How Plating Works: Electroplating vs. Electroless Plating

Monday, December 12, 2016



Do you want to make a piece of metal, glass or even plastic appear as though it is made from gold, silver, copper, platinum, tin, lead, nickel or some other metal? Perhaps you need to plate one material with another as part of a certain process or to make a specialized component. Whatever the situation is, to do it, you will need to use what is called plating.

The plating process involves taking a thin layer of one of the metals mentioned above and depositing it over the surface of the original material give it the appearance of that metal. If you have ever heard the terms “gold plated” or “silver plated” used to describe an item, it has gone through the plating process. Plating can also be used in other applications, such as adding a rust-resistant coating over another metal or even to create more useful alloys.

Plating is done through two different methods called electroplating and electroless plating. Electroplating, as its name would suggest, involves the use of electricity. An electric current is sent through a solution called an electrolyte using electrodes and a power supply. This allows for metal atoms to be deposited in a very thin layer across the top of a surface. Electroplating is a form of electrochemistry and it is totally reliant on electricity to finish the plating process.

Electroless plating, on the other hand, is a relatively new way to complete plating and it does not need an electrical current. Instead of relying on power, electroless plating is a plating method that involves using a series of simultaneous chemical reactions that allow for metals to be deposited evenly across the surface of an item.

Electroplating and electroless plating are both effective ways of carrying out the plating process. The method that you will utilize depends upon the chemical makeup of the product you are plating and the plating metal you are using. At Lowrance Machine, we’re experts in completing plating work and can help your organization with all types of coating and plating solutions. With more than five decades of experience, you can trust that our team has a solution for you. Call us at 281-449-6524 today to learn more about our plating capabilities and see how we can help you.