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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.

      Anodizing 101

      Anodizing is defined as an electrolytic process that coats a metal with a protective oxide layer. Here are a few questions and answers to help you better understand anodizing and its role in modern industries.

      Anodizing tips

      (Pixabay / Hans)

      Why anodize?

      Anodizing can enhance the surface of a metal component to make it more attractive and corrosion-resistant. It also makes it stronger so that it won’t chip or flake.

      What are specific applications of anodizing?

      Anodized aluminum is used to shield satellites from the harsh influences of space. It is also used to make computer hardware more durable and corrosion-resistant. It can improve the aesthetics of metal components (think anodized aluminum bathroom and kitchen hardware). It also makes building exteriors and roofs more durable. For example, anodized aluminum can be seen on the famously tall Sears Tower in Chicago.

      What metals can be anodized?

      Aluminum is the most commonly oxidized material, but other non-ferrous (non-iron) metals can also be anodized, including magnesium and titanium.

      What are the steps in the anodizing process?

      All metals oxidize. Anodizing hastens the oxidation process in a highly-controlled way. Here’s how the process works:

      • Submerge base metal in an acid electrolyte bath in an anodizing tank with a cathode mounted inside. (A cathode is a negatively charged electrode that acts as a conduit for electrons to enter a device.)
      • Pass an electric current through the medium.
      • The aluminum serves as an anode, which allows oxygen to be released from the electrolyte solution and join the atoms on the surface of the base metal.

      Though most people don’t know the ins and outs of anodizing, they reap its benefits on a daily basis. From scientific instruments to buildings, escalators, and home appliances, we depend on anodized products.

      For more information about anodizing services and metal plating kits, contact Gold Plating Services.

      Why Electroplated Coatings Flake Off

      In a perfect world, a metal coating will adhere to the substrate and stay there for the duration of a component’s life. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, and the result is flaking. With flaking, the metal covering lifts up from the substrate and begins to peel away.

      Why Electroplated Coatings Flake Off

      (Pixabay / dbreen)

      Why flaking occurs

      Here are several of the most common reasons that metal coatings flake off.

      • Overly thick coating. More metal coating equals more protection, right? Wrong. When it comes to electroplating, more is not better. If a metal layer is too thick, it could become brittle. When subjected to force, it could begin to flake away.
      • Oxides. Most metals carry a layer of oxides on their surfaces and can carry other contaminants, too, including soap, acid, salt, and more. This residue must be removed before electroplating; otherwise, metal will not stick to the substrate.
      • Bath impurities. Traces of iron or other elements or chemicals in the electroplating bath can compromise adhesion and lead to flaking.
      • Inconsistent bath heat. For metal to adhere properly, the temperature of the plating bath must remain steady. If it starts to dip, you could get unreliable results that lead to flaking.
      • Uneven current. Just as the bath temperature needs to remain steady, so, too, does the current. If an electrical contact breaks during the plating process, fix it and start the process over again.

      At Gold Plating Services, we specialize in helping you achieve high quality electroplating. Whether you’re using our copper, rhodium, silver, or gold plating kits, we can provide you with the supplies and instructions you need for durable plating jobs that won’t flake or peel over time.

      Product Feature: Universal Plater Kit

      If you have bench-top plating projects that require multiple steps, the Universal Plating Kit is the perfect choice. This kit can improve your efficiency and the quality of your work. It can be set up quickly and includes all of the supplies that you need to plate these multi-step projects without the fuss and mess of having to switch out tips, handles, or solution receptacles.

      Gold Plating Universal Plater Kit

      Whether you are plating with copper, nickel, or 24K gold, the Universal Plater Kit can help you get the job done with ease. The kit comes with a simple-to-follow, step-by-step tutorial. Full-color photos will guide you through the set up and use of the machine. You will also have unlimited free technical support, allowing you to get tips and guidance from our experts who have years of plating experience.

