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Super-size Gold Nuggets

Pursuits of gold fill history books with tales of humanity going to great lengths to find the precious metal. Not only is gold beautiful, but it’s also heat and corrosion-resistant and malleable. As the electronics industry has taken off, gold has become essential for electronics plating. Gold is a highly efficient conductor of electricity and is frequently used to coat electrical contacts.

Super-size Gold Nuggets

(Pixabay / roemi62)

A gold nugget is defined as a naturally occurring piece of native gold. Nuggets can be concentrated by waterways and discovered through placer mining, which was the main technique used during the California Gold Rush. They can also be found in the leftover materials (sometimes called mine dumps or tailings) of previous mining operations.

Some nuggets are small, but others are huge, such as the Welcome Stranger and the Canaã Nugget. These nuggets are widely believed to be among the biggest ever discovered.

  • Welcome Stranger. Few strangers have been more welcome than this 2,520 troy ounce (156.6 pound) behemoth discovered in 1869 by John Deason and Richard Oates. They found the nugget in Moliagul, a small township in Victoria, Australia. Deason and Oates were paid for their discovery and the nugget was soon melted down. In today’s money, the Welcome Stranger would have been worth roughly $3.8 million.
  • Canaã Nugget. This nugget, also known as the Pepita Canaã, was found in 1983 by miners at the Serra Pelada Mine in the State of Para, Brazil. It weighed 1,955 troy ounces (134.1 pounds). Excavators suggested that this nugget was part of a larger nugget weighing 5,291 troy ounces that broke during excavation. The Canaã nugget can be viewed at the Banco Central Museum in Brazil.

Gold continues to be a great investment. Though it has its ups and downs, it has always held its value over time. It has served as a hedge against inflation and the devaluation of international currencies.

Gold Plating For Electronics

Gold is a mainstay in the electronics industry. It is used for electroplating relays, connectors, and contacts for switches. Gold is a popular choice for plating electronics components for several reasons.

Gold Plating For Electronics

(Pixabay / Gellinger)

  • Gold is ductile. This means that it can be drawn out into the thinnest wires.
  • Gold conducts electricity well. As metals go, gold is one of the most efficient conductors of electrical current.
  • Gold is corrosion-resistant. Gold will not rust due to elements like moisture, chlorine, or sulfur gases.
  • Gold is heat-resistant. The friction of electronic components produces heat, but gold will not become compromised at these elevated temperatures.

But even though gold boasts a number of properties that make it ideal for electronics components, in order for it to be effective, it must be applied according to some basic guidelines. Here’s a look at some of those guidelines, as developed by AMP Incorporated, the world leader in electrical and electronic connection devices and interconnection systems.

  • Maintain appropriate plating thickness. To keep costs low, companies want to add as little gold plating as possible, but they shouldn’t skimp so much that they compromise quality. As a general rule for connectors, a coating of .80 microns of hard gold is appropriate to coat a minimum of 1.3 microns of nickel. You can reduce that to a .03-.1 micron coating but only in cases where the risk of fretting is minimal. Gold can withstand heavy heat and corrosion but only when it is plated with sufficient thickness.
  • Ensure a quality under-layer. Gold is a workhorse, but you can’t expect it to function at full capacity if it is applied over a low-quality metal. Nickel is an excellent choice for a metal under-layer that pairs well with gold. Nickel prevents poor corrosion in areas where the gold coating is thin and helps increase gold’s durability.
  • Shield separable connectors. For connector applications that need added reliability, gold plating is especially important. Make sure to coat these separable contact interfaces with gold to protect them from destructive influences in the environment. Gold-plated components keep the electronics industry running. When applied according to industry standards, gold is an invaluable metal that sustains the products that make our lives better and easier on a daily basis.

For more information about gold plating kits and electroplating supplies, contact Gold Plating Services.

Why Gold Plate Medical Instruments?

If you are familiar with the medical device industry, you know that gold is the plating material of choice. Silver, rhodium, and palladium all provide high-quality finishes and are cheaper than gold, but none of these materials offers the “total package” that gold does when it comes to the medical industry.

Gold Plate Medical Instruments

(Freeimages / Phil Beard)

So what makes gold so well-suited for medical devices? Here’s a closer look at its assets:

  • Conductive. Gold is an excellent conductor of electricity, and it maintains its conductivity over time. This makes gold perfect for medical instruments with connector pins and electrical contact switches.
  • Bio-compatible. Other metals can cause negative reactions when they come in contact with the human body, but not gold. It will not disturb skin or other tissues or internal organs.
  • Malleable. Because gold is softer than other metals that are commonly used for plating, it is perfect for shape-memory devices and high-precision medical tools.
  • Corrosion-resistant. Since some medical devices need to be implanted in the human body, they must be resistant to both moisture and acid. Gold is impervious to both and will not oxidize, even with prolonged exposure to liquids. Gold’s corrosion-resistance makes it ideal for the high degrees of sterility required for medical instruments.
  • Radiopacity. The high density of gold makes it opaque to x-rays.

