to 12 mention a land called Havilah where people had discovered gold.

Today, gold serves as a safe investment, particularly in times of political crisis. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the price of gold shot up. As geopolitical skirmishes continued around the globe for the next five years, gold continued to increase in value. Gold has fallen in the past few years, but it’s a safe bet that if the political climate gets shaky again, gold will rebound.

Investments aside, gold continues to be very popular in various industries, including medical, aerospace, electronics, and, of course, jewelry.

At Gold Plating Services, we’re particularly fond of gold and its versatile properties. We can supply you with the supplies you need for 14k, 18K, and 24K gold plating and more. Our gold plating kits make the plating process fast, simple, and efficient.

Can You Eat Gold?

We wear good as fancy jewelry and a symbol of our matrimony. We adorn household décor with it, plate electronics components with it, and trade it on the stock market. And sometimes, we eat it.

Can You Eat Gold

(Pixabay / makamuki0)

Gold leaf-wrapped sushi is a real thing and so are doughnuts topped with 24K gold flakes. In recent history, people have used gold to treat arthritis and syphilis. People continue to ingest gold solutions as a homeopathic remedy to reduce inflammation, bolster the nervous system, purify the body, and balance the mind.

If you have not yet plied the metal for its consumable benefits (or even if you have) here are a few things you may be wondering.

Are all forms of gold edible?

No. Most wedding rings are made of 14K or 18K gold, which has been combined with metal alloys for added strength. Edible gold must be pure, ranging from 23-24K and free of other metals that could be toxic. Some edible metals may contain a small amount of another safe metal, such as silver, which is also acceptable to digest.

Has the FDA declared gold to be safe to eat?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been largely silent on the matter, but the Centers for Disease Control have declared that gold is not a poison. So there’s that. European authorities have had much more to say on the matter. The European Food Safety Administration (EFSA) has even created a designation known as E-175 to identify gold that is safe for human consumption.

Are there negative effects from using gold in dentistry?

Gold has been used for decades in dental fillings and traces of the metal have been found in the saliva of people with these fillings. The worst that seems to come of having gold in your mouth is that some people who are hypersensitive to the metal develop a rash. Swallowing the gold-containing saliva hasn’t caused people any documentable harm.

In summary, when the right kind of gold is ingested in modest amounts, there don’t seem to be any negative effects—and there may even be some benefits. However, if you do much poking around on the subject, you’ll soon see that there isn’t much research on ingestible gold to back up its pros and cons. Bottom line: If you get a chance to eat a piece of gold-leaf wrapped sushi, go for it.

Gold Plating Guns

Many of us have seen pictures of heads of state touting gold-covered guns as a show of power, wealth, and military might. But gold-plated guns aren’t just for the world’s elites. Gold plating firearms has become a popular trend, with people plating all or parts of their guns.

Gold Plating Guns

(Freeimages / Carlos Reyes)

The gold finish adds a regal look to firearms. It allows owners to imprint their guns with a signature style and set them apart from other firearms. But the benefits of gold plating extends well beyond aesthetics; the plating process can protect the surface of the gun and make it corrosion-resistant.

There are a couple of things to take into consideration if you want to gold plate a gun:

1) What is your firearm made of?

Your gun may be made of aluminum, steel, stainless steel, zinc alloys, plastic, or a combination of these materials. The gold plating will vary based on the surface material of your gun. For example, steel gun parts come coated with a dark finish often referred to as “bluing.” You will need to remove this finish and get down to the bare steel before you can gold plate your gun. Note that many people coat their steel guns in nickel before applying gold. That way, if the gold plating wears off, the steel will be protected by the nickel barrier.

If your gun is aluminum, you cannot plate directly onto the surface. You will need to take the gun to a professional who can perform specialized bath plating to give it a bright nickel finish. Once the nickel finish has been applied, you can add the gold plating.

Make sure to identify the surface material of your gun and do your research to make sure that it is ready for plating. Contact us if you need help identifying the proper process for preparing your gun for gold plating.

2) Which gold plating process is best?

The primary gold plating methods are bath and brush plating. Here’s a look at the advantages of each:

Brush Plating

Advantages:

  • Lower initial cost (about half the price of bath plating)
  • Works for guns of any size
  • Works for localized plating (if you don’t want to plate the whole gun)

Disadvantages:

  • Can’t control the thickness of the plating
  • More time-consuming
  • More difficult to apply evenly

For a brush gold plating kit, we highly recommend the Universal Plater Kit.

Bath Plating

Advantages:

  • Allows you to put an entire item (or multiple items) in a beaker for coating
  • Faster than brush plating
  • Easy to apply evenly
  • Plating can “throw” into nooks and crannies that can’t be accessed through brush plating

Disadvantages:

  • Doesn’t allow plating of specific gun parts (all or nothing)
  • Doesn’t allow for coating of items too large to fit into the beaker

For a fast, efficient, reliable bath plating kit, we recommend our JewelMaster Pro HD kit.

You can add some glitz to your gun and protect it from the elements for years to come with the addition of gold plating.

 

Are you planning to dress up your firearm? Want to add it to your unique collections? Well then, you are in the right place. Gun plating becomes widely known these days. There are lots of ordinary gun collectors and owners can afford it - not just for elites can afford it though. Keep reading the infographics and you will determine what type of gold plating is best for your firearm.

The Basics of Gold Plating Guns [infographic]

Choosing Between Barrel or Rack Plating

Electroplating can be used to make a base metal stronger, more aesthetically pleasing, more corrosion or heat-resistant or to improve its electrical conductivity. The process uses electrical current to bond one type of metal or compound alloy to a base metal.

Choosing Between Barrel or Rack Plating

(Pixabay / Capri23auto)

There are several methods of electroplating, but the most common are barrel and rack plating. Each presents its own set of advantages. The decision to use one or the other depends on the specific demands of your electroplating project.

Here’s a closer look at these two electroplating methods:

Barrel plating. This type of plating is executed in—you guessed it—a barrel. The barrel is filled with different plating solutions and systematically rotated so that all parts are coated evenly. Benefits include:

  • Costs less than rack plating
  • Accommodates parts of many different shapes and sizes
  • Particularly suitable for a hodgepodge of small pieces (including fasteners and small stampings)
  • Works for different metals and alloys
  • Highly efficient, allowing you to electroplate a large number of components rapidly
  • Great for zinc, nickel, tin, brass, and copper plating

Rack plating. With this type of plating, components are secured on a metal rack. The rack is then placed in plating solutions. Rack plating is often favored for automotive parts, medical instruments, and electronics components. Advantages of rack plating include:

  • Accommodates components that are easily broken, complex, or too large for barrel plating
  • Usually imparts a higher-quality coating than barrel plating
  • Allows for even coating of contoured components
  • Lends itself well to nickel and chrome finishes

If you need help deciding which method is best for your next project, contact Gold Plating Services. We specialize in gold and rhodium plating kits and more. We can furnish you with the supplies necessary for cost-effective, top quality electroplating.

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