      Universal Plater Kit content:

      • Console / beaker tray (analog voltage display control panel enables specific voltage control and resolution to 1/10th volt)
      • Plating assembly with fast set-up and mistake free connections for application handles • AC wall voltage power converter (works with any input current, specify your needs when ordering)
      • (3) Combination fine select / brush plating application handles and leads
      • (1) Common lead (comes with alligator clip)
      • (3) Type-316 stainless steel brush plating bits
      • (12) Solution application sleeves
      • (1) each of working and fine-select solution beakers
      • (6) High-density fine select gold plating tips
      • Solutions include:
        • (1) 1-oz jar of 24K high concentration pen plating gold solution containing 1.4 grams fine gold (enough gold to cover 220 square inches to a thickness of 20 micro-inches - 0.5 microns) $165.00*
        • (1) 4-oz jar 24K brush plating gold solution gel with two grams fine gold content (enough to cover 300 square inches to a thickness of 20 micro-inches - 0.5 Microns) $165.00*
        • (1) 8-oz bottle each of bright nickel plating solution, electro-cleaner solution, and surface activator solution.

      The Universal Plater Kit is perfect for a variety of jobs, including gold plating on guns, knives, and more. Happy customers comment on the excellent return on investment with this kit. “You can flip your money back quick with this,” said one client. Other customers appreciate the longevity of the supplies, commenting on the large number of projects that the chemicals cover. Still other owners of the Universal Plater Kit laud the “great support” from Gold Plating Services.

      *Note that the Universal Plater Kit cannot strip chrome prior to plating, but we do have a Universal Plater-Chrome Edition for chrome projects. The Kit is available in a U.S./Canada version and an International version.

      Metal Plating On Satellites

      Metal plating is everywhere around us—in our cellphones, cameras, and computers. It coats our jewelry and helps our automobiles function. But Earth is not the only arena for metal plating. It’s also a mainstay in the space industry. Metal plating can be found in and on everything from satellites to spacecraft.

      Metal Plating On Satellites

      (Pixabay / SpaceX-Imagery)

      When something is sent into space, it becomes exposed to extremes. Metal plating can form a protective barrier to shield components from many of these extreme environmental factors.

      Here’s a look at how metal plating protects satellites, allowing them to perform their designated function while in space.

      • Heat distribution. Insulation helps to protect the inner workings of satellites, but insulation is not always a viable option for external components. Metal plating can help shield the satellite from the extreme heat that could otherwise compromise its function. The plating can do two main things: reflect heat from the outside while distributing heat from the inside of the satellite.
      • Light absorption and reflection. Gold plating is particularly good at reflecting light. It is also capable of absorbing light. Both of these properties minimize the blinding light that astronauts can be exposed to.
      • Radiation reflection. Without the buffering effect of the atmosphere, satellite’s inner electronics become vulnerable to radiation. Gold, silver, and copper plating help shield sensitive components from UV and infrared radiation.

      Gold plating for space equipment

      While many types of metal coating are used for space objects, gold is the most notable. In fact, NASA personnel often joke about the ubiquitous nature of gold in their industry. There are cheaper alternatives, but when lives are at stake, it’s worth splurging on gold due to its capabilities for ensuring efficiency and safety.

      Gold is a go-to in the space industry due to its malleability, corrosion-resistance, and ability to absorb and reflect light and heat.

      Other materials

      Silver used to be used for external tiles on spacecraft, but it was susceptible to oxidation. Today, it covers internal components. Aluminum is used for insulation in satellites. Copper plating is essential for printed circuit board technology that fuels the electronic equipment used in satellites.

      Though few people associate metal plating with space discovery, it’s safe to say that the industry could not survive without it. For more information about metal plating supplies and kits, visit GoldPlating.com.

      The Klondike Gold Rush

      When most people hear the term “gold rush,” they think of the California phenomenon that started in 1849. This frenzied quest for gold kicked off at Sutter’s Mill when James Wilson Marshall discovered gold flakes in a river at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Over the next several years, “gold fever” drove hundreds of thousands of people to California in what has been called the largest mass migration in American history.

      Klondike Gold Rush

      (Pixabay / Natalia_Kollegova)

      While the gold rush of ’49 is certainly the best-known pursuit of gold on the continent, there was another notable rush near the end of the 19th century. This pursuit kicked off in Canada’s Yukon territory and sparked the last great gold rush in the American West.

      George Carmack was at the vanguard of the Yukon gold craze. He was living in California in the 1880s when he heard tales about gold in Alaska. After searching unsuccessfully for gold in Alaska, he charted a course for Yukon territory near the Canadian border. Carmack found the Klondike River to be rich with gold deposits, though there is some controversy over whether Carmack or his two Native American companions discovered the gold first. Either way, they staked their claim, and news of their discovery spread like wildfire through Canada and the United States.