Gold plating is commonly used for:

  • High tech lasers (for cauterizing wounds or imaging)
  • Batteries (for insulin pumps, etc.)
  • Stents
  • Pacemakers
  • Dental components (dental brackets, arch wires, etc.)

Many modern medical technologies are made possible through the virtues of gold and today’s advanced gold plating processes. For gold plating systems and plating supplies, contact Gold Plating Services.

Product Feature: Printed Circuit Board Repair Kit

Printed circuit boards are the lifeblood of the electronics industry. With so many parts on a printed circuit board assembly, though, much can go wrong. A poor soldering job, low quality components, or degraded metal plating can cause the entire assembly to malfunction. That’s where a good printed circuit board plating repair kit comes in.

Printed Circuit Board Repair Kit

At Gold Plating Services, we are proud to offer our turn-key PCB Plating Repair Kit. This affordable kit represents the newest innovation in bench-top brush plating and fine select pen plating.

The PCB Repair Kit includes:

  • AC wall voltage power converter (utilizes most common input currents)
  • Input clips (as needed) for international voltage conversions
  • Console/beaker tray with analog display control panel and resolution to 1/10 volt
  • Fine select brush plating handle and lead
  • Common lead with alligator clip and stainless steel contact probe (type 316)
  • Type 316 stainless steel brush plating bit with 4 solution application sleeves
  • (3) ultra-fine high-density plating tips
  • (3) medium high-density plating tips
  • ½ oz 24K high concentration pen plating gold solution containing .7 grams fine gold (covers 110 square inches to a thickness of 20 micro-inches - 0.5 microns)
  • 2 oz 24K brush plating gold solution gel containing 1 gram fine gold content (covers 300 square inches to a thickness of 20 micro-inches - 0.25 microns)

The PCB Plating Repair Kit and pen plating supplies come with a user-friendly instruction manual. The manual contains full-color photos that will guide you quickly through the setup process. It also contains relevant material safety data sheets. We offer toll-free technical support for any questions you may have with setup and use.

The kit offers rapid assembly and foolproof connections for application handles and work. It provides the perfect solution for plating 24K gold onto electronics and other small parts. Contact Gold Plating Services to order your PCB Repair Kit.

Understanding Brush Plating

Brush electroplating, also known as selective plating or spot plating, allows you to plate an entire item, or a specific part of that item, using a brush saturated with plating solution. It offers greater portability than tank plating, minimal masking requirements (and sometimes none at all), and often requires less plating solution. Brush plating is a good choice for items that can’t be bath plated, including oversized items or components that can’t be disconnected for plating. Brush electroplating can also be used for electro-polishing and to correct dimensional errors made in machining.

Understanding Brush Plating

(Pixabay / MemoryCatcher)

Brush Plating Steps

Brush plating involves three main steps.

  1. Preparing the surface. Start by polishing. Brush plating may not be able to fill in scratches, so make sure that you remove those by hand or machine polishing. After that, clean the surface to remove any debris or residue. Finally, you may need to activate your surface if it has developed an oxide layer. Oxidation most commonly accumulates on stainless steel or nickel-containing alloys.
  2. Plating. Estimate the surface area of your work and acquire the appropriate amount of plating solution. Then, use electricity from your rectifier to start plating. The rectifier’s two leads will be connected to the plating tool and the part to be plated respectively. When the tool touches the part, the circuit will be completed. The operator can control the voltage, polarity, and amperage. Brush plating requires constant motion. You can keep the tool steady and move the part or vice versa (or a combination of the two). Keep in mind that if you are plating onto chrome, you will need to strip the surface first; otherwise, the plating materials will not adhere.
  3. Finishing. Seal your project with a sealing solution.

Your plating solutions will depend on your project. For example, if you want a hard, durable finish, your solutions will differ from those that are needed for a pliable finish. Deposits can be applied faster through brush plating than tank plating. The quality of brush plating is often equal or superior to bath plating, as long as the operator is experienced. In addition, brush plating allows you to control thickness on specific areas.

Bath plating has its place, but for a fast, portable solution with a high degree of flexibility, consider brush plating. For more information about brush plating systems for selective plating, anodizing and electro-polishing, contact Gold Plating Services.

Why Choose Chrome Plating?

Chrome plating is the process of electroplating a layer of chrome onto a base metal.

