Electroplating is a process in which a base metal is coated with one that is usually brighter in nature e.g. gold or silver plating. In doing so, the base or substrate metal is changed not only in appearance but in characteristics or qualities. The metal that is applied as a coating grants the base metal its own specific features. These relate directly to what is going to be required of the component.

Development of Electroplating

The process has been around for over a century, but it was not until the Elkington cousins – George Richards (1801-1865) and Henry (1810-1852) adopted and adapted it that electroplating began to spread across Europe and into North America. They patented a system that was to replace the toxic process of gilding. It even affected the means through which silver plate – a less expensive way for individuals to have silver items. Until the Elkingtons, silver plating involved melding thin layers of silver onto a base metal. This created products, such as flatware, cutlery and other items that had the look of pure silver – that white, metallic gleam, but at a fraction of the cost.

Yet, after the Elkingtons, plating, including silver plating, was to remain virtually unaltered until 1940s. In this era and during the 1970s, changes were made to make the entire procedure safer. These included safer acid baths, improved waste disposal systems and upgraded hardware. The process, while still faced with environmental improvements, has come a fair distance in improving all forms of electroplating, including silver plating.

Defining Silver Plating

Silver plating is now described as the overlaying (or plating) of a base or substrate metal such as gold, copper and tin with a silver coating. You can also apply a coating of silver to zinc or steel. With these last two metals, and their alloys, an intermediary step is required if the procedure is to be successful.

The reasons for silver plating are based upon the nature of silver. Pure silver is a little harder than pure gold. It is also malleable as well as pliable. Silver also possesses the highest level of electrical and thermal conductivity when compared to the other metals. At the same time it is also characterized by the lowest contact resistance. These qualities make it desirable for several industrial applications.

It has been a common procedure in the jewelry business for centuries. More recently, uses for silver plating have expanded into a vast variety of fields and industries including:

* Aerospace
* Automotive
* Electronics – electrical connectors
* Plates and other dinnerware
* Semi-Conductor industry
* Telecommunications
* Trophies, plaques, etc.

Silver plating has proven over time to be an attractive but practical finish. It is often employed as a less expensive alternative to pure silver substances of gold plating. The latter is particular true for the electronics business. Here, as in many other modern industries, silver plating has become the norm for its practicality and low costs and not just its looks.

If you are looking for quality Silver Plating services to be performed, do not hesitate to talk to the experts at ProPlate®. Our innovative and skilled electroplating services for both precious and non-precious metals has established us with a sterling reputation since we started in the business in 1983. As a leader in the field in medical device applications, we are ever ready to help our clients achieve the goals they need to gain and maintain a competitive edge. To discover more about our company, our specialized services and expertise, visit us online at Proplate.com.

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