      “Klondike Fever” brought roughly 50,000 miners to the Yukon territory over the next two years. One of the most famous of these miners was Jack London, who would later become well-known for stories he wrote about his time in the rugged extremes of the Klondike region. Though London hit his stride as a writer there, he was one of many miners who abandoned the gold rush without anything to show for their gold-seeking efforts. Carmack, on the other hand, mined $1 million worth of gold during his time in the Yukon.

      The technology available to the lone miner could only produce limited success. Many miners eventually sold their stakes to large mining outfitters with the equipment and resources to tap into deeper reserves. Major mining operations continued in the area until the mid-1960s and turned up well over $200 million in gold. Today, hundreds of small-scale mines continue to yield gold in the region.

      National Aviation Day: Gold Plated Aircrafts

      Sunday, August 19 is National Aviation Day. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt initiated the holiday in 1939 in honor of the birthday of Orville Wright. Orville was still alive when Roosevelt established the holiday, but his brother Wilbur died 27 years earlier. The brothers are credited with inventing, constructing, and flying the world’s first successful airplane. Although other people had built experimental aircraft before, the brothers were the first to develop the airplane controls that made fixed-wing powered flight a reality.

      Gold Plated Aircrafts

      (Pixabay / Gellinger)

      The Wright Brothers’ innovation changed the world. It advanced warfare, improved emergency response, allowed for aerial surveillance, opened up world markets for perishable goods, expanded business and leisure travel opportunities, and more.

      The field of aviation is continually advancing. Drone capabilities are increasing, augmented reality is enhancing pilot training, and prescriptive maintenance is on the horizon, promising to make airplane maintenance and repair far more efficient.

      In addition to the function of airplanes becoming more sophisticated, their interiors have advanced as well. “Luxury completion” is the industry charged with building out airplane hulls, often in lavish style. Luxury completion is a worldwide business, and one of the most robust sectors of the aircraft industry.

      These completion companies deal in fancy textiles for airplane furnishings (think stingray skin for a customer’s on-board chair). They can add materials like pearl inlay to a plane’s cabinets or lay down silky carpets. They can install paneling in the cabin that is made from rare woods or, when money is not an issue, in gold plated metals. High-end completions can easily add up to $30 million.

      If this sounds like the stuff of fiction, look no further than President Donald Trump’s private jet, which purportedly has 24-karat flourishes throughout, including gold-plated seat belts. In 2012, the Sultan of Brunei was reported to pilot his own jumbo jet equipped with solid gold wash basins, gold-plated furniture, and Lalique crystal.

      Gold plating can add a luxurious feel to many items. Visit Gold Plating Services for more information on gold solutions and gold plating kits.

      Differentiating Between Solid Gold and Gold Plated Jewelry

      Perhaps you have inherited gold jewelry or received it as a gift. You may be wondering if it is solid gold or gold plated.

      Solid Gold vs Gold Plated Jewelry

      (Pixabay / KRiemer)

      • Solid gold. In spite of what the name implies, solid gold jewelry is rarely made exclusively of gold. Rather, it is a gold alloy that is consistent throughout the entire piece of jewelry. An alloy with low purity will contain greater amounts of alternative metals and less gold than high-purity alternatives.
      • Gold plated. Gold plated jewelry has a base made of some other type of metal. The base metal is coated with a thin layer of gold.

      Here are a few ways to determine if your jewelry is solid gold or gold plated:

      Initial stamps. Gold plated jewelry is often stamped with initials that reveal its metal composition. Here are some common markings that you may find in an inconspicuous location on your jewelry.

      • GP – gold plated
      • GEP – gold electroplated
      • RGP – rolled gold plate
      • HGE (or HGP) – heavy gold electroplate

      If your jewelry does not bear any of these markings, it may be solid gold, but don’t jump to a quick conclusion. Not all jewelry manufacturers stamp their gold plated jewelry.