Choose Chrome Plating

(Pixabay / code83)

Chrome plating is used for:

  • Adding a decorative finish
  • Providing corrosion-resistance
  • Making an object harder and more durable

The basic steps of chrome plating include the following:

  • Cleaning the substrate to remove all impurities
  • Pre-treating the substrate (treatment depends on the base material)
  • Placing the substrate in the chrome plating solution
  • Applying electrical current for a specified amount of time to attain a desired plating thickness

The most common types of chrome plating are:

  • Decorative. This type of plating adds durability as well as a smooth, bright finish to components. It is easy to clean and is often used on car parts and kitchen utensils.
  • Hard chrome. Also known as industrial chrome, this type of plating is used to make a component more durable and resistant to friction. It is usually thicker than decorative chrome plating.

Hard chrome plating is in a class of its own when it comes to durability and corrosion-resistance. Chrome-plated elements can stand strong in spite of mechanical wear-and-tear and harsh environments. Hard chrome plating is a popular choice for industrial applications, including automotive and mechanical parts, hydraulic cylinders and pistons, press punches and tooling, mining and agricultural equipment, and shafts and rotors for pumps.

Chrome can be plated on a wide range of metals that other materials won’t adhere to (including stainless steel, copper, and brass). It can also be applied at low temperatures so that it won’t degrade the substrate. It can coat components with irregular shapes, including holes and bores.

Chrome plating chemicals can be highly toxic and must be disposed of according to regulations. For a strong, hard finish that will withstand friction and corrosion or add an attractive luster, however, chrome is hard to beat.

Contact Gold Plating Services for electroplating systems for your chrome plating needs.

Improving Electrical Conductivity

There are many reasons for electroplating. It can enhance a component’s strength, solderability, and corrosion-resistance. Electroplating can also improve the electrical conductivity of a base material.

Improve Electrical Conductivity

(Pixabay / PublicDomainPictures)

Electrical conductivity measures how well a material accommodates the movement of an electric charge. Conductivity values are generally conveyed as “percent IACS” (International Annealed Copper Standard). This standard was developed back in the early 1900s by the International Electrochemical Commission. Annealed copper, the most conductive of all metals, is defined as 100% IACS at 20ºC. All other metals are assigned an IACS percentage based on how they compare to annealed copper in conductivity.

The higher the percentage IACS, the better the base material is at facilitating the transfer of electrons from one atom to another. The lower the percentage, the better suited a metal will be to serve as an electrical insulator. (The best insulators have a 0% IACS.)

Here’s a look at IACS percentages for common base materials:

  • Copper 100%
  • Tellurium copper 50%
  • Beryllium copper 38%
  • Brass 28%
  • Nickel 24%
  • Nickel Silver 10%
  • Stainless steel 2.7%

These base materials can be finished with different metals to improve or impede their conductivity. Copper, with its 100% IACS rating, is often the surface finish of choice for increasing conductivity. Other finishes include:

  • Silver 85%
  • Gold 76%
  • Electrolytic nickel 24%
  • Electroless nickel 2.2%

Generally speaking, if a metal is highly conductive, it will also be very conducive to soldering. Conductivity will vary depending on the thickness of the metal.

The conductivity percentage shouldn’t be the only factor when choosing a suitable plating metal. Other properties should be considered as well. For example, gold plating is corrosion-resistant, heat-resistant, durable, and highly solderable. Silver offers many of the same benefits as gold, but it costs less, is highly ductile, and offers excellent thermal conductivity.

When choosing the best materials for plating, make sure to consider the intended use of a component. For example, gold plating guns will be very different than gold plating electronics components. Take into account the different stresses a component will be subjected to as well as your budget for the project.

Electrocleaning Methods

Before you can electroplate an item, you need to electroclean it. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Reverse-current electrocleaning (anodic)
  • Direct-current electrocleaning (cathodic)

Electrocleaning Methods

(Pixabay / Clker-Free-Vector-Images)

Here’s a closer look at both processes.

Reverse-current electrocleaning

With this process, you dissolve and clean the metal surface at the same time, allowing you to remove metallic residue and film. When your metal meets the cleaning solution, oxygen will be released.

Reverse-current electrocleaning is executed with an alkaline bath, but this won’t work on every type of metal. Don’t use it on aluminum, chromium, magnesium, or brass or you’ll end up with nickel-oxide residue that won’t adhere to chromium. Use direct-current electrocleaning for these metals instead.

Direct-current electrocleaning

With this method, the metal base you are electrocleaning acts as the cathode of your electrochemical process. Your base metal will be connected with metals that are more easily corroded, known as “sacrificial metals.” Whereas oxygen is liberated through reverse-current cleaning, hydrogen is liberated through direct-current cleaning. If you are working with components that have been compromised by heat treating or other sources of oxides, you may need to clean them twice and follow up with a mineral acid dip.