      Magnetism. Gold is not magnetic. If your jewelry responds to magnetic force, it probably contains some type of metal other than gold. This test isn’t foolproof, however. Because solid gold jewelry is made from alloys that contain small amounts of alternate metals, your jewelry may still respond to magnetic pull. Also, if the base metal of your gold-plated jewelry is not magnetic, it may not respond to the magnet test and give the illusion that it is solid gold. The moral here is that the magnet test is useful in conjunction with other tests, but it is not fully reliable.

      Color. If a piece of jewelry is plated with 24K gold, it will take on an intensely yellow hue. Because solid gold is mixed with small amounts of other metals to make it more durable, it will not appear as yellow.

      Acid test. An acid test can reveal the karat of solid gold jewelry, but it can also show whether jewelry is solid gold or gold-plated. With an acid test, a small sample of the jewelry is removed and exposed to acid to induce a color change. The resulting colors indicate which type of metal the jewelry is made of.

      Scratch test. This test is risky because it requires you to cut into your jewelry piece. If you cut deep enough that you expose underlying metal, you can assume that it is plated. If it appears to be made of a uniform composition throughout, then it is probably solid gold. Both types of jewelry have advantages and disadvantages. Gold plated jewelry often looks just as attractive as the solid gold alternative and is much more affordable. Jewelry plating solutions and kits are available through Gold Plating Services.

       

      Receiving a gift or an heirloom that is made of gold may make you feel rich and famous. But, before sharing it with others or telling them how you get the gold earrings or necklace better check whether it is solid gold or gold plated. A lot of people have been deceived by this but if you know the basic of how to distinguish the real deal, you won’t be embarrassed. So, learn from this infographic.

      Tips to Distinguish Solid Gold from Gold Plated [infographic]

      Gold Jewelry: Color and Plating Options

      Most everyone loves the idea of a new piece of gold jewelry, but there are many variations beneath that umbrella term. Here’s a look at some different things to consider if you are in the market for some gold bling.

      Color and Plating Options

      (Pixabay / PublicDomainPictures)

      Color

      Gold jewelry is actually an alloy or mixture of gold and other types of metals. The composition of the alloy determines the color of the gold. Different shades of gold jewelry have become very popular in recent years. In fact, while yellow gold used to reign supreme as the preferred color for wedding rings, white gold is now a more popular choice.

      Here’s a look at different colors of gold jewelry:

      • Yellow Gold  Composition: Pure gold, silver, copper, zinc Pros: Most hypo-allergenic, lowest-maintenance
      • White Gold  Composition: Gold and platinum (though nickel and zinc can also be added) Pros: Durable and resistant to scratches and dings, cheaper than yellow gold
      • Rose Gold  Composition: Gold, copper, silver Pros: Cheapest of all gold colors.
      • Green Gold  Composition: Gold and silver (copper may be added, too)

      Plating

      While some gold jewelry is solid, much of it is gold-plated, which makes it more affordable. Look for the quality stamp on the metal to help you determine the karat value and gold-plating method used in the creation of your jewelry.

      Popular types of plating include:

      • Gold Leaf  Gold leaf is flattened into ultra-thin sheets and wrapped around a metal base. Gold leaf jewelry is not perfectly smooth. Rather, there are irregularities where the foil has encased the base metal. Related to this method is gold layering, which is not regulated by industry standards. It could have an even thinner layer of gold than gold leaf.
      • Gold Plated  Electroplated jewelry begins with a base metal (usually stainless steel or brass) that is submerged in a gold plating solution. The solution is infused with an electric current that causes the gold to adhere to the surface of the substrate. The resulting gold layer only qualifies as gold plated if it is at least 7 millionths of an inch thick and at least 10K in composition. The plating can rub off over time. Another type of plating is “rolled gold plating,” which is thicker than electroplating. This plating process relies on heat and pressure for bonding.
      • Gold Filled  This is a rather deceptive name since the jewelry is not actually filled with gold in the way that you would picture something like a filled doughnut. It is covered by sheets of gold and bonded with heat and pressure. Gold-filled jewelry is often more durable than gold-plated jewelry. A derivation of this is “vermeil” (ver-may), which uses a sterling silver base and is coated with a thicker layer of gold than regular gold-filled jewelry.

      If you are allergic to certain types of metal, vermeil is usually the best choice because it is largely hypo-allergenic. A piece of vermeil jewelry will bear a “925” stamp, which means that it is 92.5 percent pure silver.

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