Combination electrocleaning (periodic-reverse)

Periodic-reverse cleaning combines both reverse and direct-current electrocleaning. You will use periodic-reverse cleaning in alkaline baths that contain chelating agents (chemical compounds that react with metal ions to form a stable, water-soluble complex). The direct-current cleaning component of this process can coax out acid that has been trapped in items with fine recesses (including hinges). Otherwise, this acid could leach out after reverse-current electrocleaning. Periodic reverse cleaning also allows oxides to be removed without the risk for etching or the accumulation of debris—problems that are common to direct-current cleaning alone.

Interrupted-current cleaning

One of the problems that you encounter with electrocleaning is the dilution of cleaner concentration. This occurs because the soil on the component and the cleaning solution react, and the reaction depletes the cleaning chemicals. If you can cut the power to the electrocleaning process intermittently, you can short-circuit the reaction and restore the cleaner to its full strength.

It’s no use sending a component for plating if you haven’t cleaned it properly. Take the time to electroclean with the method that is most appropriate for your base metal and the intended use of the component.

For questions about electrocleaning or electroplating supplies or solutions, contact Gold Plating Services.

To Re-plate or Replace?

Perhaps you have some shapely hardware on an old piece of furniture that is starting to tarnish. Should you throw it out and find a replacement? We say no. Why replace perfectly lovely metal components when you can simply re-plate them?

Re-plate or Replace

(Pixabay / MAKY_OREL)

Still on the fence? Here are a few reasons why we think re-plating wins every time.

Cheaper. If you’ve replaced hardware lately, you know how pricey it can be—especially if you need a lot of it. If you have six drawers in a dresser, each with its own handle, your replacement costs will add up. Re-plating usually saves you money in the long run.

Saves time. Hardware needs can be very specific. It must be the right size and line up with the holes of your furniture, unless you want the hassle of patching old holes and drilling new ones. And if you do find something with the right dimensions, you may not find the right style. You can traipse from store to store or spend hours surfing the Internet for the right piece with the right metal finish. Or you can simply re-plate it. The latter is usually a time-saver.

Preserves uniqueness. There is a lot of cookie-cutter hardware out there. If you have a piece that is truly distinct, you may have a hard time replacing it with something equally as special.

Keeps history alive. Old hardware can be a treasure. You can preserve a piece of the past if you keep it around. Re-plating can get rid of its “age spots” and give it a new luster. And if you continue to hang onto your hardware, it may appreciate in value. After all, scarcity drives up price, and your piece may not be available from manufacturers anymore.

Hardware isn’t the only thing you can re-plate. You can add new flourish to many tired-looking items. At Gold Plating Services, we can help you with jewelry plating systems, gold plating on guns, automotive gold plating, and more.

Navigating Copper Plating Challenges

Copper is the go-to metal for industrial plating. The manufacturing sector loves copper because it is corrosion-resistant, environmentally-friendly, and economical. You can find copper in industrial pipes, circuit boards and other electronic parts, aircraft bearings and gears, and more.

Copper Plating Challenges

(Pixabay / stux)

A faulty copper-plated component can snowball into a raft of problems, particularly where electronics and aerospace are concerned. The challenge is to get the electroplating process right for strong, long-lasting components.

As you prepare for copper electroplating, make sure you take the following steps.

  • Pick the right type of bath.
There are two main bath types:
    • Alkaline (non-acidic), cyanide or non-cyanide
    • Acidic
The type of bath you choose will depend on your desired finish. If you want a bright finish, opt for an acidic bath.
  • Distribute the current in acid baths. If you are using an acidic bath, you need to agitate it regularly to diffuse the current. Otherwise, you could end up with a dull finish. You can use air or mechanical agitation. Mechanical is best for electronic components, and air is best when aesthetics are a priority (decorative hardware, etc.)
    • Eliminate bath impurities. Copper plating baths, especially alkaline baths, are prone to contaminants from rack materials and cleaning solutions. Filter your electroplating solution regularly to keep it clean. If you are using an acid bath, you will have less trouble with contaminants, but you should still be vigilant. If your acid bath takes on a greenish color, you need to purify it. You can do this with a light carbon treatment. If that doesn’t work, follow up with a hydrogen peroxide treatment.
      • Watch your through-holes. Through-holes and blind vias on circuit boards are famous for escaping copper coating. If they do get coated, it is often uneven. You can decrease this maddening phenomenon by increasing the acid concentration in your plating bath.

      At Gold Plating Services, we can supply all of your copper plating needs. Whether you are dealing with jewelry or electronics plating, our copper plating kits can help you apply durable copper coatings to improve the functionality, strength, and appearance of components.

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